If you think that this tutorial may be of help to other, non-English speaking users, feel free to translate the text version below into other languages and distribute it (on Forums, blogs, social networks, emails, etc ...) .

VIDEOTUTORIAL DOWNLOAD - Pixel-art rendering with the Pixelate Node in Blender


The 3D models used in this tutorial:


In this tutorial:


Hello everyone!

In this tutorial I want to show you how to use the Pixelate Compositing node to modify our renderings so that they look ... pixelated, in fact; in other words: to make them look as they were made with the pixel art technique, which gives the images a slightly retro charm, like that of video games of the past.

This tutorial was recorded with Blender 3, but the Pixelate node has been available since version 2.79 (at least), so the tutorial should also be valid for intermediate versions. The rendering engine used for the examples shown here is Cycles.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 01

The renderings can concern both entire scenes and single objects; in the case of single objects, it will be possible to create icons or sprites (sequences of images, to create animations) on a transparent background ... in any case, the operations to be carried out are the same, as they happen in the Nodes Compositing process, which takes place in Post-Production, after the rendering.

THE FIRST RENDER

There are no standard light sources in the scene, but there is an HDRi image in World background.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 02

Everything is ready for rendering ... which we can do immediately, in fact: the Pixelate node acts in Post-Production and it needs only the image produced by the initial rendering, without any additional information.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 03

ACTIVATING THE POST-PROCESSING NODES

Once the rendering is done, therefore, we can open a Nodes editor, in the General - Compositor section, and click on the "Use Nodes" box to activate the Post-Production.

We will see the Render Layers output linked to the Composite input.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 04

ADDING A PIXELATE NODE TO THE SCHEME

Let's add a Pixelate node by choosing it from Add - Filter, placing it right in the middle of the two existing nodes.

In the Image Editor window which shows the rendering ... we won't see any difference.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 05

THE DISTORT - SCALE NODES

The online documentation of Blender tells us that to use Pixelate we have to place it in the middle of two Distort - Scale nodes; in particular, the first node must have a value less than 0, while the second node must have the reciprocal value of the first one.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 06

The documentation gives, as example values, 0.2 and 5. Using these two values, we get an interesting result ... but I want to try other values, increasing or decreasing the pixel size and modifying the result in real time.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 07

TUNING THE EFFECT WITH AN INPUT - VALUE NODE

Then I insert an Input - Value node in the scheme: this node provides a numeric value, which we can use in the second Scale node.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 08

In order to use Value in the first Scale node too, we must first calculate its reciprocal, so we insert a Converter - Math node in the scheme.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 09

We set Divide as the Math mode, then type 1 in the first Value field.

We connect the Value node to the second Value field of Math.

Finally, we connect the output of Math to the X and Y inputs of the first Scale node.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 10

Now we can interactively modify the value of the Value node and observe how the rendered image changes in the Image Editor window.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 11

SUGGESTION: THE TOON SHADER

Before closing this tutorial, I want to give you a suggestion: instead of using a PBR Material with realistic Texture, try to use materials with a TOON Shader (which provides flatter, less nuanced colors) and, above all, do a lot of tests with traditional light sources (avoiding, if possible, global lighting), in order to obtain more interesting shaded areas.

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 12

On video I am showing an example with the same object as before, but with the changes I have just described (both to the Materials and to the lighting of the scene).

Blender tutorial - Pixel-art renderings with the Pixelate node 13

Well, that's all for this short tutorial! See you soon!