Picture of Stained wood pixel art
I am going to show you how to make a piece of pixel art out of stained wood.  The organic nature of the wood adds a nice touch to the blockiness of the pixel sprite.  In this example I am going to make a sprite from Zelda on the NES, but these same techniques can be used to create any sprite.

This Instructable will show you how I make a Link sprite...If you like it you should check out more pieces I've made at

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Step 1: Tools and Materials needed

Picture of Tools and Materials needed
In order to make the stained wood pixel piece of your dreams you will need:
-wood for the pixels (I use select Pine from the local Home Depot)
-A table saw in case you need to rip the wood down to a smaller width
-A planar to make sure every strip of wood is identical
-A chopsaw to cut the pixels
-Clamps...a big help for cutting the blocks and gluing them together
-wood stain
-foam brushes for the stain as well as sealant
-sealant!  I use a high gloss finish
-Wood glue.  I use Titebond II wood glue
-A nice big straightedge for the gluing process
-Time and Patience...You're going to be cutting a LOT of blocks of wood...make sure you are mentally prepped!

One of the first things you need to do is create a template plan of the sprite you want to create.  Here I have an image of Link from Zelda on a grid.  I just went into photoshop and gridded out the sprite based on images from the game.  You will notice that I use this pattern to figure out how many of each colored block I need as well as planning out the grain pattern.  I like to create a checkerboard pattern with the wood grain because I think it makes the piece more interesting.

Once you have your pattern and know exactly how many blocks you need you can move onto the next step.
davidnagel9 months ago

I have admired this instructable for a very long time and hope to do something similar. Unfortunately most of the 8bit sprites I had in mind are going to be way to big in 1" cubes. So 1/2" it will be! :P

broccali10 months ago
boss just boss
Dendri made it!12 months ago

I made a few (StarFox, Megaman, Link, Hello Kitty (not shown) Fall 2013 using 1/2" square dowel, acrylic paint, and water-based polyurethane. Got better as I went along by doing a better job sanding high points and clamping during the glueing process. My next step is to create something with floating pixels.

dannygam1 year ago
far right is the one i want to use.
mike tyson punchout.jpg
8bitwood (author)  dannygam1 year ago
what I do is take the image (like the one above) and bring it into photoshop. from there I just draw the grid lines in to match up the pixel size... I'm going to guesstimate that tyson on the far right panel is probably 2000-2500 individual blocks of wood....
dannygam1 year ago
i want to use the tyson pic on the far right. how do i transfer to graph paper...?!
dannygam1 year ago
I know you explained how to figure out how many blocks you need but I want to put together Mike Tyson from "Punch out." Could you explain how you calculated how many blocks you needed for Glass Joe...!! Thanks. I can give you my email if that's easier, just let me know.
Bartuss1 year ago
Make a real life gif pixel art ;P. But rly great job. I totally love it!
loganchase2 years ago
And I'm going to do your Adventure set too! I thought I was the only one who liked that game lol
loganchase2 years ago
I just finished this project using 3/4 inch square dowels cut on a table saw with a C-clamped block guide for consistent length, it turned out really nice. My blocks were not as nice as yours (haha hopefully one day I'll have a planer), but all in all It looks killer. The sanding almost gave me arthritis or something, but it is well worth the pain. I probably sunk 24 hours of work and 45 dollars worth of materials from lowes... Tree shortage? lol
I had a blast working on this. It's really rewarding to see it coming together in the final hour or so.
Props dude
u2bono862 years ago
Wow really amazing. I love it!
mygibzone2 years ago
Amazing works of art! I don't know if I'm patient enough for this, but I would definitely love to decorate my house with these! My fav is glass joe, punch out is one of my all time favorite video games!
Great work! One question: How do you handle those pixels that are floating? Like on the Space Invaders sprite, for example (its feet and antennae).
8bitwood (author)  graffitiwriter2 years ago
Floating pixels are pretty easy to do. Here's how I do it.... I built a jig that lets me drill into the edge of a block at a 45 degree angle. It takes some practice but I basically end up with TWO holes in the block edge that line up with TWO holes on the main body of the piece. Then I take some metal wire (or a nail) and just shove it into the holes. The sealant tends to keep it all together and the metal allows you a bit of wiggle room to make it 'just right'. easy peasy...
Seems obvious now you've said it :-)
Great solution - thanks for sharing it!
I second this question. Do tell.
timothymh2 years ago
The blocks in the first photo of step 3 look like Jenga!
derdman2 years ago
This is so bad ass. I'm thinking that these will make great presents. Can wait to try it

I have no words, other than thank you.

The 10-year-old that lost all of his tokens when I tried to block Raging Bull at Chuck E. Cheese thanks you.

The 15-year-old that learned to not only beat Mike Tyson when his eyes blinked yellow, but to knock him out in the 1st round thanks you.

Should the day come that I shake your hand in person, please accept my virtual handshake for a job most well done.
Mike0601872 years ago
What beautiful piece of art you're created. I LOVE the Link one.
Dr Qui2 years ago
Very nice indeed. I can see you like your SNES Zelda Link to the Past, That the one that made me a gamer, played it for 8 days solid to complete it that almost 20 years ago and i can still remember it told me i had 64 games to completion.

I recognize the barbarian / ninja guy but i cant remember what game it was from.  Also cant decide what the forth one is, is it the floating brain thing from metroid or one of the floating electric jellyfish things from Zelda.

I have been looking for a good green and blue wood dye but I never seem to find a store that has green or blue in a wood dye its always some kind of coloured varnish or fence paint. I like using dyes to colour thngs rather than just stain the all the piece.

I made a sailor girl pinup on my scroll saw and used wood dyes to colour it, I applied the dye on the end of a cotton bud, it sore of like using felt tip pens, also used some acrylic paints for the white and red trim and some black for the shoes. I still need to make a frame for it been looking for some drift wood any time we are at the beach, but i'm still looking.
salior girl.jpg
Awesome! I think i like the Link one the best! The one with the sword :)
Mimikry2 years ago
Very cool!
Voted for you :)
poofrabbit2 years ago
Oh these are so cool well done!  I added it to my Camp Art Director Project Ideas Guide. Hope you don't mind!
8bitwood (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
I don't mind at all! I think making something like a Space Invader would be a perfect camp art project...all one color so that makes it easier and not overly daunting. Thanks for the vote!
That is a fantastic plan! We have used mosaic's in the past, and this is a similar idea, but I think I can get campers to really wrap their head around the idea of 8-bit characters, even tho video games today have so much more detail. There are classics that no matter what your age, you just plain know. :)
poofrabbit2 years ago
BTW, I voted for you as well, and 5 stars! :)
mikeasaurus2 years ago
These look amazing, thanks for sharing!