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Article - 'Becoming a Spriter' by Angroth

An item about Graphics/Audio posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

If you still have trouble with your drawings for your games, then this will help you learn how to get good.

Body

Spriter?

Spriters are people which as the name suggests ('sprite' '(e)rs') create sprites for games. People's skills in spriting can vary and some people will even be doing custom pictures, title pages, faces and maybe even enemies and maps. Nonetheless these people will usually lend their talents to others who need their expert abilities and if not then they're selfish and should be killed; unless their mama has a note. If someone sprites for your game then you should give that person credit somewhere in it, otherwise it's not very fair and you might make them mad!



How do I start?!

Okay then, let's begin! There are two main ways to start practising your drawing skills. These are stages one and two which are swapping heads and recolouring people. After this everything else is more complicated and you shouldn't bother skipping the stages and jumping to different orders otherwise you will have a harder time.

Stage One:

The first most obvious thing you can do is begin to swap heads and bodies of characters. It's quite simple to do and shouldn't take long to master. If use the action (in paint program) to copy a colour, do it on the background of the charaset with right click. Now, when you past the head you can click on the lower option (on the right bar menu) to make everything which is the background colour not show up. Use this to not copy over someones body and make the task more easy for yourself.

Stage Two:

The next thing you can do it change colours of people. Whether it is their clothes, skin or weaponry; this isn't too difficult. The easiest way to start off at this is to choose a custom colour (lightest or what you're going to do) then go over the lightest point of the characters clothes. Now, you can go back to the custom colour section and make the colour slightly darker to colour over the next darkest area's on the character. Then keep getting slightly darker in colour to accomodate the ever darkening colours on the character. To make this simpler you should do one piece at a time, for example: DO the persons trousers, then jumper and then hair.

Test Yourself:

After trying both of the above you should be able to modify the colours of preset characters and swap their body parts (mainly head). Your test is to:

Change alex in the rtp charaset into a green goblin complete with red eyes, brown clothes, elf from the monsters set's head (it has blue hair) and change his hair to grey.



Moving On...

Alright, that's the simple stuff out of the way. Now you will get to the final stages of character set spriting in preparation to move on to better things.

Stage One:

You have swapped heads and possibly some other limbs yeah? Good, then let's try manipulating the graphics of the sprite to make a standing still pose for a side view custom combat system. This will require you to take a left facing (but not full on) position of the character (the version where they have their right foot forward looks best) and past it into a new charaslot. Here you will need to move that left arm across onto their body so they can hold a sword. This is where your drawing skills begin as you will need to possibly rotate the arm but move it over the persons body and remodel their shoulder and body where the arm was. Take similar colours from around to flood in the gap you have made. If it is a crevace it will be darker than if it were a open surface, bare this in mind. When the sprite is read you can draw a sword (or steal one from another charaset). That should be quite simple. Upon doing this you should paste the graphic (the one you did) into the other two places of the same character. So you have all three directions of a character (facing one direction eg. left) taken up. Now select the middle graphic and move it all down by one pixel at the knees. This should make the character dip in the middle of his standing still. If you import this into rm2k then you'll find that if you put fixed direction or something and slow the movement down to its slowest then you will proudly see a standing side view combat system animation for the character. Nice work, now onto stage 2!

Stage Two:

You’ve changed the colours of the people and now you will be taking colouring to a slightly new level. Much like in preparation of a custom battle system from above, if you were to do a picture CBS instead of a charaset one, then this will gravely aid you! You will need to draw a picture of a person that will be about three times the size of an average charaset person. You should increase the paint program’s size to a high number so that you can paste in the picture of the person you are going to draw larger for the CBS. The final product should look like something from the legion saga 2 duel system. You can steal the charaset head and increase its size but this might not work.

First, draw the outline of your character. Then you should fill him/her in with the basic colours (no shading). Once you’ve done this take the nex darkest colour of each section of the body (clothes, skin armour, etc) and slowly add the shading piece by piece. When done you should do the stage 1 thing whereby you made the character bob up and down. To create an attacking animation you should base the picture on the original standing. It could take some time but the outcome should be rewarding.

Test Yourself:

After trying both of the above you should be able to edit charasets to some degree and draw larger versions of the characters. Your test is to:

Take the green goblin of alex and make a CBS version of him which stands still (but bobbing up and down) and a three animation attack for both pictures and charasets.



Maximising Your Skills

This will be as far as you should really go in terms of spriting. After this you can only really move onto doing super amazing pictures for title pages and game overs (which look as good as the default ones going around, not just pasting some charaset people in there) and so on.

Stage One:

Taking on from the charaset where you creating moving and attacking animations now comes the best part. To make decent attacks you should do them in the battle animation section and make the battle animation centre over the character who then dissapears and reappears when it’s over. For the battle animation I want you to try and create about 8 different positions in which your character can pass through. Remember when creating the actual animation itself, that you can utilise the screen. There’s not really much help I can give you here so I’ll shut up and let you do it. Afterall, more experience makes you better.

Stage Two:

Extending on from the CBS pictures. What if you’re not doing a CBS? How will that skill come into use?! Easy! You can do your own enemies. And they can look exactly like the charaset counterparts of themselves. What a cool idea eh? And you can make your enemies as big, small, scary or armed to the teeth as you want. Once again this is merely an addition to before and I need not offer any help because I couldn’t really help you much more anyways. Goodluck!

Test Yourself:

After trying both of the above you should be able to create advanced movements for a character and make your own enemies. Your test is to:

Make two variant attacks for the goblin alex which have at least 6 different positions within them. Choose some character set enemies and create 4 monsters (enemy sets) in which you can test the animations out on in a battle.



Welldone. If you have gone from the beginning to the end then you should have learned much in the arts of spriting. Even if you didn’t learn much you will at least have much more experience and general knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. I hope this has been of help to you, but then again if you don’t need help because you’re not using custom stuff or you are already a spriter then goodluck!