The illustration I had in mind was meant to be used as a splash page for
the website of a group of Dutch people, called Internet Creatieven.
Besides this connection with the Internet Creatieven, I also wanted to make a plain, nice pixel art illustration, on a scale I had never tried before.
I like old painting, so the idea of making an 'old school pixel art
painting' appealed to me.
The next thing to figure out was what would it be, what was the setting? Two ideas came up; the first one was a big tree, the second one a sea.
Both the tree and the sea offered plenty of room for details.
I decided to use the idea of a seascape as a metaphor for Internet. It
would be a rough, dynamic sea, which would include a lighthouse,
'Nature', the logo of IC (a Dutch wooden shoe), my drububu puppet, and
various details, which by that time I hadn't yet specified.
The whole illustration had to be visually dynamic, with enough space for details, so you would spend some time watching and discovering things as a spectator.
A lot of pixel art is made as isometric projection:
sort of like LEGO® bricks that are copied and duplicated. This is a
relatively fast way of creating pixel art. By using this workflow, the
final illustration becomes what most people perceive as 'pixel art'.
For the illustration, I wanted to do something else: a more organic style, a less commonly used LEGO® brick look-alike technique. I had already found out that some people don't appreciate this: 'this is not pixel art!', referring to a 'real' - isometric - pixel art illustration; someone quoted (...).
At the start of the project, I though it would be a good idea to keep track of progress, and save all the steps involved. The artwork could be used to make a pixel art tutorial and interactive artwork, in which visitors could peel off layer by layer, to reveal the creation of the pixel art illustration.
I have divided this pixel art tutorial into chapters, so you can easily jump from chapter to chapter. Some parts are more technical than others, so skip the technical parts if you don't like them.
Keep in mind that some knowledge of the techniques involved help you to understand why some approaches are better than others.
I have tried to describe all parts which are important in creating an illustration in general, and, more specifically, a pixel art illustration.