What are the best pixel art programs?

Whether it's for game design or making funny animations, pixel art is still a commonly used medium thanks to its low cost and time consumption. Whatever your reason is, if you need to make pixel art, then this list of the best pixel art programs can provide you a few picks...els.

508 contributors
27 solutions
  1. 38

    #1Pixure

    Pixure
    Pixure is a premium pixel art studio application for devices with iOs version 11.0 and up. The app is offered by Silver Fox and is compatible with iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad.
    Apps

    iOS

    $4.99

    Lauren Lee
    Written on September 20, 2017
    "I really enjoy art and have gotten into doing pixel art. I wanted to find a good pixel art program. I found Pixure, which is a professional pixel art program. I use it on my iPad. It has a ton of great features and is easy and intuitive to use. It also works really well with the Apple pencil, my favorite drawing tool. I love this program and highly recommend it for people who love to draw pixel art."
  2. 35

    #2Aseprite

    Aseprite
    Aseprite is an open-source sprite animation program that allows you to create animated sprite and pixel-art. Its intuitive interface makes it very easy for beginners to draw characters and layers.
    Software

    Mac, Windows

    $14.99- Free trial available

    Echo Xia
    Written on May 31, 2017
    "I started dabbling in pixel art as a hobby and before I knew it I'm doing it all the time. So, I'm always on the lookout for new programs to use. Aseprite has been great so far and I've found that it has a really simple to use interface, which makes it easy for beginners."
  3. 31

    #3Cosmigo Pro Motion

    Cosmigo Pro Motion
    Cosmigo Pro Motion is a pixel graphics and animations suite that allows you to create pixel art and animations.
    Software

    Windows

    Free- $59

    Roger Fox
    Written on February 20, 2017
    "This is a comprehensive tool for pixel graphics. It may be too much for my application (I just wanted to make some cute graphics), but it will absolutely let me complete my goals."

DID YOU KNOW?

Pixel art has a lot of uses nowadays, one of the most common being for video games. Yes, even in a time when games have hyperrealistic graphics that make you question whether it’s CG or live action, pixel art is still used just as often. That said, there is one example that was released more than a decade ago and still continues to grow with community submissions: Elecbyte’s M.U.G.E.N. Released in 1999, M.U.G.E.N is a freeware fighting game on PC where the creators made the framework and the community created the roster. The game’s code allows people to add their own characters by encoding movesets and creating character sprites in formats that the game will recognize and implement in the open roster. Character sprites are done in pixel art, and although the number of pixels used varies from creator to creator, the sky is the limit when it comes to character creation! While this encourages people to make their own characters, the majority of characters found in forums are taken from various forms of media, even if none of them are from the same franchise! You'd find matches like Superman versus Goku, Homer Simpson versus Bowser, Chuck Norris versus Bruce Lee, and so on. Each character would also have multiple versions done by different people, each with different movesets or appearances, and the database only continues to grow.

Do YOU want in on the M.U.G.E.N craze? Well, using one of the pixel art programs on this list, you can already make sprites for your favorite character! Paid pixel art programs like Pixure and Asesprite can give you a lot of features but even free pixel art programs like Gimp and GraphicsGale can get the job done. Ready? FIGHT!

  1. 31

    #4Pyxel Edit

    Pyxel Edit
    Pyxel Edit is a Pyxer art drawing program that lets you work with tiles, inspired by the Pixothello and Cosmigo Pro Motion. It also allows you to make animations, and exporting them as sprite sheets or animated GIFs.
    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free- $9

    Aditya Nair
    Written on February 27, 2017
    "I love to create artwork on my computer. This programs was easy for me to learn and get the hang of. The ability to edit things on the fly is also very welcomed."
  2. 30

    #5Gimp

    Gimp

    GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program is an illustrative digital freeware which serves as a photo-retouching program, image compositor, and image authoring. This program was created in 1996.

    Software

    Windows, Mac, Linux

    Free

    Harry Wheeler
    Written on January 5, 2017
    "Wanting to expand my creativity, I started looking to get into pixel art. To get into that, I need a good pixel art program. So, I started looking for one and I came across "Gimp", this program was exactly what I wanted! It has all the features I wanted and it allows me to easily create pixel art."
  3. 29

    #6GraphicsGale

    GraphicsGale
    GraphicsGale is an sprite animation editor that allows you to create animated sprite and pixel-art. It offers a wide range of features like previewing your animations in real time while editing sprites or onion skinning.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Carl Long
    Written on February 20, 2017
    "As part of my graphic design classes last year, I was looking for a great pixel art program. I did a Google search and lucky enough I found GraphicsGale and it was exactly what i was looking for and more. Its ease of use and user-friendly interface makes it a must for anyone looking into creating pixel art."
  4. 29

    #7Photoshop CS6

    Photoshop CS6

    Photoshop CS6, added new creative design tools and provided a redesigned interface with a focus on enhanced performance. This program is compatible with a computer, laptop, smartphone, and tablet devices.

    Software

    Windows

    $29.99- Varies by plan

    Jordan Alvarez
    Written on March 30, 2017
    "Are you a fan of editing your own photos? Do you take photos for a living and want to really be able to touch up on them? With Photoshop CS6, you will be able to easily touch up your favorite photos and edit them in an easy to use interface. With new creative design tools and enhanced options, CS6 is a must have for anyone in the photography field."
  5. 26

    #8Krita

    Krita
    Krita is a free and open source painting software for artists and illustrators. Is a great alternative to Photoshop, built and designed by artists who needed a fast and free tool to create original digital art or enhance print artworks.
    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Wayne Adams
    Written on April 16, 2017
    "I am an artist and I both enjoy photography and painting. Naturally, I use many different programs to improve and enhance my work on the computer. I was very excited when I started using Krita. It is huge step forward in the digital art space. I also was impressed that it is open sourced , so it is very nimble and can be used with windows, mac or unix."
  6. 24

    #9GrafX2

    GrafX2
    GrafX2 is a bitmap paint program specialized in 256-color drawing. It includes a variety of tools and effects that make it particularly suitable for pixel art, game graphics, and generally any detailed graphics painted with a mouse.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Marina Ávalos
    Written on June 2, 2017
    "This is a really great program for pixel art. I started making a comic recently but my traditional skills are how do you say, lacking haha. I'm pretty good at pixel art so I gave GrafX2 a whirl and it's so easy to use! You can really get some good detail down!"
  7. 23

    #10Piskel

    Piskel
    Piskel is a free and an open-source online sprite editor that lets you create pixel art animations. This software program also includes onion skinning and lets users define frame rate. It available on both online and offline versions. 
    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Virginia Coleman
    Written on January 15, 2017
    "I wanted to create some pixel animations and found this program during a Google search. I used it to create some animations for a friend of mine and it worked perfectly! Easy to use, and fun to boot."
  8. 22

    #11Paint.NET

    Paint.NET

    Paint.NET is free and lightweight image and photo editing software that runs on Windows PC. It features an intuitive user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and plugins for extra functionality.

    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Keith Black
    Written on March 6, 2017
    "So the problem with image editing is there's pretty much Photoshop and then there's everything else. Paint.NET does a good job of bridging the gap. You get a lot of the advanced features, but for a fraction of the price. For normal users, you probably won't need anything else."
  9. 20

    #12Pixly

    Pixly
    Pixly is a complete pixel art editor for Android devices. It has many useful features, and it's specifically designed for use in phones and tablets.
    Apps

    Android

    Free

    Douglas Watkins
    Written on June 19, 2017
    "If you want an easy to use pixel art program, this is a solid solution. It is made specifically for phones and tablets. I found that it has a cute and intuitive user interface. It has lots of good editing features and tools. It even has Google Drive and Dropbox integration. One downside is that this version is only for Android devices."
  10. 18

    #13Pixen

    Pixen
    Pixen is a professional pixel art editor designed for working with low-resolution raster art. With a unique color palette system, patterns, layers, and high-zoom support, this program has all the tools that pixel artists need in an intuitive, Mac-native interface. 
    Software

    Mac

    $14.99

    Anthony Miller
    Written on March 16, 2017
    "Pixel is a great pixel editor available for the mac. It has a straightforward and easy to learn interface so that you can get started right away. The package contains many different ways of editing pixels, thus it's certain you will create a masterpiece."
  11. 18

    #14Pixel Art Pro

    Pixel Art Pro

    Pixel Art Pro is a free pixel art application that allows users to create artworks that they can also share with their friends. It is offered by Dan Shepherd and is compatible with iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad with iOs 9.0 and up.

    Apps

    iOS

    Free

    Benjamín Báez
    Written on April 18, 2017
    "I'm creating a video game and Pixel Art Pro allowed me to create sprites using only my iPad. I could create sprites during a road trip or during lunch if I had access to my iPad. The tools and controls were also very intuitive. My favorite part about the program is that you can see the grid lines to guide your pixel placement."
  12. 16

    #15PikoPixel

    PikoPixel
    PikoPixel is a free Mac application for drawing & editing pixel-art images. It's easy to use and has many useful features.
    Software

    Mac

    Free

    Phillip Carroll
    Written on June 24, 2017
    "In a day and age where graphics are becoming more and more realistic, pixel art is still a valuable art from the past. PikoPixel is a great program for creating pixel art quickly and efficiently. It's a free piece of software available for Macs and is a must-have for those wanting to design pixel art."
  13. 16

    #16Adobe Photoshop

    Adobe Photoshop

    Adobe Photoshop is a photo editing software that became the industry standard today used by professionals and hobbyists alike. It has plenty of features allowing amounts of photo editing jobs to be done.

    Software

    Windows, Mac

    $9.99- Free trial available

    Larry Holmes
    Written on October 4, 2017
    "This bloated dinosaur needs to be put out of its misery! I don't understand, with the existence of GIMP and similar packages, why Photoshop still holds the title of industry standard. It's an overpriced, un-intuitive monster of an app that I dread having to deal with on client's systems. Just because everyone uses something, doesn't make it actually worthwhile."
  14. 13

    #17Paint Shop Pro

    Paint Shop Pro
    Paint Shop Pro is a program that lets you achieve your creative vision faster with simple, responsive photo editing and design features.
    Software

    Windows

    $69.99- $89.99

    Carl Gibson
    Written on January 31, 2017
    "Created art on the computer at the finite pixel level is always challenging without expensive software. Pain Shop Pro has helped me out tremendously and is a value compared to competitors. They have a 20% off sale right now so don't hesitate to act!"
  15. 13

    #18Pixel.Tools

    Pixel.Tools
    Pixel.Tools is a browser-based, HTML5 pixel art editor, with Wacom tablet support and collaboration features.
    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Doris Oliver
    Written on July 1, 2017
    "I need to start working on a collaborative design project with some people from my office. We are not always able to be together at the same time to work. After doing some research I found Pixel.Tools. Now my colleagues and I can draft our design in real time and make live edits when we need to."
  16. 11

    #19Pixaki

    Pixaki
    Pixaki is a powerful pixel art creation studio for iPad. It features many of the same features found in desktop apps — such as custom canvas sizes, layers, animation, precise color selection, and customizable palettes — but with a multi-touch interface that is just right for iPad.
    Apps

    iOS

    $24.99

    Arthur Knight
    Written on September 20, 2017
    "Well, I found the name pretty cute. But call me cheap; I'm just not interested in plunking down $25 bucks for yet another Pixel Art program. It does seem pretty well rated though, for folks that are more artist than me!"
  17. 9

    #20PaintCAD 4Windows

    PaintCAD 4Windows
    PaintCAD 4Windows is a free program for creating digital pixel art with an unconventional spray method.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Amber Tian
    Written on April 23, 2017
    "This is just what I am looking for in creating pixel art! PaintCad allows me to create art on windows and moble and allows me to use simple keys (the up and down keys and ctrl/function keys) to do so. I do also like the video to show me how to use PaintCad. I also liked the blog explaining how I can also use a mouse to paint."
  18. 9

    #21Instapix

    Instapix
    Instapix is an easy to use pixel art editor for Android. It has a user friendly color pallet and a color pallet manager. You can zoom and move the canvas when drawing. The app has auto save, which makes you never lost anything.
    Apps

    Android

    Free

    Anthony Davis
    Written on September 20, 2017
    "If you're an aspiring cartoonist or simply want to play around with pixel art, you may find Instapix: Pixel Art Editor to be a good app. Use pens to create your pixels and build designs within the app. Instapix is somewhat crash-prone, and there are too many intrusive ads. But overall a solid pixel art program. "
  19. 7

    #22Pixel Art Paint Pro

    Pixel Art Paint Pro
    Pixel Art Paint Pro is an app that lets you become a pixel artist easily, anytime, anywhere from your Android mobile device.
    Apps

    Android

    Free

    Emily Gutierrez
    Written on September 20, 2017
    "Anyone can be a pixel artist with this app. It's easy to use, plus you can share your creations via social media. The only downside: it really needs a select/move feature. Otherwise, it's a great app."
  20. 6

    #23dotpict

    dotpict
    dotpict is a free app for creating pixel art in a simple and easy way from your mobile device. It can be downloaded and installed to devices with either iOs or Android operating system.
    Apps

    iOS, Android

    Free

    Henry Lawrence
    Written on April 18, 2017
    "Dotpict will let me expand the interface of my pixel art. I hope the maximum canvas size can be updated to a larger format and also hope that I can layer my art."
  21. 4

    #24EDGE 2

    EDGE 2
    EDGE 2 is a free high-performance pixel art editor for both beginners and expert pixel artists.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Terry Reynolds
    Written on June 13, 2017
    "I'm a semi-professional graphic artist. I'm not ready to open my own shop yet, but I'm not a complete beginner. This gave me everything I was looking for and more and the good news is I'll probably never have to upgrade, because now i have the tools to continue for my entire career."
  22. 2

    #25Pixel Art Maker

    Pixel Art Maker

    Pixel Art Maker is a free drawing application for pixel art. It can be downloaded and installed on either iOs or Android devices. The app is being offered by Nekomimimi and has in-app purchases.

    Apps

    Android, iOS

    Free- with in-app purchases

    Pablo Mora
    Written on March 13, 2017
    "I don’t really know what the target audience is for this, but in general it’s good for pixel art programs it looks like. I would think it’s aimed towards kids more because that’s what the solution is mainly targeted to, but if the user was more of an adult I don’t think it would be a good solution. Otherwise, the interface looks fairly intuitive and easy to use so I think it would be a decent option either way."
  23. 1

    #26Tile Studio

    Tile Studio
    Tile Studio is a complete development utility for graphics of tile-based games. The application contains a bitmap editor for creating tiles and sprites and a map editor for designing level maps.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Gregory Sanchez
    Written on April 26, 2017
    "The ease of use for Tile Studio amazes me. I develop graphics for my new projects with such seamless effort I think it reads my mind. The magic I imagine flows like intuition seamlessly."
  24. 0

    #27BobSprite

    BobSprite is a browser-based online tool for editing images in order to make them into pixel art. There are built-in commands n this tool such as exchanging, layers, zoom, blank, black, soft painting, color picker, and so on.

    Online Tools

    Free

    Joana Borges
    Written on December 4, 2018
    "Free. No Installation. No registration. Browser based but well polished. Built for sprites."

Summary

Best What are the best pixel art programs
RankSolutionsTypeVotesPrice
1PixureApps 38 Paid
2AsepriteSoftware 35 Paid
3Cosmigo Pro MotionSoftware 31 Free
4Pyxel EditSoftware 31 Free
5GimpSoftware 30 Free
6GraphicsGaleSoftware 29 Free
7Photoshop CS6Software 29 Paid
8KritaSoftware 26 Free
9GrafX2Software 24 Free
10PiskelSoftware 23 Free
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