Hey folks, I'm here today to help you learn how to sprite. There's nothing like watching a sprite you made walk around your game, but I've seen a lot of people too scared to give it a try. So I'm breaking down my spriting system to give you five steps that will lead you to a completed sprite. Keep in mind that this isn't the only way to do it, if you find a way that works better for you, use it!
How to Sprite like a Ninja
aka: Spriting made Simple!
How to Sprite like a Ninja
aka: Spriting made Simple!
A 'modern-looking sprite' could mean just about anything (just think about how many different looking people you see every day!), and it can be daunting and seem almost impossible when you're staring at an empty sprite sheet. So before even opening up your art program, take some time to decide on the basic look you want for your sprite. For this tutorial I want to make a relatively simple modern-looking male and female sprites, so they'll be wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and their hair will have shaved sides (mostly because it seems fun).
With that decided, it's time to get started! Since we're making normal humans, we can use the body bases found in the generator.
Let's start with the pants. There are two basic ways to get started: outline the pants and then fill in the base color, or use the base color to figure out the shape and then outline it. Either will work, though I prefer to outline first.
Next we'll add the t-shirts (on a new layer, of course). The t-shirts are going to follow the body's lines a lot like the pants, though do I flare the sleeves out a touch. To better match MV's defaults, we'll make the bottom outlines of the sleeves and shirt black instead of grey. The default sprites often have black on the bottom edges of clothing, probably to better separate the different pieces when we're looking at them.
With the clothing roughed out, now we move onto the hair. For the hair, since I wanted to have shaved sides, we'll be using two different colors for the shaved and non-shaved parts. It's a lot easier to tell what is what with the two colors, and we can always recolor the shaved part to match later (or leave it as is and have dyed hair on the sprite). Normally a sprite's hair sits a few pixels above the head, because hair is poofy, but the shaved parts will hug the head. For the non-shaved part of the hair, I want it pulled back in a ponytail or bun, so while outlining we can add in some lines for hair strands. We can change them later, but it's helpful to have a simple guide to keep in mind when we're shading later.
While we're here, let's quickly talk about the other directions. The previous steps apply to them as well, so just keep in mind anything special that may not be visible from the front. The side and back views will show more of the hair, and now we can see that I went with a bun for the male sprite and a ponytail for the female.
If you've finished all the frames for this step, you should have a sprite that looks something like below. Since the ponytail is long and loose, you can see that is swings with each step. Anything like that, such as long hair, capes, or scarfs, will move as the sprite walks, so just remember to add in that movement to the frames.
Of course, the rough shading isn't perfect, so let's go through the steps for each piece. We'll start with the pants again. I personally start with the shadows, as well as adding in some details with the outline color to make the pants more jeans-like (mostly by adding some pockets). The shadows fall near the edges of the pants, and where wrinkles would form. Then we add the highlights, which mostly fall on points that stick out slightly, like the knees. Since the pants are pretty tight, there's also some highlights near the pockets and crotch. Don't forget to add some highlights to the shoes as well!
The shirt is next. We aren't looking for a skin-tight shirt here, so the shading won't be as similar to the rough shading as the pants were. The big points for shadows will be the armpits and where the shirt wraps around the torso. We also want to put some shadows near the neck, since the sprite's big head will cast a shadow. The shirt's highlights are going to be focused on the upper chest and shoulders. I like to also add some highlights to the stomach area, since most t-shirt do pull away from the body a bit.
Clothes are done, now it's time for the hair. Remember those hair strands we drew out earlier? They come into play now. The shadows will fall close to those strands, and the highlights will mostly fall between them. Hair is also usually shinier than fabric, so we'll use the shadow color to lighten the upper left outline, as well as add a second, even lighter, highlight. We also want to put some shadows on the skin, since hair hangs above the face and does cast shadows onto it. Since this hairstyle is pretty close to the head, the shadows won't be too dark.
And that's the shading done! Using these steps we can shade all the other directions, keeping in mind where the light source is.
First, we don't want to forget to recolor the shaved sides of the hair. I decided that I wanted it to all be one color, so we need to color it with the darker purple. Luckily that's really easy to do with the paint bucket, so we can just color the shaved parts with the outline and shadow colors.
Now the sprites are complete! Unless of course, you're like me and decide that you want to add in a few little details to give your sprites more personality. After staring at these two for so long, I decided that they're the type of people to wear earrings and eyebrow rings. So let's give them some eyebrows that match their hair, and some simple metal hoops. The earrings are small, so it only takes three or four pixels to make them appear. The girl also gets some eye makeup, which just follows the base's eyelids.
With that decided, it's pretty quick to add those little details to the other directions. All we have to do is keep in mind which sides the piercings are on.
Once you finish up all four steps for the sprite, it's done! You'll end up with some sprites that look like this.
And that's it! You can use these steps to make any sprite (large, small, SV, downed). Practice makes perfect, so get out there and try making your own sprites!
Wow, this got a lot longer than I expected, I hope y'all find this useful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know. Happy spriting!