As an active pixel beader, I'm always checking out other peoples' work, and seeing what's popular in the world of fusebeads. It became very clear early on that one category dominates the world of beading: NINTENDO. Specifically, 8-bit Nintendo sprites from the beloved NES console. Super Mario, Zelda, Mega Man. These three franchises must have spawned more beadsprites than all the other games combined.
I must admit, they're a great starting point. While my first sprite wasn't from these games, it was a NES sprite, as they're generally quite simple. I did eventually get round to making some Mario sprites, with the theme of one per game from his first appearance on the NES, to his last 2D appearance on the Gameboy. It was a fun one-off project for myself. However, in the year or so I've been beading, I've seen enough of these to last a lifetime:
Just a few of the many Mario sprites out there. There's nothing wrong with them - the sprites were skilfully created by the wizards at Nintendo - but there's so much more out there for a beader to play with! I've seen Etsy shops that solely consist of Nintendo sprites, on magnets, earrings, keychains, selling for a pound/dollar or two each, and it just makes me think - surely there's more to life than just churning out the same old sprites over and over like a production line? I've done the odd commission piece for someone, but these days I'll only accept the job if it's something vaguely challenging or interesting to me.
I think I'm past the point of ever doing a Mega Man sprite. First of all, I've never been a big fan of the games. Possibly because I was never very good at them. Secondly, everything you could ever imagine has already been made into Mega Man sprites. You're familiar with the sprites, right? Here's a reminder:
Pretty basic stuff right? Surely there's not much room for variation? WRONG. There are Street Fighter Mega Man sprites, Ninja Turtles Mega Man sprites, Zelda Mega Man sprites...
The list goes on. It's actually quite impressive that these characters can be so quickly identifiable, despite the set sprite format, and the small number of pixels. Anyway, my point is, that these little sprites are good for practice when you're starting, but they've kind of been done to death, so move on and challenge yourself as soon as you can. Bead bigger, more detailed sprites, or even create sprites yourself. Use computer software to turn photographs into bead patterns and turn that pattern into an actual piece of art. The results are hugely satisfying when you push yourself and create something that didn't exist before. I don't claim that most of my work is completely original, but I try my best to bead sprites that I haven't seen beaded before, and bead photographs after I've manually adjusted the light and colour settings to my preferences. Maybe one day I'll have the time and inclination to create my own pixel art from scratch, until then I'll be choosing the most interesting projects, and making sure I put as much of myself into them as possible.
For instance, with my latest little project, while I can't say that I invented the Sega font, I took the time to use an online font generator to get the words "MAN CAVE", then manually draw that writing in pixels on my iPad, before finally beading the pattern. I can honestly say I've never seen a sign like the one I've created for my Man Cave. Computers are probably always going to play a part in the creation of my bead pieces, but this isn't a bad thing, as I'll always try to get the most imaginative/interesting results out of them.
For more info on creating pixel art, I highly recommend Retronator's blog post: No bullshit pixel art tutorial. He even breaks it down into bitesize videos here.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.