If like me you struggle and find it uncomfortable using a mouse on a personal computer to draw artwork, then you will be pleased to hear that there are some very usefull apps out there these days that can help you create artwork for your games pretty easily. Or maybe you just like to dabble and have a bit of fun at pixel art itself. Either way there will be an app out there that best suits your needs.
Here I am going to talk about Pixely: Pixel Art for everyone, as for the last year or so, this is the app I have been using to create my pixel art. Its a great tool to use, has some cool functions at your disposal and is very easy to get around with no complicated or 'gimicky' interface, nor is it plagued with advertising and click bait every time you touch the screen. To me it feels like a no nonsense, just get on with want you want to produce and go app.
When creating a canvas you can import images, or load previously drawn artwork that has been saved. Just starting a new one will give you a 16 x 16 canvas for which you can change by using the functions that appear down the right side of the screen to a more appropiate size up to a maxium of 2048 x 2048. And that is more than enough for pixel art. You can even 'Scale' images you have, including imported photos/pictures too, which is great for when using reference images to inspire new art. Other functions include, Pencil size, drawing symmetry, draw rectangles and the usual fill tool. The symmetry function is particularly a nice touch here. Theres an undo/redo function, colour sucker, and a colour palette editor which allows you to choose between RGB and HSB values with sliders. You can save a palette, load a palette, book mark a palette and even arrange your colours into some sort of order. There is also a function which allows you to create a 'Shade' effect just by selecting a pixel of colour. Again a nice touch, but the best function for me is the 'Color Replacement' tool. The ability to change one colour from your artwork to another with a one tap motion is an extemely handy feature to have, especially when experimenting with colour ramps. But despite all these very good functions it is worth mentioning that there is one function here that is not so good, and it has to mentioned because it is quite important. And that is the Copy/Paste function. To copy an area you have to select/highlight each pixel one by one in order for you to copy, and then when pasting you need to select one pixel and then anything you have copied is then pasted there and then with no option to move it. Get it wrong and you have to have another go at it. Get it right and you might just see what pixels you forgot to copy. This can be very tedious indeed. Whilst I am on a negative note I might as well mention the only other thing I find to be an annoyance with Pixely. And thats the function options itself. You cannot move it or hide it, and although you can pinch the screen to zoom in and out on your canvas, it would be really nice to have the whole screen available to me. When working with multiple canvases, or layers you do have the ability to hide those freeing up some screen space, so it would be good to be able to do the same and hide the function interface, as at the time i'm writting this, I can't find a way. I'm sure this can be easily remedied by Mark Marchione, who is the developer of this app, and is constantly updating and improving things on Pixely. His latest update for example now includes being able to change the 'Opacity' on each canvas you have adding another great feature to what I believe is a very clever layer system. Adding layers is easy. Duplicate a work, import an image or even load a previously saved work just by hitting the plus symbol. The layers can even be used as Animation frames which can be viewed by touching the 'Art viewer' tab. Here you are presented with your work with four options at your disposal. 'Normal, 'Tiled', 'Layered' and 'Animated'. You can then manipulate the Layers/Frames to skip or hide so you can see how your work looks in whatever direction you wish to take it just by a few finger movements. 'Tiled' is my favoroute one to use. When creating assets and trying to make 'Seamless' tiles, then this is an awesome way to be able to see it in action. Once happy with what you have created then all you need do is save it or export it. When exporting you have a few ways to do it. You can save to your camera roll, post on social media sites Twitter and Facebook, or email your artwork to wherever you want. Personally I use email as my game development software is on my PC, so being able to work on the go and send it to myself to pick it up later for use is the best way for me. However you might just want to show off to friends, in which case social media may be best for you, but don't forget if working on any small canvas sizes then you may want to just make you artwork larger. And you can do this by using a slider, which will double your artwork resolution on export.
Once last thing to mention before I summerise my thoughts on Pixely and thats its price tag. It does have a lot of useful features here. Features that you would find on some very good PC software tools that you would expect to pay top money for, either on a one off purchase or subscription service. So for a mere one off $2.50 payment on the app store, or about £2 here in the UK, makes it an absoloute bargain! Coupled with a developer that is constantly seeking to update it and make it better on each update makes this the best value for money app I've seen on the Appstore.
"This is by far the best app out there for pixel art creation, whether you are novice or a veteran pixel artist. This has something for everyone here and is very easy to use. No AD's or distractions and packed with so many useful features and all for the price of a Coffee puts Pixely in a league of its own unrivalled by any other pixel art app I have seen so far on the Appstore. It really is 'Pixel Art for everyone.' "