Hip to Be Square

By Aron Lawrence

Recently, a Minecraft player released images of an extremely intricate city scene he created solely with the default tools of the game. Even with access to today’s advanced 3D design programs, there’s a timeless appeal to creating something great out of simple pieces.

For some, the appeal comes from the effort it takes to work with a restricted palette. A photo-realistic cityscape can be made with Element 3D, a plugin for the popular motion graphics program After Effects, within a span of a few minutes. It’s technically impressive, and if handled correctly, it can pass for actual footage shot from a helicopter. On the other hand, it lacks the character and personality of a real shot. Creating a much more rudimentary scene block-by-block in Minecraft can take years. Looking at it, one can consider the attention to detail, the craftsmanship and the passion that goes into making such a piece.

For others, it’s more about nostalgia. In the early days of video games, character sprites were made of a few dozen blocky pixels. They were basic and almost featureless, but had charm and originality.

Today, the kids who grew up in beginning of that era are approaching 40.  Video gaming has become a widespread cultural phenomenon that spans generations. The work once considered crude and utilitarian is now regarded as an art form in its own right. The Flint Institute of Arts is currently exhibiting The Art of Video Games, which “sheds light on the prevalent and increasing nature of [the video game] medium within modern society.”

Digital art took decades to get to the point where artists could make whatever they could imagine. Photorealism is in the reach of many artists in the field. However, the minimalist appeal of a simple block- or pixel-based piece still captures the imagination of many. New video games are being released in classic pixel-based style for this reason. Posters and t-shirts with pixel designs are considered retro cool.

Despite its humble origins, pixel art has evolved into a respected niche. The art of video games has become part of Western culture, and will continue to influence mainstream art and design for years to come. At Quell, we stay on top of current design trends so that we can offer a multitude of options for our clients. From flat design to pixel art to 3D animation, our design team has the capabilities to make your brand’s communications stand out creatively.

by Aron Lawrence

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