tSR'S SPRITING DICTIONARY
1up suggested making a thread that explains certain pixelart terms, so people new into spriting can know about them in a quick way.
This post will contain the technique's names, its meaning and a visual example. Consider this like a small spriting dictionary C:
Comment in this thread only if you have something to add. Any "Should've seen this sooner!", "I learned stuff" or "I wish I could understand this" posts will be warned, as they don't serve for anything.
(type the terms in the 'find' option of your browser (Ctrl+F) to find its entry)
(aka AA)- It's a technique where you place mid-tone pixels in strategical places to make the line smoother.
In this case, the black line is anti-aliased by gray pixels placed on the 'corners' because the background is white (white+black=gray). If the line was red, then the gray dots should be changed to light pink to properly anti-aliase it.
Keep in mind that that image example was generated with Photoshop, so there's a lot of midtone pixels aliasing it. In spriting, obviously you'll want to use a less extreme AA. Only place them in jagged places; if the line is already smooth without AA, there's no need to do it.
- It's a flawed technique where you shade following the outline's shape. Avoid doing it, as they are ugly and don't convey depth. usually, is performed under the false ilusion of an overdone "anti-aliasing".
- A pixel cluster is an connected group of pixels of the same color.
Here we have two larger pixel clusters (not counting single pixels).
Note that adjacent pixel clusters with really low contrast can appear like one single cluster.
- Contrast is basically, 'more difference between the colors'. The higher the contrast, the more visible the shades will be, and vice-versa. palettes with low amounts of contrast usually end being dull, while ones with high amounts of contrast end being extremely harsh. balance between the colors is the key.
SPRITE- A custom sprite is basically a COMPLETELY NEW sprite; it doesn't use another sprite as a base. Notice that a sprite made in someone's style can still be custom, though.
Example of custom sprite:
- Technique where you use cross-hatch patterns to create mid-tones.
It's a useful technique when used in right places. Its equivalent in traditional art would be the end of the brush's stoke. It's good to represent textures in rough surfaces, but exaggerating on it will make your pixelart dirty.
most of the time(if not always) dithering is misunderstood as being part of the shading process(this is, people thinks you have to
dither in order to shade). this is completely WRONG
. in fact you should never dither at all unless given really specific conditions, such as a limited palette or trying to emulate a texture. dithering can be used as a stylistic choice, but very few really knows how to use it properly, so if this is your first aproach to this concept or to this glossary, do not dither)
- Sprite editing is when you get an already-made sprite and modify it. may it be an oficial sprite(from an existing game, published or not) or someone else's custom work. any work that starts from an already existing source would fall into this category.
Usually, sprite edits aren't welcome here because most of them are shitty. However, there's possibility to make a GOOD sprite edit. One tip on how to make a good sprite edit is to modify it a LOT until the original base is unrecognisable.
given the effort you would need to actually make a decent looking sprite edit, you might as well not do it and work on your own, custom work. Bear in mind, Custom spritework will always be superior to any sprite edit of any quality.
Here's an example of a good edit, courtesy of ULTIMATE HAMMER BRO:
And a bad edit, by mr. up-a-notch:
- Kind of perspective. used to project 3D enviroments by means of a partially top down perspective.
for more details.
- Source of light in your pixelart (i.e where the light is coming from). Fixing a lightsource properly will allow you to shade things properly. bear in mind that a proper lightsource is vital in the process of SHADING an object in order to grant it a proper sense of volume and mass.(See PILLOWSHADING
for more details.)
more than one lightsource can be applied to an object or enviroment, but they all affect the object in the same way unless certain factors are applied(intensity of the lightsouce, placement, eviroment coniditions, etc). using the sun as a lightsource isnt the same as using a lightbulb.
- Hue shift, as the name implies, is shifting the hue.
look at this wheel. rather than increasing or decreasing a color's saturation
, or its Contrast
, you switch to the color to the right or the left on this wheel. Notice also that colors on the exact oposite of the wheel also work as a darker/lighter version of your color. A more dinamic and natural palette of colors is the result of a proper hueshift.
can be combined(an to an extent, has to) with CONTRAST
in order to produce a wider vaiery of results.
(for an indepth reading on how colors work, read this wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_theory
LINES- (aka Jaggy) A jagged line is any erratic line in pixelart. They should be avoided. Example:
See how the lines are unpleasant to look. They were scribbled instead of cautiously made. Basically, a jag happens when one piece of the line is bigger than the others, thus 'breaking' it.
To fix this, you can utilize ANTI-ALIASING
(check it for more details).
Jaggies also happen in curves, too. To fix them, you need to exponentially make the lines longer/shorter. Anti-aliasing also can make it look nicer.
Example of jagged curves fixed with anti-aliasing:
Quote:I copied the outlines from two places that stands out the most: Cirno's head and her bow (1). Notice that the curve (2a) isn't smooth enough: it's easy to know where it bends (2b). This gives the sprite a rather blocky feeling (3). To counter-attack this problem, you'll need to use antialiasing in the broken spots (4).
- (aka JPG) An image file format. Avoid saving sprites in this format. It'll completely destroy your work.
Save your works as a PNG instead; it'll keep the sprite's quality.
its has been reported that some image hosting services tend to automatically turn your files into JPEG/JPG files.
- It's the kind of projection you use when making sprites. It can be dividided into two categories: isometric and non-isometric.
From Gas13's Isometric Tutorial.
"1. Having it's basis in Engineering technical drawing the isometric view represents Objects from a perspective less viewpoint. Objects are based on a diamond shaped grid as shown below. "
"An traditional Isometric view is based on an angle of 30 degrees, however due to the nature of Computer Monitors 30 degrees gives a messy and uneven line when displayed on a screen. Pixelart uses an angle of roughly 26.565 degrees. Don't worry about the sudden appearance of mathematics you don't really need to concern yourself with all these numbers. "
"3. When drawing a line at 26.565 degrees all you need to remember is 1 up and 2 across, this creates a step like effect when zoomed in. Look at the image above: this line was created by placing two pixels then moving 1 pixel up and placing another 2 at the end end of the previous."
A non-isometric sprite is any kind of sprite that isn't built within angled lines. Notice that the lines here are mostly horizontal and vertical. This perspective doesn't convey tridimensionality like the isometric projection, but it's far more simple to make.
- It's a common mistake among first-timers. It's when all the sprite's sides are shaded, leaving the middle light. This is bad because it shows no depth and it's an eyesore. We can say that pillowshading is banding all the sprite.
The first circle is pillowshaded. Notice that it lacks a defined lightsource. The second one, however, defines its lightsource (the sun) at the top-right corner of the screen, and the shadow is placed logically.
- Reading ease; a sprite with good readability means 'a sprite that doesn't have problems to represent an object'.
Both images represent the same thing, but the second one is easier to identify. This ease to identify also happens in spriting. Sometimes, when spriting in a small size, you'll be forced to sacrifice details to represent an object properly. Don't try copying every detail your character has in a sprite; grab only the iconic traits of him instead. Simplicity is all when doing sprites.
- Possibly the lamest thing concerning spriting. Recoloring is changing the sprite's colors, without modifying any pixel from it. "Reshading" and all its prosible variants are still recolors, and they all take the same amount of effort considering they are purely a shift in the colors of the original, existing palette(no, adding colors doesnt make it more elaborate)
This technique isn't well-seen here in tSR because it takes literally no effort to do.
It can have a decent use when making game graphics; You can use differently-colored sprites in RPGs (stronger monsters) or Fighting Games (alternate palette), but that's it.
DO NOT MAKE SPRITE RECOLORS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.
- The pixel's native size. When making sprites, make sure you're using equally-sized pixels in all the piece and DO NOT resize the sprite to make small details. It's very unprofessional and ugly.
- (aka Sprite ripping) Sprite ripping is simply obtaining in-game graphics.
This, for example, is a sprite rip. I grabbed the in-game graphics from Alex Kidd as they really are--thus, ripping. If you want to do your own sprite rips and help increase this site's archive, check this topic
- Intensity of a color.
So, more saturation means 'more vivid, stronger colors'; less saturation means 'dull colors'. Make sure it is well balanced, though. Too much saturation will make your sprite retina-burning, and less saturation might make your work boring.
- (aka selective outlining) It's a technique where you 'select' the outlines that will be shaded. Used correctly, it can make your sprite to look more 3D than it would with plain black outlines.
See how the first sprite looks rather flat, even if shaded properly. That is adressed painting the outline with colors (image 2). Keep in mind that the lines away from the light are darker than the lines near it.
Pokémon sprites also use selout. Check this example, courtesy of JarJar:
I know those aren't official Pokémon sprites but JarJar is pratically Ken Sugimori sooo
Notice that parts of the outline are black and some aren't. Those black parts are placed away from the lightsource, in solid objects and/or defined places, acting like outline thickness used in traditional art media.
- (see LIGHTSOURCE
) Shading is meant to show volume and give the viewer an idea of the shape of an object. every bump on a surface will cast a shadow on the opposite side from where the lightsource comes from. stronger lightsources, stronger shadows. more lightsources, less shadows.
also the material where the light is casted will affect how highlights will be produced.
A basic way to determine wich color should be used for a shadow is to directly reduce the luminosity of a color, but there are plenty ways to shade, either by contrast, by hueshift, by adjusting the Saturation, or even by dithering. in any case, only practice and experience determines what would be the best choice, as there is no fixed rule of what can or cannot be used as a shade.
- Splicing is when you grab two or more ready-made sprites and fuse them, creating a single sprite. It is usually made with Pokémon sprites, and since the sprites weren't meant to be fused together, the result will usually suck.
But as sprite edits, there's a chance of the splice looking decent, and even good. It'll depend on the sprites used, your creativity and your ability to fuse them. But if you've got enough ability to do so, I suggest doing custom work.
- Forget it. You think you know about bits? Chances are you don't. Maybe noone does. What we do know, though, is that 8-bit is not a real spriting thing. The term isn't clearly defined for pixel art - if at all. It actually refers to the 8-bit era of videogame consoles - NES, MegaDrive, Atari 7800 and those - that ran 8-bit processors (I could tell you about those, but that's not the topic!). Some people think 8-bit in spriting would mean respecting the graphical limitations of those consoles. However, people usually don't know the exact limitations and the different 8-bit consoles actually all have different limitations! So if you think 8-bit sprites are sprites with only three colours plus transparency, that's not true. If you need to, you should rather refer to "sprites that would work on the NES" or something like that. Either way, as a beginner, you probably should avoid working under such extremely strict limitations, they just make your life harder.
*This spriting dictionary is a WIP. If you have suggestions and/or want to improve it, feel free to post here.
*The images used in this dictionary is only for reference purposes. I don't claim them as mine, save some examples.
*This dictionary is simply for quick reference. Complement your knowledge with specific tutorials scattered on the internet.
*Here are some links full with tutorials. Be free to visit them! Also, if you know a good tutorial, post them in this thread so I can add it here (of course, with permission and stuff)
OBS: The images used here were got from several places and serve only for illustration; I don't claim all of them as mine.
*07/01/2010=Creation of this thread
*07/02/2010='SHADING' section added
*07/23/2010=Creation of this EDIT LOG. 'BITTAGE', 'RIP', 'SPLICE' sections added. Some existing sections were updated.
*07/26/2010=Some sections updated, mainly 'ANTI-ALIASING' and 'ISOMETRIC'.
*09/13/2010='JAGGED LINE' section added
*09/14/2010='BITTAGE' term changed to 'SCALE', by Vipershark's request
*11/22/2010='SCALE' term changed to 'RESOLUTION', br Evilagram's request. Also, a link containing several tutorials was added, also by Evilagram's courtesy.
*01/12/2011='RESOLUTION's image exampled was updated by Evilagram's. Thanks a bunch!
*02/12/2011=reworked definitions for several concepts such as 'HUESHIFT' 'ISOMETRIC' 'LIGHTSOURCE' and 'RECOLOR' among others. added a link to GAS13's tutorial on isometric sprites, and a link to a wikipedia article about color theory on hue shifting. (Fuchikoma)
*02/16/2011=Added a small rule about not making useless comments.
*04/07/2011=Added a tutorial posted by Fuchikoma.
*05/28/2011=Added the TERM INDEX as a way to organize them better. Also, makes finding terms easier.
*10/21/2012=""8-Bit"" and what it's not.