Q: What's the best program for spriting?
A: People here use very different programs, so I'm afraid there is no single answer. However, the most common ones are Paint.Net, GIMP and MS Paint.
MS Paint is the default Paint that comes with Windows. It lacks layers but is very easy to use. Paint.Net and GIMP are free image editing softwares. GIMP is the most versatile and well suited to scratch spriting, but it's also the most complicated one. If you plan frankenspriting I'd recommend using Paint.Net.
Q: What do the terms frankenspriting and scratch spriting mean?
A: Frankespriting means making a new sprite by combining parts of already existing sprites into a new one. Scratch spriting is drawing the whole sprite completely by yourself.
Q: How big should my sprite/background be?
A: Small enough to fit into DS screen size which is 256 x 192. You might find it easier to first draw the picture in bigger scale and then resize it to fit the screen.
Q: How do I make profile pictures?
A: Get a profile image of any character, cover the entire block with the same gray colour, and place your headshot of your sprite on it.
Q: Which font should I use for my boxart?
A: Either Georgia Bold or Times New Roman Bold.
Q: How do I make the background transparent?
A: First copy your picture to a new transparent mode layer (this means if this layer is empty it is transparent. Usually programs create transparent layers by default). Then delete the original layer. Now you can erase the unwanted background from the transparent layer and save. When saving it's important to save in a format that can handle transparency. The most common ones are .png and .gif. If you save in .png you also have to remember to save it in correct mode.
In Adobe Photoshop(s) you must choose "interlaced" when saving the picture.
In GIMP uncheck the "save background colour" option when you're saving the picture.
In Paint.Net Simply save your picture as .png. Save configuration should be set to 32 -bit.
In Paint Tool Sai copy your sprite to a transparent layer and delete its background. Set the layer under the picture invisible. Then save your picture by clicking File > Export As > .png (PNG). The program asks you pixel format and you should choose the lower option "32 bpp ARGB (Each pixel have opacity)". Now you have a transparent .png file.
MS Paint can't save transparent pictures.
Q: When I try to edit a picture the colours go wrong! Help me!
A: The cause of the problem is either .gif format that can only handle a predetermined palette or indexed colours mode if the picture is in .png. There are several ways to avoid this problem. Here's a few:
- Change the mode from indexed to RGB. In the most programs the route for this is Image > Mode > RGB.
- Save the picture first in some other format and then reopen it.
- Open it in a program that can't read indexed colours such as MS Paint and save it there. When you reopen it the indexed colours have disappeared.
Q: There is noise in my sprite! What do I do?
A: Unfortunately, you've saved your sprite in .jpg and that noise is extremely difficult to get rid of. In some programs such as Photoshop there are filters to reduce the noise, however, all they do is reduce. Usually the best solution is to remake the sprite all over again.
Never save your sprites in .jpg!
Q: How do I animate a sprite?
A: Sprite animations are usually GIFs with multiple frames. There are a few guides here and here that cover animating talking and blinking on sprites.
Q: What's the most efficient/effective way to make sure all your sprites are positioned exactly the same in GIMP?
A: There is something called a "guide." To access this, use the move tool (hotkey "M"). Click and hold from the rulers. Then drag down to the desired position. When you copy-paste sprites and move them around, it should snap to the guides.
Q: How many frames do I need for animating my sprite and what's their correct order?
A: For a blinking animation you need three frames: eyes open, eyes half-open and eyes closed. For a talking animation you need open, half and closed frames for the mouth. Remember that when people talk they usually don't stop blinking. Therefore you also need open, half and closed animation for the eyes. Different spriters usually use diferent orders for frames with so there is no common consensus about the "correct order". Just use the order that you think looks the best.