Sp in my recent interweb browsings, I came across a small application called Pixen. Now, seeing as it was some type of image editor, and that it was free, and that I am freeware junkie, I promptly downloaded it. It is still in beta, or version 3 is, not sure about that exactly, but it seems fairly stable, and it is a wonderful little application for pixel art. I made this lovely little avatar with it the other day when playing around, and to tell the truth, it seems better for pixel art the photoshop, to me.
Oh, and did I mention that it can also do animations?
So I took the next logical step, and tried to make an emoticon! and, low and behold! it worked! I easily pixeled the body and other necessary parts, then commenced to start animating. The move tool leaves a little bit to be desired, and the frames are sometimes a little funky to work with, but hey, it's still beta, so maybe that will get better!
Over all, I liked it, and would recommend it for pixel art. Emoticons, well if you already have photoshop and know how to use it, probably best to stick with it, but if you are looking for a free alternative, pixen is just what you need!
Website: Open Sword: Pixen
And no, I am not uploading the emoticon I tried to make, because truth be told, it was horrible. I had forgotten how hard it is to try and make realistic, and exponential animations