The foxy ladies can't resist my sandwich
Location: The land of Leprechauns and alcoholism.
Rank: Ace Attorney
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:15 pm
We've had a number of topics from members asking how to create sprites. So instead of making a new thread, read this awesomely comprehensive tutorial on spriting by Mikker.
Paste in a sprite you want to edit.
Pixel-edit your way to glory.
There are several techniques to master, namely:
Knowing your editor: Knowing all the little tricks needed to do everything else.
Best learned by: Playing! Try out all the functions in paint! Knock yourself out! Get used to all the basic tools, how the palette works, what button to hold down to drag the line on a perfect 45 degree angle, and that you should always, ALWAYS, save in .png for sprite use, as paint is VERY bad at .gifs. If you like some like to use more advanced tools, like Photoshop, than this step is the hardest of them all.
Recolouring: The action of applying a different set of colours to a sprite for it to look better.
Best learned by: Doing it. Take random sprite, zoom in slightly (you'll use this a lot, trust me), and start mixing the colours. You'll soon see that the normal paint-palette is useless for this, and you'll have to make your own colour blends double-clicking the palette OR use a different program that does this better (Photoshop is good at this, for instance). You will also see that one colour isn't enough. Most, if not all, sprites have shading, so you'll need darker variants of this colour. Making it look nice is actually quite a challenge. You'll also learn some techniques in changing colours, like abusing transparency (have the colour you wish to exchange be transparent, then drag it onto a large square made by the next colour) and pixel-by-pixel editing (explained later.)
Frankensteining: The action of combining sprites to make them blend seamlessly.
Best learned by: Trying it out. Take two random sprites, zoom in extensively, and try and change their heads onto each other. You'll learn (hopefully!) that marking the head with a single square isn't enough, as this leaves a lot of problems with the fact that the head isn't square. To solve this, you'll either need to carefully use the star-crop icon, and manually take the head or, what is the best action, square-move the head, and change some details by pixel-edit them (see next step) before applying them to their new position. Oh, and you will see that you'll need to be able to master transparency for this last part. Because it isn't square, there will be details outside the head that will also be copied. Have it be a single (unused elsewhere) colour, select that as your secondary colour (right-click), and select the appropriate tool when having the section marked. Congratulations! You have the head selected! XD Drop in on the new body, making sure it looks nice :) You may wonder what the purpose of this is, as it doesn't involve any of YOUR spriting. But fear not. A much used spriting trick is to actually make the sprite in different steps - and combining them afterwards. This is especially true for sprites where parts of it is hidden behind another, or details are added afterwards. If you know how to frankenstein, advanced spriting should be made easier.
Pixel Editing & Shaping: The action of shaping the basic shape of a sprite, using a single colour.
Best learned by: Doing. An idea here would be to try using official art as a base, but an easier way is to try and make... a smiley! A lot less to worry about. Try making a smiley of a character sprite. If you use that, you'll also get the needed base colours. A good idea is to make your outer pixel black. Try and form it to your ideals. Lots of ideas in the 'new smileys' thread, but I made a little walkthrough here: Daian Laugh - from Start to Finish
Notice how shading is made a lot easier when the shape is finalized, or roughly so. Anyway, using the line tool can be useful sometimes, but the single-pixel tool is used more here.
Anti-Aliasing: The trick of using partial sprite colour blends in the squarely gabs near edges to make it look non-choppy.
Best learned by: Testing, and looking at other sprites. Make a straight line 45 degree line on a blank sheet. It looks choppy. Ehm... so, try and apply a grey next to it on both sides. It doesn't look as choppy! You must trick the eye into thinking that colours blend together, and this is easily done by simply using colours close to each other. Remember to zoom out a lot to see how you're doing! The 'user' will only ever see it in 1x, and maybe sometimes 2x, so those are the ones you should focus on, viewingly! And try different degrees of straight lines, and test what is best. Another line: Make a straight line, and move half of it a single pixel to the left. Remember that it's the line that is needed to flow into another line on a different 'tile', so to speak. By using lesser colours, you can make it look slightly skewed so they kind of look like they fit together. Longer lines need longer lines of lesser colours to look skewed. Using the same black colour on white just makes the line look thicker, and so would it do if you overdo the lesser colours. This is especially important if you try more than one layer of colours (dark grey and light grey, for instance). If you do this wrong, all you will do is make the line blurry. Avoid that. Oh, and you may try this one out with the smiley you made earlier.
Shading: The action of actually shading the figure to make it 1) look cool, 2) Visibly 3D-shaped.
Best learned by: Not doing, but watching how others do. The shading basically defines the style (excluding the AA-ing, which is a requirement for basically everything to look nice), and if you want your sprite to follow a style, then you'll need to obey the shading used by this style. In Phoenix Wright, for instance, usually the bottom half of the sprites are darkened. And avoid pillow shading (unless lesser and lesser colours the more into the main part of the sprite you go), which will make your model look soft. So unless you're indeed making a pillow, avoid this one. Can be useful for some types of hair, though. It is also what shades the basic smiley yellow circle.
Detailing: Making details, in the end, is what shapes the figure. Especially hair.
Best learned by: I have no idea on this one. It really depends on how you can put your previously learned skills into the situation at hand. However, In most cases, for sprites, details that are so small single pixels are too big are actually quite common. To do this, you must take advantage of the same skills used for AA to manually make small details. This is HARD to do, and sometimes it may even be better to make large versions of the details, and shrinking them down, editing them to look nice as you go. Remember, it might look foolish zoomed in, but the viewer will see it in 1x! If the needed item is more than 5x5 pixels as this, (20x20 in a similar detail, for instance) then AAing details is really NEEDED.
Thanks to Mikker for writing this. Happy spriting.
-Edit by Ceres 'sorry Darz, hope ya don't mind):
If you're interested in animation
(both in GIMP and PS), be sure to visit Percei's tutorial's topic: Click
Credit to whoever I stole this from.