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Splatoon 2 players are making some incredible, photorealistic art

How are Switch users creating those super-detailed images?

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The original Splatoon on Wii U garnered a reputation for being home to some spectacular hand-drawn fan art, posted through Nintendo’s Miiverse service. Some Splatoon 2 players are continuing that tradition, even though illustrating on the Nintendo Switch touchscreen isn’t as straightforward as it was on the Wii U GamePad.

Splatoon 2 players have managed to find some workarounds, however, that have led to impressively detailed, photorealistic — and heavily meme-inspired — illustrated posts.

Take, for example, this Splatoon 2 fan art of Arms’ Helix, recreated pixel by pixel, according to its creator.

Or this illustration by developer Steve “Fobwashed” Kim, who turned a drawing of ex-Giant Bomb staffer Drew Scanlon (aka “White Guy Blinking”) into commentary about the Splatoon art scene.


Or this dig at Nintendo’s voice chat solution (or lack thereof) for Splatoon 2...

...which blew up on Reddit this weekend as players dove into Splatoon 2.

That post’s creator, who goes by Tobi on Twitter, explained the process of recreating the Roll Safe meme in a Splatoon 2 post.

“Those who are wondering, I just used a capacitive stylus for rough shapes, a zoomed in copy of the guy's face in 2-colour mode which I constructed in Photoshop, and a looooooooooot of patience to recreate the face,” Tobi wrote in a reply on r/gaming. “You don't have to be pixel perfect, because the entire thing hinges on visual noise to begin with, but it's nice if the face had some semblance of coherence to it. The clothes and hair are mostly random dots, whose only purpose were to create the illusion of texture and depth.”

Drawing on a Nintendo Switch isn’t quite as simple as it was on Wii U. The Switch uses a capacitive touchscreen and — unlike the Wii U GamePad, with its resistive touchscreen — doesn’t come with a built-in stylus, so many users simply draw using a fingertip. Others have been slaving over their drawings pixel by pixel; Switch users can use the d-pad and face buttons to paint their pixels one by one on the 320 x 120 canvas.

There’s another solution, however, that led to this realistic recreation of Star Wars’ Chancellor Palpatine.

That image was “printed” using software written by Shiny Quagsire to trick the Switch into thinking a fighting game controller — specifically Hori’s Pokkén Tournament game pad — is attached. The software then turns 1-bit image files input a series of inputs, which are printed left to right. Or, in Shiny Quagsire’s own words:

“I repurposed Switch-Fightstick to output a set sequence of inputs to systematically print Splatoon posts. This works by using the smallest size pen and D-pad inputs to plot out each pixel one-by-one.”

Here’s what it looks like in-game.

This is just the beginning for Splatoon 2’s art scene, so expect more impressive illustrated work to come.