Apr 16

38,400 Decisions

One thing I love about pixel art is the defined nature of the decisions. Most pixel doodles of mine begin as canvases of 160 x 240 pixels. That is 38,400 pixels in total. 38,400 squares to colour in.

38,400 decisions. That’s all it takes.

When written down like that, it seems like a lot but it’s really not. Compared with the fluid, less defined nature of a painting, for example, it’s a very small number of decisions. A painting might take a day or it could take years. That brings uncertainty. But with pixel art, there is a wonderful sense of security that comes with having a clear number of decisions. Just make 38,400 colour choices and you can walk away satisfied.

The surprises can come in the creativity, but the framework is reassuringly contained.

Writing, directing, setting up and managing productions is all about making decisions. Any leadership role is. Decision after decision almost every moment of every day. Each one with the potential to haunt us later. It could be overwhelming, and I have seen it defeat people.

Define those decisions in advance, however, and the job becomes so much more certain. Each decision becomes a very clear step towards the end goal and the only surprises come exactly where they should: in the creativity. That comes in planning – choosing your canvas, your amount of pixels – and it’s why I take control of my entire productions right from the start and don’t allow any loose ends. Then it’s just in making those decisions, not delaying (it’s rare we are hit with some magical piece of insight by just putting it off), and being clear to not entertain any decisions that aren’t within our canvas – those are time-wasters.

Work your way through your 38,400 decisions and you can walk away satisfied… or, like these touched-up pixel doodles, you can then see what extra you can bring. Everything from there is a beautiful bonus.

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