This is an attempt to build a pixel art glossary based on my style, I’m not trying to create strict rules or imply that this is the correct way, this just my way of understanding and organizing my thoughts with pixel art. This is a “living” glossary and with this format I plan to keep expanding and updating topics based on people’s feedback and my own experience.

If you like what I’m doing you can support me on Patreon if you want.

Note that this is a very early work in progress, the plan is to have way more topics and all topics should have images.

You should also check the brilliant glossary made by Dennis Busch.


A group of 2 or more pixels of the exact same color. Clusters can connect with diagonal pixels, but it’s a weaker connection. A horizontal or vertical connection is a strong one. Learning common cluster patters is an useful skill.

Orphan Pixel

A lone pixel that doesn’t touch any pixel cluster. Note that pixels that make part of anti-alias or shading curves are not considered orphan pixels. Orphan pixels are usually avoided, specially for beginners, since they can draw a lot of attention to them. They can be used to create small points of interest, and particle effects.

Fading Color

Also known as half-tone. The transitive color between the foreground and background color that is available within your current color palette. It doesn’t mean the exact middle color, just any color that can be used to create that transition.

Regular Lines

Lines with a constant pixel length per step. Usually doesn’t require anti-alias, but can be “softened” with a fading color.

Specular highlight:

Also known as reflection highlight, it’s the brightest spot in the object. Glossy and reflective objects have small and focused highlights. Rougher objects may not have a reflection highlight.


There are two types of shadow.

Volume shadow: The most common type of shadow, it’s a self-projected soft shadow. It’s the result of the light being blocked by the object’s own volume. Terminator: It’s the transition zone between the light area and the dark area of an object. It can be soft or sharp. In pixel art we favor sharp transitions to avoid banding (more about that in the future).

Projected shadow: When one object projects a patch of shadow into another. This is usually a very sharp shadow.