How to Create Pixel Art in Krita: Step-by-Step Guide

A Fun and Friendly Tutorial for the Whole Family

Are you ready to unleash your creativity and dive into the world of pixel art? Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner looking to explore a new art style, Krita is the perfect tool for bringing your pixel art to life. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of creating stunning pixel art using Krita, from the basics to advanced techniques. So grab your digital pen and let’s get started on this exciting journey!


Pixel art is a unique form of digital art that uses tiny squares, or pixels, to create images with a retro aesthetic. It has seen a resurgence in popularity due to its nostalgic charm and simplicity. Krita, a free and open-source digital painting software, provides artists with a powerful set of tools specifically designed for creating pixel art. Whether you’re looking to create game sprites, icons, or nostalgic artwork, Krita has everything you need to bring your pixel art to life.

In this comprehensive tutorial, we’ll cover everything you need to know to create pixel art in Krita. From setting up your canvas to mastering essential techniques like shading and dithering, we’ll guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you have a solid foundation in pixel art creation. By the end, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to create stunning pixel art that will impress friends, family, and even the most discerning art enthusiasts.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the exciting world of pixel art in Krita!

Getting Started

1. Downloading and Installing Krita

The first step in creating pixel art in Krita is to download and install the software:

Step 1: Visit the official Krita website at

Step 2: Navigate to the Downloads page and choose the appropriate version for your operating system.

Step 3: Follow the installation instructions provided on the website to complete the installation process.

Step 4: Once Krita is successfully installed, launch the application to begin creating pixel art!

2. Familiarizing Yourself with the Krita Interface

Before diving into creating pixel art, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the Krita interface:

Step 1: Open Krita on your computer.

Step 2: Take a few moments to explore the various panels and tools available in the interface. Some essential panels include the Brush Presets, Layers, and Color Palette panels.

Step 3: Experiment with different brushes and their settings to get a feel for how they affect your artwork.

Step 4: Familiarize yourself with the keyboard shortcuts available in Krita. These shortcuts can significantly speed up your workflow and make the creation process more efficient.

Step 5: Take some time to adjust and customize the interface to your liking. Krita offers flexibility in rearranging and docking panels to create a workspace that suits your needs and preferences.

3. Setting up Your Canvas

Now that you’re familiar with the Krita interface, it’s time to set up your canvas for pixel art creation:

Step 1: Open a new canvas in Krita by navigating to File > New or using the shortcut Ctrl+N.

Step 2: In the New Image dialog box, specify the width and height of your canvas. For pixel art, it’s best to start with a small canvas size to maintain the retro aesthetic. Common sizes include 32×32 pixels for sprites or 256×256 pixels for illustrations.

Step 3: Adjust the resolution of your canvas. For pixel art, a resolution of 72 pixels per inch (ppi) is sufficient for screen-based viewing.

Step 4: Choose a suitable color space for your canvas. If you’re creating pixel art for web or screen use, the RGB color space is recommended.

Step 5: Enable the “Transparent Background” option if you want your pixel art to have a transparent background. This can be useful when integrating your artwork into different backgrounds or compositions.

Step 6: Click “OK” to create your canvas. You’re now ready to begin creating pixel art in Krita!

4. Selecting the Perfect Pixel Art Brush

Choosing the right brush is crucial when creating pixel art. Krita offers a variety of brushes specifically designed for pixel art:

Step 1: Locate the Brush Presets panel in the Krita interface. You can access it by navigating to Settings > Dockers > Brush Presets.

Step 2: In the Brush Presets panel, explore the available brushes for pixel art. Look for brushes that have a hard, square edge to create clean and precise lines.

Step 3: Experiment with different brush sizes to find the one that suits your pixel art style. Smaller brush sizes are ideal for adding fine details, while larger brushes work well for blocking in colors or shading.

Step 4: Adjust the opacity and flow settings according to your preference. Lower values result in more transparent strokes, while higher values create more solid strokes.

Step 5: Once you’ve found the perfect pixel art brush, click on it to select it for your artwork. You’re now ready to start creating pixel art in Krita using the selected brush!

5. Exploring Color Palettes

Color plays a crucial role in pixel art, and Krita offers a variety of color palettes to choose from:

Step 1: Locate the Color Palette panel in the Krita interface. You can access it by navigating to Settings > Dockers > Color Palette.

Step 2: Krita provides several pre-made color palettes specifically designed for pixel art. Browse through the available palettes and choose the one that best fits your artistic vision.

Step 3: If none of the pre-made palettes suit your needs, you can create a custom palette. To create a custom palette, click on the “New Palette” button in the Color Palette panel. Then, add colors by selecting them from the color wheel or entering specific color values.

Step 4: Experiment with different color combinations to find the perfect palette for your pixel art. Consider the mood or theme you want to convey and choose colors accordingly.

Step 5: Once you’ve selected or created your color palette, it’s ready to use in your artwork. You can access the colors directly from the Color Palette panel or use the Eyedropper tool to sample colors from your canvas.

Sketching Your Pixel Art

1. Creating a New Layer for Sketching

Before diving into the pixel art creation process, it’s beneficial to sketch out your ideas on a separate layer:

Step 1: Create a new layer in Krita by navigating to Layer > New Layer or using the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N.

Step 2: Position the newly created layer above your canvas. This ensures that your sketch is separate from your canvas and can be easily modified or removed if needed.

Step 3: Use a light-colored brush to sketch out the basic shapes and forms of your pixel art. Keep the strokes loose and focus on capturing the overall composition and proportions of your subject. Don’t worry about adding too many details at this stage.

Step 4: Adjust the opacity of the sketch layer to make it less prominent. This allows you to see your pixel art lines more clearly as you begin refining them.

Step 5: Once you’re satisfied with your sketch, create a new layer below the sketch layer. This new layer will serve as the base layer for your pixel art. You’ll start refining lines and adding color to this layer.

2. Refining Your Sketch

With your rough sketch in place, it’s time to refine the lines and forms of your pixel art:

Step 1: Select the pixel art brush you previously chose for your artwork. Ensure that the brush color is set to a contrasting color from your sketch.

Step 2: Start refining the lines of your pixel art, using short and precise strokes. Focus on capturing the essence of your subject and defining the shapes and forms more accurately.

Step 3: Zoom in to get a closer look at your pixel art and ensure clean and smooth lines. This is particularly important when creating pixel art, as any jagged or uneven lines can be easily noticeable.

Step 4: Experiment with different brush sizes and opacity settings to achieve variations in line weight. Using thicker lines for the main shapes and thinner lines for details can add depth and interest to your pixel art.

Step 5: Take your time to refine the lines of your pixel art until you’re satisfied with the overall composition and appearance. Remember, it’s easier to make adjustments at this stage before moving on to adding color.

3. Hiding or Deleting the Sketch Layer

Once you’re confident with the refined lines of your pixel art, it’s time to hide or delete the sketch layer:

Step 1: Hide the sketch layer by clicking on the eye icon next to its name in the Layers panel. This temporarily removes it from view, allowing you to focus solely on your pixel art without any distractions.

Step 2: Alternatively, if you’re certain that you no longer need the sketch layer, you can delete it from the Layers panel. Right-click on the sketch layer and select “Delete Layer” from the context menu. Confirm the deletion when prompted.

Step 3: Hiding or deleting the sketch layer is a personal preference. Some artists prefer to keep it visible throughout their workflow, while others find it beneficial to remove it once they’re confident with their refined lines.

Step 4: If you ever need to refer back to the sketch layer for any reason, you can simply unhide it by clicking on the eye icon again.

4. Creating a New Layer for Base Colors

With the refined lines in place, it’s time to start adding colors to your pixel art:

Step 1: Create a new layer below the refined lines layer to serve as the base color layer. This layer will hold the initial flat colors of your pixel art.

Step 2: Ensure that the base color layer is positioned below the refined lines layer in the Layers panel. This layer arrangement ensures that the lines remain visible above the base colors.

Step 3: Select the desired base color for your subject using the Eyedropper tool or directly from the Color Palette. Consider the lighting and mood of your pixel art when choosing colors.

Step 4: Use the Fill tool or the pixel art brush to block in the base colors on the base color layer. Start with larger areas and gradually move towards smaller details.

Step 5: Take your time to ensure that the base colors are neatly contained within the refined lines of your pixel art. This will help maintain a clean and professional appearance.

5. Experimenting with Shading and Highlights

To add depth and dimension to your pixel art, it’s important to experiment with shading and highlighting techniques:

Step 1: Create a new layer above the base color layer. This new layer will be used for shading and highlighting.

Step 2: Select a slightly darker shade of the base color to represent the shadows in your pixel art. Use the pixel art brush or a selection tool to apply shading to the appropriate areas. Pay attention to the light source in your artwork and ensure that the shadows are consistent and add depth.

Step 3: Similarly, choose a slightly lighter shade of the base color to represent the highlights. Apply this lighter color to areas that receive direct or reflected light. Use shorter strokes and avoid shading the entire area to maintain a sense of volume and realism.

Step 4: Experiment with techniques like dithering or cross-hatching to achieve different textures and effects in your shading and highlighting. Dithering involves the use of two contrasting colors to create the illusion of additional shades or textures, while cross-hatching involves the use of parallel lines to indicate shadow and form.

Step 5: Remember to maintain consistency in your shading and highlighting throughout your pixel art. Make adjustments as needed to ensure that the overall appearance is cohesive and visually pleasing.

6. Using Multiple Layers for Colors and Shading

Using separate layers for different colors and shading can provide flexibility and ease in making adjustments:

Step 1: Create a new layer above the base color layer for each color or shading element you want to add. For example, create separate layers for the background, foreground objects, characters, shadows, and highlights.

Step 2: This layer organization allows you to easily make changes or experiment with different color schemes without affecting the base colors. You can also adjust the opacity of each layer to control the intensity of the colors or shading.

Step 3: Use layer masks to refine the edges or make selective adjustments within specific color or shading layers. Layer masks allow you to paint on a mask layer, hiding or revealing parts of the underlying layer without permanently changing the original pixels.

Step 4: Keep your layer names organized and descriptive to avoid confusion or mistakes. This will make it easier to locate and modify specific elements within your pixel art.

Step 5: Take advantage of Krita’s layer blending modes to experiment with different blending effects between layers. Blending modes can enhance the overall appearance of your pixel art and create interesting visual effects.

7. Merging Layers for a Unified Pixel Art Piece

Once you’re satisfied with your colors, shading, and highlights, it’s time to merge the layers together:

Step 1: Review your pixel art and ensure that all the colors and shading are finalized. Make any necessary adjustments before proceeding with the merging process.

Step 2: Select the layers you want to merge by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on the corresponding layer thumbnails in the Layers panel. You can also select multiple layers by dragging a selection box around them.

Step 3: Right-click on one of the selected layers and choose “Merge Layers” from the context menu. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut Ctrl+E to merge the selected layers.

Step 4: Repeat the merging process for any additional layers you want to combine into a single layer. This consolidation simplifies your pixel art composition and allows for easier editing and exporting.

Step 5: It’s a good practice to create a backup copy of your artwork before merging layers. This ensures that you have a non-destructive version with individual layers preserved, allowing for future modifications if needed.

Finalizing Your Pixel Art

1. Reviewing and Refining Your Pixel Art

Now that your pixel art is taking shape, it’s time to carefully review and refine it before adding the finishing touches:1. Reviewing and Refining Your Pixel Art (continued)

Step 1: Zoom in and carefully examine your pixel art for any imperfections or areas that require refinement. Pay attention to details such as clean lines, consistent shading, and color accuracy.

Step 2: Use the pixel art brush to make any necessary adjustments. This could involve refining lines, smoothing out rough edges, or correcting any areas that may seem unbalanced or out of place.

Step 3: Take your time during this refining process and make small tweaks as needed. Remember that pixel art is all about precision, so paying attention to the details can make a big difference in the final result.

Step 4: If you’re having trouble spotting any flaws or areas that need improvement, consider taking a break and coming back to your pixel art with fresh eyes. This can help you spot issues that were previously overlooked.

Step 5: Repeat the reviewing and refining process until you are completely satisfied with the overall appearance of your pixel art.

2. Adding Effects and Filters

Once you’re happy with the main composition of your pixel art, you can enhance it further by applying effects and filters:

Step 1: Experiment with different effects and filters available in Krita to add a unique touch to your pixel art. These can include blurring, sharpening, noise reduction, or adding texture.

Step 2: Use the Filter menu in Krita to access a variety of effects. Some popular options for pixel art include Gaussian Blur, Emboss, and Noise Reduction.

Step 3: Apply the effects and filters selectively to specific areas of your pixel art. This can help create depth, highlight focal points, or add visual interest to the overall composition.

Step 4: Be mindful not to overdo the effects. The goal is to enhance your pixel art subtly without overpowering the original artwork.

Step 5: Take some time to experiment with different combinations of effects and filters to find the ones that best complement your pixel art and enhance its overall visual impact.

3. Saving and Exporting Your Pixel Art

Once you’re satisfied with your final pixel art, it’s crucial to save and export it properly:

Step 1: Save your pixel art project file in Krita’s native format (.kra) to preserve all the layers and settings. This allows you to make further adjustments or modifications in the future if needed.

Step 2: Consider creating a backup copy of your pixel art project and saving it in a different location or on an external storage device. This ensures that your hard work is protected and can be retrieved in case of any unexpected data loss.

Step 3: When exporting your pixel art for sharing or use in other applications, choose an appropriate file format such as PNG or GIF. These formats support transparency and are commonly used for pixel art.

Step 4: In Krita, navigate to File > Export or use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+E to access the export options.

Step 5: Specify the file name and location where you want to save your exported pixel art.

Step 6: Select the desired file format and adjust any additional export settings. Consider factors such as color depth, compression, and transparency options.

Step 7: Click “Export” to generate the final file of your pixel art.

4. Sharing and Showcasing Your Pixel Art

Once your pixel art is complete, it’s time to share and showcase it with others:

Step 1: Create an online portfolio or personal website to display your pixel art. This allows you to have a dedicated space where you can showcase your artwork and attract potential clients or fans.

Step 2: Share your pixel art on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Utilize appropriate hashtags and engage with art communities to reach a wider audience.

Step 3: Participate in pixel art contests or exhibitions to gain exposure and recognition within the art community. Look for online or local events that welcome pixel art submissions.

Step 4: Collaborate with other artists or join online communities dedicated to pixel art. Engaging with fellow artists can provide valuable feedback, inspiration, and opportunities for collaboration.

Step 5: Consider creating merchandise featuring your pixel art, such as prints, stickers, or apparel. Platforms like Etsy or Redbubble allow you to sell your artwork on various products.

Step 6: Continually seek feedback and critiques from other artists or art enthusiasts. Constructive criticism can help you improve your skills and develop your unique style.

Step 7: Don’t be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of pixel art. Explore new techniques, styles, and subject matters to keep evolving as an artist.

5. Continuing Your Pixel Art Journey

Creating pixel art in Krita is just the beginning of a lifelong artistic journey:

Step 1: Practice regularly to improve your skills and refine your pixel art techniques. Dedicate time each day or week to create pixel art and explore new ideas.

Step 2: Seek inspiration from other pixel artists, both past and present. Study their techniques, styles, and use of colors to expand your artistic repertoire.

Step 3: Explore different themes or genres within pixel art. Challenge yourself to create pixel art in various styles, from retro gaming sprites to elaborate illustrative scenes.

Step 4: Experiment with different art software and tools to find what works best for your workflow and artistic vision. Keep an open mind and remain adaptable to new technologies and trends.

Step 5: Share your knowledge and experiences with other aspiring pixel artists. Contribute to online forums, tutorials, or workshops to help grow the pixel art community and inspire others.

Step 6: Never stop learning. The world of art is vast, and there is always something new to discover and explore. Stay curious, take risks, and continue evolving your skills as a pixel artist.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use Krita for pixel art on a tablet device?

Absolutely! Krita is compatible with various tablet devices, making it a versatile tool for creating pixel art on the go. Simply connect your tablet to your computer, install Krita, and start creating.

Source: Krita Documentation

2. How can I make my pixel art look sharp and clean?

One way to achieve sharp and clean pixel art is by using the pencil tool instead of the brush tool in Krita. The pencil tool creates perfectly crisp lines that are ideal for pixel art.

Source: Krita Documentation

3. Are there any shortcuts in Krita that can speed up my pixel art creation process?

Absolutely! Krita offers a wide range of keyboard shortcuts that can help streamline your workflow. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the available shortcuts to work more efficiently.

Source: Krita Documentation

4. Can I create animations with pixel art in Krita?

Yes, Krita has powerful animation tools that allow you to create stunning pixel art animations. Explore the animation features in Krita to bring your pixel art to life with movement and storytelling.

Source: Krita Documentation

5. How can I export my pixel art from Krita?

To export your pixel art from Krita, go to File > Export. Choose your desired file format, such as PNG, and adjust the export settings as needed. Click Export to save your pixel art to your desired location.

Source: Krita Documentation

6. Are there any online resources for learning more about pixel art in Krita?

Absolutely! There are various online tutorials, video courses, and forums dedicated to helping artists learn and master pixel art in Krita. Explore platforms like YouTube, Udemy, or the Krita community for additional resources.

Source: Krita Documentation

7. How can I share my pixel art with others using Krita?

Krita provides several options for sharing your pixel art with others. You can export your artwork as an image file and share it on social media, art platforms, or your personal website. Additionally, you can share your Krita files with other artists or collaborators, allowing them to view and edit your pixel art.

Source: Personal knowledge


The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. The techniques, tips, and guidelines provided are based on personal knowledge and experience. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and reliability, the author makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained herein. Any reliance you place on this article is strictly at your own risk.

The author and the platform on which this article is published disclaim any responsibility for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage of any kind resulting from your use of or reliance on the information provided in this article.

Always seek advice from a professional or experienced artist for specific questions or concerns related to your pixel art creation process or any other artistic endeavors.

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