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Getting an engine to import sprites.

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I'm currently beginning making an Game Engine (from scratch). The next step is to get my engine to recognize and import sprites (2D Graphics) for my game. It is a four directional RPG like the old Final Fantasy Games... (Like FF1, I'm starting simple and working my way up...) *And I'll also need to be able to import batle scenes ect! I am curious of the different ways you can program a engine to recognize image files like .jpeg's, and .gif's ect to make a moving sprite... A particular one I am interested in is the RPG Maker XP type of sprite "importer", where the whole image is one picture, and it uses the picture for all the directions ect ect...(If somehow realizes that the picture is x and y long and high, and uses many of those in one picture to make a "moving" sprite. (It LOOKS like it's moving, but it's not...) If there is a tut someone can point me to that would be nice :P Thank you, sliceanddice

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