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Old April 28th, 2009 (5:58 AM). Edited January 7th, 2011 by Chesu.
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Boss Carrot
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Where The Carrots Be
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Posts: 596
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!


Updated 11/07/10.