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Chesu April 24th, 2009 2:39 PM

Spriting Tutorials - Pokemon and Trainer
This thread is currently being reformatted to make the tutorials more easily accessible.
The ugly buttons are placeholders until more permanent icons can be decided upon.


Spriting Basics



Future Tutorials

Pokemon Overworlds| Perspective| Biology
Overworld Objects| Background Tiles| Props
Shading Textures | BW Pokemon | BW Back Sprites
Trainer Back Sprites | Pokemon Type Traits


If you have any questions or would like to give feedback
on the tutorials, click here to leave me a visitor message!

Worldslayer608 April 24th, 2009 3:42 PM

Nice tutorial Chesu, very clean anr organized as well, makes reading so much easier :)

5qwerty April 26th, 2009 5:15 PM

Yay! I can't wait for the other tutorials to come out!

Ninja Caterpie April 26th, 2009 9:48 PM

Whoa, nice, nice, Chesu. I might learn off this properly. =D

Chesu April 27th, 2009 10:10 AM

Pokemon Scratch Tutorial #1
Pokemon Scratch Tutorial #1
by Chesu

In this tutorial, I'll be teaching you what I call the circle method,
or spriting by geometry. First thing's first, open up your favorite image
editor. I don't care if you just want to read the tutorial, do it. I prefer MS
Paint, as it presentes a single large environment, but you should use
whatever you're most comfortable with. The first thing you need
to do is decide the size of your sprite.

This red box represents how big GBA Pokemon battle sprites can be
with no problem. So long as the sprite fits within the red box without
overlapping the edges, everything should work just fine... I think I'll go
with a Pokemon of medium/small size. Before you even start on the sprite,
you should have a mental image of what you'll be making. I'm actually
going to be winging it, making it up as I go along.

The first step in the circle method is to draw some circles with the
circle tool. Sure, you could freehand them, but the circle tool is faster
and more accurate. The number and size of the circles depends on what
you're making... for Geodude, you'd start with a medium circle for the body,
and two small ones for the hands. If you wanted to make a Nuzleaf, you
would make a medium circle for the head, two small ones for the hips,
and maybe an oval or rectangle for the shoulders. I'm going keep it
simple and make two circles, for a head and body.

How many circles did you make? Now, you should consider the pose
your sprite will be in, and move your circles to reflect that. I want mine
to be facing the opponent head-on, so the smaller head circle should stay
on the left side of the body circle. I think I'm going to try for something
like a cat or a dog, sitting down, so the head circle will go on top.

Once you've got your circles situated, you can reshape them.
I smoothed out the body a bit, and made the head slightly more...
well, head-shaped. Most quadrupedal mammals have a head that gets
more narrow under the eyes, so take the jaw line and other facial
structures into consideration while doing this. I still don't know what
I'm making, but it has a fairly rounded body. From here on out, you'll be
experimenting a bit, so you should always make a copy of the most recent
revision to the sprite, and work on that. To give it some contrast against
the white background, I'm going to color it a little. To ensure that my
sprites will blend with everything else in the game, I prefer to use
the color palettes of existing Pokemon.

While looking through Pokemon sprites, Noctowl caught my eye, so I
grabbed its palette. I also started to draw some limbs. My original idea was
to draw the leg similar to how a cat or dog's leg looks when they're sitting
down... there's really no trick to it, just draw how you think it should look.
Due to how long I made the foot, it turned out looking more like a rabbit's
leg, so I decided that's what I would be making: a rabbity thing. For the
forepaws, I just drew some paw shapes, then added little arms. If you
are having trouble drawing what you have in mind, look closely at a
reference image. I think I'll color the arms and legs now...
what kind of limbs did you decide to draw?

You probably can't see what the problem is, and I'm not exactly
sure that I know either, but I just didn't like how the paws looked. I
tried moving them around, but none of my attempts were satisfactory...
so, I decided to amputate. What? Don't worry, it'll be fine. If you ever feel
like something isn't working out, there's nothing wrong with trying something
else. It's been used before (see Klonoa, Terriermon, and Pokota to name a
few), but I think I'm going to have my rabbity thing attack with its ears.
Don't worry, I'll find a way to sneak a lesson about spriting into it.

As you can see, the ear on the left is a basic arch shape, while the one
on the right looks.. well, better. The ear on the right started out looking
about the same as the one on the left, but I added a few little touches
to make it look more organic. Let's take a closer look.

Upon closer inspection, you can see that one of the major differences
is that the ear on the right doesn't look as rounded. The ends are very
different, of course, but you probably haven't even noticed the most
important thing in the image. Actually, that's because I didn't include
the "wrong" thing to do it, because I'm so used to doing it the "right"
way. So, what am I talking about? Well, let's have another look at
the two circles I started with.

So, which circle looks more round to you. The one on the left?
Well, why? The answer is pretty weird; because the circle on the right
has a straight line three pixels long connected to diagonal lines. It sounds
crazy, I know, but that's really what it is. If you want something to look
natural, you should make sure that the ends of diagonal lines are connected
to straight lines by smaller straight lines, two pixels long. I don't question it,
I just know that it works. You also wants to avoid right angles, unless
you're spriting a Pokemon made of minerals or ice. Yes, there are right
angles in my sprite's face... I intend to build the nose and whiskers/hair
tufts around them. Anyway, lesson learned, right? Right. Onward!

The sprite's backside was looking a little flat, so I decided to give
it a tail. Rather than a boring old rabbit tail, I gave it something you'd
see on a primate or marsupial, with a tuft on the end similar to the ears.
There is no universal truth about tails (aside from the fact that no matter
what kind of animal it is, there IS bone somewhere in there, so keep that
in mind), so it's time to move on to the finer details! Since I don't plan
on adding anything else to the outside of the sprite, I'm going to be
working on things on the inside. If you're still working on limbs or
anything like that, finish up before you continue reading!

You already know that I started on the face, so let's talk about
the eyes. I like to start by drawing a ridge where the top of the eyes
will be, to make it easier easier to shape them. The eye ridge should be
based on the shape of the rest of the head, but you'll have to use your
own judgment to determine how it should look. Only part of the eye on the
left is visible; there are probably a lot of Pokemon that look like this, due to
their heads being oriented on the opponent. You want the sprite look like
it's focusing on something about ten feet away. Also, remember that eyes
are generally wet-looking, and therefore reflective, which is why you will
often see a white pixel or two on the colored part of the eye. I actually
intended for the nose to be at the very bottom of the face when I shaped
the head, and I may end up changing the sprite's face completely before
I'm done. When making the nose and mouth, keep the facial structures
you've established so far in mind. Once you've finished the basic
layout of your face, we'll move on to shading.

Most GBA Pokemon and trainer sprites seem to be illuminated by
a light source somewhere to the left and above them, so when shading
your sprite, make it darker on the right and bottom. If you look closely at
the sprite on the right, you'll see that I used lighter colors in some places
on the outline. It may seem like a small thing, but you'd be surprised at how
big of difference it can make in the overall look of the sprite. The shading
has made me realize just how fat the little guy is, so while you're shading
your sprite, I'm going to slim it down, maybe add a few finishing touches.

Lookin' good, bunny-man! When you want to use multiple colors as I
did here, just replace the original shades with the new ones in the chosen
area. Resist the temptation to draw a dark-colored line between the two
different hues! I'm going to do some last minute shading, and add a few
more small details. Maybe, with a more slender frame and better
shading, I'll be able to get the forelegs to look right.

Well! I'm surprised, I quite like that. The less noticeable changes I
made were to alter the shading a bit, mostly along the back and on the
ears, and to add ear canals. I actually planned on adding the ear canals
earlier, but forgot until now. If you look closely, you'll see that aside from
making it more believable as an animal, they also add a dimension to the
ears that wasn't there before, showing the point at which the back side of
the ears becomes visible from the front. With that, I think I'm done!

Not bad, for two circles put together in MS Paint. It doesn't look
a whole lot like a Pokemon, but that's just because I didn't give it the
large head and distinctive face normally associated with the creatures. It
could also use some markings or tufts of hair on its body, but I'm happy
with it as it is. I think I'll call it... Marchare, a Normal/Fighting type. A
little bit rabbit, a little bit cat, a little bit kangaroo, and a little bit
crazy! So, how did everyone else's turn out? Please, post
your own made-from-scratch sprites below!


If you have any questions or would like to give feedback
on the tutorials, click here to leave me a visitor message!

Haz April 27th, 2009 4:47 PM

Thanks for the tutorial it helped me heaps.

Maybe after you finished with the trainer tutorial, you should show us how to make back sprites?

Conan Edogawa April 28th, 2009 3:17 AM

Thank you for the tutorial it's really helpful. A back sprite tutorial would be nice to have because I can't do them to well.

Chesu April 28th, 2009 5:58 AM

Shading Basics
Shading Basics
by Chesu

Shading is one of the most important, yet oddly overlooked
parts of creating Pokemon sprites. Shading allows you to add
dimension to a sprite that would otherwise have looked flat.
Take these two shapes, for example.

With the addition of three well-placed colors, a red circle can
become a red sphere. It's hard to explain why, but in short the
human brain has perfected the art of pattern recognition. This is why
you're able to recognize your friends from behind... and why, if you've
ever seen a shiny ball before, the circle on the right will appear to have
depth despite being identical in shape to the one on the left. This effect
works exactly the same in reverse, as illustrated by these Voltorbs.

As you can see, with its shading removed Voltorb looks... well,
flat. If you look closely, you'll see that both the shaded Voltorb and
my sphere have colored outlines, getting darker the farther they are
from the light source. This is used to build upon the illusions of depth
and light created by the other shading on the sprite. Speaking of light
sources, all battle sprites that face you will be lit by something
above them and to the left... just imagine that the sun is
somewhere around the opponent HP box.

A shading technique often used for Pokemon is dithering,
which allows you to both soften the boundary between two
shades and artificially add shades to your sprite without adding
more colors to the palette. This is a throwback to Pokemon Gold
and Silver, when dithering was used to shade most sprites.

So what, exactly, IS dithering? Well, take a look at the two
green color palettes above. There's no question which one has a
larger range of shades, but how many unique colors does each have?
The one on the left very clearly has four, and the one on the right seems
to have seven... but they're actually exactly the same. If you look closely
at the box on the right, you'll see tiny checker board patterns consisting
of two shades of green; this is dithering. Now, you may not recall
ever having seen any checker-boarded Pokemon.. but that's
probably just because you never noticed it.

If you would like to see how extensively dithering
was used in the GBC games, click here. If you think
of any shading tips I forgot, let me know!


If you have any questions or would like to give feedback
on the tutorials, click here to leave me a visitor message!

aramil34 April 28th, 2009 7:43 AM

Nice tutorial.

I was thinking about starting spriting, it'll be helpful. :cer_smile:

Chesu April 28th, 2009 1:49 PM

Trainer Scratch Tutorial #1
Trainer Scratch Tutorial #1
by Chesu

In this tutorial, I'll be using the circle method to sprite
a Pokemon trainer. The process is generally the same as shown
in the Pokemon tutorial above, though the rules are a bit different.
First off, you need to decide how big your sprite will be. Remember,
battle sprites can't be any taller or wider than the red box shown in
the previous tutorial. I recommend finding an existing sprite that's
the size you want and using the same proportions. I'm going to
be spriting the rival for Pokemon Dissension, so my sprite will
be approximately the same size as the GBA protagonists.

As before, the first step is to make some circles for the
major body parts. Feel free to use the ones I've already created,
if you want to. Just like last time, position them with the finished
product in mind. I actually have concept art to base my sprite
on, which I highly recommend.

Since my sprite will have his back turned to the player,
looking over his right shoulder at them, I'm putting his left foot
forward. If you're having trouble placing the feet or drawing the
legs, look closely at the leg positions of other sprites. Don't
forget to shape the feet/shoes to fit the perspective.

You can start shaping the hips, torso, head... whatever you
need to, at this point. I decided to reduce the hips, since my sprite
won't be wearing a jacket, or anything else that would need the wide
circle I started out with as a reference point. To prevent confusion
while drawing on the arms and anything else you want to add, now
is a good time to apply some base color to the sprite. I also drew
on a jaw line and a simple face, in preparation for the hair.
armed and dangerous

It's easier to draw the arms separately, then to add them
to the sprite when you're happy with them. I like to start with
the shoulder, a circle about the same size as the shoe. If part of the
arm is going to be behind the sprite, like the left shoulder and hand here,
draw the arm in its entirety, then position the sprite on top of it. Finish
the rough shapes of anything else you want on your sprite (don't
worry, you can come back to them later if you want), then
move on to the most difficult part of spriting; HAIR!

Well, that may have been a little melodramatic, but drawing
hair is no easy task. What's more, I can't really give you much
advice, as there are no universal laws on hair. What I can tell you,
however, is that I like to draw hair directly on the sprite, and that I
only worry about the outline at this point. Think of how to make it sit
naturally, remember that hair doesn't defy gravity without reason,
and try using as many reference images as possible. Once you're
happy with your sprite's design, you can begin shading it.

Shading a only a little different for clothing and hair
than explained in the two tutorials above, but it's important to
remember what it is you're shading. A leg covered in loose denim
for example, is shaded quite differently from a bare leg. The shape
and position of things has the biggest impact on how they're shaded,
but remember that, even if you can't see it below them, your sprite is
casting a shadow. The four protagonist sprites at the top of this tutorial
are all casting shadows on their left arms; this usually applies to things
in the background, so keep that in mind if you decided to make your
sprite stand with one leg forward, the other back.

I can offer literally no advice on shading hair, since there
are so many variables. Just keep everything I've said about
shading in mind, and make sure the style is consistent. If the hair
is smooth, make the shading smooth... if the hair is rough, enhance
that. The hair on my sprite is shaggy and a little disorganized, so I'm
using the shading to make that more recognizable. If you need any
advice, feel free to leave a comment below, or send me a private
message. After making a few small changes, my sprite is done!

In the end, I decided to make him a bit skinnier, and since
I wasn't incredibly fond of looking at his butt, covered it with
his shirt. Little touches, like the shape of his face and the rolled-up
sleeves, give him a distinctive look. The process for making the large
sprites used in FireRed and LeafGreen's intro sequence is the same,
just on a larger scale and with a larger color palette.

So, how did your sprite turn out?
If you'd like to share, post it below!


If you have any questions or would like to give feedback
on the tutorials, click here to leave me a visitor message!

Corey April 28th, 2009 1:50 PM

nice tutorial bravo! good job

Dannwe123 April 30th, 2009 7:14 AM

This is great!! I never realized you could sprite with shapes like that. This was really helpful!

Fox♠ April 30th, 2009 9:51 AM

These tutorials seem really helpful, great job. :)
You planning on submitting them to the tutorial thread?

Chibi Robo April 30th, 2009 6:04 PM


I've noticed that there are a lot (a lot!) of projects on the ROM
Hacking boards that require original sprites, but not quite so many
spriters willing to do that much work. The people who are willing to do
the work, those who have the original idea for the hack, usually cannot
As a spriter I am offended by this there are plenty of good spriters willing to sprite for a hack and to me personaly its offensive

Anyways I like your tutorials they are very well made nice concept too ^^
I really like what you use for the palettes for the sprites also but when making a sprite in a rom hack the trainer should probaly have his/her head facing to the bottom right hand corner but anyway nice tutorials hope you make more

Chesu April 30th, 2009 6:47 PM

Pixel-Over Tutorial
Pixel-Over Tutorial
by Chesu

Tracing over an existing image is probably the easiest way
to create a nice-looking sprite. The process is so simple, in fact,
that I have no preamble for it that wouldn't just be the first
part of the tutorial, so let's just dive in!

The first item on the agenda is, as you could have guessed,
choosing an image to base the sprite on. Things to look for in
prospective images are a dynamic pose, good color depth, and
if possible, a head oriented on where the player's party would be
standing. If you're basing your sprite on concept art for your own
original Pokemon, make sure that you're satisfied with the image
before starting. Once the image is ready, it's time to resize.

Okay, so it's not much right now, but by the time I'm through
with him this little guy will look great! If you intend to use the sprite
in a ROM hack, make sure that it's no larger than 64x64 pixels, and is the
exact size you want it to be. You probably don't want an Umbreon the size
of a Rapidash, right? Moving on, you can start the actual tracing!

I prefer to use bright colors, as they stand out against
the image. I couldn't tell you why, but more often than not I
seem to use red and cyan for the outline. Make sure to erase
any near-white colors that may surround the image.

That is one psychedelic Bayleef! Replace every discernible
shade in the image with a different bright color, so it will be
easy to recolor later. If you look closely, you'll see that I left
the eye unaltered; it's easier to change the colors in small areas
like that one-by-one. Next is the final step, recoloring. You can use
whatever colors you want, but you should definitely use the original
image as a reference. If you're making a new sprite of an existing
Pokemon, I recommend using the color palette on that Pokemon's
sprite. Don't be afraid to alter the sprite's shading, to better
fit the guidelines in the shading tutorial above.

Not too shabby! This sprite wasn't actually made for
use in a game, so it's a little sloppy, but you get the idea.
However, just because it looks nice, that doesn't mean that
it's appropriate. Let's take a look at a few more examples.

As you can see, again, the resulting sprite isn't bad.
It's not really appropriate for a battle sprite, though, since
it's not facing the right way. The light source of the original
image was also a bit off; if I wanted to use this sprite,
I would have altered it.

The orientation of the head on this one is better,
and the colors and details are nice.. but there's a major
problem with the size. All three sprites I made were half the
size of the original image, which was okay for Bayleef and perfect
for Hitmonlee... but the Umbreon sprite is clearly too big. If you intend
to use this technique, just remember that the finished product should
have proper orientation, size, and shading. If you feel the need
to alter any details, feel free to! It's your sprite!


If you have any questions or would like to give feedback
on the tutorials, click here to leave me a visitor message!

Chibi Robo April 30th, 2009 7:02 PM


Oh... I'm sorry that you're offended, but I don't exactly see why you are. Judging by the number of messages I've gotten, there are quite a few projects looking for spriters. I really don't see anything offensive in saying that the demand for spriters outstrips the supply.
I was more offended that you said most spriters willing to sprite are usualy not good in spriting
but you are right with all the activity in the ROM hacking forum and a new hack made every day I can see why you said that

Chesu April 30th, 2009 7:56 PM


Originally Posted by HFI (Post 4597400)
I was more offended that you said most spriters willing to sprite are usualy not good in spriting

...What? I never said anything like that... I said that most spriters aren't willing to put in the time for "just some hack", and that the people who ARE most willing to put in the time are the creators of the hacks... who are, most likely, not capable spriters.

Conan Edogawa May 1st, 2009 3:22 AM

I've been busy but I should have free time tonight to continue my sprite. Once it's all done I'll post it.

aquakip May 2nd, 2009 8:11 AM

This is actually very helpful, especially since your a good spriter. It sucks when bad spriters try to make tutorials, even when the don't know what they're doing.
Great work.
It helped me a lot.

Chesu May 2nd, 2009 9:39 AM


Originally Posted by aquakip (Post 4602010)
This is actually very helpful, especially since your a good spriter.

Eh, I'm an... okay, spriter. I wanted to make tutorials that are easy to understand, and explain everything... I'm not sure if I've managed to do that, but it's certainly better than nothing.

Yume Tsuki May 3rd, 2009 3:23 AM

first time i scratched a trainer :x

the legs look too short and too thin D:

Chesu May 3rd, 2009 6:39 AM


Originally Posted by Froslass_Maniac (Post 4605991)
first time i scratched a trainer :x

the legs look too short and too thin D:

Yeah... make the legs a bit bigger, put the elbows a little higher on the arms, and shade the skin and hair. That should help a bit.

Involuntary Twitch May 3rd, 2009 9:53 AM

That has got to be the most useful trainer tutorial I've ever seen. :3 Trainers had always been such a problem for me before, but with it, I was able to make this. I commend you; you managed to make it straightforward and easy enough for anyone to follow.

I wasn't much of a fan of the fakemon tutorial at first (I don't reccommend using the circle tool) but the end product turned out much better than I thought it would. And the traceovers might come in handy sometime. So, awesome! Keep up the good work!

Conan Edogawa May 3rd, 2009 3:07 PM

I just looked at your trace over tutorial and it seems really easy to follow and the results are great. After my fakemon I'll try that.

Fox♠ May 4th, 2009 10:03 AM

I wasn't sure weather to sticky this as it;s own thread so you can still update it or if I should merge it with the existing tutorial thread. I'm pretty confident that since you are constantly updating these great guides that it warrants it's own sticky, congrats.

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