[Tutorial] How to make Character Sprites using MyPaint

Hello everyone!
today i bring you a quick tutorial on how to create character sprites for Ren’Py using the program My Paint.
it is possible to use layers and export a PNG that you can use in Ren’Py directly without having to pass through any other editing program to achieve a transparent background.
the problem is, My Paint is very basic and is lacking in a lot of ways. mainly, it cannot copy and paste, there are no editing tools, you can only paint and save in it (i love it, though, it is easy and the canvas is endless!) another shortcoming is it is wonky on MAC and no more updates are being created for Windows.
Anyway, here is the tutorial, i hope you can make use of it in some way or another:

Download and Install My Paint: http://mypaint.intilinux.com/
here is their deviantart page, it has a bunch of cool tutorials and brushes: http://mypaint.deviantart.com

depending on how you like to start your sprite, you can either open a sketch from a JPG or PNG and ink it on a new layer, or start sketching on the empty canvas right away.
I use all-digital art so here is the process i use:

it might seem like a lot, but the first three top images are the process of any digital art piece.
1- sketch the character facing the way you want, here the image is made 50% smaller. my sprite was super huge so i advise you to make it in this small size if you don’t use any powerful editing programs like photoshop.
2- create a new layer on top of the sketch layer, set the sketch layer to 50% Opacity or less, begin redrawing the lines in dark ink in the new layer.
3- hide or delete the sketch layer. I plan to change the clothes and hair of the sprite, and also want to make her eyes more expressive, so i made those on separate layers later.
4- begin coloring in any way you want, it doesn’t have to be pixel or cel shaded because PNG are badass and can show true colors with a transparent background! here i made the background Dark Grey only because it is easier on my eyes, you can use any background you like, or choose from existing MyPaint backgrounds.

as you can see, the background will not be exported if you follow the tutorial (you can export it if you are making normal art, but since we are making sprites we will not need it in the finished file)

5- The character is finished, i have drawn the eyes between the layer of color and ink, so that i can change them however i like. Now if you have extra stuff at the bottom like i do, you want to Crop the finished file so Ren’Py doesn’t bother you by desplaying the whole image with the unwanted junk.
You can Crop the image by telling MyPaint what the document frame is:
Change the Width and Height of the Document Frame until you have exactly what you want. It is a little difficult to get used to this method when you have used the Crop Tool in other editing programs, but hey at least it’s a better option than going through hoops of other apps just to trim the ends!

6- Now export the image in MyPaint using the file->Export dialogue (CTRL+Shift+E) and in the file formal to save, there are three PNG options, choose the “PNG Transparent”.

Pro Tip: if you are experienced with MyPaint, you can learn to use the Multiple PNG Transparent, it creates a separate PNG file for every layer and automatically adds a prefix. I didn’t try it but you can give it a try if you have your Eyes, Mouth, Brows etc on separate layers.

7- the last image shows the character declared and inserted into the Ren’Py Script, i created a mouth layer for Lip Flap effect, now it looks like this when you start the game:
(There is a strange effect happening on the outline of the character when the mouth layer is shown in Ren’Py, i haven’t discovered why it happens but it does not bother me yet. this is not the finished sprite and i may redraw the whole thing anyway. It is worth noting, however.)
Common Frustration: To get Lip Flap to work, you must change the Characters-Per-Second (CPS) from 0 to any number in Line262 of Options.rpy file. ( config.default_text_cps = 0) change it to ( config.default_text_cps = 10) or something, then go to the Ren’Py Launcher and click the line in the bottom box that says: Delete Persistent. It will not change the CPS and activate Lip Flap in your game unless you delete the persistent.

Here the Script i used in the game to declare the character and make her lips move. My game is Arabic so it might have a few more script chunks not needed in your English game: (Attached at the bottom of this post)

have fun, it takes some practice to draw sprites without the use of copy and paste and magic wand, but if you can learn to use it to your advantage it will not only give you beautiful sprites, but you will become a better artist by not depending too much on cheats! (oh god i really need the Lasso tool though…)
**cross posted to the official Lemma Soft forum

One thought

  1. Thanks so much for posting this AMAZING tutorial. Your artwork is fantastic and your step-by-step process is super helpful. I just learned about Ren’py today and my mind is blown by how awesome it is. Best of luck to you and if you finish a game / novel be sure to let us know where we can see it ^_^.

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