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Old September 2nd, 2009 (4:59 PM). Edited April 15th, 2010 by hashtag.
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Cello Cello is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: get the mascot involved
Age: 25
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Posts: 1,498

[ cello's guide ]
to everything tile insertion, tile/set placement, and much more!

1.) introduction
2.) tools you will need
3.) basics/need to know
4.) Preparing a tile
5.) pallette editing/saving
6.) Advanced map block editor
7.) Did you know?...
8.) FAQ/Fixes
9.) Credits

Hello, I'm Cello, and I'm a stringed instrument apparently. Today I will be bringing you an advanced guide to tile insertion. I know what you're thinking, "isn't there enough of these guides already?"
Yes, it's true this guide will be covering the same tile insertion that others do, but it will also be providing tips & tricks, teach you the basics which other guides overlook, provide fixes and answers to any of your problems, and tile/set placement.
Even though this guide says advanced, it will be covering things from your first time inserting a tile, until you become a expert yourself. It is beginner friendly!

Don't let my post count or join date fool you. Not meaning to brag or anything but I'm kind of a big deal when it comes to this stuff, yahr? ;<
....Just kidding, now lets get on with the guide! First off, the tools.

[tools you will need]
Alright, so starting us off I will list you (in order of tile creation and not including the rom) what kind of tools you will need to put your pretty pixel pictures in your pokemon game. ;o

1.) First off, you need a heavy pixel-friendly software such as:

  • Paint - You already have this program. If not, I'm afraid to say it but something's up with your computer. Or you have a mac, LOL. Ohhhhoho. No really... It's the ideal pixeling program for it's easy-to-use pencil tool, but it lacks in a variety of useful features. It does have a grid (View -> Zoom -> Show Grid) that measures pixels, but it can not be adjusted. I recommend saving only .PNG and .TIFF files in Paint, or else things will turn out low quality if you save as another file type.

2.) You will need a palette editing tool:

  • Graphics Gale: This program can be used for editing your images palette. I DO NOT RECOMMEND GALE FOR PALETTE SAVING. It is a bugged and makes your colors darker in the .PAL file. It is still a good pixelling program, however.

  • Photoshop: It's an alternative. A very complex alternative. This program isn't suggested for pixeling but it does get the job done when it comes to palettes. It allows you to save palettes as a .ACT, too. Unfortunately, the program is wallet rape-ingly expensive and any talk of obtaining it for free is strictly forbidden/ against the law. So hush it foo'!

3.) You will need a map editing/tile insertion tool.

4.) If you need a extra hand, this isn't a hospital and I'm no surgeon... but here are some extra tools that can help? :

[basics / need to know]
Before we start, we need to know the basics for anything to do with everything I'm about to cover. For tile insertion or anything I'm about to teach you, a prerequisite is computer experience or else a lot of what I say will make no sense. So in this section I will cover the info on tiles, common file types, and terms.

Basic terms/file types:

  • Pixels: "The smallest piece of information to your image." When you zoom into a picture you see small square colors. Or even just looking at your screen. Those are pixels!
  • 16x16: Basically, pixel size, width and height.
  • RBG: Red, Blue, Green. The color model that's used to display digital images on your screens.
  • Tiles: The 16x16 images that are placed across your maps.
  • Tileset: The file holding all of your hack's tiles. You can load two of these in one map.
  • Palette: A compilation of one image's colors into a file. Imagine Bob Ross' color palette he used in his painting shows, only not tangible.
  • .PNG: Stands for Portable Network Graphics. This file is commonly used for it's high quality. Use it to save any rough tiles/images. It is space consuming!
  • .BMP: A Bitmap. Use this file for saving any final tiles you're ready to insert.
  • .DIB: Device Independent Bitmap. Same as bitmap, only you're tilesets are going to be saved as this. You will only be using this type of file when you export tile sets from A-Map.
  • .PAL: A palette file. Holds a images color information.
  • .ACT: Another palette file.
  • Indexing: It's basically taking your image and better organizing out it's palette so it can be saved/edited. This can be done in programs such as photoshop.
  • A-Map: Advanced Map.
  • Block Editor (a-map): The tileset editor used to insert/edit tiles in A-Map.
  • Down/Up (a-map): Is a A-Map tile editor thing. Like layers, you have a bottom and top one. EX: You could put grass on down and a tree on up!
  • Behavior Data (a-map): A tile's behavior. This is what sets certain tiles properties like animations of a door opening or footsteps in sand.

Basics on inserting tiles:

  • A tiles height and length is 16x16 pixels. It can be no bigger. If so, it needs to be cut into multiple 16x16 tiles and placed together.
  • You can load two tilesets to one map. Think carefully of what you need for each map before loading/editing.
  • The tileset/block editor in A-Map can be found along the top by clicking the purple puzzle piece.
  • Looking at the block editor, on the left shows the two tilesets you loaded into the map you're working on. On the right shows the tile editor tools like up/down, your tileset's .DIB files/palettes, and the tiles behavior data.
  • In A-Map, when putting a tile together, your 16x16 tiles will be cut into four 8x8 slices.
  • A inserted palette can only have a max of 16 colors.
  • The first color in your palette is your transparent color. Anywhere on your tile where that color is, it wont appear on the map.
  • You have a total of 13 palettes to work with between your two tilesets. Palettes 0-12.
  • You only have the up/down layers to work with when making tiles in A-Map. That's two layers.
  • The behavior data, as mentioned, is the thing that determines what that tile does. Is it animated water? Grass? A door?
  • You CANNOT overwrite any tiles you are using in your .DIB file. If you do, that tile will be erased.
  • You CANNOT overwrite a palette you are using with another. If you do, any tiles using the palette you just changed will change too and be odd colors.

[preparing a tile]
Now that we know the basics and have all of our tools, what say we finally get cracking on our tile work? In this section I will be covering how to prepare a image to be cut up into tiles. First of all, I would like to suggest something: Organize out your files.
Here's how I have my folders set up:

This way, everything is nice and tidy within the folders and easy to locate.
Moving along, we will now prepare a image to be imported and cut up into tiles.

FIRST Step - Open your program / Set your canvas.
You'll want to open up the program you're using to pixel. I'm going to use paint since it's less complex and easier to take a small sized photo with. Start a new file of any size, you'll probably re size it later anyways. If you have a tile already made or prepared, good! Open it up, you may not even need the next step.

SECOND Step - Set a Transparent color.
This is very crucial; Set your transparent color before anything. From experience, a palette chooses your transparent color based on the first color to actually be set in the image. Choose a color you know your tiles wont have in them. This color will be removed when placed on any game map.
I chose straight-up black. I know I'll never use that dark of black on any of my tiles. While you're in there messing with colors, make sure you're tile is edited and final. Also be sure you're not going over 16 colors with your tile, it will save you a lot of time.

THIRD Step - Set your tiles, touch them up!
Alright, we have our transparent background color. Now lets place our tile(s) overtop our transparent color! After the tile(s) are set, be sure to go to File -> Save As and the save your image in a memorable spot. I chose to save it as a .PNG for best quality results.

Alright, preparation was easy, yeah? Next comes grabbing your image's palette information.

[palette editing/saving]
This part can be either very easy, or very annoying. I'll be demonstrating how to index and save palettes in this section, in both photoshop and Gale. Basically it's teaching you how to use a program to find every color in the image you just made, and throw it together in one file. Fire up your program and load your image.

PHOTOSHOP - Locating the palette editor/saving the palette.
Alright, so I'm assuming we have our tile's image loaded into our palette editing program. In the images in the spoiler below is how to locate what you need in order to save your tile's palette.

First up is photoshop. In order to view your image's palette, you have to index it first.
Simply go to Image -> Mode - > and click "Indexed Color".
Like so:


When prompted, click "OK."
But before clicking ok, make sure your tiles palette is 16 colors or UNDER. You wont be able to use your tile if it's over. If you're under 16 colors, don't worry, I'll tell you what to do later to resolve this in the FAQ section. If you're over 16 colors, i'll cover it in another step below.
Here's an example of what to look for:


Now that we have your image indexed, we can now go see the palette.
Click on image -> mode -> and then color table now.


You'll now end up with a palette showing all the colors in your image. You will need to save your palette from here, so click save, like this! (Save it in a place you'll remember, as either a .PAL or a .ACT):


GALE - Locating the palette editor. (DO NOT SAVE PALETTES IN GALE, REASON BELOW.)
The palette editor is automatically up the second you start gale. If not, it's a easy fix by clicking View -> Palette.

WARNING: A new bug with the palette saver has been foun. When you save your .PAL file and then load it in A-Map, the colors are all darker. I do not recommend this program for palette saving any longer.

I am looking into seeing if this can be fixed or not, however.

Graphics Gale is still a good pixelling program with the grid and all, but I do not recommend this palette saving, only editing.

How to save just in case, BE WARNED.
Saving your palette is also very easy. Before saving, be sure to check your colors by clicking Image -> Count colors used.

If you have more than 16 colors, or your palette looks like this:

You will need to use Ifranview to decrease your image's color depth. This can be found in a step below!

Ok, so after that, save your palette (if you're ready!).
The one bad thing about Gale is that you can only save a palette as a .PAL file, so if you're used to using .ACTs like myself, you may have to do some adjusting.
You can save the palette by following the images below:



Have more than 16 colors? - Use IfranView.
You will be worshiping this program before you know it.If you have a tile with a palette of more than 16 colors, simply open it up in ifranview first. This will only take a few clicks. Click Image -> Decrease Color Depth. Picture:


You will now be prompted to fill some stuff out. Just click 16 Colors, and hit OK.


And there you have it, it's like nothing even happened! Make sure you save it. You may notices a few dotty pixel changes across your image. Just grab a color and color over it. Just make sure you dont go over 16 colors again!
Now go back into your palette program and save your palette and you're all set to go!

Now that we have our tiles finalized, and we have out palettes in a file, it's time to get our hands really dirty in Advanced Map!

[Advanced Map Block Editor]
Here we go, ladies and gents! Open up Advanced map. This is where you will taking the tile image(s) you just prepared and put them into your rom. You will also be using your palette you just made to color that image. It wont know what colors your image is without the palette file.

What I'm about to teach you is the easiest way known to insert tiles. Also, I have to give credit for other tile insertion guides because this isn't the first guide to demonstrate tile insertion this way.

Step one - Getting set up!

This is a program with a lot to it, so I'll walk you through it. First you'll want to load you're rom, of course. Choose your map that you'll be working from. If you want to start a new map, go ahead, but it would be wise to overwrite another map to save space in your rom.

Once you do all of this, it's time to go into the block editor, which is where you will do all of your tile insertion/editing work. It's the purple jigsaw puzzle piece along the top.
Or just check this image:


Step two - Block editor overview, locating the palette box, inserting palettes.

Ok, so we're in the block editor now. From the left over is your tileset which holds all of your finished and inserted tiles. Next down the line is up/down, palettes, tile bank/.DIB viewer, and the behavior data.

Right now we want to look at the palette box.


As you can see, you have 13 palettes spread between the two tilesets that you can use to color inserted tiles. You cannot overwrite a palette that is being used by another tile, or else that tile's color will change.

So now we want to get cracking on inserting the palette which just saved. Select one of the palettes 0-12 out of the box, whichever one isn't being used. Once you have found one, along the top, click palette -> load current palette from file.


Now locate your .PAL or .ACT file you saved of your tile you're about to insert and open it up.
That palette will now be replaced with yours.
Click palette again and select "Write Palette changes to rom." This is how you save most any change in the block editor.

Step three - .DIB Files, saving it.
Ok, so now that we've successfully loaded our palette and saved it, it's time to save our tileset into a .DIB file, which is basically a bitmap with your whole tileset in it.
Make sure, before you save it, that you have the palette of the tiles you are about to insert set, or else the colors will end up all funky.

To save your tileset, along the top in the block editor, click picture -> Save tileset 1 or Save tileset 2.


The two options do exactly as they sound. Save tileset 1 saves the first tileset in your map as a .DIB file, and Tileset 2 saves your second tileset.

Step four - Inserting your new tile(s) into your .DIB file.
For this part you will need your pixelling program. Open up your .DIB file. I opened mine up in Gale so I could use the grid to better place my tiles.


To set up the grid, just do as shown in the images below:


Now that your grid is set, cut and paste your new tiles from another file and paste them into you're tileset's .DIB file you have open.


Place it evenly across the grid so they aren't uneven when you place them in the map.
If you want to paste it over an old tile that you wont use, go ahead. Just whatever you do DON'T edit over a tile you're using or else it will be gone.

If tile glitching occurs, there is a fix in the FAQ section of this guide.

Once you're all finished, save your .DIB file.

Step five - Loading your newly saved .DIB file and new tiles.
Go back into A-Maps block editor. Along the top, click Picture -> Load Tileset 1 or Tileset 2. Make sure you're set to the correct palette.


When you load it, you will now notice that your new tile/tiles are in the right box.


Along the top, click Palettes -> Write Palette Changes to ROM.

Step six - Inserting your new tiles into the actual tileset.
This is the final step to it all. You can now see your tile, but it is not yet inserted and ready to use. When you click on your new tile, you can see where it grabs a little 8x8 slice of it. This allows you to better adjust your tiles.

So in order to completely insert your tile, click a empty space in the left box in the block editor like so:


You can see up/down is displayed as like a layer type deal. On down you can set the grass like I did, and on up you can set anything that will over over top of it. In my case, I put the rock over top of it. You will be switching between palettes a lot to do this.

When you're done with a tile, click the "Save" button a little to the right so that it saves your tile. Keep repeating until you're done inserting you're new tiles.


Once again, click Palette -> Write Palette Changes to Rom. Exit the block editor and check your map and it's tileset.

You will now see your new tile(s) in full bloom in the right tileset manager.


This means you can now select those tiles and set them in the map. Save all progress. Now, when you play on that map, everything inserted will appear.

  • You have to repeat this with every tile(s) you insert.
  • You only have 13 palettes to work with so get creative. Put the grass/ground into one palette, the objects like flowers and stone into another, so on and so forth.
  • You cannot overwrite palettes being used. You can overwrite an old palette you dont plan on using though.
  • You cannot overwrite tiles that are being used. You can overwrite old tiles though.

[Did you know?...]
....That you can edit a color in a palette on the spot?
It's true! Why would I lie to you?! Just simply click the color and mess around with it on the scale. You can even drag and paste a color over another!
See, see!


....That you can instantly change a tiles colors by pasting it into a indexed image?
I swear it! Open your image that you saved after you indexed it and paste another tile into. It changes colors so it matches that palette! That way you can easily insert more tiles without having to insert a new palette. This will save you room for more tiles and palettes. LOOK!:


....That you can drag copy and paste a lot of tiles in A-Map at once?
Quit calling me a liar, it hurts. ]:
I'm being for reals though! Looking in your tilesets in the map editor part of amap, hold ctrl and then right click and drag to collect a bunch of tiles. Next time you click on the map, it will paste everything you just collected when you did that! This will turn a tedious job of tree laying into cake work. Check it out d00d!:


Q: My tiles have crazy colored objects over them after I inserted new tiles, how do I fix this?
A: This often happens as a result of older tiles that you've erased over glitch over a bit. Simply go back and edit those tiles back and save it. It'll be fixed.

Q: When I insert a new palette/tile, my tileset viewer on the left in the block editor squishes together. What happened?
A: This is just, in my eyes, a way of knowing that you need to save. In the block editor click Palettes -> Write Palette Changes to Rom. It'll be fixed.

Q: When I try to save my tileset, I get a error saying I can't export it due to multiple colors in the palette. What do I do?
A: If I had a penny for... er, nevermind. Read the error carefully.

This means you have the same colors in that one palette. Go to Palette -> View Palette Editor. Find whichever colors are the same and change them. Just don't mess with the first color. When you're done, Apply and save, then retry.

Q: In the map editor my tiles are fine, but when I play the game they're replaced by animations. How do I fix this?
A: Check each of your tiles behavior data and make sure it's not set to a animation. If it's still not fixed, simply delete those tiles and re-insert them. That will definitely work.

Q: My character is standing on top of a tree. What's going on?
A: Your character is just alarmingly good at climbing trees. ;) No, really, it's because you have your tile's second row Behavior Data is set to 20, for Hero is covering block. You need to change this to 00 so he goes underneath. Or just make it to where the objects not passable. They'll only go under it if your tree is on the up layer of your tile in the block editor, though! This works in vice-versa, too, if you want your character to stand on top of a up layer tile.

Q: How do I change my map's tileset?
A: Through the "Header" tab along the top of your loaded map in the map editor(not the block editor). When you're in the header tab, it will be at the bottom, where you'll be allowed to change the tilesets.

  • Other guide authors for inspiring this guide, especially other tile inserting guides. Be sure to check them out too, we each have our own information to share!
  • Kyledove, Newtiteuf, and Speed for their free to use tiles demonstrated in some of the screenshots
  • Lu-Ho for A-Map
  • The creators of Gale/Photoshop/Paint
  • emilinrose and Spherical Ice for helping find new things to add/fix about the guide.

Have a question? Want to talk? PM me or send me a visitor message, I'll be more than happy to talk.

Also, feel free to suggest anything to be added to this guide. I'll give credit.
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