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10.03.2015
The Cartoon Solutions stock characters, as well as backgrounds and props are offered to compliment character packs.
Screen test your characters by placing them over backgrounds you are using while working on them. Create a new layer by selecting Layer > Add Layer (Shift-Control-N) and name it "Sketch". You can simply copy and paste your concept from another program or drag and drop the file into Inkscape. Resize your drawing to whatever size you're comfortable working at using the sizing handles. Since the Inkscape Preset palettes are generally not very pretty for games, I tend to make my own beforehand. You can edit your Inkscape Palette by going into your Inkscape folder under the Share > Palettes sub-folder.
You can now add your own RGB and Hex values to the list and they will appear in the order you put them.
You can copy and paste these codes into your .gpl file and save them, and they will be there the next time you run Inkscape. Draw the legs all as separate pieces on a new layer using the Bezier Curve tool (Shift-F6). Rather than manually adjusting the stroke and color on the leg, we can click on an object that is similar (like the circle) and copy it (Control-C) and go to Edit > Paste Style or (Control-Shift-V) to match the style of the copied object.
You may also want to draw legs in different positions, so they can be reused to make more animations.
Alternatively, you may want to draw the whole body with the legs in different positions if you do not want the legs to all move independently. Remember that you can join pieces together by selecting both objects and combining them via Path > Union or Control-Shift-+ or just Control-+ with the numpad.
To get a smoother curve I often add extra points and then delete them after I get the shape I want. I turn off the Body layer using the eye icon next to the layer name that I want to turn off.
Go into Edit Path By Nodes mode (F2) and click in the node you want to delete, then hit the Delete Key.
You can adjust using the handles on the other nodes if anything goes awry, or by changing the node type in the toolbar. Since I want the legs on the far left and right sides to be almost the same, I will copy the left one and just edit it slightly. Bring back the Body layer by moving to the layer in the drop down and clicking the eye icon once again, so you can position the leg properly.
Now Shift-Select both circles, making sure to select the highlight circle last, and go to Path > Difference.
Select all the objects and Group them (Control-G) to make sure they don't get moved around from where you want them. Draw a simple mouth with the Bezier Curve Tool, and adjust the settings in the stroke and fill menu (Shift-Control-F).
I've also added a secondary highlight, again using Bezier Curves and the Circle tool, only this time I'm using the #F39383 color. While there are a few up-and-coming programs that allow the easy addition of dynamic lighting to 2D art (such as Sprite Lamp), they are still very rudimentary and mostly meant for pixel art so we will have to add them ourselves for now!


As before, I will delete any unnecessary nodes and smooth out the body with the Edit Path by Node (F2) mode.
You can also use the blur slider to soften the appearance, but I don't recommend it for a shell.
Make sure you save your file before doing the next part (though it is worth noting you should be saving frequently anyway, just in case). I generally keep the original file and the sprite sheet file separate so I can remember how the character was positioned. Now you need to separate the pieces of the octopus so that they are far enough apart for the slicing tool in Unity to pick up that they are separate pieces. This means that the first object and all subsequent selected objects will be aligned based on the position of the last placed object. This however, will increase the file size, even though you're not using all of the extra space.
Save the sheet as a separate file, again so you have the original composition (you could also keep them both in the same file if you wish).
Select all the objects at once by clicking and dragging over the entire area as if you are trying to contain them all in a box (see image below). A great thing about vectors is that if it turns out to feel wrong for the game, I can simply re-export at a larger or smaller size.
For this part of the tutorial I am going to assume you know how to open Unity and start a project. Truecolor is a good choice for the Format as it is best for nice clean images, especially when dealing with pixel art sprites. If you lose a box or need to make a new one as it didn't slice them properly, click-drag in an empty space. Adjust all the pivots to where you'd like by clicking and dragging the circle in the middle of each sprite, or by typing them in manually to the Pivot field. Cartoon Solutions specializes in pre-made stock cartoon characters that can be animated and used in your illustration or animation projects.
From the list of available options, select the size that is most likely to be your game's resolution.
The great thing about working with vector art however is you can always change the size of the character later. You'll be throwing out the sketch later anyway as it's not necessary for the whole process.
If you are unfamiliar with Hex and RGB codes, there are many easily accessible charts you can find around the Internet or in the color picker of almost any image editing program. Select the leg (which will take you back to the leg layer automatically) and copy it (Control-C) then paste it (Control-V).
I do this by creating ovals and then using another oval to "subtract" the parts I don't want. Make sure you are drawing on the layer with the appropriate tentacle and group them with their related piece when you are done. I do the same thing here that I did with the tentacles to make sure they were the same; copy and paste the left eye and adjust for position and perspective again.
If you find when you're adding new stuff later on that it is appearing over previous objects when you regroup them, select and cut the object that is behind (Control-X), click on the object you want to paste it over that's on the same layer, and select Edit > Paste In Place or (Control-Alt-V). I will make the body first with the Bezier Curve Tool (Shift-F6). I will make the snail on a new layer, but I don't need to make one also for the shell as long as they are grouped properly.


I will just be using white for the color, but I will set the shape to 50% Opacity so that it blends. You can copy and paste the style of the first highlight to the other highlights and it will also copy and paste the opacity, which makes it a lot easier. There are settings you can tweak in Unity to help with this, but an organized sprite sheet is always better.
While computers are so fast now you might not notice it too much, it's always better to save what space you can, and make the sheet as small as possible. Here you're just trying to reduce the white space as much as possible, and aligning is an easy way to do that. This is because I've opted to treat them as one object rather than have each eye operate independently.
You can actually just export everything as its own file this way, but keep in mind the shape that it is in Inkscape will be its exported size, so you may have to adjust it manually.
If you name the file when all the objects are selected, and you attempt to batch export, it will only export the last object as they are now all named the same thing. If you are unfamiliar with Unity there is plenty of documentation for beginners on the Unity website.
This is very important for organization, as if you drag any of the sprites onto the screen, they will be automatically named whatever the Name box indicates.
Creating whole pieces that can be easily changed will make your job a lot easier in the long term.
640 x 480, 800 x 600, or 1024 x 768 are common game resolutions for the PC—for this project I will be choosing 800 x 600. I tend to create at least two action views of the character so I can get a good idea of how I want it to be animated and what pieces I need to break it down into.
I set the stroke to 3.5px in the object editor (Shift-Control-F) but you can make yours whatever you like. You can learn more about Grouping in Inkscape thanks to a helpful tutorial created here on Tuts+.
Open up your Align menu (Shift-Control-A) and make sure Relative To is set to the Last Selected rather than the page, as the objects will be what is exported and not the page. The main thing is to make sure that an object is not going to expand the sheet more than necessary. You can export the sheet as a size that fits your needs, but I've just kept it at almost the same as the size as I started with in Inkscape.
I am just going to explain the process of getting a sprite sheet into Unity and cutting it up for use in a game. Another parameter you can adjust here is Pivot which indicates the main anchor point of the sprite. In this tutorial I will be showing you how to create a character in Inkscape that can be used in Unity 4.3's amazing new editor.
He loves building web apps and has also written for the Wall Street Journal & Lifehacker.
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