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A pixel is the smallest unit of a video screen display, taking its name from an alternate spelling of pics, short for pictures and el, short for element. Pixel art is art made by partly or entirely focusing on manipulating images at the pixel level. The term was apparently first used in publication in 1982 by researchers from the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, although the concept was at least a decade older, harkening back to the design of many early 2D computer games. One use of the term pixel software is to refer to software used to create pixel art. The term pixel software has some other uses as well.
When referring to pixel art, some artists are purists who use only pixel manipulation in their art, while others extend the definition in various ways. These artists’ definitions of pixel art will influence the applications that the artists consider to be pixel software. Software used for pixel art ranges from free programs like the simply named Pixel™ or Active Pixels™ or Graphics Gale™ to MicroSoft® Paint all to way up to Adobe® Photoshop®.
Many pixel artists stick to the simpler programs, or only use the higher end programs for special effects. Some consider the special effects available in Photoshop® outside the realms of pixel art. Still others have no issue with combining pixel art and vector art to make a blended final product.
Pixel software is also used to refer to software that references the pixel elements of the computer monitor. One example is A Ruler for Windows™, which is an on-screen pixel ruler. Calculators that convert dpi (dots per inch) to pixels and vice versa may also be referred to as pixel software. Pixel meter software, utilities to identify the color of a selected pixel on a monitor. One, called Digital Color Meter®, comes installed on Mac computers and allows the user to control the aperture of the color selector as well as choose the type of read-out preferred.
JScreenFix™ is a completely different type of pixel software. It is a Java applet designed to identify and re-energize stuck pixels that are not actually dead. The application works on plasma screens and LCD monitors.
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