One of the biggest shames of the forum change is the loss of all the various tutorials, advice, and challenge threads that existed here. Spriting is definitely something used much less for comics and other projects for better or worse. While there are still plenty of places to find information on spriting I might as well see what I can do here, though I am myself a bit rusty. This will hopefully get me back into working with pixels and provide some advice to anyone interested that stumbles upon these forums.
So let this be the first topic in the Sprite School and class is now in session. For these lessons I will be using sprites from 'Goemon New Age Shutsudou!'
as a basis though these techniques can be done with any sprite you find and wish to use.
Lesson 1: The Recolor
The most infamous of all edits is the recolor. It is the most basic and easiest things to do when modifying an existing. Some programs can basically do it for you as well. Let's examine sprite I chose to use at the moment for the lesson.
Now when recoloring a sprite it is important to note the palette used and what colors are reused at various points in the sprite. It is important when recoloring that you pay attention to what colors are various shades of another. If I wanted to recolor his hair than this could work:
While this would not for both the reason described and an additional one:
The first reason is as mentioned, the order of colors for shading is wrong. The lightest tone is replacing what was the darkest color in the hair. This is additionally problematic because of a few colors that are reused outside of the hair in the sprite. The two darkest shades of the purple are reused for the eye color and the darkest shade of purple is used as the darkest shade of the worn shoes, arm wrappings, and belt. In the prior okay example the replaced colors were dark enough that they still worked with the rest of the image but if they were a noticeably lighter shade they would not. For example the following is correctly replacing the colors of the hair but since those colors are used elsewhere in the sprite it encounters similar issues if you are simply swapping one palette for another:
The lighter palette can work for the hair, but simply replacing those colors completely causes issues elsewhere on the sprite. This is something to look out for if recoloring by simply swapping colors out in a palette. The following is done specifically only recoloring the hair:
Now this works better without causing any unnecessary changes to the rest of the sprite. This does have the downside of causing the sprite to use a larger palette. Color limitations are not much of an issue for modern games but could come up and it is something to keep in mind.
Homework Assignment: Recolor a sprite both by doing a complete palette swap being careful to use similar shades to avoid causing an issue if a color is reused later and by selectively replacing colors so that all instances of a color are not changed or at least not changed in the same way.
Lesson 2: Splicing
Splicing is when you remove a section from a sprite and paste it onto another sprite. It is relatively simple, only slightly more advanced than recoloring in its basic form. It can easily be combined with recoloring to make the part taken fit with the sprite it is added on better and there are a few other techniques that can be used to make it work a little better. As a first example we will use a very simple part swap.
These two characters are each wielding a weapon. While their stance for holding the weapon are different (one is two hands in front of body, the other is sideways and only using one hand), simply swapping these weapons is very simple for a few reasons. After leaving the hand neither weapon has any other part of it covered by any part of the character's body nor covers a part of the character's body. Both hands are rectangular and similarly shaped. It is fairly easy to remove them and add them to the other like so:
Now this works out okay. I think both weapons look a bit off, but for the most part it is an easy swap. If you want could modify these a bit further:
I felt fr the first the new bludgeoning instrument looks like it is missing a piece of it, exactly a pixel and added that on. For the second did a bit more. I felt the hammer looked too much like it was balancing on his hand and the head was balancing on the handle. I modified it so you can barely see a bit of the handle underneath his hand. I also by adding a few pixels tried making the left half of the hammer a bit wider and try and add a more direct connection from the handle to the hammer head. It was a very quick modification. Not entirely sure if it works the best, but believe it works better than if simply just cut and pasted.
Here is another quick example of a splice with me replacing a head of one character with another and then doing some recoloring.
Another quick splice. Recoloring to get things to match along with try to keep the number of colors in the palette low as well. And for a final example here is a quick attempt at Tai from Digimon:
Homework Assignment: Make a splice. Does not have to be anything major. If you can make minor edits or recolor the sprite after the splice to fit better that will work as well.
Lesson 3: Reshading
For this I am going to take a sprite from the GameBoy Color game of Power Quest and attempt to make it match the shading of this Goemon game.
For reshading start with recoloring to attempt to identify what sections will be what, especially in games that have fewer colors as in a GameBoy or GameBoy Color game. If you change your mind on some sections later, that is fine as you can see I did with the use of the lighter shade of blue. It is important in cases where you are changing to style that does not use the same solid color for all boarders it is important to be able to identify which part of the body the boarder belongs to. For example if there is a hand over a chest, the black boarder most likely should be considered belonging to the hand not the chest. Usually whatever is in front is what should be getting the boarder. For these sprites I think the light source should be more to the right as shown in the fact that on the right the pixels touching the background are usually a lighter color than those to the left and a few other details. I tried enlarging the head and shrinking one of the hands to attempt to make the proportions match a bit better. Because of the fact different artists have different styles you'll never be able to make a sprite from a certain game look exactly like a sprite from an unrelated game but you can get things close with editing assuming similar sizes to start with. This is again a rather quick example.
Homework Assignment: Find a sprite and shade it. Either start with an old game sprite from a GameBoy, NES, or earlier system that lacks shading and apply it or find a sprite with shading that you'll work over to try and match a different style or your own person aesthetics.
All together this entire post took me a couple hours and everything was made in MS Paint and then saved in a different program with me being rather out of practice with working in pixels. I'll say none of these I think are the best examples of these techniques, but they all I think are a bit better than what on average I've found in most sprite comics. These techniques are simple and not time consuming but can help make whatever you are working on a little bit better than if you just take existing sprites and don't do anything with them and can then be used over and over again. I am sure there are better tutorials and better teachers out there, but in the memory of times past when we had a thriving spriting community and I was possibly an active member of it here are the bare bone basics as I remember them and if I remember a more useful lesson I'll try posting it here.