Transform pictures into pixel art with SLK_img2pixel

May 28, 2021
Updated • Jun 15, 2021
Windows software

Are you a fan of pixel graphics? Do you want to convert your pictures into a similar art style?

Transform pictures into pixel art with SLK_img2pixel

Well, you don't need to be a photo editing expert to add cool effects. The open source utility SLK_img2pixel provides an easy way to achieve the retro look that you want.

The application is portable, and takes up less than 4MB of storage space when extracted. SLK_img2pixel's interface is kind of old-school, and yet remains user-friendly.

SLK_img2pixel before conversion

Click on the load image button, browse for the picture that you want to transform into a pixel art. The preview pane on the right shows you an input and output view, this is a before and after preview. It's useful as it reflects the changes that you apply. The GUI can be resized, and the Settings and Preview windows are floating panels, so you can drag them around the interface as required.

SLK_img2pixel relative editing

Switch to the Palette tab to begin modifying the colors. There are 4 sliders that you can adjust; Red, Green, Blue and Colors. You may change the color distribution system too, SLK_img2pixel supports the following systems: RGB, CIE76, CIE94, CIEDE2000, YCC, YIQ, YUV and XYZ. The application lets you create custom palettes too.

SLK_img2pixel color palette

The tool has more options that can be used to further modify your image. Go to the General tab > Absolute, and you can set the width and height of the canvas, toggle and adjust the dithering effect, and the alpha setting. The program offers a few filters to choose from such as Bilinear, Bicubic, Lanczos, Round, Floor, Ceil, and Box Sampling. It also has a gauss level slider for customizing the blur effect. Resize the image in terms of pixels from the Relative tab, and you may want to stick with it for the best aspect ratio, as the other one saves the picture in 256 x 256 resolution.


The last tab on SLK_img2pixel's sidebar has more sliders, this set allows you to edit the brightness, contrast, saturation, gamma, and sharpness levels of the photo. When you are done editing the image settings, you can save the resultant picture in 1 of two supported formats: PNG and SLK.

SLK_img2pixel process

The Special tab at the bottom of the side panel is for loading and saving GIFs, but I couldn't get it work. The tool isn't great when it comes to performance, if you try editing a large image, it starts to lag, and sometimes freezes. So you may want to resize the picture to a smaller size before editing it with the pixel art tool.

SLK_img2pixel is an open source program. The application needs an easier way to import images, drag-and-drop support would have made it faster to use. I can understand why the program doesn't have an option to batch process images, because it doesn't auto apply a filter, and when you're working with different images, you will definitely need to pay attention to each one and tweak the settings accordingly.

That's the reason why not all images will turn out like a retro painting, if you use the same setting. Play with the options, and also keep in mind that the subject in the photo also affects how the end result turns out to be.

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  1. ULBoom said on May 28, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Looks like fun, I’ll have to play with it.

    At the other extreme, I’ve been using Topaz Studio for a few months and love it. Super easy to use, has all kinds of filters, some similar to what can be done with PixelArt. The AI in it works. Free trial for those interested.

  2. Anonymous said on May 28, 2021 at 2:56 pm

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