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making sprites from scratch

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Quote:
do artists draw a big sized character and then shrink them to the size they want the sprite to be?


Assuming you mean hand drawn 2D Pixel art, then i'd say no. But there are alot of different people out there with different ways of doing things, personally i usually don't do it that way because it distorts the image when scaling and alot of the finer details i spend a few hours on would be completely ruined, so i decide on the size before hand and work within the dimensions (or roughly around those dimensions).

Using a modeler though is similar to what you thought, rendering a character and scaling the camera distance, then taking 2D screenshots of the required angles.

Quote:
If not, how do they do it?


Other than the afore' mentioned modeler, usually one pixel at a time (or brushstroke, depending).

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While I'm not technically an artist, I do some art. It really depends on what you're working with. For characters and interface graphics I do plain pixel art, but when doing backgrounds and whatnot I draw larger images (usually around 10 times larger) and scale down. There are also artists who use 3D models and take renders of the model and use those as 2D sprites.

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My preferred approach is to redraw and modify most or all pixels starting with a reference image: a rough 3d render, a shrunk photograph, a drawing, another sprite, and so on.
I'm much better at retouching than at drawing from scratch, and with a reference image I have a good foundation for shapes and/or for colours.

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A lot of pixelers draw the sprite from scratch using MS Paint or PS. Its all a matter of figuring out how to represent something normally so large into a pixel-sized space.

I had to draw my avatar a few times to get the anatomy of the body and the placement of the limbs correct. It really just takes practice.

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