Changing Sprite Art

NOTE: This chapter assumes you have gone through the previous chapter on adding map tiles. If you haven’t, take a moment to read through it now. This builds on the knowledge in that chapter.

In the previous chapter, you learned how to edit map tiles. From doing that, you know most of what you need to for updating sprites. There are a few differences to be aware of though, which this chapter will go over.

To start, let’s open the sprite chr file and palettes. Open NES Screen Tool (aka nesst, in the tools folder) and go to the Patterns menu and select open chr, and find graphics/sprite.chr. Next, open the Palettes menu and choose Open Palette, then open graphics/palettes/main_sprite.pal. You should see some familiar sprites.

nesst sprite

Just as before, you can edit the images and everything else within the program, or export to a bitmap file and edit in another program. There are a few key differences to be aware of.

Differences from map tile editing

First, when dealing with map tiles, we had one shared color that would appear in all map tiles. That limitation still exists here, however in this case the color is transparent. It will show up as black (or whatever you set it to) in the tool, but in your game, that color won’t show up at all. If you are struggling with knowing which color is which, you may want to replace the black with a bright color you don’t use.

Next, the position you put the sprites into matters. We’ll get into this in depth in the “Adding Enemy Sprites” chapter, but our animation methods expect sprites to be in certain positions.

For sprites that flip between two tiles, the two tiles should be next to each other. For an example, you can look at the sphere at 0xca, and its second tile at 0xcc. You give the engine the first tile, and it will figure out the rest.

For sprites that face 4 directions, look at the main character sprite to see how to lay it out. You essentially want two rows: on the first, the two animations facing down, then the two animations facing up. On the second row, you want the two animations facing right, then the 2 animations facing left.

Sprites can be either 8x8 or 16x16 with the default engine. (You can modify the engine to support more sizes.) 8x8 sprites work the same way as 16x16 sprites, don’t add any padding between the sprites. It should work the way you would expect.

Exporting for Tiled also works almost the same way, just either build your game, or run make build-sprites to get a Tiled-compatible png.


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