Pixel Artist - Syosa


Japanese pixel artist Syosa joined PixelJoint 1.5 years ago and has developed a refreshing new style, beautiful animations and the cutest girls! A 23 year old living in Osaka, Japan and studies Neuroscience at Osaka University. When not creating pixelart and video games he analyzes cell morphology and performs experiments from morning to night. About 4 Years ago, Syosa became addicted to making computer games and found himself practicing pixel art.

LOL: Hello Syosa, nice to meet you! I understand creating your own computer games originally drove you to discover creating pixelart. Why pixel art? Was it for the style, the look, or did you just find it more enjoyable once you started playing with it?

SYO: This question relates to the reason why I decided to start making games. Many classic retro games are very complicated and not always user-friendly. I think that makes them look vigorous and still attracts many people to them. I wanted to make my own retro style games. So I studied retro games like Mario and Megaman ('Rockman' in Japan), and started making my own action games using pixel-based art and animation.

When I pixel, I do not only use my artistic sensibilities. I have to beat my brain to develop the most efficient palette, due to color and size restrictions. I find pixelart is very similar to Japanese Haiku. However, I find there are certain things which only pixel art can illustrate, and I find myself lucky to have found pixel art to express my visions.

LOL: We are glad you have chosen to make pixel art too! You mentioned you have to 'beat your brain', what difficult palettes and tight restrictions have you worked with?

SYO: I've worked with 2 to 5 color palette challenges, size restricted challenges and downsizing challenges in Japanese pixel art forums.

This is an old 2 color work of my laboratory professor:

An example of downsizing pixelart:

To me the most important thing in creating pixel art is the color palette development. This is not the easiest thing to define or explain. I find many pixel artists develop very rigid and linear color ramps when developing their palettes. I try to find more organic and dynamic ways of creating my palettes. Hopefully the image below explains this better than my words can.

I often ponder which is a priority in my pixelart, restrictions or expression. Japanese pixel artists favor limitations, while I tend to favor expression. I know the classic pixel-traditions are wonderful, but sometimes disregarding certain techniques and restrictions is important to develop new styles and to hopefully motivate the pixel art community.

LOL: In Japan, are there communities that are comparable to PixelJoint, and what are the big differences?

SYO: There are 2 major differences between Japanese pixelart and Pixeljoint’s. First, downsizing (sample above), editing and refining other people’s work is very popular. Skillful people like refining beginners pixel art for them to study and beginners develop their style by altering others’ skillful work. Of course, you first get permission from the artist before we alter his/her work.

Secondly, it is very rare that Japanese people comment negatively, they usually just praise others. You may feel this custom is strange, but in spite of criticizing others we refine others' work.

LOL: Thanks for explaining that! Of course, we have the Work in Progress (WIP) forum here, where edits are made, but I assume that is quite different from people editing or improving finished works. Are there any Japanese (pixel) artists who inspire or influence your work?

SYO: There are many people who influence me...
The largest Japanese illustration forum is Pixiv. It is similar to deviantART.

These are some of the best and my favorites.
Pixel artist: Ape •  Pixiv  • Gallery
Pixel artist: Uruti  •  Pixiv - I love his works so much (does not have his own site).
Artist: Kinoe  •  Pixiv  •   Gallery
Artist: Kozaki  •  Pixiv  •  Site
Artist: Mocha  •  Pixiv  •   Blog
I'm also inspired by many Japanese video games like.
KOFOdin SpherePrincess Crown (Jpn) • Final Fantasy Tactics (Jpn)

LOL: Whoa, that is quite a list! Yes, I have visited Pixiv before, I tried to browse using a translator, but didn't get very far. Thanks for the those direct links!

I've noticed that several of those artists draw the same characters as you; It's nice seeing different interpretations of similar characters! Speaking of characters, you seem to like to draw girls a lot, and often in a cute and girlish style. Why so?
(Yes, Syosa is male)

SYO: There are very few girlish styled games like Pop'n Music. Girlish styled pixel art hasn't been developed much. So I like to demonstrate we can draw a figure in a girlish style with pixelart. It is very difficult to make cute pixel art which can compete with other illustrations made with Photoshop, Illustrator or watercolors you see on Pixiv.

I do draw cute males and animals too. The king of puppets and A writer & a dragon. Currently, I am focusing more on creating boys and animals in my art.

LOL: Hehe, I had never realized that the The king of puppets is male! Now that you mention it, it is quite silly I didn't.

Another thing you are really good at is animation. I suppose that you started with that because you needed it for your games, but you must have put quite some time in developing this skill! My personal favorites are the unicorn (which is very complicated, but perfect) and the box (which is cartoon-ish, and perfect again!). How do you do it, and do you have some tips for the PJ community?

SYO: In my blog you can see the processes of most of my art and animations. I don't have the process for the box, because it took only about 30 minutes to create, but click here for a WIP image and explanation of my Unicorn seen below. For this pixelart I did use a reference; Jack Hamm's, How to Draw Animals.

LOL: Thank you for that WIP image, such an extensive explanation! It is really interesting to see this being built up! Yes, a book will surely help if you don't have any horses in your backyard :)

During this part of the interview Syosa was on a business trip for the Japanese Congress for the Japan Neuroscience Society.

LOL: About your job. Do you feel there's any connection between your interest in pixel art and Neuroscience? They both involve the concept of smaller objects (pixels, neurons) forming something greater (an image, a brain)?

SYO: Connection...hmm. Pixels and neurons are different from each other. Neurons have a function of self-organization, but pixels don't. Brains work in pathways, but images have meaning as a whole...

But, both of them prefer high efficiency. Pixel art looks best when there is no wasted colors, and neurons prune their needless dendrites and spines in their developmental process. I love such a sophisticated design. So... I think the connection between my interest in pixel art and neurons is there.

LOL: High efficiency, yes that would be a great description for both pixels in pixel art as neurons! With this, we are getting close to the end of the interview. Is there anything you would like to add, or say to the PJ readers?

SYO: Both 'A Writer & A Dragon' and 'Knight2' took over 20 hours to complete. Especially to design their hair and clothes and textile and the color combination took long time. But it is essential to make good things. I think it's most important that you don't compromise yourself when you make pixel art.

LOL: One final question: What is your favorite color? ;)

SYO: My favorite color is (R,G,B)=(84,58,84), a dark purple color. Because I can make so many color ramps and gradients from this single color. Integration of shadow colors makes pixel art looks more beautiful, I think.

I enjoyed this interview. Thank you very much, Lollige!

LOL: And I thank you too! I enjoyed it and I learned from it too!

This interview was conducted via emails over a period of 9 days. Some information has been modified to make it more of a chronological story. Some questions and answers have been edited and re-translated for this feature. Thanks to Skamocore and jalonso for all the corrections.

Don’t forget to check out Syosa's Blog!

BLOG NOTES FROM SYOSA: In the left bar you will find the download links for his games: Revolver, Usabarasi and Gravedigger. They might be difficult to play if you don't know Japanese, so here are instructions for the newest game 'Gravedigger':

Use the arrow keys, and the Z and X key. The aim is to bring bodies and bury them. You can get some bodies if you push the key 'X' at the entrance of the graveyard, and you can dig a hole if you push the key 'Z' in front of the burial place. After you dig a hole, you bring the bodies to the grave pit and bury them with the key 'X'. But the corpses revive after a while. So you have to knock the graves constantly and suppress their revival.

Remember, making games is making worlds. -Syosa

Posted by Hapiel @ 10/3/2009   |    38


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mikekaliven87 (Level 1 Rookie) @ 6/30/2017 02:00

Wow, so beautifull))  

GRetro (Level 1 Rookie) @ 10/13/2016 15:24

Wow cool im learning manga on paper might learn it on pixel art too Well im a just a starter 

Semont (Level 1 Rookie) @ 4/20/2013 00:59

It's possible that the translation wasn't perfect.

Also keep in mind that languages don't express the same concepts the same way.

pixelar (Level 1 Rookie) @ 2/8/2013 02:24

I had no idea syosa was so sexist towards men. Notice how he uses "girl" to refer to girls and "male" to refer to boys. I'm disappointed.

Chibiwing (Level 4 Deputy) @ 3/27/2012 14:04

Well, I found who I'd like to imitate.

AirStyle (Level 6 SWAT) @ 8/14/2011 12:01

Your art is absolutely beatiful. I especially like your short animation of the flower girl on your site. Makes you tear up a little...

RuizV (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 12/11/2010 06:20


Cilein (Level 5 Irish Elk) @ 11/16/2010 13:36

Glad I read this and saw Syosa's creations, inspiring!

Cari (Level 1 Rookie) @ 9/8/2010 08:28

Totally inspiring!! I'd love to learn more about his pallete techniques, it's really interesting!!

W M (Level 1 Thug) @ 7/21/2010 23:30

What a wonderful interview!

His color ramp layouts interest me. I'm definitely gonna be examining his methods more closely and doing a little experimenting of my own.

bodjietron (Level 1 Rookie) @ 5/18/2010 02:17

syosa is the man. an inspiration for me and for all. nice nice clap clap

fawful (Level 6 Yonkyu) @ 5/11/2010 05:02

Syosa has a really awesome style.

This interview was a good read.

Parsecastral (Level 1 Depressed) @ 4/4/2010 11:52

Making games is making worlds... I will never forget it.

Thank you Syosa. . .

PanicBomber (Level 6 Manager) @ 1/18/2010 00:23

really an inspiration to us all.

Irshadows (Level 1 Rookie) @ 1/7/2010 11:14

just  awesome :D 

Antifarea (Level 4 Ensign) @ 12/11/2009 14:39

awww I love this pixel artist... I'm deffinitely going to read this interview :)

Haruna (Level 1 Thug) @ 12/1/2009 06:48

Thank you for posting that sample pallet, I'll have to play with it some time. ^^

TheChan (Level 1 Rookie) @ 11/29/2009 16:56

Your use of color is truly amazing.

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 10/10/2009 20:08

syosa i love you and your art. not like i love love you but i do love your art.

pera (Level 1 Rookie) @ 10/8/2009 11:38

Great interview! I love your work Syosa!!! <333

Hapiel (Level 11 Bonsai) @ 10/7/2009 07:17

The link works fine for me here :/

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 10/7/2009 06:31

Congrats to both of you for this interview, lots of stuff to enjoy and learn here!


Edit: broken link, sorry, my bad messing with Javascript (not accepting Google!)

sharprm (Level 4 Deputy) @ 10/7/2009 02:44

I thought only girls could draw girly style. I'm very impressed I must try one day.

Syosa (Level 1 Depressed) @ 10/4/2009 19:41

Thank you Lollige and Jalonso for making such a great interview page. I'm really  glad to see it.

I'll continue to make efforts to contribute to Pixel Joint.

Thank you.

AtomicMushroom (Level 4 Button Man) @ 10/4/2009 18:12

Syosa is definitely a Renaissance Man. Enjoyed the read.


Dr D (Level 4 Shichikyu) @ 10/4/2009 17:21



TioLuko (Level 5 Detective) @ 10/4/2009 17:00

HE is a great artist, and a awesome inspiration^^

There is no much to say...



(edited) XD

CalmWater (Level 1 Rookie) @ 10/4/2009 10:33

Thanks, were interesting!

Yes, <3 you Syosa [2] XD

Setzer (Level 8 Cannibal) @ 10/4/2009 08:40

Really interesting read

cassiechihuahua (Level 2 Hired Gun) @ 10/4/2009 08:10

great interveiw! I always visit his blog but the text on the images is always japanese, so it's awesome to see the horse one in english.

Elk (Level 5 Assistant Manager) @ 10/4/2009 04:42

<3 you syosa =)

Hapiel (Level 11 Bonsai) @ 10/4/2009 03:27

Hi 1up,

I assume that years ago, the mods decided who they would like to feature, and then they conducted an interview with them.
Right now it is a bit vise a versa: I just took the steps to interview Syosa (without the mods knowing, same happened with Ilkke), and then he got the feature.

This means that I oviously interview people of who I think they would make an interesting interview. Not the one who would deserve the feature the most.

I do believe Ptoing and Helm would make interesting interviews,  however, I don't feel like it is my task to interview them, as I am not sure if I can connect with them the way I was able to connect with Ilkke and Syosa, I don't really know how to explain this.

Also, for these PJ interviews I want someone who is important for PJ. Helm and Ptoing make great pixel art, but they are not that important for PJ. They would be WotP's featured artists ;)

Anyway, I do not know how often this will still happen. I am busy setting up my own blog correctly, in which I can really do what I want, and where I do not have to limit myself to PJ readers or PJ members.
You are on my list :)

Thats why they have not been featured yet!

1up (Level 1 Thug) @ 10/3/2009 19:26

great interview


but why pick syosa over ptoing, helm, wolverine, or any of the other people who have been around pj for what seems like forever but have yet to be featured

edit: wasn't trying to be offensive, was just curious

hurp durp

Dr D (Level 4 Shichikyu) @ 10/3/2009 18:56

Awesome, Syosa is great. I especially enjoy the little bit about his favorite color, that's interesting!

.Anubis. (Level 3 Hatchet Man) @ 10/3/2009 18:35

 What a great interview!

Surprisingly nearly all those artists in the Pixiv links(except 2) are artists I watch as well. And I've played Gravedigger when it was released, challenging yet fun.


Helm (Level 5 Detective) @ 10/3/2009 16:48

Very informative interview. Wonderful thoughts from Syosa.

susuwataris (Level 6 Yonkyu) @ 10/3/2009 16:11

Great interview! Syosa seems to be a really nice guy.

Shawn (Level 9 Federal Agent) @ 10/3/2009 14:57

Honestly, I had no idea that Syosa was a guy. I tend to keep track of his stuff on pixiv though as well as those other artists he linked to, heh. Definitely among my favourite spriters on here.

Sweet interview!

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