PIXEL allows you to focus on your art and not the programming. Prior to PIXEL, typical LED projects like with Arduino required coding. Arduino certainly made it easier than previous methods but still you needed to write code or wire up a circuit. With PIXEL, simply create your GIF and then share with one of PIXEL’s apps.
When creating art for PIXEL, there are a few nuances when working with LEDs with the main caveat being low contrast (colors with a small difference between them) colors don’t display well on the LEDs. It’s highly recommended too to use black backgrounds as opposed to a solid color background. With a black background (meaning LEDs off), your artwork will be much more visible on the LEDs.
To get you started, have a look at the GIFs that come included with PIXEL. And feel free to remix and modify those in your own artwork.
PIXEL has a 9-bit color palette for a total of 512 colors, the same color palette as the Sega Genesis, Sega Nomad, and TurboGrafx-16 video game consoles. If you use colors outside of PIXEL’s color palette, that’s ok too and PIXEL’s software will find the closest color in the palette.
Many artists use Adobe Photoshop to create pixel art. Here is a good tutorial on how to configure Photoshop for pixel art along with a color palette (swatch) for Photoshop and Illustrator.
Using your favorite video editor, export your animation in the animated .gif file format. PIXEL has 32 x 32 or 1,024 total LEDs, each LED = 1 pixel meaning a 32×32 resolution. If your animation is a higher resolution, that’s ok too, the PIXEL: LED ART will automatically scale it to 32×32 or 64×64 (without anti-aliasing) on SUPER PIXEL. Just keep in mind a high resolution image isn’t going to look good on a 32×32 display. Here’s two examples and their associated source files (these particular example files are in Adobe Flash Pro format but you can use any video editor than can output in animated .gif format).
Recommended GIF Frame Delays / Frames per Second
|Streaming Over Bluetooth||Writing w/ Local Playback or USB connected|
|PIXEL||100 ms / 10 fps||20 ms / 50 fps|
|SUPER PIXEL||200 ms / 5 fps||70 ms / 14 fps|
When streaming over Bluetooth , use a 100ms frame delay (10 fps) or slower due to Bluetooth latency. If writing the GIF to local storage for stand alone operation , 20 ms is the fastest frame rate on PIXEL. If your GIF has a frame delay faster than 20ms, it’s ok and will still play, PIXEL’s software will automatically adjust it down to a 20 ms frame delay. See different frame rates above for SUPER PIXEL.
PIXEL’s apps only support writing one gif at a time at the moment. If you need to write multiple GIFs, combine your GIFs into one big GIF using Photoshop following these instructions or use a web site like picasion.com to combine the GIFs. Follow these instructions for picasion.com. PIXEL does not support variable frame rates so keep the frame rate the same across all the GIFs. Each frame in the GIF will take up 2 Kb on PIXEL and 8 Kb on SUPER PIXEL. You’ll find 64×64 GIFs here.
Still images on PIXEL are really easy. Using your favorite editor, save your image in 32×32 resolution using the .PNG file format. If your image is not 32×32, the PIXEL: LED ART app will scale it for you. Just keep in mind high resolution images will not display well on a 32×32 LED display. Here’s a few samples and the associated source .PNG files. You can also create pixel art directly from your Android and directly export to PIXEL using the PIXEL Editor app or any Android image editor that supports Android sharing.
Mixed Media Overlays
PIXEL’s front panels are interchangeable with printed designs for mixed media installations. Simply unscrew four screws by hand, no tool is required, and then attach one of the six mixed media panel designs or one of your own.
Custom Frame / Installation
Being an artist or otherwise creative person, you may want to do your own custom frame or some other sort of custom installation. The DIY version, PIXEL Guts, includes the RGB LED Matrix, PIXEL controller board, cables, and power supply. Use this mounting guide to mount the LED panel.
Here’s a custom installation we did for a Halloween party
To download and share PIXEL content with fellow PIXEL users, join the Google+ Community called “PIXEL Content“.