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Painboy

Need a program to transfer frames to an animation sheet

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Currently I'm using Photoshop (CS2) to animate. Each frame being an individual layer. My issue is getting them all on one animation sheet easily. I have been making a sheet by using registration marks and guides. It works fine but it's tedious.

Is there a program (preferably free) that I can just export the frames onto a single sheet with everything lined up nicely?

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<br /><a href='http://spritesheetpacker.codeplex.com/' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>http://spritesheetpacker.codeplex.com/</a> - MIT license<br />
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Thank you for recommending that. If I am reading it correctly I would still need to save each frame as an individual file before compiling it into a sprite sheet, correct?

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Yeah, there's no way to bypass that.

In case you have very different cell sizes, blank space etc. I'd recommend you the following workflow:
  • Have all your finalized sprites as separate images; say you finished painting them or an artist delivered them to you.
  • Go through each sprite and figure their bounding box size. You are looking for the biggest vertical size and the biggest horizontal size in the entire sequence - these values don't necessarily have to be in the same sprite. It's not that tiresome to find these values out, since you can easily tell that some shapes are "spacier" than others.
  • Create a blank canvas with that pair of vertical and horizontal sizes you found out. This means that this canvas size can hold any sprite from this sequence you're working with, including the ones with the biggest bounding boxes.
  • Paste a sprite onto this canvas and save it as a finalized cell. Make sure to keep the alignment intact - sprites that don't occupy the entire canvas need to be carefully placed so they don't make the animation slide or jiggle when playing. This is easier done with an onion-skin capable software such as Graphics Gale or Cosmigo's Pro Motion (both have onion-skin, animation previewing and generate animation sheets themselves). They are commercial (Graphics Gale has a free, basic version).
  • Have this sequence's image handle (also known as pivot point or axis) be in a place that will keep it aligned when played along with other sequences. More on this below.
    Most engines handle images by the top-left corner as a standard, but when dealing with complex character animation you need different pivot points for different sequences.
    You see, when you ask your engine to display an image, you supply X and Y coordinates and it's displayed there - but the pivot defines which point inside the image is placed at the XY you specified. This allows your sprite to change shape or use sequences with different cell sizes but still be visually aligned to whatever frame was displayed previously, without jiggling around.

    As a starting point, keep the pivot point at the character's feet, no matter the cell size for each sequence. This can be seen in the following:
    2r60jkk.gif         2aj6zhf.gif
    These are frames from two different sequences, each with its own cell size. However, the author educatedly placed their pivot points at the feet so if they are orderly drawn at the same position (like they would in a game), they will look natural and won't be misaligned.

    In case you have problems with the above, report back.

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