Huh… Pixel Art Animating = Tough

This guy has done some great pixel art like this TF2 dude collection.

I got inspiration to draw some art (while thinking of what I’ll plan to do next – Ludum dare messed up every plan I had – *cough*). Since I’ve never really tried to do any pixel art animation, I thought I would see if I could get that guy animated. (I really like that simplistic style).

I re-read this tutorial about pixel art animating and started testing if I could do a 2 frame idle animation.

I ended up with this:

Credits for the drawing goes Vic, I merely animated the chap)

That’s somewhat decent when viewed 32×32 resolution (for a 2-frame animation), but not sure what that really looks like. Nevertheless, I decided I would try do also walking animation.

I ended up with this 6-frame (4 unique frames) animations:

It’s not totally smooth, but better than the idle animation… and I’m quite happy with the results since I’ve pretty much never done any animations.

This took couple of hours (of course I was learning / reading a bit while doing this).

After I was finished, I really started to realize how doing animations can take tons of work (when each frame gets drawn). I mean… just imagine how much time this dragon animation must have taken to draw. (That’s like… amazing – unbelievably amazing)

Animations can bring objects into life… but thinking ways to not to use animations can save tons of time & work. (Like… if you want to do a game with 37 monsters with each having 10 animations, and 4 different directions to look at… that can be quite a bit of work. Of course you can trick a bit, and use 3D models and pre-render their animations – but that’s still quite a bit of work.)

Just my 2 cents.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. You recently said on this blog that you want to avoid character animation, because it’s a large amount of work. And as you’ve seen: that’s even worse for pixel art characters! (BTW congrats for achieving such good results that quickly)

    Maybe a good alternative is to use a cut-out animation engine, inspired from Flash and from this promising framework by Ubi-art:
    (text is all in French sorry, but the video is for everyone!).
    There is also Twin Blades on iPhone/iPad which uses a similar tech (I think):

    The result is a smoother animation (interpolation), and I think the authoring part is easier than pixel art frames…

  2. @Juuso: I like both anims, with one comment: the idle one seems to have a very heavy breathing, like being very tired after running a lot. If you intended that, it’s ok. If not, try to leave the chest at the same size, just slide the head and hands up/down a little. The walking is smooth enough.
    @Andy Peill: that’s why I’m always middle-clicking on links (opens in a new tab)

  3. Looking great for a start.The sliding doesnt bother me at all, has a nice Monkey Island feeling to it.

  4. It’s true. It just so happens that in many times, most players won’t even realize the absence of animation if it’s implemented correctly. It applies to bigger games, too.

    A 3D unit may walk out of the barrack’s opening gates, looking cool and stuff, but it might just as well spawn near the building and people *will* take that as granted.

  5. I love those Team Fortress 2 Pixel art, those are sweet! On another note, when posting links can you add the target=”_blank”, just so i can open the links in a new page while continuing to read your articles :-)

  6. I’m going the pixel route as well.

    Since my enemy characters are insects, I can at least leverage the wings fluttering.

  7. Juuso, I think they look good for your first attempt, mate!

    The shuffling of feet in the walk cycle may just need a lift in the forward stepping leg. But man, I’ve seen a hell of a lot worth in many titles. :)

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