Windows Question about sprite size with pixel art

landale

Member
I was wondering if my sprites were too big. The biggest one I have is about 520x640 but that's for the largest character. The smallest character being about 200x280.

I've watched a few videos on YouTube and internet searched topics on this but I'm still uncertain whether my sprites can be used.

I can make them smaller if needed but I just want to figure out if sprites of this size can be used without them messing up anything when changing resolutions. I want the default display resolution for my game to be 1920 x 1080. Is this doable?
 

Mert

Member
Presuming that your base resolution is 1920x1080, that's too big for a pixel art styled game.
Go as lower as 960x640. This is your base resolution. You'll then rescale it to 1920x1080. Check this:
 

landale

Member
Presuming that your base resolution is 1920x1080, that's too big for a pixel art styled game.
Go as lower as 960x640. This is your base resolution. You'll then rescale it to 1920x1080. Check this:
That was one of the videos I watched actually. I make really detailed sprites. So I'm wondering if I can make a game with that resolution. I want detailed environments which look elaborate but done in pixel art.
 
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muki

Member
Swords of Ditto uses large sprites so you can get away with it, if you're smart with texture pages. This video isn't super technical unfortunately, but it might inspire you. At least serves as proof that it can be done.

As for whether or not your sprites can be scaled without significant loss of detail is hard to say without knowing what they look like. That is entirely dependent on how crisp lines lines are vs softer lines, how much detail is put into texture, etc. Even things like post-effects will change the perceived detail put into sprites.
 

landale

Member
Swords of Ditto uses large sprites so you can get away with it, if you're smart with texture pages. This video isn't super technical unfortunately, but it might inspire you. At least serves as proof that it can be done.

As for whether or not your sprites can be scaled without significant loss of detail is hard to say without knowing what they look like. That is entirely dependent on how crisp lines lines are vs softer lines, how much detail is put into texture, etc. Even things like post-effects will change the perceived detail put into sprites.
That's a little reassuring thanks.

But yeah I probably should have clarified in the OP. I'm not asking what I should do I'm asking if it'll work well. I want hd sprites but still pixel art if possible
 

Khao

Member
If you want HD graphics you're really better off without pixel art tbh. The whole point of pixel art is to make the most out of lower resolutions, potentially suggesting more detail than there actually is.

When applying those techniques with HD resolutions, you're mostly just working extra to achieve the same result as with "standard" graphics. Except with a limited palette. You're really not taking advantage of pixel art's strenghts when working that big. Not to mention that scaling a 1080p pixel art image across different platforms is going to be hellish, as your game will only ever look right in 1080p or 2160p with absolutely no inbetweens.

I'd recommend to either drop pixel art, or decrease your resolution. It'll make your life easier and probably give you a better result.

Can it be done? I really don't think it's in any way a good idea but yes, sure. If you're willing to put in all the extra work required. Just be aware that you're gonna have to make potentially dissapointing compromises when displaying the game at different resolutions. You're probably gonna have to design your game in such a way to allow for arbitrary view sizes. Like, people playing at smaller resolutions are literally gonna have a smaller view.

If you're fine with that and you're genuinely aware of how much work it's going to be, go for it I guess. I really don't recommend it, but you can do it.
 
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I love pixel art for one main reason....You are allowed to ignore details. Now, as basic as this may be, I also learned that details in pixel-art goes further than just a single sprite. I prefer to take pixel-art games as a series of layers super-imposed one on top of the other creating the final big picture. Although, not to everyone's taste, I really love how beautiful Pixelnicks did their Eagle Island game. Many subtle details make the game vivid, living and feel HD even as pixel-art. Basically, you get pixel-art trees in 2 or 3 background layers. Then you have all those mice, moles, frogs, fish, clams, flowers, dandelions, even the swaying hanging post lights and hanging vines. A game is like magic and your goal is to trick the player's eyes so he/she does not concentrate of a single detail.

When your player runs on the screen, you want him/her to concentrate on the whole picture and not on the single character. Creating the whole environement to distract the player's eyes (not game play) will most definatively use lower res graphics while enjoying adding extra details to make your game live. You watch a Magic show and are amazed by the final trick because the Magician does not let you see the lady moving from one place to another and covering up areas you should not see.

GameMaker Studio has some cool tools for that and one I love the most is particles. Particles, in pixel-art games, can take up so much space while giving you illusions of detail. When checking Super Mario Bros 1. They used the same sprite for clouds and bushes and simply changed the color. No one really took time to examine the bush and clouds while playing, we are concentrated on not being killed and gaining power ups. If you look at Super Mario World, Mario's face, it's all a question of details about when to draw white or black, a mustach or a mouth. Even though You draw little mixels, you still need to be clever in when to draw one and when not to give the illusion of something bigger than what is drawn.

If you are really wanting to make a pixel-art game, for me, 256x256 is enough for a huge sprite, ok, go for 320x320, and 32x32 pretty good for smaller ones. And 16x16 for the tiniest details you want to not spend to much time on. To me those are reasonable if you are looking to create a higher def pixel-art game for 2020 standards. Back then 64x64 were considered big sprites but we were playing on 640x480 resolution screens. When you are using 512x512 and higher res images, I think you are now starting to look at HD games that are not pixel-art anymore. Pixel-art has, to me, 2 main niches: Simple Static games à-la Super Mario and Sonic style and More complex and detailed like Eagle Island style. Both are good in their own way. And then, you have the HD games where people bring high def images onboard to give us stunning results like the Trine series which are splendid, detailed and beautiful.

If you want your display resolution to be 1920x1080 and that you ARE creating rooms that size or are looking for crisp clear non-blocky images, I do not think that pixel-art is the right term for your game anymore because pixel-art will work at most on a 928x522, to my opinion. Higher than that, I think we are starting to look at games heading for HD.

Again, That's my opinion, anyone can have their's. I hope it may help a bit.
 

muki

Member
I found this video pretty inspiring, as far as upgrading pixel art without necessarily upgrading the resolution:
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
The standard pixel art these days use a 16x16 grid size, so your sprites are ridiculously large - that range is usually reserved for major bosses, not ordinary characters. The whole point of pixel art is to have small sprites that leave details to the player's imagination (so you don't need to add that detail yourself) so you're missing the point if you're making large sprites - and also you risk running into issues with texture memory if you go into the actually big image range. (The default texture page size is 1024x1024 or 2048x2048, and with a 16px-based-size it's not uncommon for all the graphics in your entire game to fit on a single texture page - but once your sprites start taking up 25% of a texture page per frame, you're gonna need to actually think about this kind of stuff!)

I usually make my games 640x360 these days, which scales to 1920x1080 just fine (it's one third of that size) while still fitting in a good ol' 640x480 view. Tiles are 16x16 (so they match up nicely and stuff) but I don't care about making characters conforming to that - they live in a 16x16 world but it's mostly just a guideline; tall people can be 16x22 and hulking ogres 24x36 if it makes'em look better.
 

sonnyjune

Member
If pixel art is not the way to go for HD 2D games in Gamemaker, what are some alternatives for art methods? I know the engine technically supports SWF files for vector graphics, but is that actually a viable method for GM?
 

Mk.2

Member
If pixel art is not the way to go for HD 2D games in Gamemaker, what are some alternatives for art methods?
The point people are making is that pixel art benefits from smaller resolutions for several reasons (pixel art sprites with the dimensions stated in the OP would be an enourmous amount of work that would mostly go unnoticed and unappreciated by the player). It has nothing to do with Gamemaker, Yal's point about texture pages obviously applies to large non-pixel art sprites too.
 
If pixel art is not the way to go for HD 2D games in Gamemaker, what are some alternatives for art methods? I know the engine technically supports SWF files for vector graphics, but is that actually a viable method for GM?
I want to reply to that too. Something must be taken into consideration. And that is, the final game's target screensize. Are you after a 4k capable TV and hardware? Are you after the normal people's 1080 FHD hardware? What about cellphone screen sizes and tablets. Yes, they DO go up to 4k, but will this 4k image really show compared to a UHD 60 inch TV? I just think that people take to much time in wondering which scale to use for sizing their sprites and tiles. If the game is good, people will love it's artwork. Look at The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, a highly moddable game. It started on 720p screens and now there are mods for up to 8k textures. The 720p initial game did not prevent players from loving the game. Look at Super Mario World or even Super Mario Kart. Some people will love oldies because of gameplay and originality. Take Final Fantasy 7 which is still rated as one of the best games of the series because of it's story.

Games go beyond graphics and sizes. Eagle Island, a game I baught on Steam has tons of players, ported on Nintendo Switch after very few years of it's initial release and that game is in simple pixel-art graphics with 8x8 frogs jumping in a forest and 4x4 dandelions drifting away when passing by.

What I mean is that, vector graphics are usually used to draw on a small scale and be resizable at wish to export in BMP/PNG format at a predefined size. So to me, working with bitmap sprites (png formats of fixed sizes) is more than reasonable for any game as long as you have something interesting to offer to your players.

So to come back to the original post and also as mentionned by @Yal and my previous post. Images larger than 128x128 are not considered, to me at least, as pixel-art anymore. HD icons are 256x256 and higher and these are just ICONS. And as stated by @Yal again, if you keep your game's view size to a multiple of 1920x1080, when scaled up, it will be just as clear and beautiful. But higher scaled images are going in HD, FHD and UHD clear non-pixelated scaled games if that's a clear way of saying it :rolleyes: .
 

Mk.2

Member
Images larger than 128x128 are not considered, to me at least, as pixel-art anymore
Can you please explain this reasoning to me? It's a very common sentiment whenever a pro pixel artist posts a highly detailed piece with a large canvas on the Pixel Art subreddit. "Good work, but it's not really pixel art at that size."

Whether or not it is pixel art has nothing to do with the canvas size, and everything to do with the techniques used. Saying that an image is no longer pixel art if it's larger than 128x128 is... definitely on the extreme side of that opinion. That would mean that the large boss characters or background pieces in a pixel art game are not pixel art, but the smaller sprites are. It's simply incorrect.
 
Can you please explain this reasoning to me? It's a very common sentiment whenever a pro pixel artist posts a highly detailed piece with a large canvas on the Pixel Art subreddit. "Good work, but it's not really pixel art at that size."

Whether or not it is pixel art has nothing to do with the canvas size, and everything to do with the techniques used. Saying that an image is no longer pixel art if it's larger than 128x128 is... definitely on the extreme side of that opinion. That would mean that the large boss characters or background pieces in a pixel art game are not pixel art, but the smaller sprites are. It's simply incorrect.
Well, in your point of view, I would understand what you mean. It's like if I am saying that part of a game can be pixel-art and another part not. If I take @Yal Point here:
I usually make my games 640x360 these days, which scales to 1920x1080 just fine (it's one third of that size) while still fitting in a good ol' 640x480 view. Tiles are 16x16 (so they match up nicely and stuff) but I don't care about making characters conforming to that - they live in a 16x16 world but it's mostly just a guideline; tall people can be 16x22 and hulking ogres 24x36 if it makes'em look better.
If you have a 360 pixel high screen and add a character over 128 pixels, you are going to cover more than half the screen. BUT again, some bosses like Baby Bowser in Yoshi's Island are way bigger but still conform to pixel-art. I may have not been precise enough in my explanation. So I would have a tendency to accept your argument in saying that some exceptions can be made as to how big a pixel-art sprite can be.

I just think that I should simply say that I agree to this quote:
that range is usually reserved for major bosses, not ordinary characters. The whole point of pixel art is to have small sprites that leave details to the player's imagination (so you don't need to add that detail yourself) so you're missing the point if you're making large sprites
The 128x128 to me should apply to max ordinary characters (that's just an opinion and can be debated), higher than that, major boss but the whole point of pixel art is to volantarely leave details and let the player do the extra necessary filling of the missing details by him/her self.

I was just doing a referal point to my previous post thinking that some may use 256x256 images for tiny details that in normal pixel-art games would be 8x8 or 16x16 images. And an ordinary small texture in HD is 512x512, then normal HD 1024x1024, and 2048 for UHD and so on. To me normal games with nice HD graphics will even have 128x128 smaller sprites for I don't know, road lines or finger nails or pebbles or LOD terrain. The whole point of pixel-art is to draw small images and leave out details that an artist is not good at drawing or good at representing in other forms like Mario's mustache to represent his mouth. So yes, to me, 256x256, unless it's a super big boss, I think it's starting to be more HD oriented if that is your smallest picture size.
 

Mk.2

Member
The 128x128 to me should apply to max ordinary characters (that's just an opinion and can be debated), higher than that, major boss but the whole point of pixel art is to volantarely leave details and let the player do the extra necessary filling of the missing details by him/her self.
The whole point of pixel-art is to draw small images and leave out details that an artist is not good at drawing or good at representing in other forms like Mario's mustache to represent his mouth. So yes, to me, 256x256, unless it's a super big boss, I think it's starting to be more HD oriented if that is your smallest picture size.
Certainly, it's not common to have such large sprites for a main character in a game (I can't even think of a single game like that), but the fact that it's large or "looks HD" does not mean it isn't defined as pixel art. That definition comes down to the techniques used in producing the art. If you took one of those hypothetical large sprites and zoomed in, you would see all the same techniques used in producing smaller sprites, all the deliberately placed pixels. It's a ton of work to make detailed pixel art sprites that size, nevermind animate them and have the rest of the art in the game drawn at that scale, and that's why I suspect you never see them in games. It's still pixel art.

EDIT: Of course, there would also be the problem of significant quality loss when scaling down, as was mentioned already.
 
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Certainly, it's not common to have such large sprites for a main character in a game (I can't even think of a single game like that), but the fact that it's large or "looks HD" does not mean it isn't defined as pixel art. That definition comes down to the techniques used in producing the art. If you took one of those hypothetical large sprites and zoomed in, you would see all the same techniques used in producing smaller sprites, all the deliberately placed pixels. It's a ton of work to make detailed pixel art sprites that size, nevermind animate them and have the rest of the art in the game drawn at that scale, and that's why I suspect you never see them in games. It's still pixel art.
I agree on that. You're right. Not because it looks HD that it is INDEED HD. And YES, talent is needed to make a pixel-art image look like a quality pixel-art image. But if your smallest image IS 256x256, I think we are not in a pixel-art styled game anymore. But yes, pixel-art is a style of sprite and not just a size of a sprite.
 

Mk.2

Member
I agree on that. You're right. Not because it looks HD that it is INDEED HD. And YES, talent is needed to make a pixel-art image look like a quality pixel-art image. But if your smallest image IS 256x256, I think we are not in a pixel-art styled game anymore. But yes, pixel-art is a style of sprite and not just a size of a sprite.
I get what you're saying, and I agree that to the average player looking for "pixel art games", it would likely not be what they're looking for, due to the expectation of graphics in similar resolutions as 2D games released in the 80s and 90s.
 

Toque

Member
I was wondering if my sprites were too big. The biggest one I have is about 520x640 but that's for the largest character. The smallest character being about 200x280.

I've watched a few videos on YouTube and internet searched topics on this but I'm still uncertain whether my sprites can be used.

I can make them smaller if needed but I just want to figure out if sprites of this size can be used without them messing up anything when changing resolutions. I want the default display resolution for my game to be 1920 x 1080. Is this doable?
I can’t imagine doing animations on even a 200x200 sprite using pyxel edit.........

It’s not wrong just time consuming.
 

Khao

Member


Pixel art can absolutely be higher-res than the standard SNES character. It's still pixel art.

I fundamentally disagree that pixel art is a style. It's not. It's a technique, or a medium. Style is completely separate to the technique you're using. If you're using pixel art techniques to bring a 4000x4000 character to life, that's still pixel art. You'd be a freaking madman for trying to do so, but it'd still be pixel art. As long as every single pixel is placed with purpose and you're carefully controlling your color palette, it honestly can't even be argued that it isn't pixel art.
 

Mk.2

Member
I fundamentally disagree that pixel art is a style. It's not. It's a technique, or a medium. Style is completely separate to the technique you're using.
A good comparison is chiptune, often mistakenly referred to as a genre, when really it's a term for the medium.
 
Just to clear a few things out. Pixel-Art, by it's very title definitiion is art at the PIXEL scale. Now, that being say, here's the Wikipedia definition:
Pixel art is a form of digital art, created through the use of software, where images are edited on the pixel level. The aesthetic for this kind of graphics comes from 8-bit and 16-bit computers and video game consoles, in addition to other limited systems such as graphic calculators. In most pixel art, the color palette used is extremely limited in size, with some pixel art using only two colors.
...
Although the definition of the medium is not concrete, the majority of pixel artists agree that an image can be categorized as pixel art when the artist is manipulating the image with deliberate control over the placement of each individual pixel. When purposefully editing in this way, changing the position of a few pixels can have a drastic effect on the image. Most pixel artists do not consider images that have had filters applied to them which cause the image to look pixellated to be the same as pixel art, as the pixels that make up the image were not consciously placed by the artist, and usually do not hold much importance to the bigger picture.

A common characteristic in pixel art is the low overall colour count in the image. Pixel art as a medium mimics a lot of traits found in older video game graphics, rendered by machines which were capable of only outputting a limited number of colours at once. Additionally, many pixel artists are of the opinion that in most cases, using a large number of colours, especially when very similar to each other in value, is unnecessary, and detracts from the overall cleanliness of the image, making it look messier. Many experienced pixel artists recommend not using more colours than necessary.
I underlined the important factors of what can be considered a pixel-art image in the wiki-definition.



Pixel art can absolutely be higher-res than the standard SNES character. It's still pixel art.
This image, to me, is by far, NOT a pixel art. You could make several pixel displacement and it would not show. Although this image could fit in the line of small color palette, it had not been designed at pixel level (yes to some extent, but not entirely). One can take a pixel-art image and boost it up to transform it into an HD image which is then not a pixel-art image anymore. NOW, I DO AGREE to the fact that with today's computers and resources, pixel-art can INDEED be higher res than the later 8x8, 16x16 and 32x32. As I stated in my first comment, we had lower res 428x320 TVs back then so a 64x64 character looked huge compared to today's 1920x1080 displays.

We could come to an agreement that pixel-art HAS had an evolution since then giving us a greater color palette and a bigger image size, but at the base, pixel-art is what it's name says, art at the pixel level where you draw your image magnified at 400% (just to give an example). And yes, you can create your own image pixel by pixel and finish up with a 512x512 image but I will say like another user said: Good Luck and patience doing that! In the end, it still won't define you as a pixel artist but just as a conscientious person obcessed with tiny details or pationate digital artist, that's it.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Pixel art can absolutely be higher-res than the standard SNES character. It's still pixel art.
That's just a 3D model rendered with a limited palette shader. There's a whole bunch of weird artefacts on that sprite that wouldn't have showed up if it was handmade (like the bright spot on his pants that alternates between appearing and disappearing). Neither that nor the shadow Terry's hand casts on his forward leg really add any meaningful detail, they're just distracting... actually even more distracting because of the limited palette, I'd say.

(These kinds of weird artefacts is a major reason anime style isn't done in 3D games a whole lot: flat shapes with cel-shading causes almost invisible protrusions to cast massive shadows in very unnatural ways, and it's really hard to make models look good in arbitrary angle/lighting combinations. Typically slow talky cutscenes (that necessitate close-ups) are rendered with completely flat (ambient/directional) lightning to make this easier... see if you can spot the lightning differences next time you play an anime game!)
 

Khao

Member
Just to clear a few things out. Pixel-Art, by it's very title definitiion is art at the PIXEL scale. Now, that being say, here's the Wikipedia definition:

I underlined the important factors of what can be considered a pixel-art image in the wiki-definition.
Working at a pixel scale doesn't mean your entire image has to be small. If you have full control over every single pixel, you're doing pixel art. The size of the single sprite is honestly meaningless. Especially since the single sprite is only a part of the full picture in a game anyway. Honestly focusing on the actual size of the image is extremely arbitrary and tells you absolutely nothing about how the image was constructed. Was it built with pixel art techniques? Then it's pixel art. Otherwise where the heck do you draw the line? 32x32? 64x64? 128x128? 256x256? If they're literally all created in the exact same way it's honestly absurd to say one is pixel art and not the other.[/QUOTE]
You could make several pixel displacement and it would not show.
I'd argue that in a lot of places, yes, it would. Just following the outlines, they're clearly done with purpose and adding pixels in a lot of spots would likely break them. Now, the whole thing is far from perfect, like, the folds on the shirt are a ****ing mess for one. But I'm saying it's pixel art, not that it's flawless and perfect pixel art with no issues. Every single pixel in there was placed purposefully (aside from likely filling in large areas automatically, which, let's be real, is also a thing even at 16x16). You could like, probably move some pixels around and the image would still "work" but you might as well apply that argument to just about any pixel art work in history.

Or you know, just think about this way.

Is this pixel art?
Untitled.png
Yes? Cool!

Does it stop being pixel art when it's actually just a part of this picture?

Untitled2.png


That's just a 3D model rendered with a limited palette shader. There's a whole bunch of weird artefacts on that sprite that wouldn't have showed up if it was handmade (like the bright spot on his pants that alternates between appearing and disappearing). Neither that nor the shadow Terry's hand casts on his forward leg really add any meaningful detail, they're just distracting... actually even more distracting because of the limited palette, I'd say.
Not a shader though. Rotoscoping.



And that bright spot is not really an artifact but a gap in the shadow, which they could've removed in the process if they wanted (they did make minor adjustments to the shadow in other parts if you look around). Was it the wrong choice? Maybe, but aside from the fact that they used the model as a base, the end result was totally achieved by hand.
 
Working at a pixel scale doesn't mean your entire image has to be small. If you have full control over every single pixel, you're doing pixel art. The size of the single sprite is honestly meaningless. Especially since the single sprite is only a part of the full picture in a game anyway. Honestly focusing on the actual size of the image is extremely arbitrary and tells you absolutely nothing about how the image was constructed. Was it built with pixel art techniques? Then it's pixel art. Otherwise where the heck do you draw the line? 32x32? 64x64? 128x128? 256x256? If they're literally all created in the exact same way it's honestly absurd to say one is pixel art and not the other...
I don't think we should decorticate the entire image of a game to find which is pixel-art and which is HD, I think we just will never stop this topic. SO, to be clear, I do think that games have mixtures of both pixel art and HD art. And yes, I can change a few pixels in your image and you would not even notice because there are many shades and many different colors. Pixel art, if you displace a pixel, you can end up with no eyes or an entire mess. Now, that being said, we are not talking about bigger images for bosses as an example. And again, I am not judging who is and who is NOT a pixel artist. If I take that animation in your signature, the Amazing Crackpots Club, which I need to say, I checked the previews and it's a very nice twist to the genre, well though. But to me, this fits in why I call HD graphics games and not pixel art although one could say that the images are small enough to fit as pixel art and that every pixel of the characters were precisely thought out.

Now, let's go back to the authors original post here.
I was wondering if my sprites were too big. The biggest one I have is about 520x640 but that's for the largest character. The smallest character being about 200x280...
Smallest image is 200x280, largest is 520x640.

Old retro games à la Super Mario Bros resolution: 320x240
Old retro TV resolution: 428x320
Old Computer resolution: 640x480
HD resolution: 1280x720
FHD resolution: 1920x1080
UHD resolution: 3840x2160

The largest image does not fit under any old resolutions as his largest images can only start fitting under the HD resolution. Although the smallest resolution could fit under a boss category within the 428x320 resolution, since it is the SMALLEST image, the image categories do not qualify for a pixel art game. AGAIN, if we just use image sizes to qualify for pixel-art, I think it's not applicable if we take every individual image of the entire picture. So, to say things better, if we don't have the entire picture of the game, it's hard to say if the images are pixel art or not because I could most definately recreate my face on a 512x512 size and call it pixel art, but that is justified because it's a single image. But within a game, I think all elements of the games should be taken into consideration.

We also have no idea how the backgrounds look in this thread author's game. I think a screenshot of the game would answer pretty quickly to the pixel art question instead of debating if a size is pixel art or not.

I'm done commenting here, I think we did answer the author's question and it's up to the autho to decide of what to take into consideration.

Very interesting question though and nice debatable points by everyone, nice conversation :)
 

Mk.2

Member
And yes, I can change a few pixels in your image and you would not even notice because there are many shades and many different colors. Pixel art, if you displace a pixel, you can end up with no eyes or an entire mess.
The image very obviously uses deliberate pixel placement and a limited palette. There's no question whether or not it's pixel art, and it has nothing to do with opinion. Of course a misplaced pixel on a large canvas wouldn't be as noticeable as it would on a small sprite, that is essentially going back to the argument of using arbitrary sizes to define what is and isn't pixel art.

Though agreed that the topic's original question has hopefully already been answered, will also stop derailing it further.
 
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