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The Software Thread

Printed From: Pixel Joint
Category: The Lounge
Forum Name: Resources and Support
Forum Discription: Help your fellow pixel artists out with links to good tutorials, other forums, software, fonts, etc. Bugs and support issues should go here as well.
Printed Date: 19 September 2021 at 6:25pm

Topic: The Software Thread
Posted By: Hapiel
Subject: The Software Thread
Date Posted: 24 November 2017 at 3:34pm
Making pixel art requires graphical software. Some software makes it easier than others. Here below I will write about the ones I recommend, feel free to add your favorite, or ask software related questions!

Free does not mean bad. The following two are my favorite: - GraphicsGale

GraphicsGale has recently become freeware! This wonderful software is ideal for animating pixel art. It supports layers, onion skinning, indexed palettes, sprite sheets and has many more nifty tools.
OS: Windows only - GrafX2

GrafX2 is based on the old school DeluxePaint. The interface is very different from modern software which might be confusing at first, but it has all of the essential tools for pixel art. Support for layers and animation is a bit clunky, but it has tile editing features, great palette editing tools, and you can install - DawnBringers toolbox on it! It's open source software
OS: Windows, Linux, and various ports including for OS X

PAID: - Aseprite

Aseprite is trying very hard to be the most complete pixel art editor, and has great support for layers and animations. Other features which stand out are selection tools, and it's constant updates.
Aseprite is open source and you can compile your own copy for free, but a precompiled copy costs $20
Windows, OS X, Linux

For more software recommendations, check out the lists at: - LoSpec - PixelProspector - LudumDare

Happy pixelling!

Posted By: CritiqueMyWork
Date Posted: 02 March 2018 at 12:46pm
More free software

iDraw: Albertov uses it

Posted By: snv
Date Posted: 06 April 2018 at 9:46am
I'm currently using GIMP, but, it has the worst shortcuts of all drawing programs in existence: there is no way you can bind color picking (the most important operation after painting itself) to the right mouse button and eraser is bound to SHIFT-E! Why, God?!! Why adding shift? But truly the worst is animating with GIMP: compared to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP doesn't have layered animation or onion skins, and you have to install this glitchy barely maintained GAP toolkit and split your project into a mess of *.XCF files - one for each frame (yes, separate XCF files, instead of frames sharing a set of layers). After installing GAP on a 64-bit system, there are a number of DLLs that fail to load and startup time becomes even longer. I'm surprised that for several decades GIMP community has failed to implement something as simple as proper animation support.

But well, same is true for Audacity vs Adobe Audition, which has nice pitch filters following envelope and spectral editing capabilities, surpassed only by SpectraLayers. I asked on their mailing list why don't they have proper spectral editing, and they answered something about it being implemented long ago, but patches were rejected, due to the development organization.

So yeah, Photoshop is still the best tool out there, the only problem is a little slow startup and resource consumption on older PCs, but then you can probably find older Photoshop version, for say Windows XP - it would still be order of magnitude better than GIMP.

Posted By: Reive
Date Posted: 05 May 2018 at 10:46am

Pro Motion NG
I'm currently learning how to use this software and I'm really impressed so far. It's made specifically for pixel art. If you can get used to the hotkeys, I'd say this offers the fastest possible workflow along with every tool or function you could possibly want when it comes to pixel art. It might have a steep learning curve though.

I used it for a short time. One thing I didn't quite like about it is that if you change one of your colors on your palette, it doesn't change that color where you used it on your canvas. So no canvas-palette connection. Also, if you want to always start off with a blank palette, you first would have to create a blank palette, but the good thing is that you can save and set that palette to default. Really great and simple software to use. Those were just some of the things I found in the short time I used this software.

I think GIMP is great. If you're really good at drawing or sketching out your art, you can use GIMP to pixelize it. Doing straight up pixel art, you really need to know how to set GIMP up for it. GIMP even has a way to animate your pixel art and you can get onion skinning to work too. Personally, one of the easiest programs I've used.

Just wanted to share some of my experiences and thoughts. :)

Posted By: snv
Date Posted: 06 May 2018 at 5:56pm
Originally posted by Reive

Pro Motion NG

Yeah. I heard Pro Motion is the best pixelart editor out there, supporting advanced stuff, like color cycling. Haven't tried it though.

Posted By: kumori
Date Posted: 27 May 2018 at 12:07pm
Originally posted by Reive

GraphicsGaleOne thing I didn't quite like about it is that if you change one of your colors on your palette, it doesn't change that color where you used it on your canvas. So no canvas-palette connection:)
use 8bpp or lower in new file or color depth.
gg palette cant indexing more than 256 color...

Posted By: Sir_sponge76
Date Posted: 25 December 2018 at 7:36pm
any good software for chromeOS?

Posted By: aureotoshi
Date Posted: 14 January 2019 at 11:11pm
If your passion doesn't has limits and you want to pixel in the bed (like me) I have found an ultracool Android app called Pixel Studio.

It's FREE, but you can get PAID version, that allow resolutions up to 1024 and preset color palettes (no much sense).

Hope you find it cool. -

Posted By: aureotoshi
Date Posted: 19 January 2019 at 12:21pm

Another Android app very strong is "Pixly", great for the bed. -

Posted By: Ioruko
Date Posted: 23 February 2019 at 5:42am
There's a nice little app for smartphones Dotpict. It's free, but you can purchase it and remove the adds.



Posted By: MicmasH
Date Posted: 12 July 2019 at 5:45pm
Pixel Master for IOS is amazing - considering that IOS isn't...
I can't even put the original Doom on it. Guess I'll just have
to break out my printer...

Posted By: jpavel
Date Posted: 27 July 2019 at 11:55am
> any good software for chromeOS?

For Chrome OS, - Piskel is probably your best free option.

However, if your Chromebook can run Android apps (basically all of them in the last couple years), then the - Draw Pixel Art Pro app, works quite well.

The developer has been extremely responsive adding keyboard shortcuts to make it usable with a keyboard and mouse, so if you need offline editing or features that Piskel lacks, I'd go with that app.

Posted By: Cows_scare
Date Posted: 02 September 2019 at 12:07pm
About GraphicsGale, it freezes whenever I plug my graphic tablet and try to draw. Anyone else had that issue?

Posted By: Amazonite
Date Posted: 04 February 2020 at 7:23pm
When I started doing pixel art, I used 'Pixel Studio'. It's free and it works pretty good for small canvas and does animation. but I honestly cannot recommend it for large canvas or isometric work at this current time.

The line tool is terrible, the way it displays large canvases is terrible, there isn't an easy way to move around the screen, it has the most stupid keyboard shortcuts I've ever seen in an application.

The only thing pixel studio is good for is making tiny sprites up to 32x32 and animating them.

These days I am using 'Aseprite' , I originally tried to compile it myself form github because that is free, but I got so many errors (They don't make it easy). So I bought it from Steam for like $15-20. It is honestly so good, I highly recommend this software for anybody who plans on taking their pixel-art to the next level, it just has everything you need and works so smoothly. The current piece I am working on is a large isometric piece, and this software is doing a great job.

Posted By: Ramonb5
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 8:26am
Perhaps the dSr has a (under development) online pixel editor for C64 multicolor bitmap mode: -

Feedback is much appreciated.

Posted By: Zeshio
Date Posted: 07 June 2020 at 1:52pm
I played around a lot with different pixel software and I've been happy with Pyxel Edit over the last couple of years. I do a lot of hex map and sprite work, and I like how it handles different 'tiles' compared to other programs. I think the key message is find what works for you, and then go ham!

Posted By: Eggy
Date Posted: 08 June 2020 at 1:35pm
I too would say Pyxel Edit is great. I don't use it very often myself, but it's absolutely amazing for creating tiles.
For me and my pixels, my go-to tool at this time is Clip Studio Paint. It's actually very much like Photoshop - it's more of a general art creation program and isn't specifically catered towards pixel art, but it's completely possible to create pixel art in it. Although if you just want pixel art, tools like GraphicsGale and Aseprite are probably a better choice in general since CSP is on the pricier side and oriented towards regular digital art (which is exactly what I do - pixel art is a bonus haha).
Paint.NET is another free tool I had used in the past to make pixel art.

Posted By: Pig_catapult
Date Posted: 09 September 2020 at 8:33pm
I've been using GIMP for everything for like 12+ years, and while it is far from ideal (e.g. terrible index mode and palette tool, no real-time tile editing), I know how to make it do what I need it to and that makes the learning curve for other programs daunting.

I've found a comfortable custom hotkey layout, it mostly supports my tablet pen (current version doesn't support pen pressure or the eraser end, but doesn't require middle mouse or a scroll wheel), and has a "Smooth Stroke" algorithm that decently compensates for my hand tremor when sketching. You used to have to close and reopen the animation playback script every time you made a change, but now it has a refresh button. That was absolutely invaluable when I was making my Tiny Sprite II entry.

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