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» Tips for Putting Together a Sprite Sheet
Hello, and welcome to my tutorial. In this guide I will be outlining tips for assembling and organizing sprite sheets. After reading this you should have a pretty good idea of how to make your sheets more useful and easier to navigate. This guide is not a guide on how to rip sprites - just how to organize them into a sheet. Furthermore, these aren't rules for submitting to Sprite Database - although following these tips will sure help your chances!|
I. Background ColorOne thing to consider when assembling a sprite sheet is the background color.
The main thing is to avoid using a color that is already present on the sprites you are sheeting. For example, if you are ripping a character with a black outline, using black as the background color would be a bad idea, as users would have no way to separate the sprite out from the background. On the other hand, for a character like Samus from Metroid Zero mission, a black outline is fine and allows the sprite to stand out with minimal distraction.
This information may seem overly obvious, but trust me - I have received dozens of sheets with this problem over the years. It's one of the fastest ways to irreversibly ruin your work.
To avoid this issue, many choose to use neon colors like fuschia or chartreuse - while they aren't exactly pretty to look at, there is a low chance any sprite will use them so they do make a good background.
Others choose to use a transparent background. You can do this with .gif or .png files and it's a perfectly acceptable way of handling things. This method also works great for images that aren't pixelated and have some blurred edges.
I personally prefer to use calm, grey-ish shades of blue or green, or even purple or red. Like these:
II: AlignmentThis one's pretty simple. Neatness counts, you know.
Here's a cropped area from a very well aligned sheet. [Marco (Heavy Machine Gun)]
Pretty sharp, right? Any sprite archive owner would be a fool not to accept such a sheet.
But what if it was like this?
Makes me kind of queasy. Avoid potential keyboard-barfing incidents by simply placing everything on a line.
Make a line, and put every sprite on it and they'll all be lined up! Of course, you should get rid of the line when you're done...
So, there you go. A nice, neat sheet and all it took was a little line.
III: OrganizationOrganization is a simple concept, but there are no hard and fast rules. The important thing is to order the parts of your sprite sheet in a way that makes sense. I like to start with a character's standing (or 'idle') animation, then move on to actions like walking, running, crouching, jumping, basic abilities, special abilities, miscellaneous animations like intro or victory poses, and finally non-sprite images such as portraits.
Spacing is also an important part of organization. Using the same amount of space between each sprite, horizontally and/or vertically, will make your sheet easier to use and better to look at. You can also use larger empty spaces to show where one section of your sheet ends and another begins.
Basically, organization comes down to common sense. When in doubt, check out similar sprite sheets from other people and see how they did it. Keep related actions together, and leave plenty of space.
IV: UsabilityHere's another big issue. When you rip a sprite sheet, it's probably so you (or other people) can use it for something.
Yet somehow, a large amount of sheets are simply useless. or unusable. There are a lot of ways this can happen, so pay attention.
V: TagsAnd now we come to what is usually the final step: the "tag". The tag is essentially a small area on the sheet where you can write basic information about what the sprites are, where they came from, who you are, etc. A couple of things to consider about tags, if you choose to include one:
SummaryIf you follow everything in this guide, your sprite sheet should be lookin' good. Here's a quick rundown of everything you've read so far.