(editor's note: tutorial written by Ter13, paraphrased from the Discord)

Basically, you want to start with the silhouette of what you want to draw. In our case, we want to draw a person.

There's some finesse to proportions and whatnot, but in general, we're just creating a basic shape that shows the arms, legs, torso, pelvis, and head. People are symmetrical. So in an idle position, the left/right should fold over.

Next, we're going to find a basetone for the object. Flesh color.

Then we're gonna start pulling out detail by creating a lighter tone. This is called a hightone.

What we're trying to accomplish here, is showing the surfaces hit by the light, but more than just having realistic lighting, we're creating regions of detail arbitrarily to show off the features of the object. We can bring forward a lot of detail with just two colors if we understand the object and the surfaces well.

There's a fair bit of style involved in this kind of drawing too. Given time, you'll develop your own style. Early on, look at what other people do and find stuff you find visually appealing, and do your best to mimic the bits you like. We're not done yet.

So now, we're gonna do some color rebalancing. Why? Because right now it looks a little flat, and I want a warmer tone. I also want more contrast between the basetone and the hitone.

While rebalancing, I also went and touched up some of the shading. Now, you are basically done, but we don't just wanna make a naked duder and call it good. Let's add some clothes.

We've got a nice little hat going.

And now he's got some sweet overalls going. I'm using different colors for different materials. Notice how the clothing sort of drapes around his shape? Clothing isn't just picking a region to recolor. It sits on top of the skin. It doesn't hug close everywhere. It will grip in some places, and drape in others. So don't be afraid to change the shape a bit here and there where the fabric should hang off.

And now we're gonna add a little pitchfork and an animal friend for farmer john here. Mix colors. Bring out shape with shading, and add detail.


Don't always shade the same between materials. Cloth will have wrinkles that flesh won't. The straw hat will have a wicker pattern, but it's too small to show through, so it's basically just plastic. Flat shade that. The wood will have a mixed pattern from the grain and wear from use and the pitchfork will be highlighted where the light specular shines on the object.

Okay, so understanding color.

This is a three-dimensional block of color. The big square on the left is a 2D slice. The rectangle on the right shows all the pixels above and below the location of our current slice in the cube.

X axis = Hue
Y axis = Saturation
Z axis = Luminosity

Hue is an arbitrary base RGB spectrum from red->yellow->blue->red
Saturation has to do with how much color shines through from black/white
Luminosity has to do with how intense the color is.

Above 50% you have specular.
Below 50% you have unlit.

Light is important to understand if you are gonna pixel. An object is generally lit in three main ways. Ambient. Diffuse. Specular.

Ambient light means the light reaching the object refracted from its surroundings.

Diffuse light is light that has reached the object, and bounced off of the surface of the object, with excess light being absorbed. This means that the diffuse will be modulated by the surface color of the object.

Specular is light that has reached the object, and bounced off without excess light being absorbed. A specular light is most often a reflection of the color of the light source itself, so a green light on a red object will make the object appear brown or yellowed.

Most often, you are assuming a white or yellow light in outdoor scenes. In underground scenes, you are going to assume a bluish-white light source. Fire-lighting is more red and orange.

And from here, there's nothing more I can say but get started drawing something, and bring it forward for critique. I recommend starting with a limited palette so you can't fail at picking colors as much.
That beautiful chicken alone has convinced me to put chickens into my own game.
For animated pixel goodness, color any part of the silhouette that moves independently it's own color.
one of the best tutorials I've read thx for this