Projects - Pixel Mainframe

Pixel Mainframe

This is my pixel mainframe project, started on the 16th August 2010 and inspired by works of art from the pixel joint. Initially I had only set out to draw realistic pixel impressions of mainframe computers from the 1950s to the 1980s based upon reference images found through Google image search; however once I had a small collection of five different main frame sprites I decided that I should create a real mainframe scene in which to show them off.

Above you can see the IBM 360, PRIME 550 Mk II and the Digital VAX 11/780 base units in all their pixel glory. Unfortunatley due to the lack of photographic reference on google I am unable to determine if they are the complete unit or if there are more in addition.

For the scene I shall be pixeling mainframe auxillary elements such as paper fold printers, punch card readers and terminal stations as well as lighting fixtures, floor panels, air vents, plants, desc accessories, wall covering and signs.

Once complete I hope that the eventual scene will depict a realistic bustling mainframe setting with a variety of mainframe systems ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s. The final result will be available as a print.

Isometric Office Items

More office auxillary items will be: waste bin, water cooler, wall callendar, wall posters, wall clock, desktop paper sorter, wall fire alarm, wall light fitting, desk top plant, floor standing plant, office chair, office soffa, office lamp, pens and pensils, teletype, fax, office phone, public phone, wall phone.


I have never attempted to draw isometric people before as I always used to focus on architecture and objects, however this scene would not be complete without a selection of system analysts, programmers and floor managers to give it life. Therefore I have taken a quick online course in drawing people, the tutorial in question can be found here; I found it quite useful and therefore decided to redraw the man from the tutorial in the same scale of my scene. It didn’t go so well as the little guy looked out of proportion and podgy. My seccond attempt fixed the pointy head and slimmed the body somewhat, however I still believe I lost some of the isometric goodness as I drew him mainly from eye. From then on the next couple of revisions where adding clothes and shading.

More People

I have taken the above concept and drawn out a variety of different clothes, however towards the end I quickly realised two things, one: that I would have to redraw each for different poses and two: the people weren’t exactly isometrically correct (look at the feet).

More Mainframes

In response to some suggestions from Pixel Joint, I have pixelated the Cray-1 Super Computer using a basic pallet of 5 colours from this source found via google image search.


Google Image Search “GEC 4000 mainframe”