How to Make Sprites on Paint

By Dan Ketchum
Sprites conjure up images of vintage video games.

Sprites are two-dimensional digital images that comprise each frame of an animated character in 2-D video games. Mostly used in classic games, sprites usually feature no more than 16 colors. Hobbyists, artists and gaming enthusiasts can create their own sprites by using Microsoft Paint, a program included with the Windows operating system. Hobbyists – or “spriters” – refer to the process of making your own sprites as “spriting.”

Open the Microsoft Paint program by accessing the Windows “Start” menu and clicking on the “accessories” folder.

Select “new” from the Microsoft Paint file tab in the upper-left corner.

Create a 64-by-64 pixel canvas by selecting “properties” and entering these dimensions.

Zoom into the canvas by using Paint's magnifying glass tool.

Select the pencil tool and the black color.

Draw the main body part of your sprite – such as its torso or head -- one pixel at a time. For larger parts, draw by dragging the pencil tool.

Smooth out the contour of your outline by approaching the line pixel-by-pixel, adding with the pencil or removing pixels with the eraser tool to give your outline a smooth shape.

Draw the other segments of your sprite – such as its head, arms and legs – using the same pixel-by-pixel, followed by smoothing, method. Approach one segment at a time. Leave out minute details for the moment.

Outline accessories, such as weapons, wings, or tails, one pixel at a time with the pencil tool.

Select the base color for your sprite from the colors menu. Fill each segment of the sprite with the appropriate base color using the pencil tool.

Create custom colors with the “edit colors” option in Paint. Make colors similar in hue to your base colors.

Accent the base colors of the sprite with the custom colors to highlight and shade your sprite with the pencil tool.

Outline the highlights of your sprite with a color lighter than the base colors, but darker than the highlights to create shadows.

Create minute details, such as eyes, patterns and symbols, using the colors of your choice. It is not necessary to outline small details on sprites.

Click the “save” icon or select “save” from Paint's file menu to save the sprite. Save the sprite in .BMP format for personal use or .GIF format if you plan to upload it online.

Tip

Sketch out your design on paper before using Paint to create your sprite.

Try recoloring or modifying existing sprites to practice before tackling from-scratch sprites. You can find downloadable sprites at sprite databases online. Study the sprites you admire in video games.

Use Paint's “copy” and “save” options frequently to save back-ups of your sprite in case of mistakes.

About the Author

Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.