Benjamin Porter hails from Melbourne, Australia, and was interested in game development from the moment he was given a Commodore 64 as a child in the ’80s. He started making games professionally after finishing his PhD in computer science, and is currently working on Moonman, a procedurally generated adventure game set in an alien world. His favourite games include the Elder Scrolls series, Dark Souls and Shadow Of The Colossus .
HISTORY “I played a lot of games during the early console era, when pixel art was dominant, and so it has a nostalgic appeal to me. The great thing about it is that it’s easy to get started and, unlike other art forms, it doesn’t require manual dexterity or mechanical precision. I’m fascinated by the sheer variety of styles in pixel art, which I’m sure is shown throughout this book.”
HISTORY “I started studying pixel art back in 2011, mainly to help with my game development. My programmer art wasn’t cutting it and, as I was a solo developer back then, I decided to learn more about art. Since then I’ve been creating pixel art more seriously for around two years. It began when I started a pixel art group on Twitter called Pixel Dailies. That first year I created a pixel art drawing every day. It was exhausting to do it alongside a full-time job, but it was worth it – I learnt a lot of techniques and I started to develop some different styles.” INSPIRATION “It comes from everywhere! I go to galleries, play videogames, look at ’70s art on the covers of sci-fi novels, and browse a lot of other pixel art. I try to cast a wide net over art, and if something appeals to me I’ll try to pull it apart and understand how it works.”
STYLE “I alternate between a low-resolution style and a higher-resolution style with some elements of depth and lighting. At very low resolutions, pixel art starts to become a logistical puzzle – you’ve got very limited room to move pixels around and find the shapes that will fit. The characters in Moonman have faces that are 8×8 pixels in dimension – this doesn’t leave much room, but we’re still getting a lot of interesting variations and shapes. At higher resolution I like to draw objects with shading and big blocks of colour.”
THE SCENE “There are so many great artists and communities around; it’s really amazing. I started my own little community called Pixel Dailies [twitter.com/Pixel_Dailies] a couple of years back, and we have a lot of fun. Pixeljoint.com is another great community, which has some of the best artists as members. Pixel art exploded again in the indie game scene a number of years back, and I think that helped drive artists to differentiate themselves. I really love that games are pushing pixel art further and we’re beginning to see some awesome things – dynamically shaded pixel art sprites, for example.”
ADVICE “Start simple with a small canvas and minimal palette. Also, get involved with a pixel art community: do the challenges, ask for feedback, and study images by other artists.”