How-To Geek

Create 8-Bit Style Graphics with Authentic NES, Gameboy, and Sega Colors


While making any image into an 8-Bit style graphic can be a lot of fun, it’s surprisingly easy to go the extra mile and use authentic palettes of popular retro gaming systems like the Gameboy, NES, or Sega Master system.

All you have to do is fire up nearly any version of Photoshop and download a few files to make the process quick and easy. Keep reading.


My first How-to on creating 8-Bit graphics is still available, and shows the process in greater depth. If you still remember the steps from before, you’ll be okay without rereading it and just grabbing a few images you find interesting. Again, iconic images with good contrast can be very helpful to creating a better final product.

sshot-393 sshot-394

Once you have your image, simply head to Image > Mode > Indexed Color as before. Instead of using any of the other options on the “Palette” pulldown menu, we want to use “Custom.”


This loads up the Color Table for your image. It has generated one automatically, but we have no interest in that right now. Click the “Load…” button.


You’ll get a browser window looking for a color table file. I’ve created three color tables for How-To Geek readers to experiment with, so download them and plug them in at this step. They’re available in a ZIP package. My favorite is the “Gameboy” palette.


The “Gameboy” color table has loaded up nicely. Hit OK to begin rendering your image in glorious shades of green.


I’ve been setting my Dither amount lower lately, and also using “Preserve Exact Colors.” Experiment with your settings to find your favorites, or simply use the ones shown here.


We’re off to a great start with Beethoven.


Again, shrink your file to a small size.


And, we have an excellent representation using Gameboy-style colors.


Yoga Fire! Here’s a nice example of the NES color palette.


The Sega Master system palette creates a nice image out of the “Great Wave off Kanagawa.”


Download the color tables if you haven’t already. If you need a refresher on creating these 8-Bit graphics or missed out the first time, check out my original post, and create some really cool stuff!

Fire Breathing 2 created by Luc Viator, available under Creative Commons. Derivative image available under the same license. Special thanks to How-To Geek reader krhainos for his brilliant comments and excellent link.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Stetson-wearing wild man. During the day, he manages IT and product development for screenprinted apparel manufacturing; by night he creates geek art posters, writes JavaScript, and records weekly podcasts about comics.

  • Published 10/13/10

Comments (11)

  1. Hatryst

    Once again, a nice tutorial, Eric ;)

    I have a few requests for Photoshop tutorials (which i haven’t found over the web)

    Tutorial 1. Writing text on someone’s clothing (in photoshop) so that it looks as if the text was originally printed on the clothing.

    Tutorial 2. I don’t know how to describe it, but perhaps you might have seen it. An effect in which only a single colour (red, for instance) is visible on the picture, and the rest of the picture is desaturated (maybe its called colour threshold). For example, if there’s a picture in which someone is wearing a red shirt, only the shirt should be red, and rest should be desaturated. You get the idea, i hope ;)

    I hope you’ll write one of these tutorials :)

    P.S. Video tutorials would be a great idea. Easy to understand as compared to text based tutorials. And since HTG has a YouTube channel, an entire playlist could be reserved for “Photoshop tutorials by Eric Z. Goodnight” !

    Keep it up !

  2. Mister E.

    …and a Lego palette?

  3. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Mister E: Lol.

    @Hatryst: I appreciate it a lot. Comments like this keep me going.

    Your tutorial ideas are good ones. If I can think of a way to make them fit into the what HTG does, I will put them up.

    I do want to do some video tutorials, but as of right now I don’t have the screencasting software I would need to do it. They’re definitely on my to-do list.

  4. twjolson

    Can you do this in GIMP?

  5. Eric Z Goodnight

    GIMP supports Indexed Color mode. I don’t know if it will open a Photoshop color table, but it should. If not, I can recreate these same files for GIMP.

  6. Mister E.

    I’ll take a look at making my own LEGO palette. I’ve always wanted a handful of art to display on the walls, and what better medium than 1×1 bricks? :]

  7. Eric Z Goodnight

    That’s really awesome. I wanted to do the same thing, but when I found my Mario 3 sprite was going to cost me $80 USD I decided I had to find a cheaper medium.

  8. krhainos

    Why, thank you for crediting me :D

    I never thought of actually grabbing the palettes for said consoles — that’s pretty cool. All I had in mind was emulating the number of colors, but this takes it a step further.

    Very nice.

  9. Eric Z Goodnight

    Seemed the natural thing to do! That link was a really good one and I wanted to share it in the easiest way I could think of. Thanks a million for such a great idea.

  10. Onataria

    Could you recreate these files for Gimp please?

  11. DooD

    Your NES pallate is good but you are missing one important tile, the transparent one!

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