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
See the difference between those 2. One is with a black outline, one without. The one without blends in better !
2) Light and Shadows
Light and shadows add a whole lot of realism. You distinguish a sphere from a circle by shadows !
see the shadow of the boats
even trees !
a) as a whole : boats
b) piece : turbine blades
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 :
well known but important
no mismatch between the size of vehicle, bus stop, building, road and trees !
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 :
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 :
nice pixelling !