Over the past couple weeks, we have been reviewing books that teach children and young people about the art and science of making videogames. Those of us lucky enough to have grown up playing games know how cool they can be at that age, but to be able to actually make a game as a child is pretty amazing. Until very recently, it either wasn’t really possible to make games at home, or at the very least the tools to do so, much less any kind of guide to get you started, were not widely available.
Hopefully the kids reading books like these will foster a love of games and may eventually move into the industry and create the next generation of original content.
The second book in the series that we are looking at today, Make Your Own Pixel Art, attempts to show younger people, or at least those without a lot of artistic experience, that it’s extremely easy to draw using a keyboard, mouse and computer using pixel art. In fact, the authors of this book, pixel artist Jennifer Dawe and game designer Matthew Humphries, walk you step-by-step through the available tools, pixel art techniques, and things like how to turn your art into animation.
It’s interesting that the book begins by linking the making of pixel art to simple drawing on paper. That is obviously done to get kids over their initial fear of using the computer to create artwork. But the book also teaches advanced tools, so that by the end of it, if the child is following along and doing the exercises, they will be able to create some fantastic designs that go well beyond what pen and paper artists could accomplish.
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They can even create their own games. Pixel-based games are extremely popular these days, and we review them whenever they come up. They are classic of course, and receiving a bit of a resurgence. But even as a foundational skill, learning how to make pixel art would help with more advanced graphics creation, so it’s a great place to start even if students don’t ultimately end up there.
The graphics support the instructions in the book, and help to make things very easy to understand. All the techniques described, step by step, could easily hold the attention of a younger reader, and would also be interesting for adults who are just getting into pixel animation.
The authors of the book have a lot of experience as artists, and it shows. Jennifer Dawe has been a professional pixel artist for the past 15 years. Matthew Humphries is a Senior Editor at PCMag.com and a professional game designer. Over the past 15 years he has worked on games for Disney, 20th Century Fox and Games Workshop among others. They both bring their experience and love to Make Your Own Pixel Art, a fitting guidebook for young people or just the young at heart.