Teaching Students to Create Their Own Pixel Art!

CreatePixel Art

Pixel art is all the rage thanks to old school video games and today’s gaming such as Minecraft. I thought a great way to reach my students is to have them create their own pixel art. It’s quite an intricate process and takes time and determination to complete. In this post, I’ll share the resources I used to teach my students about pixel art and how to create their own though a variety of ways! Be sure to scroll down to the bottom as I share three very important pieces to this overall lesson: History of pixel art, creating pixel art using a web tool, and creating pixel art from scratch using a spreadsheet called Numbers.

History of Pixel Art:

This was a great paragraph from Mary Winkler on an article she wrote explaining pixel art. “Considering that everything you are viewing on your monitor, tablet, or phone is comprised of many, many pixels, the often asked question is “how is this not pixel art?” It’s art, it’s made of pixels, so surely all digital art is pixel art. While technically correct, when talking about “pixel art”, we’re focused on a specific style of artwork most often employed within the gaming industry. Pixel art is a raster-based digital work that is created on a pixel-by-pixel level. Typically very small, the art form is similar to mosaics or cross-stitch in that it focuses on small pieces placed individually to create a larger piece of art.” Click here to view the full article.

Create Your Own Pixel Art Online:

I searched for the most student-friendly pixel art creator, and this is the one that I loved. I thought it had the most user-friendly platform and easy enough for young students to learn to create pixel art. I gave my students three prompts:

1. Recreate an image of a character, person, or thing.

2. Spell your name in pixel art.

3. Create your own pixel art.

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Here’s some samples from some of my second grade students:

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Another web tool option: http://makepixelart.com/free/

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A fun way to pixelate a photo of yourself is here and the effect is called focal pixelate.

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Create your own pixel art using Numbers or Excel:

If students can use a generator to create their art, why not teach them how to create their own graphs and plot their colors using a spreadsheet like Numbers or Excel? For this project, I used Numbers. This was a great extension for the younger students and an even better starter for the older students. It really introduces or reinforces commands, such as copy/paste and selecting more than one object to modify. Additionally, it takes the user through the process of adding and deleting cells as well as creating the cells in the shape of a square rather than a rectangle. I also thought that it took quite a bit of time for students to conceptualize what they wanted to create and make sure that they started in the center and had matching blocks on each side to create symmetry. There are many ways this could weave into an art lesson, a math lesson, or a creative lesson using technology.

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Here’s a sample using Numbers from a third grader in one of my classes:

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I’d love to see what you and your students create! Have fun!

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