Itty-bitty 8-bit Art

2 Sep

After checking out iam8bit Gallery’s inaugural show, Super iam8bit, I became inspired to make some 8-bit art of my own!  The gallery pays homage to the 8-bit characters of the 80’s such as Mario, Link and Donkey Kong and is currently showcasing over 100 artists who’s contemporary pieces resurrect their childhood heroes.

30 years ago, pixel art was the front runner in digital imaging technology; nowadays, to say something is pixelated is to say it is bad, low-quality and inferior.  Despite our modern-day aversion to choppy imaging, most people seem to have a soft spot for our oldest pixelated friends.  I like to think that is because 8-bit art has always seemed just a little imperfect, which we as humans can connect with.  My attempt to simulate a computerized process by hand seems to have achieved a similar reminiscent effect.  At the very least that’s my explanation for the child-like quality of this piece and I’m stickin’ to it!

For this project, I pilfered about a million paint chip samples from my local hardware store.

I definitely ended up with more than I needed!

I used a picture of Mario on my phone to match the colors…here is a close-up so you can see the names and numbers of the colors I used:

Initially, I wasn’t sure what size I wanted to make my Mario, but in the end I only ended up using one paint chip for each color.  That mean’s I have lots left over for a future, life-size mario project.  A quick google search landed me an already gridded image of Mario to use as a reference:

Then I counted every. single. square. by color in order to plan out my design.  Here are the grand totals:

54 Brown

42 Red

44 Yellow

I thought it would be a good idea to use one of the blue paint chips as the background for Mario so I did the math and figured that in order for it to fit on one paint chip each pixel would measure 1/4 square inch.  I created a 1/4 sq.” grid on the back of each of the three colors and got cutting with my teeny, tiny scissors.

And many more where those came from!

Then, I drew a grid on top of my blue paint chip.  I didn’t want to get stuck with pencil lines in Mario’s background so I compared my gridded Mario with my gridded paint chip and painstakingly erased all the squares around the outside of Mario. This is what I ended up with:

Mario Silhouette

Then it was just paint pixel by numbers!  Following my grid, I glued on one square at a time and used a toothpick to adjust and straighten it out. Here is the final product next to a key for size reference.


Making Mario by hand reminds me that humans built 8-bit digital Mario by hand as well. That makes me just a little less afraid of computers taking over the world.


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