Pixel by Pixel- The Sinclair Spectrum

With Pixel by Pixel I’d like to give people little insights into the wonderful world of
enforced minimalism. Low resolutions, limited palettes (CGA anyone?) and other awkward limitations. For a lot of artists this is a tremendous headache, to me it is just delightful as it makes us design and create with a limited toolset, thus giving us challenges to master.
So, spoiled artists of the future, I give you:

The ZX Spectrum

Some while ago I did a demake of Witcher 3 on said device and I want to explain why it
looks the way it looks. There are some pretty hardcore limitations to consider.


Witcher 3 if it had been made in.. say.. 1985



First off, you start with a resolution of 256 x 192 and a limited color palette of 15 colors.


To a pixel enthusiast, even with a rather limited palette like that without any skin tones or even browns that’s kind of okay.  To any other artists, it’s a real pain in the ass.
You don’t use brushes here, you place pixels like a mason would place bricks.
Even more so because of the following limitations.

The 256 x 192 canvas is divided into “attribute blocks” of 8 x 8 pixels:


And here comes the “fun” part. Those attribute blocks are only allowed to have 2 (!)
out of the primary 8 colors. You can use up to 15 by designating the attribute block as “bright”. A bright black is still black, so… 15 colors it is.

Being allowed to use only 2 colors in a block means you get “attribute clashes” like this:


The bloody baron should have a blue brickwall behind him, right?
Well, yes, but, no. That would mean 3 colors in one attribute block.
So, you have to make do with that and give the red guy a plain black block background.

Still, people have managed to create wonderful works of art within these boundaries:


Head over Heels title art by F. David Thorpe

With limitations  like that you need to get your shit together and do some serious designing. So let’s raise our 8×8 pixel glasses to those pixeleers in the pioneering days.

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