Creating A Spritesheet in GIMP

GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a tool I’ve been using for a long time. Typically you could compare it to Photoshop, or other image manipulating programs. It had a bit of a rocky beginning, but nothing unimaginable. What makes it so great is the fact it’s FOSS, otherwise known as Free Open-Source Software. As such, you can go to their website (linked at the start of this paragraph), download it and use it for free with no questions asked. Anything you make on it can be used for commercial ventures too.

So why is this so important? Well, working on a game means I need assets.

What is a Spritesheet?

As simple as it sounds, a spritesheet is effectively a large image which is made up of images spaced out. There’s one consistent background colour (or just a transparent background), which is ignored by whatever software you use. This then leaves just the images, which usually represents an animation. For instance, you may have a sprite which is of a person slashing at something, or you might have a table breaking or something like that. All of these images are effectively single frames in an animation.

How To Setup GIMP To Create Spritesheets

By default, GIMP isn’t setup to make spritesheets, meaning you’d have to define the sizes and everything beforehand. However if you’re like me, you may not necessarily immediately know how many frames you will make an animation and you might tweak it after you’ve created the spritesheet itself. I’m not saying this is the best or most correct method, but sometimes, it’s effective.

To set GIMP up to make Spritesheets, I followed this really useful guide. The gist of it is that you can copy the code that’s in there, paste it in a blank Notepad file and save it as something like “create_spritesheet.py”. You then put this new file in your GIMP plugin folder (Which may look something like: “C:\Users\YourUserName\.gimp-2.8\plug-ins”). Once you then open GIMP, you’ll find this under Filters > Animation > Create Spritesheet.

The above spritesheet was one I made in GIMP. It’s simple, it’s crude, but it’s a little character I made for demo purposes. Look at how spooky they are with their little blade. Aww, bless. The whole purpose was to see if I could make this animation work seemlessly in Unity and, to my satisfaction, it worked a treat.

If you’re looking to make a spritesheet like the above one, thankfully it’s pretty straightforward – albeit, I reckon you could do better than my attempt, as I made the initial character in 6 minutes 11 seconds – I timed myself! To do this, create your first “frame”, this is just how you want your animation to start. Then duplicate this frame in GIMP (right click on the Layer and click the Duplicate option). Next, using reference from the previous frame, create your second frame. You can hide the first frame/layer by clicking the eye icon to the left of the layer. Keep going until you’re done with your spritesheet animation, then click Filter > Animation > Create Spritesheet.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of how easy it is to make a spritesheet for yourself. If creating unique game assets is something you’ve only ever dreamed of before, then grab GIMP, get practicing and you can submit your works to the Unity Asset Store if you really work at it.

That’s it for another week. I’ll be back next week, hopefully with more substantive information on one of my projects.

Ciao for now.