Silphwave and the Pokémon Pixel Wave

30 March 2021 di ejan

This post is also available in: Italiano

If there is a subject idolized and always taken into consideration in the works of pixel art it is the Pokémon.

The Japanese franchise born from Satoshi Tajiri’s passion for entomology and Ken Sugimori’s lively pencil, more than any strategic opponent has been able to spread like wildfire in an endless variety of areas, from videogame to anime, from TCG to all sorts of gadgets.

Although it is a brand that is still alive and constantly growing, which now has more than 800 creatures, for most people the Pokemon world is that of the first generation, the first 151 and the first titles of the saga for Gameboy, Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow. Beginning from these premises, many aficionados have therefore remained tied to the aesthetics of the first consoles, which as we know were very limited in the graphics and development chips of the level.

Maps and sprites of a few pixels. The most regrets, the most imitated.

Working to the sound of very refined palettes and borrowing this nostalgic wave of the late 90s, Silphwave, a pixel artist active in the current, creates wonderful illustrations on the theme.

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Silphwave, ☆ Mewtwo
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Silphwave, ♡☆°•d r a t i n i •°☆♡ (collaboration with @moist_pixels)

These are partly unedited poses, energetic and spatial of the classic caricatures of some Pokemon, such as Mewtwo, or compositions of characters and landscapes that are often idyllic, panic; well-calibrated and weighted colors that imitate hypothetical videogame covers in the format.

There are many, millions of millions of pixel artists (obviously hyperbole, we would really like it to be so) but Silphwave, of which we are still taking care to discover something more than identity, is, trivially, more talented than a large slice of them.

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Let’s take as an example the very nice “Guardian of the forest” which is closer to the concept of a complex work than the simple single reinterpretations, (it has an independent title): in the background an exquisite and skilful play of green and black, with only three tones builds aquatic plants , juicy succulents, ferns and faces timidly emerged from the half-light. Mixed with the environment. Celebi, being a rare, legendary and unusual creature, spreads particles of light, impalpable and impossible to follow; the technique with which Silphwave manages to outline them is admirable, succeeding in the complicated mission of communicating the different materials and textures in pixel art.

A dozing Ivysaur opens the bud on its back in the light-flooded water mirror. Serenity, delicacy emerge in this allegory of the grass / water element. The artist’s talent can be seen in these details and we are curious to see how it will evolve!

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Silphwave, Guardian of the Forest [222×222]


In many of Silphwave’s illustrations there is also an essential effect when it comes to pixel art, namely dithering. (we refer to this philological article to find out more about it). This is nothing more than an addition of noise to a surface, whether photographic or digital as in this case, in pixel art it is used to quickly cover areas of a chiaroscuro effect, weaving a stitch / cross stitch of the two extremes of color used in the image.

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Different kinds of dithering effect.

Used by almost every artist active in the field, Silphwave makes abundant use of it in his series of “Rounds”

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Silphwave, Zubat in Tomokazu Komiya’s style
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Silphwave, A Siberian Meowth can be seen entering a clearing in the Taiga Forest

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