How should I design pixel art for Unity mobile game?


I am trying to develop clone game of Bitcoin Billionaire in Unity for Android platform with pixel art using Aseprite. I didn’t use Aseprite before so I don’t know what pixel size I should use or any other settings. Since new devices comes with at least 1080p resolution how can I resize it for pixel art? Is there any formula or something like for it? Like device res/pixel size etc. And finally if you have any suggestions for me as a starter It would be nice.

Thank you.

There is no set formula for what resolution should your assets have to scale to 1080p (or any other modern resolution).

Whatever pixel size looks good to you is valid, I’d only recommend to keep the same aspect ratio to avoid issues with stretching the image or not filling the whole screen.

Best way to start is just by making a mock-up of the game as you want it to look like, just a few key screens should be enough for you to test sizes, colors and style.

I’d recommend at least a 4x zoom to look like intentional pixel art on phones - if the “pixels” are too small to be clearly visible but larger than native pixels, it runs the risk of not looking like intentional pixel art to people and just looking like poorly upscaled art.

So, if your target resolution is 1920x1080, then take a quarter of that - 480x270 - and make it your starting resolution for your mock-up, and then see if you want it smaller or not.
After you’ve got a size you’re happy with and a mockup, start polishing it and making assets, using that size as your base document size, and drawing most of the assets in the locations they’d likely be seen in the mock-up, so they all remain to scale with each other - you can’t resize things nicely in pixel art, this is the chief difference from high-res art that you have to get used to. Working with your mockup there for scale and context makes it much easier to make sure everything works well together and is the correct size.

Something else to consider is responsiveness - not all mobile resolutions are multiples of 480x270. For example, on a 1280x720 screen, still common in many places, it can’t fit 4x but only 2x: 960x480, so it’ll have huge letterboxing AND pillarboxing. Even larger resolutions run into this problem: 3200x1440 fits this resolution 5x: 2400x1370, so you’ll have huge pillarboxing and minor letterboxing. You might actually have better luck with 5x into 1920x1080 (384x216) as your target resolution, it multiplies into more resolutions nicely. But even that won’t work for everything, or for wider or taller aspect ratios. The only ways to make your game fill the screen without black bars on any sides are:

  • Non-pixel-perfect scaling, which will make it look jagged and ugly on those screens
  • Designing your game to work with a range of sizes instead of a fixed size. For example, my current project is designed around 384x216, but all of my artwork and levels are sized to fill a 480x270 screen, and there’s usually a size between those two that’ll nicely fill just about any screen resolution, including 1680x1050 (16:10), 1280x720 (Switch 16:9), and even has only small pillarboxing on ultrawide displays. With a game like yours, you could choose a wider maximum size without any gameplay advantage for ultrawide users.
    Obviously, this is the option I recommend :] At runtime, you would query the screen size, divide the width by your minimum width and the height by your minimum height, take the smaller value of these and floor it, and use that as your zoom level. Then divide the width and height by that zoom level to calculate the actual internal resolution you need to use, which will be some size equal to or greater than your minimum size, and hopefully less than your maximum size (if it’s greater, then you’ll need black bars, but this should only be a problem if your min and max are too similar or the screen is very tall or very wide).
1 Like

Thank you for the details. As you said, if I work on the basis of 1920x1080, it seems to be more appropriate for now. Since the game will consist of a single scene and a still environment, I hope that I can progress without dealing with the other problems you mentioned.