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How to Make Your First Video Game Character (Sprite) For Beginners Part 1 Basic Outline

Updated on September 20, 2012


Ever play a video game and wish that you could learn how to create cool characters like that? Well now's your chance!! This will be a fairly basic and simple tutorial, great for beginners or people looking to brush up on their foundational skills. I have divided this tutorial up into several different parts for convenience, this one focuses on your character's basic outline and the next will focus more so on shading and coloring, but by the time you've finished the full tutorial you will have the tools you need to make your very own video game character.

Before we start it is very import that you have an idea of what you want your character to look like, something to base it on. For me I like to use something that I can clearly see, like a photo or a drawing, this isn't necessary but I find it helpful, so We'll be using one of my drawings as the base.

Now that we have something to base our character on let's get started by opening our base in a painting program, like Microsoft paint which almost every computer has. Now, first thing we need to do is divide our base into sections so it will be easier to work with, so lets add some color. Try keeping each body part a different color so they don't meld together when we shrink him. Don't worry too much about making perfect lines or anything, we'll worry about that later, but for now we just need to have the basic picture, like so

Not very attractive but that perfectly fine because we'll be making quite a few small changes as we go. So now we have an ugly looking, slightly lumpy thing, so now lets make it a small ugly looking, slightly lumpy thing but first make sure those lines we drew are nice and thick, we don't want them disappearing when we shrink it. Now a good size for this guy would probably be about 1/8 of his current size, which will make about him the size of a portable video game character but still big enough to shade effectively later. So let's shrink him, fill in a few white spaces and draw a rough outline around the character. It's fine if it looks a little sloppy, I mean try to keep smooth and natural looking, but at this point the looks don"t matter much. So your Character should now look something like this

Now, depending on what you used as your base you may or may not have a bunch of white frost around your character, so lets paint the background a completely different color from the character so we can see it, like the picture above. now erase all the frost and color in any empty spaces until your character looks something like this

Notice how I made some slight changes to the outline, specifically his hair, so that it looked a little more natural, but again if your character is still looking a bit lumpy or what have you, this is just supposed to be a very basic outline to get you started. Besides I always find that when I start shading my character two things happen, first some parts that didn't look so good start to look better with a bit of depth and second that the places that do need to be changed become more obvious and I end up making a bunch of small changes, but we'll worry about that later, probably in part three after we've done some basic shading. Most people have a little trouble with this first part and just give up because they can't seem to get their character to look just right, not realizing that at this stage it doesn't need to.

So now you should have a basic outline or base for when we start shading in the next step which i should have up soon and then we can continue making our character. until then go ahead and play around with it a bit, maybe go through this process a couple of times with different characters until you find the one that you like, just make sure you save your original character so you don't lose it, and then we'll shade it in the next step. Oh, and make sure you save it as a .PNG file or it's colors will probably get messed up.


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    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 2 years ago from Alberta

      This is very informative! It helped me with sprite-making, which I do not do well. Thank you for posting it.