Pixelblog - 16 - Medieval Fantasy / by Raymond Schlitter


When we hear the word ‘fantasy’ we often think of dragons, elves, wizards and the likes of a Tolkien novel. A fantasy world can be anything we want it to be, but we find a similar medieval backdrop used over and over. While I always appreciate new ideas, there’s something satisfying and comforting about a familiar motif. Mystical, brutal, and full of magic, the classical fantasy setting captures our imagination for many reasons.



Dwellings of medieval times might seem quite shabby by modern standards, and electricity usually isn’t granted in the fantasy version, but the mighty castle always impresses. Ironic structures, castles strike an aesthetic elegance while remaining brutally functional in the face of ever present war.


Fantasy castles come in many forms and sizes, but are usually based off the European variety. These defensive minded structures usually consist of tall outer walls with towers that house a keep within. Often they are surrounded by a moat or built on a hilltop for an extra layer of defense. Thick stone walls and spire topped towers provide strategic benefits as well. In the end, the purpose results in damn cool looking structures that are perfect for pixeling!


Now time for some real fantasy, or is it? We know serpent-like dinosaurs used to dominate the ancient seas. Who knows what could have evolved from those genetics and persisted in some form at the same time as humans. The knights praised for slaying evil dragons might have just been assholes hacking up an endangered species.


In all seriousness though, being a creature of fantasy, the dragon comes in numerous forms. It seems every culture has there own version of dragons. Even an individual has the authority to make a dragon however they like, and that’s the beauty of fantasy subjects. However, there are a handful of common types and attributed characteristics that seem to be standard convention. Here I describe a few of the common species seen in works of fantasy.


Judging by the weaponry of medieval times, warfare must have been terribly violent. Visceral face to face combat taps into something primitive and is another reason we remain enthralled with the medieval motif.


Here is a nice collection of weapons for adventurers of all types; dagger for a nimble thief, battle axe for a raging barbarian, or perhaps a magic staff for the sage wizard? We like to romanticize the violent aspects of medieval fantasy, but it would take some serious fortitude to actually pick up a war hammer and swing it at another human.

Final Thoughts

I tend to stick more to sci-fi and spacey things in terms of fantasy, but it was a lot of fun exploring medieval subjects. Maybe it’s the classic subjects, or the natural color palette, there’s just something about the aesthetic of medieval fantasy that marries so well with pixel art. Definitely want to venture in this world some more. Races, magic, other beasts, so much more to explore!


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This month I’m sharing Medieval Fantasy assets which includes all the sprites associated with this tutorial. Have fun using these in your pixel art studies or personal game dev projects.

All assets in this feature are based in my Bright Future color palette.

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-By Raymond Schlitter