You’ve probably heard about the word “sprite sheet” at least once during your career if you’re an artist or a developer. It is one of the most common animation techniques that existed since a long time ago and has survived times and times again.
What is a Sprite Sheet?
Sprite sheets are typically used to create animations for games or mobile applications. If you have played 2D games like Chrono Trigger, then you already have an idea about sprites in games. It was realized by the developers of the game a long time ago that loading many images from separate files causes a game to run really slowly, so people came up with the idea of sprite sheets.
A sprite sheet is a two-dimensional image with many smaller pictures (also called sprites) and animations to display individual image sprites separately while using only a single source file. Combining all the smaller images into huge images improves the performance, reduces memory usage, and accelerates the startup and loading time of the game. This reduction of loading game time is significant and beneficial for the game creator and the player because the smoothness and performance of the game are of utmost importance. Sprite sheets are also used to store tiles for tile-based games.
Compiling the many smaller images into one single file enables Animate and other applications to use the graphics while only needing a single file. A sprite sheet with eight sprites can be used to create an animation, but every sprite can be displayed on its own without being part of the animation. Sprite sheets can either be stationary or animated, which is depended on their function in the bigger picture.
The creation and animation of sprites allow game artists and developers to control characters and objects independently of the larger scene. Keeping track of many shapes and the various variables that influence aspects of those shapes can become very complex. There will be many variables with different variable names. Instead, computer scientists created something called an object that allows a variable name to control its shape and all aspects. A sprite is simply a rectangle with properties to maintain its appearance.
There is certain information you need to know about Sprite Sheets:
- Performance in mobile apps is low.
- Capability in loading apps is high because there is no computation.
- Sprite sheets occupy more sizes. (As compared to Texture Atlas)
- The quality of animation is low. (As compared to Texture Atlas)
- The amount of bitmaps generated is depended upon the number of frames used in a sprite sheet. An increase in the number of bitmaps will lead to an increase in the size of the sprite sheet.
- You can easily edit or view multiple frames at once.
- There is considerably less amount of wasted energy when you load a whole lot of sprite sheets into one surface.
It can be said that there are not many significant advantages of using sprite sheets, but there are many more minor advantages. This method of animation goes way back to the time when people did not even have proper modes of creating two-dimensional animations and software for it.
Difference between Texture Atlas and Sprite Sheets
Sprite sheets are made to hold the animation frames of a specific two-dimensional game character. It can also be considered as a model of that two-dimensional video game character that stores all the different animations created for that particular character.
On the other hand, a texture atlas is an image that stores many textures. A texture atlas is often taken as a sizeable two-dimensional image that contains many textures. They can be taken as two-dimensional images that are painted over three-dimensional or a part that converted three-dimensional images into two-dimensional images. Texture atlas also stores the skins of the characters (character textures). The texture atlas’ quality and performance are higher than the sprite sheets.
What is the difference between sprite sheets and individual sprites?
Sprite sheets load all the data quickly and have a spike in frame only at the beginning of loading, whereas individual sprites require a lot of loading time and have spikes in each frame.
What size should a sprite sheet be?
It depends on your requirements and resolutions. Generally, the size of a sprite sheet should be the multiple of a single frame, meaning each frame should be equally sized.
How to remove background from a sprite sheet/How to make the background of the sprite sheet transparent?
You can make the background of the sprite sheet transparent in three ways. The first way is to use a separate Alpha Channel, the second is by using a different bit mask, and the third is by simply using a transparent color.