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Old April 30th, 2009 (6:47 PM). 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
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
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Updated 11/07/10.