3D-to-2D Sprite Conversion - The Judas Way
An attempt to create some sort of spriting guide
by Daniel, 11-19-06

The idea was brought up at Prime Central Station a little while ago, and I felt like spriting a character from a 3D game, so... here we are. Instead of thinking of something to sprite, I just look through Gamespot's screenshots until I find something that I feel like doing. Urban Reign, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Virtua Fighter, and Dead or Alive all have oddball shots that I don't feel like working from, so Beatdown gets chosen. I've been wanting to sprite Gina for a while now, anyway...so.... here we go.
01. Every sprite has a starting point, right? Gina from Beatdown: Fists of Vengeance seems like a decent enough choice. This size is probably optimal for this method. If you have something larger to work with and would like to use it at that size, cool. If not, resize it to here or so. If you have something smaller, blow it up. At least this size will make the next steps easier. A tablet will, too, although it is not necessary. I've done them this way with a mouse before I ever even knew what a tablet was. Also bear in mind that this works for screenshots of 3D stuff with backgrounds and drawings, not just clean renders like this one. Alright, on to business.
02. This next step is easiest with Adobe Photoshop. Set the source to about 50% transparency and create a new layer. Draw a rough outline in this layer using the pencil tool. The brush tool creates extra colors due to blurred edges and makes cleaning this up later a royal pain in the butt.

This can also be done the very, very low-tech way in MSPaint. Instead of using a semitransparent source and a black pencil tool, just use the source itself and a brighter-colored pencil tool in Paint to do your outline. As long as it stands out, it can be used. Bright blues and magentas were the norm before I ever realized that doing this in Photoshop would be easier. I'd recommend that approach if you have the program, but everyone has Paint. Or some equivalent. Anyway. On to step three.
03. Wow, that was easy. Either hide your source layer in Photoshop or clean up your lines in Paint. From here on, there are no either/or steps, so any program will do. For this tutorial, I am using Paint. I almost always use Paint, though. When it's not animated, I like to keep it as simple as possible, and Paint is perfect for that.
04. BAM! Flat colors. I like to steal colors from my various sprite folders and change them later. For now, you can thank NeoTokyo's Nina and Kiwi's CFE XBV for my palette. Thanks, guys. It doesn't matter how close it is to what you want at this point, as long as something is down. If you want to spend this time to go ahead and get your colors JUST RIGHT, then be my guest. I usually avoid that because I may need to alter them later to fit some kind of special shading.
05. Now go ahead and add your basic lighting. Typically, I sprite in a pseudo-CvS style, and this sprite is no different. Light from above. Two shades is enough for now. Too much shading at this point will only make cleaning up the resized sprite a tedious and annoying process. Don't even bother defining your face, as it will only be lost in the next step.
06. Resize that bad mother. About a third of the size will work for this particular sprite, but your resize may differ. If you're going from a gi-normous 400dpi full-page drawing to a Pocket Fighter style sprite, your size change is obviously going to differ from taking something close to this size down to Guilty Gear X proportions. From here on I will be showing all progress blown up 300% so that you don't have to strain your eyes trying to see the changes on each picture.
07. Now I get rid of the black outlines. Clean up the aftermath of the resize a little bit. Nothing is finalized at this point. Keep everything kinda loose, but not sloppy. Set up your colors. Again, nothing is final right now.
08. My personal favorite area to define first is the face. This is true of all of my art. The face can make or break a piece, if you ask me. Unless you are spriting Nazgul or something, go ahead a fill that in. Play with it until you're satisfied. I'm not completely satisfied yet, but I don't want to spend too much time on it yet. It may completely change in the next step. I go ahead and put in my middle shades and define everything a little bit more. Gina's stockings are still missing because I hate spriting stockings. I should have thought of that before this point, but oh well. Too late for that! Next up, resizing.
09. After comparing this to various CvS sprites, I realize that the shading is looking close, but the proportions are way off. Instead of looking like a woman of average stature, she looks like a leaner She-Hulk next to Chun-Li and Maki. Now, I don't just resize the whole thing when this happens. You lose detail that way. I carefully and thoughtfully move and manipulate her legs, arms, and torso to fit the sizes I want. Her hair was even a little too big. Hah. She also now has her rose tattoo and a few other fixes, but I've been minorly fixing her the entire time anyway.
10. Alright. Now we're talking. My final steps are always the same. I adjust the palette when I think I am completely satisfied with a sprite. Well, not completely, but close. When I get the palette looking closer to what I am after, I go over everything with a fine toothed comb, fixing every little bit of shading I think needs to be fixed. Earlier I said I hated stockings, but this time they get the classic dithering treatment. This tutorial is about spriting from 3D screenshots and stuff, not how much I hate to sprite fishnet. But man... I hate that stuff.
Now check this: Before and after. Quite a bit of difference, no?

Bear in mind I didn't strive for exact accuracy on the stockings and stuff. Also, I made it 16 colors. If I didn't try to stick by the traditional color limits, I would have had an extra shade or two of shine on her shirt, some greens on the rose tattoo, and a number of other tiny color fixes. For the purpose of this tutorial, however, I doubt all of that matters.

Hopefully this has been of some help to someone out there. Thanks for taking the time to read through this trainwreck, ladies and gents, and best of luck making it work out for ya.

11-20-06 Edit:

Alright, now I think it is done. Ignore the earlier lame dithering. Note the lack of her actual stockings' patterns. On such a small scale, it'd be a pain in the ass to do those. Also consider the possibility of animating her. With those patterns? No thanks. Also, upping the color count to 32 really helped her out. Lots of minor fixes that I'm not going to detail.