Sleeping Dinosaur
Oct 13, 2012
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Those who have been around for a while might remember our old heroes… Ralph, Eric, Ulrika, Brenda… maybe you miss them and want to incorporate them or other VX/Ace heroes, default or user made, into your recent project!


If we have a closer look at Reid and Ralph, we can already start taking notes on things we will have to tackle:
  • The general shading and colors and color count are not too far from each other, with Ace being slightly less saturated. Ace has a black outline though, which MZ does not have
  • The heads are much more different than the bodies, especially in size. The arms are very different though.
  • Body and eye shape can be taken from the generator base sprite, and therefore the skin color won’t be an issue as we can take it from that as well

Everything you will see was made in Graphicsgale, a neat free program that is after some practice perfect for any kind of pixel work. The final recolors will be done in Gimp.
Also a note: as Ralph's hair and clothing are asymmetric, each frame has to be tackled. If he was perfectly symmetrical, we could only do one of the sides and mirror the frames for the other which can save a lot of time.

Basic clothing
Let us tackle head and body separately since for each different techniques are advised.

Since the arms will need to be redone completely, we will start with front and back so we can have them as reference for the side, where the arms might cover a huge portion of the armor.
You can do front and back at once as we will have it in the steps here or one after the other, but make sure to keep the already finished one as reference for placement and proportions!

We start with the basic base for front and back and the VX Sprite without arms and head. Also we use darker shades to go over anything that is solid black, so the outline of green is dark green where it was black and so on.


With some careful copy and paste we adjust the clothing to fit the sprite. You just need one extra pixel column for each leg to get to the needed width!
One extra row at the upper body and three at the lower body and it is already very close to fit!
Since the size difference is so small, just that little bit of copy and paste carried us a long way!


We can move our outfit onto the base (and keep an extra layer and start fiddling around with the pixels a little. You don’t have to do any of those adjustments, but you might want to try and break up the areas where you have too much repetition because of the previous copy and paste.


With some references on the side and the shading of the base as a guide we recreate the arms and double check our front and back share the same placement of clothing parts so they don’t jump when our character turns around.

Then we need to animate the extra 4 poses, but for those we have plenty of material already at hand:

We have our static front and back done at this point, the base for the new poses and the original sprite which might help with the movement of certain parts - here the cape.


Just by copy and pasting some rectangles - here the middle piece and one of the legs, we can get a huge part of the sprite covered.


And then it is time for the parts where we have to reconstruct, but before we start, we can see if there is anything in the default sprite that might be a better base than trying to edit the middle or redraw. Here we can simply copy and paste the cape and it snugly fits the new Ralph!


The remaining parts come down to editing the middle or drawing them pixel by pixel, but with all the references at hand, you can do it!

With 50% of the body done, let’s have a look at the side!


The side is the trickiest part of the clothing, that is why we saved it until we are more familiar with the design of the character we work with.


Because now we can pull from the reference, the front and the shading of the base to construct the character!


If we start as we did for front and back - what we do - we can see why that is so important. The chunky arm covers a lot of the side, making it a lot more difficult to find out how it should look on a larger character.


Buf before we start on reconstructing, we try to work with what we have. The copy and paste method from the front will give us a great base of what to do.


With the front as reference we can “color in the blanks”. I did not like how prominent the hood was, MZ has a more delicate approach in general so I dropped it for the side. I might go back and add some pixels hinting for it to be there in the end, but it just looked a little off to me.
As you can see we left the arm out, that is because it is easier to just animate everything but the arm and then add it on top, which is what we do here.


The side animation starts with some copy and paste as well, but because of the different angles there is less we can copy directly.


But again, the cape can be pulled from the original sprite and we have the base as a reference and guideline for the shading. That way we can carefully complete the whole animation cycle.


For the arms we can do the same. Note how we can use the same gloves on both sides, even though one has a sleeve and the other has not. Try to work smart not hard wherever you can, it will result in a more consistent sprite and save you a lot of time!


For the hair we have two general choices: take what we can get or upscale.

Take what we can get

With the default sprites and the generator at hand we can pull a similar hairstyle from them and save us a lot of time.


For example we can get this combination from the child sprites in the generator which can work for Ralph, it does not fully match, but it catches the vibe.

If we take a hairstyle from a child, we need to make sure to adjust the style to match the grid, as the children have more vertical space (or adjust the grid for this sprite).


Remember that in the generator for the child the left and right frame of the row facing right are flipped, so we need to fix that as well.
We also want to add a shadow below the hair and then we could go to the final recolor.

…or we could’ve went a different road


As you can see, we can simply take the hair from the VX sprite and stretch it to the matching size. Since the head ratio is a little different, we will end up with something that has slightly different proportions and that of course looks gritty and off.
But that is a great guideline:
With knowing that outlines need to be one pixel wide, that we try to avoid crooked lines and that we want to have no black in the final result, we can start to slowly go over the upscale and erase those issues.
Slowly we can get a nice MZ matching hairstyle without having to start from scratch.
(Ralph's hair on the side sprites look the same, so here I only made one of the rows)


Now we animate the base we made by moving the strains according to the pattern I drew onto the according pose. Slightly adjust the strains, just a few pixels to add some motion.

And just by that, we have the sprite done!


Color Adjustment

There are still some things left to be done:
  • Eyes and for the edited hair the hair are still the wrong color, which we can simply change by color swapping

  • The VX palette is a little less contrasted, which we can fix by adjusting the color curve:

Remember to either deselect the skin before doing this or erasing it afterwards since the base already is MZ matching and needs no color fix!

And there we go, Ralph is ready to roam around MZ games!


Jan 28, 2018
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This was an awesome Tutorial. Very easy to follow, when I get some time, I think I might try it out on a few of sprites that haven't already been ported over to MZ/MV from the community yet.


Sleeping Dinosaur
Oct 13, 2012
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I am looking forward to see them! :)

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Quick little one day make. Having mimosas on a boat tomorrow but wanted to feel productive today. Ask me about my sunburn later.


Working on a new poster.
I just posted the first devlog for The Hidden Art of Innkeeping: https://seaphoenix.itch.io/hiddenart!

Might start playing some rpg maker games and uploading the games on youtube. Realistically they're not going to be for views. Just to give anyone some feedback on any games they're working on. So if you'd like me to play and review your game just reply them down here. And I'll upload them on Rpg4MGames.
Ah, so THIS is what it feels like to sleep till I naturally wake up, and not be woken up by an alarm or other unwanted stimuli... holy crap I feel like I can lift a house! XD (Or work on my game)

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