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Article - 'Constructing a good Spriteset' by phantomditto

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

Blurb

An art article (haha) about sprite and battle sets, including tips to make their creation much easier.

Body

Hello all, and welcome to my tutorial. The goal of this tutorial is to discuss and recommend what to put into a charaset/spriteset/whatever in order to get the most use out of it. I'm also assuming you're a relatively good spriter already and want to know how to put your new skills to work. So are you ready?




I SAID, ARE YOU READY?
"Ready!"
Ok, good, let's start. *ahem*
---Chapter 1: Finding a sprite to play with---
Alright, for the sake of experience, I'm going to use RM2k charasets as examples. OK, your first concern should be finding a character you want to use. This should usually be a main character, but sometimes there's a need to modify NPCs as well. I chose a ninja for mine, so, um.. yeah, and stuff. Ninjas, and other "masked" characters, provide a bit more challenge, because you might want to show them unmasked and without the ninja outfit. This really isn't this difficult, it's simply a matter of switching heads and stuff. If you're not sure how to do this, I suggest you take a look at Angroth's article on "Becoming a Spriter".
(http://www.gamingw.net/content.php?id=293&cat=article)

---Chapter 2: What you need---
OK, let's skip over the switching heads and jump straight to the fun stuff. Now, since we're considering RM2k sprites, I'm going to group animations into two classes, 3-frame and 4-frame. You'll want to use 3-framers for basic animations (like laughing) and 4-framers for more complex (like drawing a sword or taking a mask off. The reason is that in RM2k, you can manipulate them more easily.) Alright. Now here's the difference.
A single charaset in RM2k can hold eight seperate characters. Here is a single character box.
[U1][U2][U3]
[R1][R2][R3]
[D1][D2][D3]
[L1][L2][L3]
I know that's not gonna turn out right, but oh well. Rows are 3-frame animations, while columns are 4-frame animations. Anyways, there are certain things that I always make sure to include in my charasets. Here they are.
*Laughing. Hey, you're characters gotta laugh sometimes, eh?
*Nervous animations. (sweatdrop, etc) Like above, it adds a lot to the game to be able to see the emotions.
*CBS "ready" pose. Useful in all occasions! I'll tell later how to make these look good.
*Dead animations. Goooood for all dead-type cutscenes.
*Victory pose. Wahay! I win! erm.. yeah, these are good.
*Holding their weapon. Everyone has a weapon, right? RIGHT? Yeah.
*Guarding
*various others.

Alright, let's set about making these, eh?
---Chapter 3: Editing and re-editing charasets---

Let's start with face tricks, like laughing. All you need to do is get rid of the eyes. Copy the middle forward-facing sprite to a blank 3-frame anim. Replace them with a flesh color and put little upside down "u"s in their place. Now copy it to the other two frames in the animation so you have an immobile laughing three-frame animation. However, movement is the spice of RPG life, so highlight the head in the middle and move it down (for a friendly laugh) or up (for an evil laugh) Note: If you move it up, you'll have to fill in the broken part. Wahay! View the animation, and now it looks like teh spiffness! Um, just kidding. But now you have the laughing anim, and you should be very happy. Wahay!

Now, on to the standard CBS ready pose, from which you can make many other poses and stuff.
First, take the forward facing middle character and copy it to an open 3-frame. Carefully erase the head Now go find a left-facing sprite, and copy ONLY THE HEAD off of this. Now take it back over to our working sprite and drop it about where the head you erased was. Hint for IDraw users: Use the Animation panel to see this at Zoom 1 without having to switch between zooms so often. Anyways, rebuild the body if you need to, and check it at Zoom 1 to make sure it looks right. Good. Now select a foot and move it over a pixel or so, and move the other foot the opposite direction. Now it looks like they are in some sort of pose for the battle. However, we want an animation, so copy it to the other frames so we can do what we need to. In the leftmost frame, select all of the image, starting at the top, all the way down to a couple of pixels above the feet. Now shift the selected region down one pixel. Now in the rightmost frame, select THE SAME REGION and move it up. Select the bottom line in the selected region and copy it, then paste it in the empty space. Check out the animation, and if it looks right, then congratulations! You did it right!

Some other quick poses: death poses. All you do is choose a sideways pose and rotate it and fit it into the frame. Now copy and paste and replace the eyes with X's or something. :P

Holding weapons: start with the CBS ready pose, rotate the arms inward, draw in the weapon.

Guarding: start with CBS ready pose, flip the forward arm vertically and reposition it so it looks right.

Whew! Long tutorial. Anyways, thanks for reading.
*goes and eats a jelly donut*