11 Hypnotic Retro Sci-Fi Pixel Artists with a Knack For Dystopia
12 Amazing 8-Bit Pixel Artists To Follow Cool pixel-art creators drawing simple realities and small universes in fantasy, sci-fi, and cyberpunk
If you lived on Earth for less than 30 years, chances are you missed a historical phase of art. The birth of pixel art, the moment when figurative creation becomes interactive, the dawn of the videogame era.
Being one of the best pixel artists back then wasn’t much of a thing outside the nerdiest programming studios of Japan or the US.
Those early pixelart gurus and game developers probably didn’t even realize how they were changing the world of entertainment forever.
Nowadays, video games have gone very far from those pioneeristic stages, but retro-style pixelart is not dead at all.
There’s indeed a quickly growing niche of passionate artists and users who understood the intrinsic artistic value of pixel-art – simplifying imaginative realities to their core, thus revealing their hidden significants… a bit like expressionism if you want.
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What is Pixel-art? How does a pixel artist work?
Pixel art is a form of digital art, where images are edited on the pixel level.
Richard Shoup’s SuperPaint system in 1972 was maybe the first translation into the digital world of a concept that is though much ancient.
Mosaic and beadwork, are indeed very similar to pixel art, a very reduced number of points (or fragments) of different colors meant to be figurative.
Since the whole visual digital world is based on pixels, we have to mark a line to what we call pixel-art, which most pixel-artists agree on being “control over the individual placement of each pixel” – an interesting form of digital-hand-crafting.
Of course pixel-art is meant to be animated, not static, and often interactive, which gives this art-form a further level of depth.
Creating moving characters and objects for video games is called spriting, a term used in computer graphics to describe a two-dimensional bitmap that is used in tandem with other bitmaps to construct a larger scene.
This form of art is so unique that it remained alive despite the exponential improvement of graphic processors – carving its own space among the lovers of minimalism.
Retro pixel-art is now seeing a second youth… let’s have a look.
12 Best Pixel-Artists: What Great Sci-Fi Pixelart Looks Like
Surrealist, fantasy, sci-fi, and especially cyberpunk and dystopian settings are very popular in nowadays pixel-art – because we love those genres we selected our favorites accordingly.
1. Kenze Wee – Dreams in Pixels
As a young student born in one of the most futuristic cities on Earth, Singapore, the art of Kenzee Wee Hong Ming is full of high-tech mysticism.
Thick skylines of tall buildings, sometimes reminding of a tropical forest, alien spaceships, flying cities, and psychedelic vending machines.
4. Mr. Valemberg – From Cyberpunk to Space Odysseys
From contemporary cyberpunk scenarios to epic sci-fi from a distant future, Mr. Valenberg’s low-fi pixel art draws inspiration from milestones of cinema like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Waking Life, and Blade Runner.
There’s always a romantic touch within the paintings – dark and cold color tones, a vein of Murakami’s surrealism, and a character design drawing from underground fashion.
Mr. Valenberg is presently working on a point&click adventure game called Virtuaverse, which seems a pretty cool cyberpunk retro game.
Spacing a wide range of genres- from dragons and cockatrices to Asimovian planetary colonies, passing by Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep – Paris based pixel artist Christopher Anry is definitely one to follow.
On Kryssalian’s Instagram profile, we can admire his bucolic fantasy animation – that although short already tell a story – but also terrifying Lovecraftian monsters and tense cyberpunk scenes.
Diverse and varied is also the work of Kldpxl, or Khaled, a pixel artist based in Riyadh.
His drawings often represent reality but with a dreamy sci-fi feeling – examples of this are his realistic skylines and his beautiful planetary series, which depicts astral bodies of our solar system in an accurate and evocative way.
His art is though serene, somehow relaxing, lacking the elements of dystopia we’ve seen in other artists so far. A welcomed break.
Among our absolute favorites is certainly Slynyrd, a pixel artist and game designer from Kansas, USA. It was very difficult to choose a single picture to represent his work, so go check his profiles.
After a career in graphic design, Raymond discovered a long-rooted passion for pixel art, making it his full-time commitment since 2015.
His imaginative art creates magical universes where intergalactic science fiction and bucolic fantasy atmospheres collide in fluent and surreal poetry. He’s currently working on a game called Thyrian Defenders.
Yutsi is the pixel artists behind Geography of Robots, a collection of games, interactive fiction, and other experiments that explore the hidden geographies, conspiracies, folklore, and environmental histories of the American South.
The content centers on the creator’s industrialized hometown of Norco (Louisiana) and the surrounding River Parish region – immersive graphic adventures where cyberpunk and dystopia are just shades of ordinary lifes.
11. Nostalgic Tree – Nature Takes Back Her 2d-Space
The worlds of Nostalgic Tree are full of magic, and ancient ruins, and overgrown moss and jungles eating relics of a long-gone mighty past.
Maybe aesthetically more fantasy than sci-fi – tech leaves the space to nature, with old trees eating up the remains of ancestral civilizations whose advancements seem more spiritual than technological.