I was invited to speak about Pixel Art and Complex Systems at JSAsia in Singapore in November 2014. The conference hosted 20 speakers for 2 days and was by far the most exotic place I've traveled to speak about JavaScript besides maybe Carroll Gardens.


Once defined by its limitations, pixel art has evolved into a highly expressive visual style. Illustrators, product designers and artists continually challenge the conventional pixel art sensibility to produce beautiful work for the street, our homes and museums.

Working in abstraction, pixel artists manipulate a simple set of design principles. This talk will focus on techniques to render pixel art in a web browser using JavaScript and the DOM. We’ll start by drawing characters and scenes in the traditional 8-bit style. We’ll also set them in motion and create framed-based pixel art animation.

Next, we’ll focus on pixels themselves and how to transform them into autonomous agents. Using the same rendering techniques, we’ll create complex systems out of simple rules. As we try to balance these systems, we’ll observe interesting emergent behaviors. Finally, we’ll learn how to render these systems to HD video using Node.js and Photoshop.