How To Create Pixel Paintings In Gimp

Pixel paintings are easy to recognize. We see them in icons and video game characters. They’ve also become very popular. Have you noticed that some of the most expensive and most collected NFT artworks today are pixel-painted character portraits or 3D variations of pixel paintings? Think Cryptopunks and Meebits, generative PFP NFTs created by Larva Labs.

In this tutorial, I show you how to create a pixel painting of an avocado. But first, a short intro to pixel paintings.


  • Pixel paintings consist of small painted squares
  • Ideally, each square should be exactly 1 x 1px in size.
  • The canvas size for pixel paintings is usually not too large.
  • Also, the canvas size is set to multiples of 8. For instance, 8 x 8px, 16 x 16px, 64 x 64px, etc.
  • Pixel paintings are very symmetrical. They approximate organic forms through symmetrically painted pixels. While they may seem unusual, the pixel aesthetic has its own charm and finds new relevance in this era of NFTs.


Step 1: Find a picture to serve as a reference.

For this tutorial, I downloaded a cute vector graphic of an avocado.

Step 2: Next, look at the shape of the avocado and notice it is composed of 2 circles, one small and one large, which are merged into one. This will guide us in creating our pixel-painted avocado.

Use this trick when developing your pixel paintings of any object, no matter how complex. Begin by decomposing the object you want to pixel paint into simple geometric shapes- circles, squares, lines, and dots.

Pixel paintings were originally intended to be a simplified version of the objects they represent. The idea was to recognize the objects and require low memory space for storage and use on a PC.

Step 3: Launch GIMP

Step 4: Create a new document, 64 x 64 pixels, with 72 pixels/in resolution, 32-bit precision, and white background fill.

Step 5: Since the canvas is quite small, zoom in to 1000% at the bottom of the screen.

Step 6: Create a new layer with transparent background and name it accordingly. I have named mine ‘Avocado’.

Step 7: Place guides on the canvas to ensure symmetry. Add 2 horizontal guides at 33.3% and 66.6%, respectively, to divide the canvas into 3 horizontal sections. Then add 1 vertical guide at 50.0% to divide the canvas into 2 vertical sections.

Step 8: Show the grid on the canvas. Go to ‘View’ and check ‘Show Grid’.

Step 9: With the ‘Avocado’ layer active, draw the small circle of the avocado. Click the ‘Ellipse Select Tool’ and draw a small circle in the first horizontal section.

Make dimensions of small circle symmetric and snap to the vertical guide to center it on the canvas. Also, turn off ‘Antialiasing’ and ‘Feather edges’.

Step 10: Convert selection to a path. Go to the ‘Paths’ panel and click ‘Selection to path’. Then make the path visible.

Step 11: Activate the ‘Paths Tool’. Then, select the path you want to stroke (the small circle) and click ‘Stroke Path’ from path options.

Step 12: In the Stroke dialog box, keep ‘Stroke Line’ and ‘Solid Color’ active. Set ‘Line Width’ to 1px and ensure you’ve chosen the right green color for the avocado peel. Then click ‘Stroke’.

Step 13: Make path invisible in path panel, set selection to ‘None’, and exit the path tool to see the small circle.

Step 14: Repeat the steps above to draw a large circle.

Step 15: Next, thicken the avocado peel by painting with the pencil tool. Click the ‘Pencil Tool’ and set ‘brush hardness’ to 100, ‘Size’ to 1, and ‘Spacing’ to 1.

Step 16: Using the pencil tool, close gaps in the shapes and thicken lines to create an avocado peel. Also, merge the two circles to create the avocado shape and use the ‘Eraser’ tool to clean up the merged shape.

Step 17: Next, draw the inner peel of the avocado. Set pencil color to lime green and draw inside the shape along the peel.

Step 18: Then, draw the circle for the seed with pencil color set to brown and color the inside of seed a light shade of brown.

Step 19: Finally, with your pencil tool set to a yellow lime color, paint the fleshy part of the avocado, and you are done with your pixel painting.

Remember, you can easily correct errors pixel by pixel using the ‘Eraser tool’ and the ‘Pencil tool’.

Remove grid and zoom to 100% to see the actual dimension of pixel painting.


Pixel paintings are fun to create and easier than you think. The trick is to decompose the object you want to paint into basic geometric shapes that you can easily create using square pixels.

About the author

Rakhibul Hasan

This is Rakhibul Hasan CEO and Founder of Clipping Path Creative Inc. We provide 100% handmade photo editing services to use Adobe Photoshop. Our services are Clipping path, Background removal, Color correction, Photo retouching, Car photo editing, drop shadow etc. Also we offer an image as a trial to judge our quality. So contact us and get instant reply.