using gimp filters to make vx sprites into 8-bit style?

Discussion in 'Resource Support' started by jonthefox, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    Hi all,

    I don't know if there is a clean way to do this, but I'm wondering if those with more graphic skill and knowledge could answer for me or anyone else who thought of this. I personally enjoy working with retro tilesets in the 8 bit style (similar to early dragonquest or final fantasy games for NES), but I'm unsatisfied with the various options for character generation in this style. What I would like to do is use the vx ace character generator to make a sprite sheet, and then use gimp to somehow convert that sheet into a graphic style that is compatible with 8-bit tiles.

    I know a little bit about gimp but not an expert - I've tried things like posterizing, lowering the color index, using blur/distort filters....I was wondering if anyone skilled with graphics either knows or could come up with a good process for this, that I can easily follow. Much appreciated if possible! Thank you in advance.
  2. ShadowDragon

    ShadowDragon Veteran Veteran

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    I dont know gimp but use it before, but most likely Photoshop and they are similair the same.

    if you want to make it 8bit, there is 1 best way to achieve it, but there is a bit time consuming if you want it nicely.
    if you want to keep the current size, the best way to do it, is select 8 colors or less and make a new layer, than paint it
    with a pensil over it to get the desire effect, the other way is to use the FX option or filter, but you need to use
    the settings besides it.

    Also the contrast settings can make it darker and use filters over that if possible.
  3. onipunk

    onipunk Archmage of Procrastination Veteran

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    The thing about NES-era RPGs is that, typically, they use sprites and tiles of 16x16 pixels. Since VX uses 32x32, if you simply paint over the current sprites with less colours, your pixel ratio is gonna be off and your tilesets will have larger pixels than your sprites due to being upscaled to 32px.

    Here's an example I quickly whipped up.
    (tiles by The Mighty Palm, character by Momope and traced by me)

    See how the individual blocks of colour on the tiles are twice the size of the pixels on the traced character? That's what I mean. Essentially what you'll have to do is downscale your characters to 16x16, trace over them, and resize them back up to 32x32 - and you'll have to do it the hard way. There's no guarantee it'll look good, either. There'll be a significant loss of detail either way, since you have a lot less space to work in. My recommendation is finding a good 16x16 base to work off of and then trying to sprite your characters from scratch. It's honestly not too difficult, and since most NES-era sprites only have two frames, it'll make your life even easier. Paying attention to actual restrictions as well, most sprites in the NES era could only be made up of three colours (technically four, but the fourth is transparency). There are a few games that have bucked these rules, but they did it by overlaying two separate sprites on top of each other (using Mega Man's NES sprite as an example, it was actually made up of two sprites, one with the block colours of blue, light blue and skin tone, and then the outline and whites of the eyes layered on top of it). Since the sprite I used has 7 colours, if you wanted that many colours back in the day you'd have had to overlay three sprites on top of each other, which I'm not even sure was possible. You can break the rules if you want, but if you want it to look legit you're gonna be limited to at most 6 colours per sprite.

    Honestly, give custom spriting a go. You don't need any fancy tools for it - I do pretty much all my sprite work in the free program - and since it's such a small working area with such limited colours, you can get good results fairly quickly. Just don't expect them to have as much detail as the 32x32 sprites, so focus on reinterpreting them rather than remaking them.

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