Just when I thought everyone was only interested in 3D graphics and 2D was so last century, I was recently, and pleasantly, surprised by something new. That something is a neat little application called Spine (http://esotericsoftware.com/). This is a skeletal animation tool aimed at HTML5 and mobile game developers, and seems to take its inspiration from high-end movie animation techniques. Regardless, I think the process is how any sensible person would animate sprites. Not sure why it has not been done before for the low-end (no offence!) animation community. My two cents worth, from a guy sitting on the technical side of the fence – maybe experienced animators out there are rolling their eyes at my naiveté.
Instead of the usual methods used in low-end sprite animation (select monster’s leg, rotate 10 degrees, tidy up, next frame), Spine lets you build a skeleton of articulated bones which can be rotated, scaled and moved. Sort of like a fully articulated store mannequin but inside your laptop. Once you have built up your ‘bones’, you can attach images to each bone. Now comes the fun part – switching to animate mode you can move each bone and joint in a single frame, and then press play to see how it works. The tool rotates all the images for you. You can export animated GIFs, atlases or sprite sheets. And this is just the basics – add skinning, meshes (I don’t really know what these are yet) and what you have is a pretty powerful animation tool. Its pretty inexpensive and while just a little envious I did not think of it first, full credit to Esoteric for making it happen.
Here are 2 sprites (converted to animated gifs) created with Spine. You can guess which is a sample project that comes with the product, and which I did all by myself.
Create a better looking monster worthy of my hero’s attention (Sprite 2 – that means you).
Finally, some eye candy.