Using the pencil tool seems perfectly valid to me.
Just using the pencil tool to draw does not make the end result a sprite. It makes it a drawing done on MS Paint. If you clean up that drawing by zooming in and editing it pixel by pixel, then that would be a sprite.
This is poorly, somewhat sloppily recolored... but it's still a lot better than the last thread, so meh XD
Anyway, there's probably a little bit more that could be done with this one, but it's starting to get a little cluttered, so I think it's time for a change: