How to Make a Pixel Art NFT - everything you need to know.

Non-fungible-tokens or NFTs, come in all shapes and sizes, but some styles are here to stay. NFT pixel art is an especially popular style, boasting nostalgic connotations that continually make waves with a wide audience. 


Whether you’re completely new to pixel art or want to learn how to apply the NFT pixel art style to your own creations, we’ve got you covered with this guide.

Three pixelated cubes with different textures and shading in a row


Why should I create NFT pixel art?

With its characteristic poppy colours and low-resolution aesthetic, pixel art is the blocky, retro art style that’s evocative of the early days of gaming. 


Achieved by producing designs on a pixel-by-pixel level, a pixel art grid is used as a base - with each pixel  coloured individually to make up the final image. 


There are various reasons to adapt it for your designs:


  • Pixel art has a strong foothold in the creative industry and is of special relevance in an NFT context thanks to several pioneering NFT collections. 
  • With particularly high interest in pixel art NFTs, it’s worth considering the direction you could take with your next NFT drop.
  • You may also be interested in it simply for how it looks! There's a certain charm and nostalgia that comes with pixel images, especially among the gaming community. 


Pixel art base drawing/photos.

Ready to get stuck in? Our step-by-step guide on how to create your own has best practice tips to design pixel perfect NFT creations. 


1. Choose your tools.

Become a pro pixel NFT maker using the best tools for the job - namely ones with the right creative set and functionality. 


A programme such as Adobe Photoshop lets you paint on a grid to make a great pixelated NFT for your next project. Likewise, it’s quick and easy to create a grid with Adobe Illustrator


2. Make your NFT pixel art grid. 

Use your software to create a grid: it’s as simple as it sounds! Choose between any of the following sizes:


  • 16 x 16 (lower detail)

  • 24 x 24

  • 32 x 32

  • 64 x 64 (higher detail)


The size you choose is entirely your choice, though 32 x 32 pixel art NFT creations are popular and provide a balance of higher resolution while retaining the style’s unique charm. 

an artist drawing on a digital graphics tablet using a stylus


3. Get creative. 

Using your pixel art grid as a base, block out rough shapes and outlines, then fill them in.  


Get experimental with different and distinct colour palettes — certain retro games use a limited colour range which may take some experimentation to faithfully replicate. Read up on pixel art or watch our tutorial video below to find out more..

4. Export your NFT pixel art.

You can now export your pixelated NFT!


Simply hit export in your programme and choose either PNG or GIF as your preferred format. Be aware that the high compression level of a JPEG may distort the overall look and sharpness of your creation. 


As you’re working on a small, pixelated grid, you’ll also want to scale your image to a size fit for viewing. 

pixel art alien character designs in different colours and squares


Learn how to create and make NFT art.

Create NFT Art from scratch or turn your artwork into an NFT.

Once again, the final NFT artwork size is up to you.


NFTs and pixels scale/sizing.

Making the right decision when scaling your NFT pixel image is important. Many creators opt for a square format when scaling their art, to add to the retro feel, but you can experiment with what works best for your creations. Some common resolutions for resized pixel art are:


  • Android screens: 320 x 480 px.

  • iPhone screens: 320 x 480 px.

  • Minimum Twitter upload size: 600 x 600 px.

  • Square Instagram post: 1080 x 1080 px.

  • Full HD: 1920 x 1080 px. (Most modern monitors conform to this size.)


How scaling affects file size.

Even with simple pixel art, it’s possible to scale up images to the point that they have a fairly hefty file size after exporting to higher resolution. 


As a result, you may need to fine-tune your NFT pixel exports so that they can be easily shared on your chosen platform(s). This means keeping file sizes manageable where possible - try aiming for less than 50 MB. 


This means faster loading times and increased accessibility for fans with slower Internet connections. 


Tracing pixel art.

When making your NFT pixel artwork, you may choose to trace an existing image of yours. This saves time and can help you to create your desired shape in minutes. 


There are a few ways to trace an image; Adobe Illustrator has a bespoke image tracing tool which can be great for experimenting and getting the right shape for your pixelated NFT. 


Another method is to simply trace over a reference image onto a grid, so let’s get to it.


1. Create your grid.

Open your editing software and create a grid. See above for common pixel art grid sizes. For example, 32 x 32 pixel art NFTs are very common, so you can build on that. Your grid needs to be on a new layer as we’ll be adding the image underneath in a second.


2. Import your reference image.

Bear in mind that your pixel art grid will be square - this can make it tricky to find a suitable image that comfortably fits into your square grid. 


Select your preferred picture and copy it into a new layer underneath the grid you just made. When resizing reference images, retain the image ratio so it’s not distorted before you begin tracing.


NB - ensure that you have the rights to use whichever reference image you are using! Adapting one of your own existing photographs or artworks is an ideal place to start. 

Four pixel art dogs with different facial expressions


3. Begin tracing.

When tracing, it’s a good idea to keep zooming out and checking that the overall shape is what you want for your pixel art base. After resizing a higher resolution reference image, it’ll likely appear quite blurry. This can make tracing difficult as clear outlines and defined shapes are less obvious. 


Overcome this by using some creative licence and editing your outlines to get the desired shape for your traced shape. 


Remember, minimalism is key with pixel art. You’re working with limited pixels and the level of detail will always be lower, so simplify shapes.


4. Save or export your traced image.

You should now have your traced pixel art image on one layer. It’s recommended to save your new traced shape without resizing it — this saves time if you wish to make further edits later or use it as an asset for an NFT collection. 


Alternatively, export and resize your image and begin sharing your NFT pixel art creation.


Additional elements, automation and pixel art NFT makers.

If you’re working on a collection, chances are you’ll be keeping a consistent background or character shape. For example, the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection features its renowned ape character and each creation exhibits different accessories or expressions.


Making a template pixel art base shape and adding to it saves valuable time. Check out our automation tips to make NFT collections quickly and efficiently.

six pixel art characters shown with varied clothing and accessories


Create layers/assets.

Separate each layer or component of your NFT pixel art. That way, you can easily swap recurring features on your art and emulate your preferred style. If you’re working on a pixel art character NFT, your layers could be: 


  • Background colour or design

  • Character head shape 

  • Different hairstyles

  • Facial features, especially eyes and mouth for expressions 

  • Clothing and other accessories.


Keep generative art in mind.

NFT generative art is, as the name suggests, generated by computer code. The artist will key in a set of rules for the computer to autonomously generate a unique piece of art. This process lends itself well to large projects, as it can be tailored to combine previously made layers or assets into several new creations.

six versions of the same pixel art man wearing different suits and costumes


Use a pixel art NFT maker.

Want to skip the coding completely? You could use a purpose-built NFT art generator online. 


This is still generative art, but even faster, as a tool takes care of the randomisation. All you need to do is create and upload some layers for the tool to begin generation. Search online for a tool t that gives you the desired results.


Can’t wait to get started? Check out these versatile Adobe tools and more to take your NFT pixel art to the next level.


Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe InDesign

Adobe XD

Adobe Animate

Adobe Substance 3D


NFT Pixel Art: FAQs.


What is the standard NFT pixel art size?

A standard grid size for NFT pixel art is 32 x 32, as this creates a square image that strikes a balance between detail and retro feel. When resizing your finished creations, aim to export in HD. At least 1080 x 1080 px will give the best viewing experience on a monitor, for example.


Is creating a pixel NFT worth it?

The nostalgia connected to pixel art and early video games makes it a highly popular and versatile art style for a wide audience. Remember that art that you personally enjoy creating is always worthwhile. Experiment with different grid sizes, references and colour palettes to find what works best for you.


What happens if I change 1 pixel in an NFT?

As each NFT is assigned a new code, any minor change will result in a new code being generated for that NFT pixel art. Many popular NFT collections feature a motif or character that has thousands of variations. Changing the colour of one or a few pixels on your creations can be considered another new artwork in your collection.


Discover more about NFTs with these helpful guides.