How to Make an 8-Bit Character

By Arnold Carreiro
Kirby made his debut in the 8-bit era.

8-bit games such as “Donkey Kong,” “Balloon Fight” and “Mario Bros.” have inspired creative 8-bit themed artwork in the decades since the Nintendo Entertainment System videogame platform was released. With the aid of a PC and Microsoft Paint, nostalgic artists can recreate their favorite NES characters, items and scenes or build their own unique art. The 8-bit style was inspired by the graphical limitations of the early Nintendo console’s blocky and pixelated visuals. Anything can be built in this retro style and its graphic effectiveness is only limited by the artist’s imagination.

Open a new Paint program file on your computer.

Use the Magnifying Glass tool to zoom in to the maximum level.

Select the pencil tool and the color black from the color panels listed. Draw your character’s outline pixel by pixel. Don’t forget to use the black lines to detail lines on the character’s body that will be filled with color, such as arms or legs.

Choose your character’s colors and fill in the 8-bit character using the paint bucket tool to cover large areas with color. Use the pencil tool to fill in colored details of your 8-bit art.

Tip

For practice, copy and paste a character image from a classic NES title to recolor and edit to make your own 8-bit art using this method. Try creating simple characters when you first start experimenting with 8-bit art techniques before you attempt more complicated subjects.

About the Author

Based in northern Florida, Arnold Carreiro has been writing video game articles since 2005. His work has appeared on websites including Simply Rare, Atlantic Publishing and Quirk Classics. Carreiro holds an Associate of Arts in graphic design from Florida State College at Jacksonville.