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 Post subject: Best graphic tool(s)?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:42 pm 
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Is there a best graphic tool for NES graphics? IE just one tool that everyone uses, or do most people tend to use a suite for different features (image creation, export to ASM/.bin, etc)?

I'd like to get an idea of what other people use.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:40 pm 
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I use GIMP to make tile sheets in PNG format. Then I run them through some Python tools I wrote myself to convert them to .chr or possibly some compressed format.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:50 pm 
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I use several tools when designing graphics. It's kind of a multi-stage process.

The first thing I do is concept art. This may not even require tools, it may just be pen and paper. With this I have an idea of what the object will look like. Depending on the size of the image, I may actually scan it into my computer and do direct conversion on that image.

If I do use tools for image conversion, or color manipulation, it would be a combination of MS Paint and Adobe Photoshop. These tools allow me to do various color changes, rotations, skewing, etc. Photoshop is a little harder to with when dealing with such small graphics, but it definitely has its uses.

Ultimately, I will end up with something I can directly edit in YY-CHR. If I work with paint of photoshop, I'll just end up copying/pasting it into the CHR file. There are features I wish YY-CHR had, but for the most part it is I think the best tile editor. I never got into Tile Layer Pro or whatever it is that a lot of other people use. In terms of animations, metasprites, or BG editing, I mainly use tools I build myself. Otherwise, the only thing I use for making a simple .NAM file is tepples' screen arranger.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:18 pm 
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IMO, tile editing programs are too limited, and because everything has to be drawn in little boxes the graphics don't even look very good in the end. You are better off drawing everything in a more capable program, like Paint, Photoshop, GIMP, whatever, and then just converting that into CHR.

Like others here, I made my own CHR converter with the functions I need, but I think you can paste graphics into YY-CHR, so you can probably use it to convert your graphics without problems.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:25 pm 
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YY-CHR makes a good CHR converter if you don't already have one, because you can paste images from the clipboard into the CHR file. It works best when your clipboard data is in an indexed color format, since then it will use the color indexes. Otherwise, it's converting from RGB format, and may fail to match the colors correctly, so you'd need to tweak something on either side to get it to paste correctly.

Tile Layer Pro uses strong references to the tiles when you drag and drop them into the workspace, so you edit your tiles in the workspace, and the source data changes as well. But dragging and dropping a bunch of tiles is really tedious.

The old DOS Tile Layer was much simpler, you left click on a tile and it reads it, you right click in the workspace or ROM file and it writes your edit buffer there. No tile references, no dragging and dropping, just clicks. I liked it for making screen mockups easily. I used to use Tile Layer a lot, but switched to YY-CHR.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:41 am 
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tokumaru wrote:
IMO, tile editing programs are too limited, and because everything has to be drawn in little boxes the graphics don't even look very good in the end.

In YY-CHR the whole 128x128 pixel bank can be drawn to by changing the zoom to 1x.

Personally I prefer Photoshop though, and custom tools for converting (lot of duplication of work going around, eh?). One thing that YY-CHR is missing is the ability to optimize redundant tiles.

This tool by Shiru is good for making nametables: http://nesdev.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=7237

What I really *want* is tools to completely take away the need to deal with any of these technicalities. You'd just give a bunch of image files (bg tiles, sprite anim frames) to a tool, specify which bank you want them in and it would generate the necessary files and possibly some assembler equities (letting the programmer know where the tiles were placed or something like that, if necessary). But like always, designing a tool that is general enough is not an easy task.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:36 am 
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I use YY-CHR almost exclusively for graphics editing. It actually does a good job at that. It's simple, so the learning curve is low, and the workflow is decent - rotating, flipping or shifting tiles is just one mouse click away. Especially shifting turns out to be a useful feature when, for example, designing seamless or animated tiles.

I usually run my own map editor and sprite/animation editor alongside YY-CHR that automatically reload graphics whenever any of the .chr files are modified. These programs also optimize the tile set (=get rid of duplicate tiles) and generate asm files on export.


If I need a larger canvas or more colors, mostly for doodling stuff up, there's GraphicsGale.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:17 pm 
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I'm also a big fan of GraphicsGale. It is a little more pixel art friendly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:21 pm 
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MS Paint and YY-Chr for me. Sometimes Graphics Gale for animation. But usually I just use undo/redo to animate within MS Paint.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:49 pm 
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Kasumi wrote:
But usually I just use undo/redo to animate within MS Paint.

Or you can open multiple instances of the program and click the task bar to switch between frames... I never did that, but I might actually start to. That's only good for making sure the transition from one frame to the other is good, but you can't actually see the animation as quickly as in the game... for that, I currently use GIMP.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:25 am 
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I use Graphics Gale for most of pixel art, sometimes GIMP as well, and my custom tools, of course. Generally I just draw graphics with Gale following system's limitations, and then convert it with my tools into needed format.

I've used MS Paint for long time. It is not very suitable for pixel art, actually, it lacks a lot of tools which makes work much easier, but if nothing else is available, it could be used too. There are few hidden features, by the way, can't recall them all right now (one is larger zoom than usually possible), but they were really helpful.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Larger zoom, right click with eraser to replace colors, a secret brush (not useful at all), and "draw opaque" for the selection tool. "Draw Opaque" isn't really hidden, but it's my favorite MS Paint feature.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:19 pm 
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I use the larger zoom (kinda necessary in my HD monitor), the color replace function (great to modify the palette used by a sprite) and the third color (by working with more colors at once I pick colors from the palette less often) all the time. I also switch between opaque and transparent selections very often, when moving tiles around to compose/separate sprites and such.

All those features combined make MSPaint my favorite sprite editing tool. I use a drawing area large enough to contain the sprites I'm currently drawing and all other images I might be using for reference. I also make "backup copies" (I duplicate the selected area by holding the CTRL key while dragging) of my sprites when I'm unsure about changes I'm about to make, and I compare the old and the new side by side to decide which one is best. That's not easy to do with dedicated sprite tools.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:45 am 
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I'm not a graphic artist by any means but for putting together the font, UI elements and nametables for PR8 I used Shiru's NESST, exclusively, to draw everything from scratch.

Really great tool. Two thumbs up.

If I had the time I'd port it to OSX to save me using a VM to run it :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:12 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
Or you can open multiple instances of the program and click the task bar to switch between frames... I never did that, but I might actually start to. That's only good for making sure the transition from one frame to the other is good, but you can't actually see the animation as quickly as in the game... for that, I currently use GIMP.


Actually, a technique I use, and find more effective for simulating animation is pasting each frame of an animation over each other (starting with the last frame first), and then just doing undo-pastes and redo-pastes to cycle through the animation. It's not as laborious as actually implementing animations as GIFs or something, and it still allows you to really quickly cycle through frames.


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