10 Best Pixel Art Software & Programs for Developers (2022 Update) (2023)

2D Sprites are the visual building blocks of almost all mobile games and the pixel art style that has become synonymous with video games is still a popular choice amongst game developers today. With pixel art and 2D sprites, you can quickly animate your game objects and create a dynamic viewing experience for your players.

Knowing how to work with sprites and pixel art has become an essential skill for all mobile game developers. Read on to find out how to make your own sprites and where to find resources for making your own pixel art!

Note: we have collectedmore free resourcesfor game developersat the end of this site. Make sure to check these out as well!

What are Pixel Art and Sprites?

Pixel Art

Pixel art is a digital art form where color is applied to individual pixels to create an image. The term Pixel Art was first published in 1982, although the concept had existed for at least 10 years before hand.

Pixel art is saved in file formats that use lossless data compression such as GIF or PNG format. JPEG format is not recommended as it uses lossy compression that leaves artifacts in your images.

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Source: Wikipedia

Pixel art can be categorized into two main forms, isometric and non-isometric. Isometric pixel art has a 3-dimensional appearance even though the image is still a 2D shape.

10 Best Pixel Art Software & Programs for Developers(2022 Update) (2)

Non-isometric pixel art presents one side of an object, such as the top or front.

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Sprites are animations such as characters or objects that can be used in your mobile game. They can be made from any imaginable image source and animated in a number of ways. They’re one of the most used visual components for mobile game development and have a long history within the game development industry.

A basic example of an animated sprite can be seen below:

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This simple animation looks like one 256×256 sized image but it’s actually a 512×256 image that moves the image frame to create a bouncing effect.
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This 512×256 image is known as a sprite sheet and is the reason you can animate your sprites. A sprite animation simply shows a different part of a sprite sheet at different times to create an animation. There are a wide range of possible animations for sprites but the above example shows the most basic use of a sprite.

Why Should You Use Sprites?

Easy Scene Creation

If you had to create every scene of your game as one image, it would make things a lot harder to edit later on. With sprites, you can add and remove visual elements as you please without having to edit any of the other visual components of your scene. This makes it easier to design complex game scenes and introduce new characters and objects for your players to interact with.

Better Performance

Sprites also offer a performance enhancement as it places less pressure on your game to repeatedly call multiple images to appear on screen. Instead, a sprite sheet is called and then a different part of it is displayed as desired. It’s much easier for your game to call an image once and display it in a multitude of ways, rather than repeatedly calling for new image sources.

How to Make Pixel Art with these 10 Tools

We’ve already covered how sprites work but now it’s time to start making them. To make it easier for you to experiment with sprite creation, you can use one of the pixel editor tools listed below. They’re all free to download or use online and can help you to create the pixel art for your sprite sheet.

(Video) What Program to use for Pixel Art? (Paid and Free Software)


PiskelApp is a free online pixel editor with an emphasis on sprite creation. It allows you to save your pixel art online and also has an import function so you can use it to edit your existing pixel art. PiskelApp has a simple user interface and is a great choice if you want to dive right into creating your sprite sheet.

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Pixie is another fully functional online pixel editor. Although it’s not as well suited to sprite sheet creation as PiskelApp, it’s still very easy to use and is a good choice for anyone looking to let their imagination run wild. The white canvas is the standard starting point for this tool and encourages free hand drawing rather than rigid grid designs.

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Pixlr is a slightly more advanced pixel editor in comparison to the previous editors with a large range of drawing tools. It offers the same online saving feature as PiskelApp but isn’t as well suited to sprite sheet creation. If you want to avoid the 16-bit style that PiskelApp encourages, check out this tool instead.

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GrafX2 is a bitmap paint program that includes a number of tools and effects that make it especially useful for designing game graphics, pixel art and sprite sheets. It’s free to download and available on all major desktop platforms

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GIMP is an open source image editor for desktop that can be used for everything from photo manipulation to creating original artwork. You can also use GIMP to create your pixel art and sprite sheets. Although there is a bit of a learning curve for beginners, GIMP is a powerful tool that can cater for almost all image editing needs. You can see a tutorial on setting up GIMP for pixel art here:


If you’re looking for a stripped down tool that lets you focus on creating great pixel art, you should check out PyxleOS. This open source desktop application is specifically designed for the creation of pixel art and it’s extremely easy to pick up and use.

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LunaPic is an online tool with a number of capabilities for image editing. One of its many features is the ability to pixelate images, even photographs. You just need to upload your image, click adjust -> pixelate, choose how much you want to pixelate your image and there you go!


GraphicsGale is an animation graphic editor that’s available in both free and paid options. The free version still allows you to create and save pixel art in png format, which is all you need for your sprite sheet. GraphicsGale is an easy to use tool with a wide range of tools for image creation.

(Video) The Best FREE Software for Game Development! (In my Opinion)

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Paint.net is free image and photo editing software for Windows. This is a powerful tool with a great community behind it to show you how to create pixel art and sprite sheets. You can find many pixel art tutorials, such as the one below, on YouTube.

10.Make Pixel Art

Make Pixel Art is a fun online tool that lets you start drawing your pixels straight away. Although it might be considered a little basic compared to some of the other tools, it could be your best bet if you need to quickly sketch an idea or prototype an object or character for your game.

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If you’d like to follow along with the next section of this post, you can redraw the plant sprite with one of the tools from above or else download ithere!

How to Use Sprites with Felgo

Now that you have created a sprite, it’s time to test them on your mobile phone! For displaying sprites you can useFelgo, a cross platform game engine specialized for 2d games. Here is a code example that displays an animated pixel art sprite in Felgo:

Test on you mobile phone now!Run This Example

import Felgo 3.0
import QtQuick 2.0

GameWindow {

Scene {

SpriteSequenceVPlay {
anchors.centerIn: parent // center it in the scene
width: 150 // width of the image in the game
height: 150 // height of the image in the game

SpriteVPlay {
frameCount:2 // number of frames in the animation
frameRate: 2 // how fast animation plays
frameWidth: 256 // width of 1 frame
frameHeight: 256 // height of 1 frame

source: "https://felgo.com/web-assets/pixelPlant.png" // path to the spritesheet file

Click on theRun buttonabove to open this code in your browser andrun it on your mobile device(iOS & Android are supported). You can change the source code in the web editor and see the effect immediatelly on your device withFelgo Live Code Reloading. See this quick video how you can use Felgo Live Reload to speed up your game development process:

(Video) Best 5 FREE Pixel Art Software !

Make Your Own Sprites and Use Them WithFelgo

And that’s it! Adding a sprite to your game is that simple with theSpriteSequenceVPlayandSpriteVPlaycomponent — just 23 lines of codeincluding newlines for a complete game!

It’s important to set theframeWidthandframeHeightproperties to be the size you’d like the sprite to appear in your game. you can use the component properties such asframeCountandframeRateto customize your animation.

Download Felgo Now and Create Pixel Perfect Games!

Do you want to create a game 60% faster than with other game engines like Unity, Corona or Cocos2D?

See Felgo highlights and the tutorials below how you can:

Free Download

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Thanks for reading & scrolling that far! 🙂

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Do you know any other sites you like for creating pixel art?

Or would you like to see a game tutorial about a certain game you always wanted to develop but don’t know how?

Let us know and send us a direct messagehere.


Is Aseprite the best? ›

Aseprite is like a love letter to retro-style graphics and the 8-bit/16-bit era, and is by far the best pixel art editor available right now.

What is the best tool for pixel art? ›

However, you can get Aseprite for free if you're willing to compile the source-code yourself. It's one of the most commonly recommended programs for pixel art, and for good reason. Aseprite has all the standard features you need for creating pixel art wrapped up in a friendly interface.

What software do CG artists use? ›

CG artists usually use Adobe Photoshop for 3D renders and Adobe After Effects for 3D animation.

Is gimp better than Aseprite? ›

When comparing GIMP vs Aseprite, you will notice that both programs are easy to use. If you need to create pixel art, make sure to use Aseprite. However, if you need to find a full-fledged image editing software with advanced features, then GIMP is your choice. GIMP is a perfect option for editing images.

Who is the best pixel artist? ›

10 Influential Pixel Artists
  • finalbossblues.
  • AlbertoV.
  • WANEELLA pixel art.
  • Paul Robertson.
  • Kirokaze.
  • Thomas Feichtmeir (Cyangmou)
  • fool.
  • Pixel Jeff.
22 Sept 2019

What is the best pixel art website? ›

Eboy is undoubtedly one of the best known purveyors of Pixel Art.

How do you master pixel art? ›

How to improve your pixel art?
  1. Keep it simple. ...
  2. Keyframing. ...
  3. Introduce little exceptions. ...
  4. Take a pause and simply draw. ...
  5. Expand your technique. ...
  6. Give yourself deadlines.
12 Nov 2017

Is pixel art easier than 3d? ›

2d/pixel art is faster and more forgiving but can still look cool. Personally I mostly use 3d software to create much of my artwork, even if i'm doing a 2D game. I just work a lot faster in Maya, and if you do a 3d model you can just change angle, rotate and deform it to quickly make more variations.

What's the best CGI software? ›

11 Best CGI Software for Design Professionals
  • Adobe After Effects.
  • Autodesk Maya.
  • Daz Studio.
  • Blender.
  • Pixologic ZBrush.
  • Powtoon.
  • Pencil2D Animation.
  • Synfig Studio.
10 Apr 2022

What software does Nik Ainley use? ›

His works have been included in various digital art magazines both online and offline, it also makes itself as one of influence for other digital artists to work. He usually use Adobe Photoshop to create his work. But in some illustrations, we can see a touch element Cinema 4D application and Adobe Illustrator.

What software does Hockney use? ›

His iPad drawings are included in “David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition” at the de Young Museum, in San Francisco through Jan. 20. Mr. Hockney uses the Brushes app, a stylus and a digital inkjet printer that takes 20 minutes to print each large page.

What program do professional digital artists use? ›

Adobe Photoshop is still the industry standard when it comes to digital art.

What art software do most artists use? ›

15 Best Digital Art Software
  • Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop is the wise old man of digital art programs. ...
  • Affinity Photo. Affinity Photo is the closest contender to Photoshop's crown. ...
  • Corel Painter. ...
  • Clip Studio Paint Pro. ...
  • Procreate. ...
  • Krita. ...
  • ArtRage 6. ...
  • Artweaver.

Why is pixel art so hard? ›

Turns out it's extremely difficult. In regular digital art, getting the overall shapes right is usually enough but in pixel art sometimes even shifting a single pixel can produce a very different result. No matter the medium, all the art fundamentals (colour theory, composition and anatomy) continue to apply.

Can you make money pixel art? ›

But, pixel art too have some money making potential if there are party willing to pay money for it. You can also certainly makes money doing pixel art for gaming company etc. that is more traditional way of making money off pixel art. What are some tips for creating good pixel art?

What does every digital artist need? ›

Every single digital artist has to have a drawing tablet and a laptop as their essential tools in their toolset. A special Mouse, a Stylus ( for tablets ) and CPU and GPU are a must too as per your level of Expertise in Digital design and Art work…

What do most people use for digital art? ›

To help you choose, we have compiled a list of our favourite drawing apps for digital art.
  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch. Available on iOS, Windows. ...
  • Procreate. Available on iOS. ...
  • Clip Studio Paint. Available on iOS, Android, Windows. ...
  • Autodesk Sketchbook. Available on Mac, Windows. ...
  • Affinity Photo. Available on Windows, Mac, iOS. ...
  • Krita.
29 Jul 2021

What is the number 1 art app? ›

The free Adobe Photoshop Sketch ranks among the best drawing apps for giving users a set of expressive drawing tools. Users can choose from utilities that mimic a graphite pencil, ink pen or marker. The app supports a variety of Bluetooth styluses on the market such as Adobe Ink, Pencil, and others by Wacom and Adonit.

Is there a pixel art app? ›

Pixilart is the app that brought what's possibly the best approach to creating pixel art on mobile. Before Pixilart, apps made specifically for creating pixel art would draw pixels on the canvas as soon as your finger hit the screen.

Is pixel Studio free? ›

Pixel Studio / Pixel Art (@PixelStudioTeam) / Twitter. Best pixel art editor! FREE on the App Store, Google Play and Steam!

Is Pixaki free? ›

Something for everyone. Pixaki comes in two versions; Intro, which is completely free, and Pro.


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