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Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial
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Author:  4zK [ Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

I figured that since making a detailed sprite can be challenging for beginners, I could offer my assistance by showing how I usually do it, along with some basic information about the process. So, without further ado; let's start spriting!


BEFORE EVEN STARTING, if you haven't already, you should find yourself a suitable image editing program. I personally go with Windows Vista's MSPaint. I use a 7, but you can find a tutorial on how to install the Vista version over the Windows 7 one. The reason for that is because 7 ruined everything for MSPaint. Vista is the closest you can get to the XP one (which I am the most affectionate with), with a different default palette and 10 undos instead of 3.

As much as Windows goes, I'm not entirely sure which programs work on other operating systems. You can always go with GIMP or Photoshop, if you prefer. I would strongly recommend a free program called GraphicsGale though, if you're new to spriting. If you're not attached to anything already, such as MSPaint, you can get along well by starting fresh.

I also expect that you to know how to apply color palettes to your files, so I won't be going through that in this tutorial.


Open a base canvas for your work, preferably in the color of the not-so-eye-friendly Fuchsia Magenta. The base doesn't necessarily need to have the palette applied to it, but you should definitely use the colors of the palette at all times. The indexed palette property can be applied later on the finished sprite.

When you are going for detailed sprites, there is no other option than to zoom in hard to see even the very slightest change in colors.


That's a single pixel on a 35x10 area. Note that I will merely zoom in to help you see the progress, the proportions will stay the same.


That's better. Let's get started already.


Start by making a crude silhouette of what you're planning to to. In this case, a simple carbine rifle.


Here's a fairly simple gun and a box magazine. The row of gray shades used can be found on the bottom of the palette.bmp file. The very darkest blacks are very similar, so I usually cut the very leftmost one out completely.

But hey, that gun doesn't look very detailed at all. It's pretty much ugly, and I'm not even talking about the silhouette. Sure, you may want to give a minimalist approach every now and then, but for now, let's give this rifle some more shapes.


That's more like it. I also made the magazine curve a bit for this one, but a boxy magazine is completely fine anytime.


This step will include the majority of changes in this tutorial. There will be multiple layers of colors set from darkest to lightest. Note that this is how I usually do it, you can decide the order all by yourself.


I start by simply halving the sprite approximately from the middle part with the next lighter color. This will give an idea of what parts should be better lit (top) and darker lit (bottom).


Since we're not doing a completely black gun, I will limit the darkest black to the very bottom parts. At this point I basically decide where I don't want the very darkest black to be.


Keep gently adding the lighter dark colors on top, leaving the darker at the bottom parts. Keep in mind that you need to have your own idea of your gun, and it's your responsibility to test and try out how different shades look. I usually leave significant outlines to my sprites. Other styles can work just as well for CC, such as adding very little or no outlines.


This color is one of the darker inner textures for the gun. At this point it should look a bit like dark plastic. The lighter you go, the more careful you should be when applying bright colors.


Small, boxy areas around the body can make the gun look more metallic. The slight dots I left for the forearm grip can be seen in many different forms. Remember to try stuff out yourself, you're not going to learn otherwise. A good perception of 3D shapes can be very helpful, even though it's just 2D images.



Here, I mainly used the very lightest color for the spring guard, also on the bottom of the magazine. This is where I would normally stop, as it looks quite nice and simple already. If you want to go all-out though, you can try experimenting with other colors than grey, trying adding some rust, for example.


At this point you should be careful, because at this point is where you usually go overboard. I tried adding some more shine with the lightest grey and some brown rust here and there. An easy way to picture stains of all sorts is to view the color next to the "clean" color that represents the same lightness value, as shown here.


After you've finished, you can try placing your gun sprite on top of the magazine to see what it would look like. When you go back to coding, I recommend checking out this helpful thread by Azukki for info about making offsets for your guns.


And I guess that's about it for this small tutorial! I hope you've practiced along, or maybe even learned something new! These steps can be somewhat followed in other situations, such as actor spriting, too. I however strongly recommend that you try things out for yourself, it's the best way to really get into it.

Questions can be asked.

Author:  Asklar [ Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

Can I use that sprite?

Author:  -[Ayil]- [ Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

I'm a mega spriting virgin and this tut is great, I understood everything. :grin:

Author:  Kettenkrad [ Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

Fantastic post 4zk. Your goddamn sprites <3

Author:  p3lb0x [ Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

I personally like to sprite on a more neutral blue-gray canvas, it helps keep the tones more balanced and keep up contrast as the high intensity magenta can make you blind to that.

Author:  4zK [ Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

I totally agree with the fact that magenta isn't the best to stare at.

Asklar wrote:
Can I use that sprite?

Go ahead. :lol:

I don't really do that much stuff for muzzle flash sprites, I prefer adding other effects to go along with them instead.

Most of the vanilla ones are good for basic lead-based guns. Fancier flashes can have stuff like smoke particles.

Author:  haloman [ Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spriting a gun: a quick tutorial

wow thanks 4zk this will be really handy

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