Free Programs for pixel art, animation, and other fun things! (Look!)

Hey all.

Just thought id share some of the tools and stuff i use for graphic design. Some will be useful to you, and some others will not. Basically I use all these programs for different things. But they all offer good function for many different things. The list is below.

Graphics Gale : Animation And Graphics Editor

This one is extremely powerful. supports onion skinning, tilemapping, snap to tile, 8x8, 16x16, etc.

i mainly use this for tile setting, as it snaps to the grid so you know you are never off. as well as the onion skinning, it is very useful for its layer masking and so forth. best part about this program, is it was made to do pixel art in general. take a gander. the learning curve is not bad. lots of tutorials online as well.

Allegro Sprite Editor

This program is fairly straight forward. i mainly use it for its palette settings, its easy to set up palettes in this one, and finding that right shading you want as well.

Art Weaver

I used to use this a while back. i got CS5 now. basically, its like a clone of photoshop. helps with transparent glass effects, seethrough water etc.
a good program if you dont want to download photoshop cough

Color Counter

What does it do? ColorCounter, as its name suggests, tells you the number of unique colors in an image. Additionally, it can give you the full palette, as big as you want it, and it can arrange it in descending order beginning with the color that is used the most. Otherwise, it will arrange according to where you would first find each color, looking at it as though you would read a book. If you put the mouse over a specific color in the palette, it will tell you exactly how many pixels of that color are present in the entire image.

color scheme and color schemer

these handy little buggers i use when phishing for colors on the net. going to and loading up color schemer to find decent palettes is always awesome. sometimes…ok well all the time. its really really annoying to find colors they go well together. ask any pixel artist lol well…some have a knack for it. for the rest of us. its a pain in the butt.

these will help at least.

Rot Sprite

This little bad boy, may be a simple program. but it saves lives and time…ok it just saves time. basically, its rotates sprites for you at 90 degree angles and others. and apperantly, its more powerful then photoshop and other programs. I do not usually rotate anything. but this has been bookmarked on my mozilla for a bit. i bookmarked it because it could be really good for spell effects, thrown items, making spinning portals, weapons animations (especially swords), throwing axes, fireballs, you name it. want to rotate a wheel for a carriage or buggy you made? this would save you lots of time. so yeah, little program, but does wonders!

Paintshop Pro 7
No link Available (dont want to post pirated stuff sorry)

this is an old program, not very large. but extremely awesome. i still use this for its animation shop as well as its palette mixer etc. its great for pixel art in general.

MS Paint
you probably have this.

sounds silly, but i usually do all my pixel art in MS paint, depending on the project of course and what tools i need. but for just making a bmp image and going to it. simplest programs are always the greatest.


IrfanView is a good image viewer. Everyone needs a good image viewer.

Pixlr editor

In the event you feel the need to edit something but don’t wish to really download any programs at all per se, give the Pixlr editor a shot.


GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.

kohina radio!

ok ok, this is NOT a GFX program what so ever. BUT! i find listening to retro, chiptune, keygen music, etc. gets me kind of in the mood to do pixel art, and make stuff.

hope these helped, anyone want to add anything to this list that they use or find useful, please post below and i will update it. lets help out as much as we can, make life easier for everyone

~ Pixel Ghost

Lol I can see how that radio station keeps you in the mood for such things :stuck_out_tongue:

I like

I just wanna point out how this proggy works real quick. It upsamples the graphic with an algorithm like Scale2X, up to 4 times the original resolution. Then it rotates it using the standard methods, and finally, it scales it back down to the original resolution, preserving the hard edges and angles of the graphic. The results are much better than rotating at-resolution, and I really wish this type of behaviour was built into the rotation tool in Photoshop or other programs.

Very useful.

Yeah, rotsprite is really decent. i am glad you found it useful, hopefully it helps save time for everyone. :slight_smile:

free to CRIMINALS!

IrfanView is a good image viewer. Everyone needs a good image viewer. XnView is okay.

And while I can’t say I’ve ever done pixel art in Paint Tool SAI, it’s more than a wonderful program for art and I believe it could serve the purpose sufficiently. That is, it can be used to make pixel art, I believe.

In the event you feel the need to edit something but don’t wish to really download any programs at all per se, give the Pixlr editor a shot.

Oh, and BMG (Beneton Movie GIF) is a program that reportedly (If I remember) has spyware/adware?? But it’s still a nice program made in… Game Maker?? I really don’t remember I just remember it’s absurd. But if you want to dump some GIF frames or resize a GIF, it’s not TERRIBLE… though you could probably do better.

And ArtRage is fantastic but I doubt you’ll ever make pixel art in it. But no one said a good model to base your pixel art on ever hurt anyone. Don’t be afraid to sketch preconceptions.

thread has been updated with suggestions and links. when making a suggestion, could you please include a link to the software suggestion, make sure its free, as well as a brief description. thanks all :slight_smile:

Irfanview is awesome.

Paint Shop Pro X4 for me. Grid/guide capability plus manual palette management makes it awesome. Paint.NET is awesome too, but a lack of customizable grid/guide with a snap-to feature makes it difficult often.

Nalin, you should check out graphics gale for the snap to feature and the grid base. as it is more steered towards building sprites and tilesets for games. i highly recommend it.

That looks nice, but I get far more use out of PSP. Especially since I wrote a macro that makes sprite sheets DXT4 compressible. It makes it so easy to get sprite sheets added to XNA that way.

(BTW, for DXT4 compression, images have to have dimensions that are evenly divisible by 4. My macro goes in and resizes each frame to make everything divisible by 4. It is a pain in the ass to re-align everything manually.)