By Jessibelle Garcia
Updated 6 hours ago
These powerful pixel art apps allow you to create pixel-perfect artwork on your phone while on the go.
In the 80s, pixel art wasn’t just a form of digital art. It was essential. Low-powered hardware could only handle so many colors and pixels, so asset artists had to get creative to properly convey?their concepts in-game.
But times have changed since then. More and more artists are jumping into the world of pixel art, and you can too—even if you aren’t sitting at your computer. We recommend trying the following iOS and Android apps to find the best pixel art app for you!
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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. This can be difficult to control unless you’re zoomed in really far.
Tapping and dragging in Pixilart, however, will only move your cursor around. It isn’t until you hit the?Draw button that a pixel is placed?at the cursor’s location on-screen (so you’re?likely going to have to use both of your hands at once).
This spin on the basic drawing function quickly drew users in,?slowly building what’s now one of today’s biggest online communities specifically for pixel artists.
You’ll need to create an account to share your artwork with other users on the platform. Pixilart is a community for all ages, so you are not allowed to upload adult content. All messages are public, and filters for swearing and spam are enabled by default.
There is also an in-browser editor for those that want to use Pixilart on a computer or laptop.
Download: Pixilart for iOS?| Android (Free)
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Creating pixel art on mobile devices and tablets was a dream that came to life only a few years ago. Pixel Studio was one of the first pixel drawing apps that made that dream come true.
This pixel art editor by Hippo Games has over two million downloads around the world, and has been translated into 23 languages.
Being one of the oldest apps on the market has its perks—for instance, having an ample amount of time to add even more features. In addition to all the typical tools, Pixel Studio supports layers, as well as several image and editable file types. It is also compatible with both the Samsung S-Pen and Apple Pencil.
Related:?Essential S Pen Features for Galaxy Note Owners
If you’re a big fan of the mobile app, you’d be pleased to know that it’s also available for download as a desktop app. Your?artwork?can be synced across different platforms with Google Drive.
Download: Pixel Studio for Android?| iOS?| Windows | Mac (Free, in-app purchases available)
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Dotpict is an app and social platform that?was likely created by developers that are also pixel artists themselves. Even the in-app interface features pixel text and icons.
In terms of function, it is very similar to Pixilart. It draws the same way, has the essentials, and also has built its own family-friendly community.?The editor supports up to three layers, but does not have animation capabilities.
What sets Dotpict apart from the rest, however, is the?autosave and time-lapse features. Autosave ensures that even if the app were to crash for some reason, you’ll never completely lose the art that you were creating. If you turn the time-lapse function on before you start drawing, you’ll be able to save a GIF animation of your pixelling process from start to finish.
Signing up for a Dotpict account allows you to share your own art and color palettes, enter pixel art contests, and interact with the artwork of other users.
Download:?Dotpict for iOS?| Android?(Free)
Available for iPad only, Pixaki is one powerhouse of an app with?glowing reviews. It features a multi-touch interface and customizable palettes.
There is support for up to 50 layers, animation, and the most popular file types. Game developers will love the ability to export sprite sheets, otherwise known as images that show the sequence of?every frame of an animated sprite.
Converting a sketch to pixel art in Pixaki is easy with Reference Layers. Oftentimes, when resizing your own sketches to create pixel art on top of them, you lose much of the details you originally had. Pixaki allows you to import any image (or multiple images at once) from your photo library at full resolution, resize it, and reposition it on the canvas.
The?lite version of the app (Pixaki?4 Intro) is free, but its functions are limited.?You can only have three normal layers and one reference layer, as well as up to eight frames of animation and a maximum canvas size of 160×160.
Meanwhile, the full version of the app (Pixaki 4 Pro), lets you have unlimited layers, references, and animation frames. You can also have a canvas size of up to two megapixels, and export to more advanced file types, including Photoshop’s PSD.
Download: Pixaki 4 Intro for iOS?(Free trial) | Pixaki 4 Pro for iOS ($26.99)
While there doesn’t seem to be a dedicated app for creating specifically pixel art on an iPad,?Procreate was developed with the intention of making the most of?the iPad’s artistic possibilities. This digital painting app (often cited as an?alternative to Adobe Photoshop) is more than capable of creating pixel art, too.
With its long resume of features, it’s likely that you will have to tinker in the brush settings panel. You’ll want to ensure you’re only using drawing with hard edges, by either turning off anti-aliasing or limiting yourself to opaque brushes.
The most useful and unique function that Procreate provides to pixel artists is?Palette Capture. Instead of creating your own color palettes, you can import an image from the Photos app. Procreate will then make a custom palette of the colors in that image.
While they aren’t features you’ll use often (or at all, really) for pixel art, Procreate also has a huge library of textured brushes, precise color controls, and?stunning digital effects galore. The app is compatible with the Apple Pen, and is a one-time purchase.
Download: Procreate?for iOS ($9.99)
The indie gaming industry?has seen a resurgence in pixel art games, and perhaps that’s in part due to how easy it has become to get started. Some graphics programs require moderately powerful hardware in order to run smoothly, but with these pixel art apps, all you’ll need is your phone or tablet.
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About The Author
(257 Articles Published)
Most days, you can find Jessibelle curled up underneath a weighted blanket in a cozy apartment in Canada. She is a freelance writer that loves digital art, video games, and gothic fashion.
From Jessibelle Garcia
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