Impossibly Detailed Commodore 64 Pixel Art

by . August 25th, 2015

Ever wondered how retro graphics worked?

8 bit Black Mage Mario Kirby Megaman

Beyond the nostalgia glasses, classic games brought by retro consoles like the NES and Commodore 64 have earned the hearts of casual and hardcore gamers alike. But one thing is, taken for granted—graphics.

The hardware constraints during that time proved quite a difficult platform to design. Youtuber iBookGuy created a simple video explaining how “oldschool” graphics worked.

Basically, the hardware during that time, even the higher end ones, only allowed 256 colors (8 bit), way below than the millions of colors (24 bit) needed for true color.


One of the most common methods used to generate color was with color cells, used by the Nintendo’s NES and the Commodore 64. Color cells are made up of 8×8 pixels and each cell can only have two colors.


Zooming in to iBookguy’s example, we can see the outline of color cells that contain only two colors. The artist’s attention to detail helps achieve the illusion of multiple colors that to the absentminded eye, the constraints don’t exist.


Check out some artwork created using a Commodore 64 below.

africannight_b_npe blacknwhite_b_npe conservafish_b_npe earth_b_npe echofied_b_npe eyeonyou_b_npe Face 768 x 544_pe fire_b_npe innerpeace_b_npe Koala Island 640 x 400_pe landingthevillage_b_npe legacylost_b_npe mon_b_npe mrspacman_b_npe recollection2intro_b_npe


For more images, check out the Commodore 64 Pixel Art Gallery.

Wanna try doing some Commodore 64 Pixel Art? Comment below!


Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.