Pixelation is the display of a digitized image where the individual pixels are easily visible to a viewer. This can happen unintentionally when a low-resolution image designed for an ordinary computer display is projected on a large screen. In this situation, each pixel becomes separately viewable. It’s not pretty! Pixelation is also sometimes used to describe the act of turning a printed image into a digitized image file. As the image is captured, it is processed into a vectorized or rasterized file that can be used to illuminate color units (called pixels) on a display surface. So why does it happen? What exactly happens in there?
What is it?
When the first video games came out a couple of decades ago, they ran at very low resolutions with a small number of colors, and so had easily visible pixels. If you look closely, you could see the small squares. This usually results in sharp edges. These unwanted sharp edges give curved objects an unnatural appearance. But when the number of available colors is increased to 256, it’s possible to use antialiasing filters to smoothen the appearance of low-resolution objects. The pixelation effect will not be completely eliminated by this, but it definitely becomes less noticeable. Nowadays, the resolution is so high that pixelation is completely invisible to the naked eye.
Pixel art is a form of digital art, created through the use of raster graphics software, where images are edited on the pixel level. This is used to create artistic effect. This effect is called pixelization. Making pixels easily visible is also a main feature in pixel art which is where the graphics are made in low resolutions for effect. Pixelization is any technique used in editing images or video, whereby an image is blurred by displaying part or all of it at a markedly lower resolution.
Graphics in old computers, consoles, graphing calculators and mobile phone video games are mostly pixel art. With pixel art, the artist has to place each pixel properly to create a certain effect. One dot out of place could make the piece look strange. When it’s properly done, the artist can create backgrounds, characters, and three-dimensional effects with a limited color pallet. These techniques were used in older video games as well as in newer mobile games with small screens. In pixel art, the artist places each dot in just the right place to create the desired effect. Most times, this means that the artist will have to work placing one pixel at a time. As such, expensive graphic software is not required to create this art.
Just because pixelation causes those unwanted edges, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. In some cases, the resolution of an image or a portion of an image is lowered to introduce pixelation deliberately. This effect is commonly seen on television news to hide a person’s face, to censor vulgarity, to obscure vehicle license plates, etc. The blurriness is used to our advantage in this case.