Creating Pixel Art

Pixels were brought to life at the East Coast Gaming Expo as Nick Gatens transferred classic gaming characters from the screen to real-life artwork.

Using colored beads, Gatens is able to re-create retro game characters from the era of the NES and Super Nintendo. Among those on display at the expo were Final Fantasy’s white mage, Contra’s Bill, Pac-Man and more. Gatens showcases his work at between one to three expos every year and also does requests for those looking for a character not present at his display.

“I got a lot of requests for Pac-Man and Zelda,” he said. “Those are definitely my two biggest requests.”

Having a few years of experience, Gatens is able to use a character’s pixels to accurately re-create the hero, villain or even items such as Link’s ocarina.

“It began a couple of years ago,” he said. “I started with Legos and made a few characters with those. My first character was Alex from River City Ransom. But the Legos were expensive and there weren’t as many colors for me to work with as I needed so I switched to the beads about two years ago.”

Gatens said the choice to make video game characters stems from his love of gaming.

“It’s something I grew up with,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed it.”

While most of his creations are handheld in size, he also works on projects even larger in size. Gatens has constructed a number of ability cards from Kirby Superstar (the icon that appears in the HUD when you inhale an enemy) that measure in at 8 ½ X 11 inches and consist of 3,000 beads each. His next big project in progress is the dragon robot boss in Mega Man II’s Skull Castle.

“I’ve got it started,” said Gatens. “It’s not finished but it looks like it’s going to take about 8,000 to 9,000 beads. It should be several feet in size.”

While Gatens takes requests at the expos he travels to, he said is looking to set up an online store real soon at The site will allow people to order pre-made creations as well as request custom characters.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, IndieSnack


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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