Friday, May 16, 2014

Perler Beads: Tutorial on a New Hobby Part IV

Moving on to part four of this tutorial... We've covered the basics of buying beads, other supplies you really need, and how to choose which colors of beads are useful. Now we're going to discuss what resources I use and how to find sprites.

For those of you familiar with reddit, you may not be surprised to know that there is a subreddit for people who make bead sprites (called... you guessed it, /r/beadsprites). You can visit it here. This is a great resource to go to if you have random questions, need help, or want to show off your work. The community is small but generally very polite, and they have quite a few useful links on their sidebar to help people get started (including one I linked to last time about what bead colors to order). Check it out when you have a few minutes to spare. There is every level of "spriter" in the community - people just getting started all the way up to people who have been doing it for several years.

Another resource you will need is somewhere to find sprites. My favorite repository for sprites is Spriters Resource - they have tons of sprite sheets from various game systems, and I usually can find what I'm looking for there. It's very well organized, too. Sometimes I go browse to get inspiration for what to make next, and sometimes I visit with a very specific thing in mind. Either way, it is an invaluable resource. I also use VideoGameSprites for a lot of my Final Fantasy stuff that I do, since they have individual sprites instead of whole sheets with multiple sprites on one picture.

If you cannot, for some reason, find a particular sprite on Spriters Resource, try doing a simple Google image search for it (example: "Wario's Woods sprite sheet" or "Wario's Woods pixel" or "Wario's Woods perler").

Once you have an image, if it is a pixelated sprite, simply zoom in and recreate it - every pixel equals one bead. If it's not pixelated (or simply enormous), try resizing it in Photoshop or Paint. I normally don't go this route, because I use pixelated images, so I'm not really an expert on that, but someone on /r/beadsprites recently posted this tutorial to explain how to do it in Photoshop. Alternately, try a Google search to see if anyone else has already done it, or post on the subreddit linked above asking for help.

When I make sprites, I normally just open the picture in Windows PhotoViewer or Paint and zoom in until I can see individual pixels. I choose colors by eye and don't bother with any other programs. However, there are several programs available to help those of you who wish to use them. Bead It! is an app available on iOS and Android; you can upload pictures and it will turn them into pixel art. Given the kinds of projects I do, I didn't find it very useful (I only ended up using it a few times, in fact); however, for people who want to pixelate photos and such, it is a good option. /r/beadsprites also has several free programs available to download, including Bead Surge, Perler, and My Pixel Pal. I haven't really used any of these, and so cannot vouch for them completely, but the people on the subreddit seem to like them. If you are interested, they are all linked in the sidebar on the subreddit. One of the benefits of these programs is it will suggest colors of beads to use; however, I personally enjoy figuring that out myself, which is why I don't bother learning how to use the programs. To each their own, I suppose.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or want anything clarified.

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