How to Draw Pixel Art in Krita: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Unleash Your Creativity with Pixel Art in Krita

Are you ready to dive into the colorful world of pixel art? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of creating stunning pixel art using Krita, the popular open-source digital painting software.


Pixel art has gained immense popularity in recent years, captivating gamers, artists, and enthusiasts alike. Its retro charm and minimalistic style have made it a timeless art form that continues to inspire and delight.

Pixel art, as the name suggests, is created by placing individual pixels on a canvas to form intricate designs or characters. Unlike traditional digital art, which focuses on smooth lines and realistic textures, pixel art embraces the simplicity of small, square-shaped pixels.

With Krita, a powerful and versatile software, you can explore your creativity and bring your pixel art visions to life. This comprehensive guide will take you on a step-by-step journey, teaching you the basics of drawing pixel art in Krita. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to create your own pixel masterpieces!

Getting Started: Setting Up Krita

Before we begin our pixel art adventure, let’s make sure you have Krita installed on your computer. Follow these steps to download and install Krita:

  1. Visit the official Krita website (
  2. Navigate to the Downloads page.
  3. Choose the version of Krita compatible with your operating system.
  4. Click on the download link and follow the installation instructions.
  5. Once Krita is installed, launch the program and familiarize yourself with the user interface.

The Krita Interface

When you first open Krita, you’ll be greeted with a visually rich and feature-packed interface. Let’s take a closer look at the various elements and functionalities:

Main Menu

The main menu is located at the top of the Krita window and provides access to various features and settings. Here, you’ll find options for creating new files, opening existing files, and saving your work.


The toolbox is a collection of tools located on the left side of the screen. It includes brushes, selection tools, and other artistic tools that you’ll use to create pixel art in Krita.

Color Palette

The color palette is located on the right side of the screen and contains a range of colors for your artwork. You can choose colors from the pre-defined palette or create custom colors using the color picker tool.

Layers Panel

The layers panel is situated on the bottom right corner of the screen. It allows you to organize your artwork into different layers, making it easier to edit individual elements without affecting the rest of the composition.

Canvas Area

The canvas area is the large central portion of the screen where you’ll create your pixel art. This is where you’ll place individual pixels and bring your artistic vision to life.

Brush Settings

Krita offers a wide variety of brushes and customizable settings to suit your pixel art needs. Experiment with different brush sizes, opacities, and textures to achieve the desired effects in your artwork.

Layers and Blending Modes

Layers are an essential feature in Krita that allow you to create complex compositions and make adjustments without affecting the rest of your artwork. Additionally, blending modes can be applied to layers to create interesting visual effects.

Choosing the Right Canvas Size

The canvas size is crucial when it comes to pixel art. Since pixel art is often displayed at a small size, it’s important to choose the right dimensions to ensure your artwork looks crisp and clear.

Consider where you intend to showcase your pixel art. If you’re creating sprites for a game, check the required dimensions in the game’s documentation. For standalone artwork, a canvas size of 32×32 pixels or 64×64 pixels is a good starting point.

To set the canvas size in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Click on “File” in the main menu.
  2. Select “New” from the drop-down menu.
  3. In the pop-up window, enter the desired dimensions for your canvas.
  4. Choose a resolution of 72 pixels per inch (ppi) for digital display or adjust it accordingly for print purposes.
  5. Click “OK” to create a new canvas with the specified dimensions.

Color Palette Selection

The color palette you choose greatly impacts the overall look and feel of your pixel art. While Krita offers a wide range of colors, it’s best to stick to a limited palette to achieve that authentic retro vibe.

Consider using a color palette inspired by your favorite retro games or exploring pre-made palettes available online. These palettes often consist of a limited number of colors that work well together and evoke nostalgia.

To access the color palette in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the color selector tool in the toolbox (represented by a dropper icon).
  2. In the color selector dialog, you’ll find various options for choosing colors, including pre-defined palettes, a color wheel, and sliders for adjusting hue, saturation, and value.
  3. Select the colors you want to use in your pixel art. Remember to keep your palette limited for that authentic retro charm.
  4. You can save your custom color palette for future use by clicking on the “Save” button in the color selector dialog.

Sketching Your Pixel Art

Before diving into the pixel-perfect creation, it’s advisable to sketch a rough outline of your artwork. This step helps you visualize your design and make necessary adjustments before committing to individual pixels.

Begin by creating a new layer specifically for your sketch. To create a new layer in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “New Layer” button in the layers panel (represented by a plus icon).
  2. A pop-up window will appear with options for creating a new layer. Choose a suitable name for your sketch layer and click “OK.”

Once you have your sketch layer, use a soft brush with low opacity to sketch the basic shapes and proportions of your pixel art. This initial sketch will serve as a guide throughout the creation process.

Remember to keep your sketch simple and focus on the overall composition. It’s okay if the lines are not perfect or if the details are not fully defined at this stage. The sketch will act as a roadmap for your pixel art creation.

Pixel Placement: The Art of Precision

Now that you have your sketch, it’s time to start placing pixels! Select the pencil tool in Krita and adjust its size to match the scale of your artwork. Remember, the smaller the canvas, the smaller the brush size should be.

Zoom in on your canvas to get a closer look at individual pixels. The key to pixel art is precision and attention to detail. By placing each pixel deliberately, you can achieve clean lines, smooth curves, and intricate patterns.

Experiment with different brush sizes and opacities to create varying effects in your pixel art. For crisp lines, use a brush with a hardness setting of 100%. For softer edges, decrease the hardness or use a brush with anti-aliasing enabled.

Utilizing Layers for Efficiency

Layers are an invaluable feature in Krita that will make your pixel art creation process more efficient and manageable. By separating different elements of your artwork onto separate layers, you can easily make changes without affecting the rest of your design.

Create a new layer for each component of your pixel art, such as the background, characters, or objects. To create a new layer in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “New Layer” button in the layers panel.
  2. Choose a suitable name for your layer and click “OK.”

You can rearrange the layer order by dragging and dropping them in the layers panel. This way, you can edit or reposition specific elements without starting from scratch.

Additionally, layers come with their own opacity settings, allowing you to adjust the transparency of individual elements. Experiment with different opacity values to achieve the desired visual effects in your pixel art.

Adding Shading and Highlights

Shading and highlights give depth and dimension to your pixel art, making it more visually appealing and realistic. Experiment with different shading techniques to achieve the desired effect.

Create a new layer above your pixel art layer and set the blending mode to “Multiply” or “Overlay.” This blending mode will allow the shading to interact with the colors beneath, creating the illusion of depth.

Shading Techniques

There are various shading techniques you can use in your pixel art. Here are a few popular ones:


Dithering is a technique used to create the appearance of additional colors or shades by strategically placing different colored pixels together. By alternating between two or more colors in a pattern, you can create smoother gradients and textures.

To dither in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new layer above your pixel art layer and set the blending mode to “Normal.”
  2. Select a small, soft brush with low opacity.
  3. Choose the colors you want to dither and start placing pixels in a pattern that alternates between the selected colors.
  4. Experiment with different patterns and densities to achieve the desired dithering effect.

Cross-hatching involves creating intersecting lines of varying thickness and spacing to simulate shadows and textures. By adjusting the direction, density, and thickness of the lines, you can achieve different effects in your pixel art.

To cross-hatch in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new layer above your pixel art layer and set the blending mode to “Normal.”
  2. Select a small, hard brush and adjust the opacity to your liking.
  3. Start drawing intersecting lines in the desired areas of your artwork.
  4. Experiment with different line directions and densities to achieve the desired cross-hatching effect.
Flat Shading

Flat shading involves using solid colors to represent different areas and shapes in your pixel art. This technique creates a more minimalistic and stylized look, ideal for certain art styles or game assets.

To flat shade in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new layer above your pixel art layer and set the blending mode to “Normal.”
  2. Select a solid color and use the fill tool to fill the desired areas of your artwork.
  3. Adjust the opacity of the shading layer to control the intensity of the shade.


In addition to shading, adding highlights can further enhance the depth and realism of your pixel art. Highlights are areas of increased brightness that simulate light reflections or shiny surfaces.

Create a new layer above your shading layer and set the blending mode to “Add” or “Screen.” Select a lighter shade of the base color and carefully place highlights in areas where light would naturally hit.

Experiment with different blending modes, opacities, and brush sizes to find the right balance of shading and highlights for your pixel art.

Adding Final Touches

Once you’re satisfied with the main elements of your pixel art, it’s time to add some final touches to make it truly shine. Consider adding details like textures, patterns, or special effects to enhance the overall look of your artwork.

Textures can add depth and complexity to your pixel art, making it more visually interesting and immersive. Experiment with different brush textures or import custom textures to create unique effects in your artwork.

Patterns can contribute to the overall aesthetics of your pixel art. Whether it’s a simple grid or a complex background pattern, patterns can create visual interest and enhance the theme or mood of your artwork.

Special effects, such as glows, sparks, or particle effects, can add an extra level of dynamism and excitement to your pixel art. Utilize layers, blending modes, and brush settings to create these effects and bring your artwork to life.

Remember, pixel art thrives on simplicity, so exercise restraint when adding final touches. Sometimes, a few well-placed pixels can make a big difference in the overall impact of your artwork.

Achieving Animation with Layers

One of the advantages of creating pixel art digitally is the ability to animate your artwork. Krita’s layer-based approach makes it easy to create frame-by-frame animations.

Creating Animation Frames

To create animations in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the timeline docker is visible. If it’s not, go to “Settings” > “Dockers” > “Timeline” to enable it.
  2. In the timeline docker, click on the “Create Blank Frame” button to add a new frame.
  3. On the new frame, make the necessary changes to your artwork, such as moving characters or changing facial expressions.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each frame of your animation.

Previewing and Exporting Animations

To preview and export your pixel art animations in Krita, follow these steps:

  1. In the timeline docker, you can scrub through the frames to preview your animation.
  2. To play the animation, click on the “Play Animation” button in the timeline docker.
  3. To export your animation, go to “File” > “Export Animation.”
  4. In the export dialog, choose the desired file format and adjust the export settings according to your preference.
  5. Click “OK” to export your animation.

Frame Duration and Timing

When creating animations, consider the duration of each frame and the overall timing of the animation. Longer durations between frames create a slower animation, while shorter durations create a faster-paced animation.

Experiment with different frame durations and spacing to achieve the desired animation effect. You can adjust the frame duration in the timeline docker by selecting a frame and adjusting its duration value.

Sharing and Showcasing Your Pixel Art

Now that your pixel art creation is complete, it’s time to share it with the world! Whether you want to showcase your artwork on social media, art communities, or your personal portfolio, here are some tips for sharing your pixel art:

Online Art Communities

Join online art communities dedicated to pixel art, such asPixelJoint, DeviantArt, or the Pixelation forum. These platforms provide a space for artists to share their pixel art, receive feedback, and connect with fellow enthusiasts. Participating in challenges or contests hosted by these communities can also help you gain exposure and improve your skills through constructive critiques.

Social Media Platforms

Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr to share your pixel art with a larger audience. Create a dedicated art page or use relevant hashtags to reach people interested in pixel art. Engage with other artists, share your process, and showcase your progress to build a following and connect with like-minded individuals.

Personal Portfolio

Consider creating a portfolio website or a section on your existing website to showcase your pixel art. Organize your artwork by categories or projects, providing a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate platform for potential clients or collaborators to explore your work.

Art Challenges and Collaborations

Participating in art challenges or collaborations can be a great way to push your creativity, learn new techniques, and gain exposure. Look for pixel art challenges on social media or join forces with other artists to create collaborative artwork. These opportunities not only help you grow as an artist but also allow you to connect with others in the pixel art community.

Seeking Feedback and Critiques

Don’t be afraid to share your work-in-progress pieces or ask for feedback from other artists. Constructive critiques can provide valuable insights, helping you identify areas for improvement and refine your pixel art skills. Engage in discussions, join critique groups, and be open to receiving feedback—it will ultimately contribute to your artistic growth.

Personal Branding

Consider developing a personal brand as a pixel artist. Create a distinct artistic style, use consistent branding elements, and incorporate your unique personality into your online presence. Building a recognizable brand can help you stand out in a crowded digital art landscape and attract potential clients or opportunities.


Congratulations, you’ve completed the comprehensive guide on how to draw pixel art in Krita! By following the steps outlined in this guide and leveraging the tools and features of Krita, you now have the knowledge and skills to create stunning pixel art.

Pixel art offers a unique and rewarding artistic journey that allows you to explore retro aesthetics, challenge your creativity, and create visually captivating artwork. Through practice, experimentation, and continuous learning, you can refine your pixel art skills and develop your own distinct style.

Remember that pixel art is not limited to a single technique or style. Embrace your creativity, explore different shading techniques, experiment with color palettes, and push the boundaries of what pixel art can be. Let your imagination run wild and create pixel art that sparks joy, tells stories, and captures the hearts of viewers.

Now it’s time to pick up your digital pencil, fire up Krita, and embark on exciting pixel art projects. Start small, be patient with yourself, and most importantly, have fun throughout the artistic journey. Remember that every masterpiece begins with a single pixel.

Now go forth and become a pixel art master in Krita!

Important Notice

Please note that the information provided in this comprehensive guide is intended for educational and informational purposes only. The techniques, tips, and guidelines mentioned are based on general practices and may vary based on individual preferences and skill levels. Always respect copyright laws and give proper credit to the original artists when using their work or sharing your creations.

Table of Contents

Section Page
Introduction 1
Getting Started: Setting Up Krita 2
The Krita Interface 3
Choosing the Right Canvas Size 4
Color Palette Selection 5
Sketching Your Pixel Art 6
Pixel Placement: The Art of Precision 7
Utilizing Layers for Efficiency 8
Adding Shading and Highlights 9
Adding Final Touches 10
Achieving Animation with Layers 11
Sharing and Showcasing Your Pixel Art 12
Conclusion 13
Important Notice 14

Note: The page numbers mentioned above are for reference only and may vary based on the formatting and layout of the final document.

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