That’s when the ‘Art’ in Pixel Art really means something!

Blackpool Central Pier (courtesy of

Back in the day, there was no “pixel” art as such, since pixelated graphics was the only way computers were able to to display images. Today we see new amazing art released for our beloved retro hardware, such as amazing C64 graphics published daily on CSDb or the beautiful ZX Spectrum art over on ZX-Art. Since today’s computers are capable of representing graphics the same way our eyes can see, we need to refer to old school graphics as pixel art.

There are also many new games for modern platforms using the pixelated graphics as a style of choice like the excellent ThimbleWeed Park but sometimes we find other modern takes that are simply a delight for our eyes, and although they don’t have any direct relation to retro games or retro computers by themselves, the results are simply amazing.

Glenfinnan Train (courtesy of

One of these cases is what I see on the Holiday Cottages website, which I learned about from an email sent through our contact form. The post in entitled Pixel Britain: 8 iconic British scenes in 16-bit and it shows several iconic British scenes portrait in the best 16-bit pixelated style! The graphics are also all animated just enough to give it life, making you stare at them for longer than you would think you could. Seeing these images just made me wish to visit those places one day!

After being mesmerized by the quality of the work, I contacted the person who sent us the link and learned that he is one of the authors responsible for the graphics. Luke Doyle is part of a team of graphic artists called NeoMam, which also includes Chris Tucker, James Booth, Jessica Barrett, Povilas Daknys, Gisele Navarro, Ignacio Macri and Mike Nudelman. As I believe we are all very curious about how things are created, I had a little chat with Luke to learn more about the work:

ViTNO: How did this work start? Was that something you were asked to create?

Luke: Our client (Holiday Cottages) commissioned them and we (NeoMam Studios) produced them.

ViTNO: Had Holiday Cottages specific scenes they wanted to be represented or you guys have some freedom about that?

Luke: We aimed to really capture the spirit of Britain with these scenes. We wanted them to represent the diversity of the regions – from the countryside and cityscapes to quintessential British activities, like visiting Blackpool Central Pier – and connect with the British public. In light of this, we opted to avoid some of the most obvious “British” scenes (e.g. a football game) in favour of ones that might pique feelings of nostalgia and perhaps even spark an idea for a road trip.

ViTNO: Could you tell how the images were created?

Luke: They were created in a very low-res environment to guarantee that pixels are visible and later expanded in a no anti-alias method so that they don’t become blurred.

Manchester Castlefield ( (courtesy of

ViTNO: What type of software was used?

Luke: Adobe Photoshop was used, and Wacom Cintiq for hardware.

ViTNO: What was the process to get from initial draft to final GIF?

Luke: Very loose grayscale sketch of each scenery for approval, and after the greenlight, we proceeded to refine all of them.. colors were added. After the “stills” were ready we were animating individual parts as necessary: water, walking humans, or trains. Those are fun, because they are what actually bring the sceneries to life.

ViTNO: For the point-of-view of someone that doesn’t know anything about the creation of pixelated graphics like myself, it seems a challenge to represent something when you have a lack of resolution. Although a 16-bit Amiga-like graphics is way more detailed than, let’s say, a TRS-80 or ZX-81, it still presents some difficulty which by the results you guys were able to overcome. What can you tell me about that?

Luke: It all boiled down to a matter of semi-optics as it is with all pixel projects, and in a way or another, every kind of art; which is to find the essential characteristic of what you want to represent to focus on it and the eye fill in the blanks. It’s specially true for pixel art because it’s a “low res” art which all you see is blocks, and is very akin to impressionism, so you get a general notion of what is thrown at the reader and he/she must fill the blanks to see a complete picture out of blocky blocks.

The images had to look like real places but they needed to keep a pixel-art look, something you’d see in a video game for example, and not like a simple filter on a photo to look just barely pixelated. It’s a hard thing to come by if you want to recreate something that exists, but adding some style flavor added to actually drawing the buildings generally does the trick.

You can check all the graphics on Holiday Cottages website.

Source: Holiday Cottages

Author: Paulo Garcia

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