Pixel art beginners often scratch their head to get their drawing right and sometimes don’t know what exactly is off. Here are the 8 elements :

1) No outline

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See the difference between those 2. One is with a black outline, one without. The one without blends in better !

2) Light and Shadows

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Light and shadows add a whole lot of realism. You distinguish a sphere from a circle by shadows !

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see the shadow of the boats

even trees !

3) Animations

a) as a whole : boats

b) piece : turbine blades

4) Details

a) fine details

which appear nice from far

b) big piece details

those accompanying elements were not needed with the turbines but adding them increased the level of realism :

5) Proportion

well known but important

no mismatch between the size of vehicle, bus stop, building, road and trees !

6) Shades

in a tree for example, adding different shades (in the same shadow face) makes stuffs look cooler :

see the sea details for same tone

same with trees

same with ground :

7) Transparency

Transparency makes that blinking light appear more real : less strong away from source :

8) No approximation style

there is no flat edge. every detail is defined. compare with :

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nice pixelling !

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