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Animating your character: A Simple Guide

When creating a game, one of the first things you will need is the art. You can of course use art produced by other artists but it can be very satisfying to come up with your designs and animate them. So how are animations made in games? Here are some simple steps to get you there:

Step 1 - Draw your character.

Software like Aseprite can help you create simple drawings that look pixelated. Having references to help you is also a good idea. You can draw inspiration from other games or artists that you like or just experiment with your own style. See below to have an idea of how I drew Ripley.

Step 2 – Break down the movement into frames.

Decide how you want your character to move and use references if needed.

Since I wanted Ripley to walk, I looked up the walking cycle of a dog on Google. I found a YouTube tutorial demonstrating the different frames needed to achieve this illusion. I ended up with 8 frames where I mostly changed the position of her legs.

Step 3 – Add details (optional)

If you want the movement to look more realistic, add more frames in-between and/or focus on the other parts of your character that should be moving.

Notice how I added ear, tail and eye movement to Ripley. I also made her slightly lower in some of the frames to add a bounce to her walk.

Step 4 – Play your Animation

Et voila! If you created your art in Aseprite, the software can automatically play it as an animation. Otherwise, all you need to do is import it in your game engine and the character should move as intended. You can also turn your frames into a GIF!


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