By Grim (email@example.com) - http://spritedatabase.net
SpriteTracer is a program that helps automate every step in the process of ripping sprites, allowing you to take screenshots, edit sprites out of them, and organize those sprites into a sheet. This program is Windows-only and requires the .NET framework.
This guide will walk you through the process of using the program to edit several screenshots into a single sprite animation as seen on a typical sprite sheet. SpriteTracer may seem complicated at first, but if you take the time to learn it, you may be surprised at how much time it can save you. As for the guide, I've done the best I could to explain everything - hopefully the pictures will help but if not, just try it out for yourself!
Loading a Source Image
SpriteTracer is named for its ability to "trace" sprites out of images by deleting the background. To do this, you will need a Source image and one or more Target images.
The Source is an image that will tell the program what colors to keep when editing screenshots. Any colors *not* included in the Source will be deleted when using Erase Background. There are three ways to load a Source into SpriteTracer.
- Open (CTRL+SHIFT+O) a file from your computer;
- Paste (CTRL+SHIFT+V) an image from the clipboard;
- Create (CTRL+N) a Source image from an unedited screenshot. For instructions on how to do this, see the instructions below in the section "Creating a Source Image".
In this example, we'll just open one from a file. These images are included with the app download, so you can follow along if you want.
Notice how the source image now shows in the Source panel, and the color count is displayed as well. Most sprites should have 16 or fewer colors, including background.
Loading Target Images
Now we're ready to load some Target images. The Target is the image, or images, that will be edited by the program. In other words, unedited screenshots are your Targets. Like the Source, there are a few ways to load them in:
- Open (CTRL+O) one or more files from your computer;
- Paste (CTRL+V) an image from the clipboard;
- Capture (PrintScrn) the currently active window.
- SpriteTracer will automatically capture screenshots of whatever program you have active when you hit thePrintScrnkey. It won't work with Alt+PrintScreen, just PrintScreen.
This feature is turned on by default, but you can disable it by navigating to File > Settings and unchecking "Enable Screen Capture".
Again, we'll just open them from files this time. Remember, you can open multiple files at once, including screenshots taken with AnimGet or ScreenGet.
New! New in SpriteTracer 5 - click the "Resize" text above the Target panel and the entire window will resize, allowing you to see the whole image without needing to scroll.
Using [Erase Background]
Now that we have a Source and some Targets, we can finally edit the background out of these screenshots. All you have to do is click the Erase Background icon or use the shortcut key CTRL+X and the program will take care of the rest.
As you can see, every color not found in the Source image has been deleted in the Target images. This includes the character we're focusing on, and some other pixels that just happened to have the same colors. But we can get rid of those in the next step.
In order to cut down on excess space, we can Crop our target images down to a more reasonable size. See for yourself how it works:
So what's happening here?
- First, we click the Set Area to Crop icon. At the top right of the window you will see the instruction "click the top-left cropping coordinates".
- Then, inside the target panel, we click in a spot to the upper left of the character. At this point, the instruction changes to "click the bottom-right cropping coordinates".
- Click in a spot over to the character's lower right. At this point, you will see a rectangle indicating the cropping area.
- You can scroll through all of your target images to make sure they fit safely inside the rectangle, as in the animation above. If any of them don't fit, simply click and start again.
- If you are satisfied with the rectangle you've chosen, you can now click the Crop Selected Area icon. This will crop all target images to just the area you've chosen. Again, in the animation above you can see that all five images have been cropped the same way.
- Here's a time-saving hint: instead of clicking the icon, you can crop faster by holding the CTRL key during your second click. This will automatically crop all the images, but be careful - if you misjudge and make your selection box too small, there's no going back.
- You can crop your images more than once if necessary.
- You can actually crop images BEFORE erasing the background, and doing so will actually make the process a little faster since there will be fewer pixels for the application to analyze.
- If you don't like the selection you made or you decided not to crop after all, you can cancel by clicking the icon again until it changes into the Cancel Selection icon; click that and the process will be cancelled and any selection you made previously will disappear.
Alternatively, pressingCTRL+Dwill have the same effect.
When you're done cropping, we can move onto the next step.
The Trim tool simply eliminates all the "empty" space around each image. To use it, simply click the Trim icon or use the shortcut key CTRL+W. Basically, it does this:
to every target image. Note that after using Trim, the images may be different sizes depending on how the character animates. Next comes the final step, where we will combine everything from the previous steps into a finished product
Using [Combine Frames]
Here's where it all comes together. In this final step, we'll take the fully cropped and trimmed images from the previous steps and combine them together.
Click the Combine Frames icon and bask in the glory. Following the above example, here's what the program will give us.
A final version of the animation, ready to add to your sprite sheet. Each frame is aligned along the bottom, and they are spaced at the default of 5 pixels apart. Both the alignment and the spacing can be changed, however. See the Settings section below for details.
Export Your Results
Target images can be exported at any point in the process.
- Save (CTRL+S) the selected image(s) straight to the hard drive as PNG files.
- Save all (CTRL+SHIFT+S) result images to the hard drive as PNG files.
- In either case, each file will be numbered with the filename you enter as a prefix.
ie, if you enter "screen" you will get screen0001.png, screen0002.png, etc.
- Copy (CTRL+C) the selected image to the clipboard so you can paste it into your main graphics editor, such as Paint or Photoshop.
Creating a Source Image in SpriteTracer
If you don't have a source image to start with, you can actually create one inside SpriteTracer.
- In SpriteTracer, click Create New Source or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + N.
- A file open window will appear; browse to the image file you want to use to create the Source and click "Open". If you accidentally hit cancel or choose the wrong file, you can open a new one by clicking Open, or using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+O.
- The selected image will appear in both the left and right panels of the Create Source Image window. The left panel will contain the original, while the right contains a preview of the changes you will be making. At first they will look the same.
- You can interact with the left panel in a few ways.
- Click the Zoom In and Zoom Out button to change the image size, or use the keyboard shortcuts CTRL++ and CTRL+-. Note that you cannot zoom out smaller than the image's original size.
- Click and drag with the mouse to pan the image back and forth. If you lose track of the image simply zoom in, then out, to reset its position.
- You can also use the scrollbars built into the panel to look around the image.
- To begin selecting colors to use in the final Source image, hold the CTRL key and click the colors you want on the image in the left panel. When holding the CTRL key, your mouse cursor will change to a color dropper () and the color your mouse cursor is currently pointed at will appear in the toolbar. Without letting go of CTRL, click to add that color to the new source image. As you click additional colors, the right panel image will update to include only the colors you have picked. If you are having trouble selecting the right colors, use the Zoom In tool to get a better view.
- If you make a mistake, you can undo by clicking the Undo button, or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+Z. You can also redo; click the Redo button or use CTRL+ALT+Z. Note that if you use undo, then make new changes, you won't be able to redo what you undid.
- Also note that as you click on more colors, the toolbar will show how many you have selected. This does not include the background color.
- When you are done, the right panel should only contain the sprite you will be using as the source. At this point you can save the image for future use - click Save or use CTRL+S. When you are done, click OK to return to the main SpriteTracer window, where the new source image will already be loaded. If you want to return to SpriteTracer without using the image you've created, click Cancel instead.
New! New in SpriteTracer 5.0 is the Settings menu. To access it, navigate to File > Settings or click the icon.
- Background color is the color that will be used when using Erase Background.
- Spacing color is the color used for the spaces between each image when using Combine Frames.
- Selection color is the color used for the outline when selecting an area to Crop.
- Spacing determines the amount of space between each image when using Combine Frames.
- Combination type determines how the images will be Combined, either horizontally (row) or vertically (column.)
- Alignment determines how the images will be aligned when Combine is used. By default they will all be aligned along the bottom of the new image.
- Target images can be deleted from the list. To delete the selected Target image, hit the Delete key or choose Target > Clear Selected.
- To delete ALL target images, hit Shift+Delete or choose Target > Clear All.
- You can also rotate the selected target image:
- Edit > Mirror or CTRL+M will flip the image horizontally.
- Edit > Flip or CTRL+I will flip the image vertically.
- Edit > Rotate Left 90° or CTRL+L will rotate the entire image to the left.
- Edit > Rotate Right 90° or CTRL+R will rotate the entire image to the right.
- By navigating to Edit > Clear selected area or pressingCTRL+Deletewill erase the currently selected area, replacing all pixels inside with the background color.
- The size and location of a selection can be adjusted after placing it.
- Use CTRL+Arrow Keys to move the top-left corner of the selection box.
- Use ALT+Arrow Keysto move the bottom-right corner of the selection box.
- Use CTRL+ALT+Arrow Keys to move the entire selection box.
- Large images, large amounts of target images, and source images with many colors may cause the program to run slowly or even crash.
- The Erase Background function is best used with emulators lacking layer disable features, or games where such features are present but not that helpful.
- You can load new targets while keeping the same source, and vice versa.
- 5.0 (5/8/2015)
- Added the ability to move and resize selections (see Other Features above)
- Added Settings menu with new features - Spacing color, Outline color, and Combination type.
- Added Resize button to Target panel
- Moved, reworded, and changed various minor functions
- Minor bugfixes again
- 4.1 (3/29/2014)
- Added Mirror, Flip, and Rotate functions
- Added hotkeys for Eliminate Whitespace and Delete Background functions
- More (very) minor fixes
- 4.0 (3/20/2014)
- Increased Target and Source panel sizes
- Added the ability to delete single Target images (DEL), rather than deleting all at once (SHIFT+DEL.)
- Added Crop, Delete Whitespace, and Combine features and associated functionality.
- Added automatic screenshot capture via PrintScreen.
- Removed the progress bar
- Minor bugfixes (I've always wanted to say that!) and UI adjustments
- 3.0 (8/25/2013)
- Added "Create Source Image" interface and associated functionality (see above.)
- Added keyboard shortcuts for Source image functions
- Added progress bar for image processing
- Layout overhaul (new icons, new hotkeys, reorganized menu strip)
- Added leading zeroes to filenames, ie screen_0001.png rather than screen_1.png
- 2.1 (2/5/2012)
- Added keyboard shortcuts.
- Improved memory management (open files can now be changed or deleted by other applications.)
- 2.0 (1/10/2012)
- Added the ability to store multiple target images, and updated other features accordingly.
- Added Save All feature.
- Improved layout slightly.
- Added better BG Color selection using ColorDialog.
- 1.0 (1/05/2012)
- Initial release; able to process one target image at a time.