8-bit art was born from incorporating 8-bit graphics into computing platforms and displays. Many games with incredible graphics are available today for computers, tablets, and smartphones. But it wasn’t always like that, when hardware components, such as processors, didn’t have the ability to manage such graphics. Although 8bit art is now obsolete with our 4k and 8k screens, it still gets used to create retro video games and images, as well as gifs, all of which are referred to as “8-bit art.”
What’s the origin of 8-bit art?
8bits art was commonly used in the old days since the computers of that time made it difficult to integrate larger image data. Each data block could only be 8 bits long, and the computers could only process 8 bits at a time. Plainly, an 8-bit art was created by storing 8 bits of picture data in the system memory or a picture file. To give you an idea of what’s possible with such graphics:
- 8-bit visuals, the maximum number of colors shown on the monitor is 256
- 16-bit visuals show 65 536 colors
- 32-bit graphics show 16 777 215 colors and support transparency
In other words, 8-bit visuals were limited by the color palette and resolution, that’s why most people think of 8bit arts as sluggish and obsolete.
How 8bit graphics are still used today?
Today’s modern 32-bit and 64-bit CPUs make it simple to create 8-bit graphics. It allows you to go beyond the resolution and color limitations of the past. In fact, most games from the 1980s and 1990s used 8-bit visuals, and some common games like Super Mario Bros and Ninja Gaiden are still streamed today. Currently, to appeal to pixel video game fans and possibly progress their business models, several game creators try to incorporate this retro style into their games.
What’s pixel art?
8-bit graphics are still thriving with previous hardware limitations not being a problem anymore. From this came a new art form: pixel art. This retro art style is defined by the process of altering an image pixel by pixel. This approach was first applied to create retro 8-bit and 16-bit games, and it influenced the one-of-a-kind classic gameplay that lots of gamers have been looking for.
The 8-bit and 16-bit terms were first used to describe game processing that operated on CPUs. The Bit War, as it was called, was declared in the 90s between Nintendo and Sega, who were trying to top each other on the market. Because of the advancement in CPU technologies, this concept of ‘more bits equals better graphics’ is long gone. Indeed, 8-bit and 16-bit graphics are now considered a type of art rather than a graphical restriction. The aim is to reintroduce a retro atmosphere to an aging and nostalgic crowd.
How to use 8-bit graphics to create art?
Some people might think that it’s easy to use the 8-bit style since it looks visually simple. But, creating 8-bit art could be more difficult than one might think. To start using the 8-bit magic, you must first choose a pixel scale. Some people create a one-to-one pixel scale, which implies that each pixel is viewed as one pixel on your screen. You may also choose a different pixel scale and consider whether to keep it or change it along the way.
Then, you will need to choose a program. If you are using Illustrator (the most common one), you can view your art by selecting the “split into grid” interface selection. It is now up to the artist to determine whether to use the “live paint bucket” or to fill each pixel one at a time. Simply drag the mouse over the painting to see your artwork come to life with the “live paint bucket” selection.
From the 8-bit era to the present day
According to historical records, gaming was popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the release of games such as blackjack and chess. They were soon followed by a slew of other games created using simple programming languages. When the 1970s started, the “arcade” time of gaming began. With more media and game coverage, game consoles gained enormous popularity and were able to meet consumers for the first time. Atari, Coleco Vision, Amiga, and many others were all fighting for a piece of the pie. However, in the 1980s, Nintendo launched the “NES,” an 8-bit game device that completely changed the game industry, and pretty much saved it from the video game crash. The “arcade” period ended with the release of the first handheld devices such as the Game Boy. From there, the gaming industry became a multi-billion platform with powerful consoles being released every couple of years such as the PS5, Xbox Series, and Nintendo Switch.
Gaming has been constantly evolving since the 1990s, and most retro games have been released online. Actually, know that it is possible to play your favorite retro games on a variety of devices, including computers, tablets, notebooks, and cell phones. Thanks to the emulation world, everything is possible.