Welcome to this PXLPET Unicorn – a pixel art tutorial for beginners

Hi there!

One of my favourite NFT artists ever is @shoumi who was doing super fun artistic things years ago. His PXLPET project always stuck in my mind… I remember he set up a game where you had to find a hidden PXLPET.. and the first person to find it and post it onto the blockchain won their own PXLPET… and from memory the very artistic and excellent @justatouchfey won.

I thought I’d play with one of @shoumi’s older creations and create a tutorial on how you could also build your own version. Now, I’m pretty sure this artist creates everything in double the size so that he can add extra detail… but we’re going to simplify.

Pixel Art is easily one of the most accessible art forms available to us in the digital age. Almost every device has a basic art program, so please do feel free to follow along…

Here is what we’re making today:

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Super cute right?

I’m using the Pyxel Edit tool, but I’m fairly confident that whatever default art program that comes with your device would be able to handle creating pixel art. You might not have layers, but the layers are really only important for animation…

Remember this little fireball throwing goblin?

That was made using the layers functionality in Pyxel Edit. I’ll be using layers in this tutorial is case you want to animate it… but if your tool doesn’t have layers, don’t worry about it. You can still complete this tutorial.

I’ve created a document that’s 25 x 25 pixels in size. Tiny…

First, we need a 4 x 7 box:

Fill in our box, and name the layer that it’s on as ‘Body’.

Create a new layer and call it ‘Legs’.

Ahhhh, okay, I’ve only now remembered to chuck on the pixel grid… hope that helps.

On the Legs layer, add in the legs that are two pixels long and leave a one pixel space between the legs.

Alright, now we’re going to work on the head.

Create a new layer called ‘Head’. Make the Body and Legs layers invisible.

Create a 6 x 6 pixel square and fill it in.

Erase the square in the top right-hand corner. Add a pixel to the top left-hand corner, and add a pixel two pixels below that on the left-hand side like the image below:

We’re going to colour in the head with a pink colour called #e76a87. Use the bucket tool to colour it in with one click.

We’re going to use a blue/green colour for the hair. It’s all very bubblegum. The colour is #89f3cc.

Create the hair on the top of the unicorn’s head in an S-shape, using the protruding pixel on the left side as the fringe… but don’t cover the whole top…

Use a lighter pink colour for the cheeks. I’m using #ed799d. The cheeks go in the bottom left-hand corner and the second-last pixel on the bottom row.

Include black pixels just above the cheeks for it’s eyes.

The head is nearly complete. Select white for the horn and the teeth. I know teeth aren’t traditionally in line with a unicorns eyes… but we’re tight for pixel real estate here…

You can’t see it too well on the image below, but the horn is the two diagonal pixels on the top left-hand side, and the teeth are the two pixels next to the the left-most eye.

Make the rest of the layers visible, and position the head so that it covers the left-most 3 pixels on the top row.

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Make sure you’ve still got the Head layer selected, and add two pixels under the head with the colour #d95a78. This is the shadow created be the unicorn’s head. It’s subtle.

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Grab the #ed799d colour, change to the bucket tool and click on the Body layer to colour in body. By separating the layers, you should still have the subtle shadow colour from the head layer.

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Click on the Legs layer, and colour those bad boys in with the same colour.

Alright, our little pixel art unicorn is starting to take shape.

Still on the Legs layer, take the bluey-greeny #89f3cc and click on the bottom-most pixels for the feet.

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Shading is really important to create a sense of depth. So use the colour #58e7a3 to paint in the 3rd foot. This will make it look like it’s further back than the others.

Use our pink shadow (#d95a78) colour for that same leg:

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Alright, looking good.

Now we need to create a new layer and we’re going to call it ‘Mane and tail’.

In the Mane and Tail layer, add the mane to the right side of the head. Make it a Tetris L-shape.

The tail should be bushy and proud like all the best unicorns… I’ve basically created it in a 2-pixel, 3-pixel & 5-pixel shape to give the impression of magical volume.

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

If we saved this unicorn pixel-art to an image file now, we’d lose the white horn, so let’s add a Background layer. Any colour is fine, I’m choosing #6d7689, which is kind of a nothing purple backgroundy colour. Make sure the Background layer is at the bottom of the list of layers so that it doesn’t cover everthing.

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Which always looks nicer when you turn the pixel grid off…

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

I honestly think that background previous colour is too strong. It’s weird how that background colour affects the foreground colours. Obviously you can pick whichever colour suits your tastes, but I’m going to try a more muted grey-blue colour.

Hmm, that mutes the whole image… yeah, I dunno… it’s so weird the difference it makes… play around with what you like…

Of course, if you can’t decide, you can always animate it:

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Which goes a little something like this:

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Here is the final product:


Here is the final product again in a non-ridiculously-tiny size:

PXLPET Unicorn - a pixel art tutorial

Thank you so much for following my little pixel art tutorial, and please do let me know if you create something similar by hitting me up on Twitter.

Thanks for reading my little PXLPET Unicorn – a pixel art tutorial post. If you enjoying working on the arts of the pixels, you can check out:

Splinterslands Goblin Sorcerer Pixel Art Tutorial
Pixel art contest – Items of varying size

Thanks so much!


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