If you’ve been following the game development scene of late, you’ll notice that the community is hyping up pixel art – a nostalgic throwback to the games developed between ‘80s to mid ‘90s.
However, the fact that the graphics follow this design pattern does not mean that the effort or realism takes a step back. Hence, you’ll need a total understanding to have the best of both worlds.
Aseprite comes into the picture here as it satisfies all the requirements – it gives you a wonderful way to blend the nostalgic artistry of pixel art with the graphic design and animation tools that we have today. Without further ado – let’s begin with our reviews of the best Aseprite tutorials on the market today!
Free Aseprite Tutorials For Pixel Art
- Free Aseprite Tutorials For Pixel Art
- Best Tutorial for Shading – Shading Tutorial by Alex Voxel
- Best Tutorial for Absolute Beginners – Basic Aseprite Tutorial by MortMort
- Sprite Sheets – An Asset for Game Design by ETOSurvival
- How to Handle the Brush Tool Like a Pro – Brush Tricks Tutorial by MortMort
- Creating and Animating Characters: A Tun-through by Advent1013
- Anti-Aliasing – When Less is More, by MortMort
- Learning How to Tile with Tileable Grass – a Tutorial by Sadface_RL
- Stony Textures – a Simple Tutorial by TutsByKai
- Building Your Way Up – Pixel House Tutorial by TutsByKai
- Say Hello to 8-Frame Runs – Tutorial by HeartBeast
- Going Pro – Advanced Aseprite Tools and Tricks
- Charmander Art and Animation by DYA Games
- Pixel Art Smoke by TutsByKai
- Pixel Art House by TutsByKai
The tutorial starts directly with action, rendering a pixel sphere step by step, an absolute godsend when you want to add complex shading effects to your characters, objects, scenes etc. With this tutorial, you get to know in depth about how shading can add another dimension to your art and game scenery.
The tutorial uses a simple colored approach render the classic sphere and adds a dimension to it just like that – teaching you shading mechanisms used to add depth and texture to a simple ball.
Congratulations on deciding to get started with Aeseprite – it’s one of the best decisions you will take when it comes to working with pixel art. However, since there are practically tonnes of tutorials out there, you should be aware of the fact that most of them are either too trivial to qualify as tutorials, or too complex to understand by the absolute beginner.
Hence, it only makes sense that a tutorial which slots in somewhere in the middle would be the most recommended – and that is exactly the case with this tutorial. MortMort gives you enough background to understand what’s going on, but also has you going with making your own art in the form of layers. You will learn to break complex characters into simpler figures.
Further, it isn’t exactly in the middle, in that MortMort provides some information about the complexity Aseprite can handle, so you’re prepared to make your own designs in no time. Tons of examples, comprehensive review of the tools, and a direct comparison with Photoshop (which is the most popular tool here) – what else does a beginner need?
Sprite sheets is an amazing concept which completely transforms the depth and breadth of capabilities which Asepbrite has, since Asepbrite has pulled off making an intuitive and easy method by which you can integrate Sprite Sheets into your art. This tutorial by ETOSurvival helps you through integrating Sprite Sheets into your own work in a very easy manner.
The primary example taken by ETOSurvival throughout the tutorial is creating a four-dimensional cycle of the walking path of a certain character. The combination of all graphics onto one single image makes organizing all the game contents much simpler and reduces the file size of the game – it works as a handy compression technique!
One of the top tricks suggested by ETOSurvival is that you can make changes to a character on the move by editing the sprite sheet and hence saving the edited file. This reduces the overhead of having to manually update the character as it moves in animations all through the length of the game.
MortMort is a truly prolific creator of tutorials for people who want to pursue game design or pixel-based art, and hence another of his tutorials finds its way in this list. However, this tutorial is definitely not beginner-oriented – this tutorial is all about upping the bar by using the brush tool in the same way that professionals do it.
After the tutorial ends, you will have advanced knowledge of how to accelerate your working methods, but ensuring that your art comes out looking as publish-ready as it can be at the same time. The first thing you learn is tile painting – which is a wonderful technique, and the use of it depends all on you – the more you experiment, the more you’ll learn.
Next up, you see the ink settings covered in some detail, which is great because it’s one of those things about Aseprite which take some time to master. The real use of ink settings comes into the picture when you want to add shade to sprite sheets, or create textures which have subtle gradients or blending of colors going on in the artwork.
If you’ve gotten the hang of the tutorials above and feel comfortable in designing somewhat realistic objects, you should now move on to designing characters and animating them as well. This is perhaps one of the most important and difficult parts of designing a video game. Good characters improve the overall impression of the game, regardless of the complexity.
With this tutorial, you will learn how to design and implement an entire character on a 32×32 pixel canvas. You will be going through a number of basic techniques, wherein you will first design a silhouette and then move on to adding details to the character – typically, this is where beginners end up wasting a lot of their time.
This tutorial borrows a lot of basic concepts from what is taught in art school, specifically considering figure drawing wherein charcoal outlines are drawn first before filling in the details.
MortMort is back at it again. This time, he goes into some depth about the importance of anti-aliasing, which is a crucial part of designing any video game. However problematic and difficult it may appear at first sight, MortMort does a brilliant job of getting down to brass tacks and explaining the process of anti-aliasing and how to integrate it within your work.
Your work will only seem like it’s “in” the screen so long as you don’t apply anti-aliasing. To add that extra level of realism, it’s crucial to understand how graphics work, and how you can use them to your advantage, making your artwork seem truly realistic. Here, you understand the value of each and every pixel – anti-aliasing causes smoothing of jagged lines.
This smoothing effect translates into the illusion of a form, which is then responsible for the appearance of another dimension (i.e. depth) to otherwise two-dimensional images. It is not easy to master this topic, however, if done right – it can translate your game art/pixel art to the next level. MortMort also showcases a number of best practices for sprites in the tutorial!
Sadface_RL may not be the most popular pixel art tutorial channel on YouTube, but this tutorial is surely one of the most important ones out there when it comes to pixel art. It touches upon the subject of tiling, which is extremely important in the context of creating ground/background images.
Fun fact: the usage of tiles began as an effort to produce a number of background images while using very little computer memory. Computer memory is no longer a problem, but at the same time, this particular technique has remained a part of many pixel artists’ toolkit. There are a few rules with tiles, such as perfect wrapping in both directions.
Aseprite has a number of options you can configure to make tiling easy, and following the tutorial will teach you exactly what to do. Duplicating certain images vertically or horizontally is one good way to start – using the Tile Mode option on Aseprite makes tiling intuitive and effective.
TutsByKai’s tutorial on how to employ the tile mode methods you’ve learned above will help you understand how to create a stony texture using Aseprite. The Tiled Mode can help you create much more realistic textures and scenes in very little time, and also saving the computer a fair bit of memory when it comes to high-density scenery.
The basic premise in play here is that you need to learn how to create backgrounds using Aseprite’s Tiled Mode. Hence, the best way forward is to start with a basic sketch of the stones, while making sure that the design fits the entire area of the grid – and there’s no problem if the design goes out the edges.
You will generally see pixel artists and game designers speak of hiding the grid behind. This “hiding the grid” business is nothing but making the seams of the tiles disappear so the image appears as one coherent whole. You should mould the shading as per the location of the light source where the highlights are right above the shadows which have darkest colors.
TutsByKai appears on the list again, but this time, he brings something completely different to the table – a concise yet effective method to draw a wonderful little pixel house. Aseprite doesn’t make it particularly difficult to come up with methods for drawing objects, but watching this tutorial will give you certain insights which you won’t find anywhere else.
The end game here is to be able to draw objects quickly and with a reasonable level of accuracy as well. The method itself is not that complicated too: you start with the basic structural outline of the exterior, first drawing the roof and then moving on to completing a basic outline of the entire house.
Then, the next step us to draw up the doors, which should be followed by the windows. The details are to be dealt with next – details such as roof tiling, embellishments to the windows, etc. Texture expansion is best achieved by copy-pasting and operations such as rotation and flipping all done in conjunction – mastering this will save you a fair bit of time!
HeartBeast appears on our list for the first time, but the tutorial itself will teach you loads in one, decently-sized tutorial. Run cycles are an important part of any animator’s toolkit, and in Aseprite you have full opportunity of using these run cycles to the fullest extent possible. Working in pixels makes run cycles a bit more important, too.
An animation which actually has the “look and feel” of something having components in motion only need 8 frames, whether you believe it or not. This is made abundantly clear by HeartBeast while going over the basics of the 8-frame run. There are a number of things you can learn from the tutorial, from the way the ground is designed to the motions of objects.
Run cycles can be understood as basic units of an animation – they can easily be used to add a number of personality traits and quirky expressions to all the characters you have. The ground staying constant all through the cycle is one other important takeaway – watch the tutorial to know more.
If you’ve gained enough experience in working with all the tools and techniques which have been reviewed above, JebbyGD will show you how to change gears towards the next phase of design and development in Aseprite. There are tons of options in the toolbar, and this video mainly serves as an introduction to all of these options.
Changing colors and sprite sizes of objects and characters is a breeze with Aseprite – you wouldn’t have known this before unless you did a fine job playing around with all the tools. In terms of what else you can alter, the options are almost endless – from color curves on the pixels to creating your own custom brushes on the go.
You can also generate text very quickly with the help of a few options – check this tutorial out once you know you’re comfortable with all of the previous tutorials.
For those long-time, Digimon and Pokemon fans DYA Games brings an Aseprite tutorial video where they create the Charmander sprite and then animates it.
However, this is not a complete tutorial in some respects as it’s a time-lapse video, to begin with, and has no voice-overs where the creator explains every single step that he/she takes.
But, the video is pretty easy to follow nonetheless, and it can be the perfect introductory video for beginner Aseprite users as well, to show them all the various things that you can do with the platform with just a bit of practice.
The video also goes into showing certain Aseprite tools and techniques like onion skinning as well as anti-aliasing, which helps to get smoother edges and cleaner animations. DYA Games creates Charmander from out of a silhouette and goes on to show every single step that one needs to follow to get the result just right.
Making clouds or even some fancy cigarette smoke animation is perhaps one of the primary steps that a beginner needs to get the hang of making, before venturing further into more advanced animations.
Making some accurate smoke animations can indeed add that little bit of extra spark to your work.
And this tutorial from TutsByKai will help you to create your very own smoke for either a chimney, a campfire or some other form of magical art.
In terms of an RPG, necromancers and fire sorcerers can be equipped with some smoke animation to create a sort of a menacing allure about them and allow the player to remain thoroughly engaged to the character’s progression in the story.
The tutorial shows a very interesting method where the animator uses onion skinning to create motion between frames.
It teaches that starting with simple shapes when the animation process is always the best, as it will allow you to get used to the method and help you experiment with all the available tools.
This is another amazing and yet beginner-friendly Aseprite tutorial video from TutsByKai where the creator shows one in great detail how to go about making a pixel art house using the various features of the platform.
Now, routine and practice are important when it comes to mastering certain aspects of this designing platform. And those are precisely the things that TutsByKai stresses on in the video.
By showing a few designing methods and procedures which you need to incorporate into your routine, the creator goes on to suggest that once you get the hang of them, making pixel art houses will be a cakewalk.
The video starts by making an outline of the roof and then drawing the skeletal body of the house. It then follows up by putting in the doors and windows before moving onto the details such as the roof tiles and window trimmings.
Bringing it all together
Today, you’ve seen how to go from zero to hero in pixel art/videogame design by using Aseprite, which is one of the easiest and most intuitive design tools there are. Especially when you consider 8-bit art, there are very few tools which help you explore this new art form. Once you get started, you’ll know just how easy it is to make wonderful art with it!
Hope you enjoyed reading about these tutorials – now go and watch these, and get started with learning this new semi-retro art form. Have fun creating!