Pixel Art & Spriting Guide

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Squishy Rex M
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Squishy Rex M
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Post #1by Squishy Rex » 3 Sep 2014, 11:55

Recovered from the NSMBX Forums. Made by Slash
Original Topic:

Don't take the title seriously, but I'm going to teach basic pixelart/spriting for those who are unskilled, but want to do a simple graphic, or simply edit an pre-existant graphic. (Focusing on SMBX stuff, but you can use it for something else, heh)
In this tutorial I'll be using Paint.NET, a free and powerful tool for pixelart, with support for transparency and no loss of quality when saving in .gif extension (unlike mspaint).
1. The pixel
2. Finding a style
3. Sketches
4. Drawing out the outline
5. Coloring it up
6. Shading
7. Finishing up your sprite
8. Animating via frames
9. Tips and tricks

1. The Pixel:
Spoiler
Pixels are small squares that compose a pixellated image up, much like cells compose our body. But just because it's that small, it doesn't mean that it doesn't make a big difference in the final work. ONE single pixel can screw up your work. Avoid chaining pixels when making lines, or else they will look plain weird and squary, if the pixelart wasn't already squary. You'll be using pixels as tetris or minecraft-like bricks, defining whole outlines, details, faces, and stuff with them. Enough rambling, let's move.

2. Finding a Style:
Spoiler
It's dead obvious that you can't mix in a game (SMBX, for example) different styles. Take the SMB3 Bowser bouncing in SMW Grass. Bowser's colors are more pastel, less brightned up like the SMW grass, while the grass's style gives off a sunny, shiny feel. Bowser being a castle monster, fits with castle tiles, darkened and with pastel hues, like the Special Red Breakable Brick in SMB3 tab, where while it's a somewhat bright color, it isn't "sunny" as the grass is, so it fits indoors, like castle insides,for example. Another example would be, inside a single game, a SMB3 Hammer bro roaming a cloud level. Hammer bros do not have wings, nor anything that explains why he is in a cloud level. If you add an airship, the player will think that the Hammer bro came from the airship and raided Mario's path. Even if the clouds and the Hammer dude are perfectly matching, nothing explains why a wingless and non-levitant NPC is doing so high. Use common sense.
About pallette colors, you should use hues that are similar for the game that you are making sprites for. You'll want a deep black [?] Block in a desert level? Sure, it can be black, but the light coming from the desert theme doesn't fit. (There are exceptions to any rule, however. Use common sense.) For instance, let's say you want to stick with the SMB3 style, with it's detailed shade, while keeping that cartoony feel. We'll use NPC SMB3 Pallette (Available in the GFX download, made up by MichelFP.)

3 Sketches:
Spoiler
First off, open Paint.NET. You'll get a big canvas. Reduce that size to half the size of the sprite you're pretending to do. That way, you'll avoid the 1x1 pixel thing that everyone whines about. But, if the sprite isn't for smbx, suit yourself. In this tut, i'll be using a 16x16 square.
Turn on the rulers and grid, they help finding symmetric parts, so your sprite won't be bigger in the right rather than the left side.
Then, using the default black color, draw a rough sketch with the pencil of what you'll want. I'll try a custom mushroom: (Enlarged)
http://s10.postimage.org/f8rctlulx/image.png
As you see, it's pretty rough. The lines break at 90° angles, which makes eyebleed. On Outlines.

4. Drawing Out the Outlines:
Spoiler
Outlines highlight a piece of the sprite, such as the head off the body. In this case, we want to separate the cap from the body of the shroom. You'll grab the pencil with white color, and smooth up the sprite:
http://s7.postimage.org/dw7lcpqev/image.png
As you see, the lines are smoothied out, by erasing a few "L" pixels. The sprite already has a mushroom shape, and it doesn't have any flaws when it comes to assymetry.
Note that, you'll use outlines to highlight certain areas. For example, don't outline a shirt's sleeve when it comes with contact with the arm. Nor we will highlight the mushroom's spots.

5. Colouring It Up:
Spoiler
Now, we'll color up the sprite. We'll do a green cap mushroom, with a yellow body. Selecting these colors on our pallette, we'll use the middle shade to color it wholly up.
http://s8.postimage.org/e0badhuxd/image.png
See that we used the middle color on the small palette in the upper left corner. It's just this deal.

6. Shading:
Spoiler
Now, we're going to give a little light on this fungi. First, for initial shade occur, you need light. Find where light will come from. It's above? It's in the left? It's facing the sprite? Of course it won't be from the player's eye (camera). We'll use light above the sprite. We'll add a darker hue where it's supposed to be dark, as a result of the inciding light. Don't be afraid of the shading looking like staircases.
http://s13.postimage.org/md17z00k3/image.png
Now this is looking good. But... we need to highlight where the light directly hits the mushroom, making it brighter than what it actually is. So we'll use the lighter hue now:
http://s15.postimage.org/vkv8x666f/image.png
Now it already looks like a nice mushroom. But we forgot to add spots and eyes! I'll add spots with the same yellow hue of the body, and add the eyes with a dark color, such as the outline black, while following the old shading:
http://s9.postimage.org/cn1iu6b6j/image.png

7. Finishing Up Your Sprite:
Spoiler
Now, the sprite is almost ready. For use in SMBX, you'll typically add the sprite inside a black box, and make a mask. Nonetheless, changing the dark black outline to the dark grey comonly used in SMB3 is strongly advised:
http://s7.postimage.org/6lcjjyqyf/image.png http://s17.postimage.org/dmj1tysuz/7_1.png
After being resized to 200% (remember we were doing it half the normal size to avoid 1x1 pixels?) These are ready for being renamed, saved as .gif, and being used in SMBX.

8. Animating Via Frames:
Spoiler
Let's make so the mushroom spins. We'll use 4 frames. One looking forward, then left, back, and right, looping up. Since it's a easy animation, it doesn't require much editing. Some frames might need a completely new sprite.(Such as a fighting game, where the character switches from idle to a punch frame.)
http://s13.postimage.org/ko6dfj5xz/image.png
That's pretty much it. The mask it just the shroom completely black with a white background.

9. Tips & Tricks:
Spoiler
Now, you know the very basics of spriting something. now, some not-so-advanced tips:
-Colored outlines. They feel like SMB2, with nice colors. Following the outlines, they should highlight a body's part, so need to be darkened. The mushroom with colored outlines would look like this:
http://s9.postimage.org/8jjfrk26z/image.png
-Dithering. It's where you spray different shades with pixels, creating a illusion of a new shade, while there isn't any gradient.
http://s9.postimage.org/5gipo6n8b/image.png
Sadly, I don't still quite understand this concept, while it's quite common in NES and SNES games. Avoid using the non-dithered gradient, as everything will look horribly plastic.
-Pillowshading. When the light comes from the camera, creating a flattened, mashed image like it was stomped. the mushroom would look like this:
http://s15.postimage.org/f5jg8jo3r/image.png
Avoid this at all costs.

Well, that's it fellows. If I find new info, I'll post it ASAP. Hope that helped as a intro to the wonderful world of pixels.

Since The Start:
Spoiler
http://s8.postimage.org/e0badhuxd/image.png --- http://s9.postimage.org/5gipo6n8b/image.png
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PK Esper F
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PK Esper F
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Amazing.

Post #2by PK Esper » 3 Oct 2016, 12:28

Thanks for the guide. Since,I am new to SMBX.
why i hadn't been in this forum for long when i used to be a super active person
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