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Tutorial - 'Eliminating the Grid' by Mateui

An item about RPGMaker 2000 posted on


Learn how to "eliminate the evil grid" from your custom chipsets. What grid? Find out!


Eliminating the Grid
By: Mateui

This is a tutorial designed to help mostly new, but also experienced pixel artists to eliminate the grid. Confused already? Let me explain.

The Grid: The Concept:

Actually, the term “grid” was made up by someone in the pixel art community, but it captures the concept so perfectly, that I decided to use it in this tutorial.

Basically a “grid” occurs if one (or more) tiles, when placed in a large group, begin to show a continuous pattern, making the graphics look extremely awkward.

Don’t worry yet. If you don’t understand, then the pictures featured here will help you comprehend this concept.

The Problem: A Common Situation:

One day, Johnny decided to create an original game. Wanting it to be the best it could be, he started to create some new chipsets. After just 5 minutes, he was amazingly done with 5 various tiles. “Viola!” he exclaimed, “don’t you already love my new tile set?” He showed it to me.
(NOTE: If the pictures don't show up, then I will give you the links later.)

Was I amazed? Let me ask you a question. Would you actually use these tiles in your game? Here’s a picture to help you visualize how these tiles would look like when placed altogether on a map.

Seriously, do you not see the problem? If you do, then now you know what a grid is. The repetitiveness of all those same tiles make your eyes and head hurt.

A lot of you may say that this shouldn’t matter, as it is the story that matters, not the graphics. Well, I don’t want to break this to you, but graphics really do matter. Would you like to stare at the screen for hours on end watching the same tiles over and over and over again? No. It’s because you cannot adjust your eyes very well to notice the difference between the grass and let’s say the desert tiles. Both of them have the same tile pattern; only the colour has changed. This creates a problem. Hopefully, this tutorial will help you solve the problem – in essence, eliminating the grid!

The Grid: Finding a Solution

Let us put on our thinking caps. (Weird. For a second there, I felt exactly like primary school teacher.) Getting back on topic, what can we do to help us to destroy the grid? Hmm... Any ideas? Nope. Well, I suppose that you’re looking at me to provide this answer. Do you actually think that I know? Do you think of me as someone soo smart that they know the answer for everything? Well, do you?

To tell you the truth... actually... yes, I am. So let us move on my humble, less-minded slaves. Ok, so I was lying, but I do know the answer, so we might as well go on. (Darn! I knew that wasn’t going to last long!)

In order to find a solution, we must first isolate the problem. Go back to the map picture. Where is the specific place on a tile where you can see repetition clearly. Found it? Good. Or, if you’re truly lazy, I have provided another picture circling the trouble area. Have a look.

As you can see, there are primarily three problem areas. I have circled them for you. Let us look at the first circle. Ask yourself, what is the problem here? After some thought, you come to the conclusion that there is too much empty space in this area. The solution to the problem is simply added some more coloured pixels.

What about the second circle? This problem is much smaller than the first one, as only 2 pixels are causing the problem. By having two pixels touching each other, they are exposed more and have a higher probability of getting noticed by the eye. The solution therefore is to separate these 2 pixels. Simple eh?

Lastly, the third circle contains the problem above but includes a slightly higher area of pixels. Most of the pixels circled are forming an arc, which make them stand out. To solve this, you could either add more arcs to the whole tile, or simply to remove the arc by placed those pixels in other areas.

Notice that I included a final good tile in order to fix the three problems. As you can see, this new tile eliminated the problems I mentioned, but also created more problems. In reality, it is almost impossible to completely eliminate the grid, unless, that is, you have a lot of time on your hands. Nevertheless, the final product indeed does look better than the original. Let’s look at what I did.

For one thing, I added some more colours, providing depth to the sand. By adding some more colours, you have a greater chance of not repeating yourself twice, thus helping to smooth out the grid. One specific problem that occurred again was the formation of arcs, but you have to admit, it looks 100% better than before.

Another tactic that can be used is shading. Ok, don’t get completely scared. You just have to place some colours in order of their shade. For instance, light brown to dark brown. This will look like a light is shining from one specific direction. However, if you start shading in one direction, keep it the same for the rest of the tile, or else you can end up with one messed up tile.

I guess that I really can’t think up of more different solutions, as I’m not much of an expert in this field. I’m learning like you to are. I can provide you however with some more resources to visit and learn from. If you’re looking for specific tile techniques, then by all means read the tutorials located on this site. I really recommend the ones by RPGoddess. They are super-duper! (Where’s my money, RG? You said that if I advertised for you, then you would pay up. :D)


My time is up once again. (And still no Symbolism Article. Oh crap! I wasn’t supposed to write that! Why did I remind you?!) Anyways, I have to leave... (Don’t cry.) (Did you notice that I like using brackets?) Oh, I better leave. (No I can’t!) Shut up! We have to leave! (Ohh, I guess you’re right.)

Bye! (Later!)