The traditional methods of creating pixel art one pixel at a time no doubt yields the best results, but it’s an extremely time consuming specialist craft. Today I’m going to show you how to cheat and make use of Illustrator’s Object Mosaic feature to create cool 16-bit style pixel art the easy way, allowing you to quickly produce retro style sprite graphics for your designs and artworks.

Rather than draw our artwork from scratch we’ll use a photograph as the base for our pixel art. Begin in Photoshop and make any necessary contrast and colour adjustments before clipping out the subject with the Pen tool.

The clipping path around your subject can be pretty rough, don’t worry too much about creating perfect lines as most of the detail will be lost when the image is pixelated.

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16 Comments

  1. Wow, Chris. I feel giddy. I just tried this on a picture my wife took of an old 1930s car. The results look just the old video games from my childhood. :)

  2. I enjoyed every little bit part of it and I will be waiting for the new updates. I am very much pleased with the contents you have mentioned.

  3. I had no idea that you could do this in Illustrator….I guess it’s time for me to make a new avatar of myself LOL

    So far, I hadn’t thought of it til I saw Art Bam’s comment. How come you used the Pen Tool in Photoshop instead of Illustrator? Unless it’s just one of those steps that don’t matter too much – you did say that we shouldn’t worry about clipping it out perfectly anyway, for this particular job.

  4. I think this is a great tutorial. There is a much better way to trace your image – by starting in Illustrator. Use the pen tool in Illustrator to trace a white line around your image. This gives you MUCH more control and allows you to define the curves of the path. Just before you anchor your last point with your first one, make sure that you do not join them but instead create a white shape which leaves a gap showing a small snippet of your background. Cover the resulting gap you have with a separate white shape, as you see fit. Now export your image into Photoshop on a transparent background. Finally, use the magic wand tool to delete the white space. This is the best way to do image tracing and it works wonders! :)

  5. I appreciate what you’ve done, but it is so much simpler to use paint.net and resize using nearest neighbor using a 320 x 224 resolution (retro graphics) and using posterize (retro 16 bit colors). It’s way faster than the steps here!

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