DMA HOW-TO: Creating Pixel Art with Post-It Notes

By Phill Powell

Great Post-It Note art starts with a great character, like Mario.

Who would of thought you could take simple Post-It Notes and turn them into cool art? College students have been doing it for a few years now – and so has Digital Media Academy.

The concept is called “placemaking” and it means transforming a space into a unique “themed” area. DMA uses placemaking to decorate our camps and classrooms. It’s a great way to add character and customize a learning environment. Both teachers and parents who put their kids in our camp are always asking us how we do it. And while it does take some time, it’s not as hard as you think to create. Today we’ll show you to take a basic stack of Post-It Notes and turn them into a work of art:

1. Grab a Few Stacks of Post-It Notes

A variety of colors and sizes will help you reproduce the source art more accurately.

You’re gonna need a lot of Post-It Notes. Most office supply stores sell bricks of Post-It Notes in assorted colors. We recommend these over single packs because you can get a variety of colors at a great price.

We also highly recommend using the Post-It Note brand since they seem to stick better than other brands. Once you have your Post-It Notes, separate them out by color. You’re going to use them like a painter might use a palette of colors.

2. Find an Image You Want to Turn into Post-It Note Art

Start with a simple and basic image. You can take on more complex images once you’ve gotten the basics. 8-bit video game characters are always a good choice.

8-bit images are made up of pixels and each Post-It Note will represent a pixel. Maybe a jumping Mario or a classic retro Mega Man. (The more complicated the image, the more time it will take to make it come to life.) Once you’ve selected your image, print it out, in color.

3. Grid the Image

“It’s a me – Mario!”

To make the process easier, take a ruler and draw a grid over your image, as shown here. Your image should look kind of like it was charted on graph paper.

You’re going to use this as your guide to get the various colors of Post-It Notes that you need, based on the colors seen in your printed image.

Post-It Notes come in a variety of colors but you may only find a limited range of colors at your local office supply store. You may have to compromise and select the Post-It Note color that’s closest to a particular color in the printed image.

Again, each Post-It Note represents a pixel. If you want to make your image larger, you will need four Post-It Notes for every pixel. You can also use smaller Post-It Notes to scale your image down in size.

4. Create Your Masterpiece

Using your gridded image as your guide, start placing the individual Post-It Notes on the wall or other surface (such as a window). Keep your Post-It Notes level or your art may look a bit crooked. Apply Post-It Notes until each “pixel” is in place.

Nyan-Nyan-Cat-Post-It-Note-artA finished Nyan Cat appears from behind a curtain!

Note: If you plan on applying Post-It Note art to a window and want it to be seen from the outside (such as letters or words, etc.), you will need to reverse the image, so it can be read from outside.

Put Yourself in the Picture!
Summer tech camp should be fun, creative and unforgettable—and at Digital Media Academy it is! DMA has great camp experiences for all ages including its Jr. Adventures in Art & Digital Photography camp. Young kids age 6 to 8 explore digital photography techniques while discovering the masterpieces of the great masters of modern art, like Picasso and Van Gogh. It’s a rich creative experience, and at the end of the week, kids return home with a personal art portfolio of their very own! Start planning your next summer’s learning adventure, at DMA!