What are the best mac applications for developing pixel art?

I would like to create pixel art graphics for an iPhone game on my mac, and I’m wondering what are some good programs I should look into.


I think the main features you’re after are:

  1. Being able to paint with a non-antialiased pencil or brush.
  2. Nearest neighbour scaling (keep blocky things blocky when you scale).
  3. Non-antialiased selections.
  4. Layers.
  5. Being able to export the formats you’ll need (PNG? GIF?).

Based on that criteria, there’s a few tools that can do it. Pixen is awesome, and worth investigating:

I’d also highly recommend Photoshop, predominately using the Pencil Tool — it does exactly what you’re after, letting you paint non-antialiased pixels easily. It also has some other tools that might be handy, like posterisation.

Acorn would be my second option on the Mac. It has a pencil tool that’s similar to Photoshop, as well as nearest neighbour scaling (if you need it). It’s also far cheaper and available on the Mac App Store, if that’s a concern.

Both Photoshop and Acorn have the full list of features above.

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