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How to make good sprites with MS Paint

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I'm not the best sprite artist in the world, but I've been studying the sprites in doom and in some other games for quite a while, soon finding a decent and respective method of making sprites that aren't total shitpiles. Using this method, you can do sort of quick sprites that are at least Wolfenstein 3d quality.

So let's get it on. I'm more interested in making monsters with human-like shape. I managed to find a neat picture of a zombie from Resident Evil.

Except, well I'm gonna do it without the throwing up and blood spill under its feet.

When you make a sprite, you need to use a picture as a guide, or a sketch you made. Similar to the way Eriance does it, by drawing the monster in all the angles. Using the guide, you make a silhouette of the picture using the darkest color you can. The zombie's main color is obviously blue, so I'll use a darkest form of navy blue.

To give the sprite a little more life, go to Edit Colors... to modify the color of the silhouette the make it the slightest bit brighter, and I mean the SLIGHTEST. Use the Brush tool and go over the silhouette, filling as much of the entire silhouette with the brighter color as you can, but not going outside the border lines. Keeping in mind the shape of the original picture, such as his arm that is in front of his chest. Like so.

Redo the same method, using gradual slightly brighter colors, adding more light to areas that are more noticeable, The hands, the face, the chest area, etc. Also be sure to fill in the areas that are a noticable different color, such as th shoes, skin, and hair. Use the original silhouette method from the beginning, by making it really dark, then adding brightness to it using the second step. Like this.

Then we can make some of the more finer details, by giving him a face, and making him a little more shiny by adding more contrast, making darker areas a little darker, and the brighter areas a little brighter. And Wa-la! a decent quality sprite to use!

However, it's still an annoyingly long and lethargic process to make all the directions, but this is how I do it.

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Not bad. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, even with some pixel-art talent it still takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to produce all of the necessary frames for each angle. But it would be nice to see a greater number of quality sprite replacements, as they aren't very common at the moment (ones that aren't modifications of existing sprites, at least). Good work.

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I can't get on with making sprites in anything else. Photoshop isn't really "tailored" to individual pixel drawing by default, more like... painting. And you have the limited palette to consider.

Though i suppose for larger sprites, that "painting" would make better shading if it was converted to the doom palette and extraneous colours cleaned up by hand (probably in paint). It'd also be good for explosions and such which aren't on screen for very long

Oh and in certain circumstances, and without a limited palette, it comes into it's own for 'finishing' sprites. Like this for my several abandoned driving games:

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A good effort, given the tools you were using.

I have quite a bit of experience with MS Paint, however I have never undertaken something on the scale of creating sprites. I'm not sure I would use MS Paint for this task, although if you wanted to make a higher quality image you could do one or more of the following:

    1. Create images in .png format [of course, this limits the use of the graphics to source ports that support this graphic format].
    2. Create a larger image, and scale it down in-game [again, this limits the use to source ports that allow sprite scaling]. This offer 2 advantages - you get a higher-quality image, and it's easier to create/edit a larger image than a smaller one.

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Nice stuff JohnnyRancid. I've got to agree that doing the different angles is the most tedious part of making Doom-engine sprites. As I recall, iD's artists sculpted physical models of the characters and then used photographs of the models at different angles as the base for the sprites, but that probably isn't such a convenient method for most people who do Doom modding as a hobby.

Those of you interested in spriting might want to check out this page from the Battle for Wesnoth wiki. While some of the information is tailored towards their specific type of game (fantasy strategy) a fair deal of it is good information on spriting in general.


In particular, these two:

http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/Creating_a_scratch_built_sprite - this one deals with drawing a sprite, with a somewhat similar method to JohnnyRancid's, but aimed for Photoshop/GIMP and with more discussion of background theory.
http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/Basic_Animation_Tutorial - And this one illustrates the most common mistakes to avoid when doing animation.

Actually it would be kind of neat if the various tutorials that've been posted here on Doomworld were rounded up somewhere, I know there've been some on drawing textures and guns too, if one searches.

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Stilgar said:

As I recall, iD's artists sculpted physical models of the characters and then used photographs of the models at different angles as the base for the sprites, but that probably isn't such a convenient method for most people who do Doom modding as a hobby.

Well, physical clay models aren't the only option. One could also design a 3D model with modeling software and use that as a basis for one's sprites. This can often save a lot of time, but again it isn't easy and it requires that the artist not only have 2D art abilities but also modeling capabilities, and it can be difficult to make models of the necessary quality. Still, for those who have that kind of experience, using and animating a 3D model as the basis for one's sprites can save a lot of time over drawing each individual frame by hand.

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