Pixel art
Drawing original sprites and animations is a tough task, they have to be drawn one by one and pixel per pixel, but you feel rewarded when you see your own character moving, jumping or shooting.

There are great programs for this task, ones just for drawing sprites, others also for animating them, here is a brief list.

Cosmigo Pro Motion, one of the best drawing/animating sprite tool you can find arround.

Gimp, another good one, but you'll need to configured it for pixel art use.

Adobe Photoshop, nothing to say about it that you don't know, a great drawing program.

Graphics Gale, another good one.

Jasc Animation Shop, no official website, search for it in Google.

Iconomaker, very easy to use.

Aseprite (Allegro Sprite Editor)

Pyxel Edit

MS Paint, simple, but useful for copy+paste single sprites to a sprite sheet.

Other painting programs:

RealWorld Paint, Spriter, Grafx2, mtPaint and D-Pixel.
Sprite resources
Because drawing sprites is not for everyone there are many sprite resources sites for your sprite sheets, just remember that this is usually copyrighted stuff so take this into account if you publish your game.

Here are some links to great resources.


The Spriters Resource

Sprite Database

NES SNES Sprites

The ShyGuy Kingdom

If you know about a good program for pixel art, animation or any sprite resouce site let me know and I will post it here.