In this post, we’ll learn about creating Minecraft pixel art while exploring some helpful strategies, useful tools, and fun ideas. By making a flat Minecraft world in creative mode, you basically have a blank canvas to create your pixel art masterpieces.

The idea of pixel art has been around for a long time, even before the word “pixel” ever existed. Mosaics and counted cross-stitch are some old examples, and perler beads are a relatively recent addition. The word “pixel” is a combination of the words “picture” and “element” and is essentially just a tiny square of color in an image on a computer monitor or television screen. Because of its blocky nature, Minecraft is a modern medium perfect for constructing pixel art.  

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Discover cool Minecraft pixel art

For learning the basics of pixel art, simple designs are a good starting point.  Some images used in Minecraft are perfect examples of pixel art and can serve as an ideal first project.  

Minecraft pixel art ideas

For example, the iron sword icon in the inventory is an image that fits in a 16x16 square. It’s quite plain to see that each block of color in the image can correspond to a Minecraft block in a Minecraft world. Because the image only measures 16x16, it is rather easy to count each pixel to figure out where to put each block.  The most challenging part is determining which Minecraft blocks to use to represent the different colors.

Generally, the most useful Minecraft blocks for pixel art are concrete, concrete powder, wool, and terracotta because they come in many different colors and are quite uniform in their appearance.

One thing to be aware of, however, is that concrete powder blocks fall when placed in the world. To combat this without having to place extraneous blocks that would distract from your artwork, you can use barrier blocks which are visible only when you have a barrier block in your hand. The barrier block is not available in the creative inventory and cannot be crafted, but you can obtain it with the command /give @s barrier as long as cheats are enabled.

To get a good look at the iron sword icon, it can be helpful to capture the image via screenshot and then zoom in on it in an image editor. With the enlarged view of the iron sword, you’ll be able to closely examine the colors to make your selection of blocks in Minecraft and ensure that your pixels are perfectly placed in correspondence with the original image.

Minecraft pixel art tutorial

The process described above outlines the fundamental steps of using Minecraft to create pixel art from an existing image.

  1. Basically, you start with an image to serve as your inspiration.
  2. Use an image editor to closely inspect that image for dimensions and color accuracy.
  3. Select which Minecraft blocks to use for the different colors.
  4. Finally build the image in Minecraft with pixel perfect accuracy.

In this process, the only step that isn’t unquestionably precise is the selection of Minecraft blocks to represent the pixels in the image.  

Minecraft pixel art maker

Thankfully, there are online tools such as McStacker Mural Generator, Minecraft Art Editor, and AutoSaved's Spritecraft that can help determine which blocks to use for certain colors. These tools also allow you to specify which types of blocks you want to consider and which blocks to exclude when generating the plan.

One of the most popular sources for pixel art that is relatively simple to recreate in Minecraft is art from video games, particularly art from games of the 8-bit era since the images in those games had to be created as pixel art in the first place.

The classic 8-bit Nintendo game Super Maro Bros. on the NES has plenty of recognizable images that are perfect for recreation in Minecraft. Whether you want to make Mario, Luigi, a goomba, a spiny, a fire flower, or a question block, the simple colors, small sizes, and blocky arrangements make for an easy project. The Spriters Resource is a great place to find pixel-perfect video game images.

Minecraft pixel art

For a slight increase in complexity, games from the 16-bit era of video games offer more to consider when creating pixel art. Games from the 16-bit era had more colors to choose from than their 8-bit predecessors. Because of this increase in color depth, images became more detailed and sometimes outgrew the simple 16x16 squares and 16x32 rectangles that were so common in the previous generation.

For a comparison, notice the difference between the 16-bit Mario of Super Mario World and the 8-bit Mario of Super Mario Bros. Although 16-bit Mario is only slightly larger than 8-bit Mario, 16-bit Mario is much more detailed because of the increased number of colors.

Mario Minecraft pixel art

Minecraft pixel art anime

For projects of a higher degree of difficulty, images from cartoons and anime are also well-suited for pixel art. Unlike simple video game images, content from animated media won’t be so blocky and thus will likely require larger dimensions to resemble the original content. However, the colors will still be relatively simple and well-suited for recreation with Minecraft blocks.

YouTube user RocketZer0 has created many pixel art tutorials which include, among other things, characters from The Simpsons, Disney Movies, Pokemon, and more. For an even greater challenge, visit the YouTube page of Felix Guaman who provides video tutorials of exquisite examples of Minecraft pixel art.

Minecraft pixel art template

To create your own pixel art templates to work from, you can almost certainly find images of your subject online. But you’ll probably need to do some image editing to prepare it for construction in Minecraft.  

With an image editor, there are many things you can do to help take whatever image you want to create and make it suitable for Minecraft pixel art (though doing so would be completely unnecessary if you’re recreating pixel-perfect images of video game characters like Mario).

You’ll likely have to isolate the subject by removing the background; you might have to shrink the image to make it a manageable size; you could even have to apply some effects or alter the color of some pixels yourself to ensure that important details won’t get lost in the process of shrinking the image. Once you have an image that looks good enough as pixel art, you can upload it to one of the websites linked earlier in this post to figure out which Minecraft blocks you’ll need.

Make Minecraft pixel art

As with most artistic endeavors, the road to becoming a master Minecraft pixel artist takes lots of practice. As you make more and more Minecraft pixel art and take on more challenging projects, you’ll develop a sense of what works well, what doesn’t work well, and how to make troublesome spots look good.

Up next, explore ideas for building cute Minecraft castles. And to dive deeper into Minecraft, get started with our Minecraft classes for kids.

Written by Chris Youngs, who worked on Minecraft for over four years. He spent most of that time testing Minecraft: Education Edition, with a heavy emphasis on the CodeBuilder feature. He joined the Create & Learn team to help teach young students the basics of programming with Minecraft: Education Edition.