Tools to help you create pixel art.
Anything that lets you place squares on a grid is a potential pixel editor. Adobe Photoshop, for instance, has all of the basic functions you need to make pixel images, and Adobe Illustrator lets you align your work on a pixel grid to get the granular control you need for good-looking retro images.
Regardless of the program you use, you’ll spend a lot of time with the Pencil and Line tools. Pixel artists do use Fill and Brush tools in their craft, but deliberately and sparingly — a single pixel can make all the difference. Being able to move those deliberately and easily is key when it comes to your software choice.
Make sure to avoid saving your pixel art as a JPG. PNG or GIF files are best. It’s a common file type and often a default, but the compression that JPG applies can compromise the quality of pixel art and disrupt the pixel-by-pixel work of the artist.
Making a career as a pixel artist.
Pixel art has a thriving online community. Communities like Behance allow artists to share their work and portfolios to get their work in front of potential employers. Drawing classics like Kirby, Pokémon, or Pac Man is always fun, but social media accounts like Pixel Dailies encourage artists to create work based on a theme, like breakfast, epic hero, zombie outbreak, or relaxation. A little inspiration can be just what you need to start making pixel art.
There is a demand for pixel art, but it tends to be fairly niche. Most of it comes from the video game industry. Plenty of modern video games like Shovel Knight and Enter the Gungeon emulate NES-style graphics, despite being designed for modern consoles and PCs.