Next Living Worlds

Ian Gilman
2 min readFeb 19, 2024


Calling all pixel artists!

Photo by Jon Tyson

The Living Worlds app revived a collection of beloved, classic pixel art from Mark Ferrari. Working on it has made me acutely aware that pixel art is far from a dead art form… In fact there are surely more pixel artists creating today than there were back in the early 90s when the Living Worlds scenes were created!

Throughout the project, Mark and I have mused about the possibility of a new generation of pixel artists creating Living Worlds scenes. Now, after a restorative break, I feel I’m ready to dive into this prospect and see what we can make happen!

So what do I mean by a Living Worlds scene? It’s a little window into a world that feels alive, that changes throughout the day. Of course this could describe many things… I think to stay true to the spirit of the original scenes, we should stick to pixel art and use color palette tricks like color cycling and palette fading to bring the world alive. On a technical note, that means the pixel art needs to be made as an “indexed color” image, where each pixel is just an index into the color palette. This post gives some good background on what I’m talking about.

My plan is to find pixel artists who are already using color cycling tools (or are interested in learning) who resonate with the Living Worlds vibe, and are willing to be early adopters on this project. I’ll be building a tool they can use to put their art together as a Living Worlds scene. I plan to build this tool as an open source project, with the intention of eventually selling a new round of art (with the artists, of course), either in a new app or as an add-on to the existing one. Lots of things still need to be figured out, but I’ve already started working on the tool.

Now I need to find the artists! If you, or some you know, are interested in being involved in this journey, please let me know!