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Spriting 101: An illustrated guide to editing FFT's sprites.

Started by Kyari, February 02, 2008, 03:38:10 pm


The questions that have been floating around here and there and for the most part have been ignored, so here goes my attempt at a fairly simple (and illustrated) guide to making custom sprite content for Final Fantasy Tactics on PlayStation.

Although I have FFT: The War of the Lions, I haven't had time to play around with it, nor have I installed custom firmware which would enable me to run an iso off my PSP, and thus can't help you with that.

Finally, for all you Vista users, I think you're pretty much shit out of luck.
I personally can't get Vista to recognise any of the folders within the disc appart from Menu.

What You Will Need

    -An image file for Final Fantasy Tactics
    -FFT Sprite Manager
    -A graphics program, prefferably one with the ability to edit palettes
    -CD Mage

    Part One: The Basics - Opening and Exporting

    1) Mount your FFT image file on a virtual drive, if you don't know how to do this you're probably best off googling it. If you've yet to create an iso, now would be a good time to do so assuming you want to put sprites back into the game later. If you're just pulling the sprites out and making edits for fun or whatever, feel free to just put your FFT disc into your PC's drive instead.

    2) Open FFT Sprite Manager. If I have to explain how to do so, this probably isn't the guide for you.

    3) Once you've got it up there go ahead and hit File > Open and set the path to the sprite directory in the FFT disc, for example D:\BATTLE.

    4) Pick a sprite, any sprite. The names are in engrish, so it may take several attempts to find what you want, but it's pretty simple really. Aruma is Alma, Ramuza# are the different Ramza outfits, and for some reason Cloud is Cloud.
    For Generics' jobs "_M" denotes that it is the male sprite, and "_W" obviously is female.... I guess it means man and woman.

    5) As you can see here, I've opened the male thief sprite, or "THIEF_M.SPR", but you can open whatever you want. The portrait looks messed up, but that's actually because the palettes for the sprite and the portrait share different palettes dispite being on the same image. Scroll down on the drop down box on the right to Portrait# if you badly want to see so.
    Anyway, hit File> Export and save it wherever you want. Congratulations, you've just "ripped" your first sprite. For lack of better term.

    Part Two: Intermediate - Editing the Palette

    This is the section I really can't help you with as much as I'd like to, as everyone is going to have their own graphics suite prefferences, but you'll basically have to use your imagination a little and follow as best you can. MSPaint is NOT an acceptable program as it can't view or edit palettes. As stated earlier, I will be using Paint Shop Pro for this, Photoshop works similarly.

    1) Open the bitmap you saved earlier in the program of your choice.

    2) Locate your program's palette editor, in the unlikely event you're using Paint Shop Pro it's Colours > Edit Palette. Any other program will likely have a similar path.
    Here's where it gets complex.
    Make sure you have your palette view set to "Palette Order" or an equivalent.
    You'll notice how the palette is displayed here in rows of 16. This is important.
    Each row of 16 colours is one palette, which the game will automatically cycle through when it's called for (such as for enemy characters).
    The first 8 represent the sprite's palette, the second 8 represent the corresponding palette for the portrait.
      For example, row 1 + row 9 = colour set 1.(the default player colour scheme)
    The first colour in the set is the transprency colour and thus shouldn't be changed. Essentially you have 15 colours to work with for your sprite, however don't be fooled into using that black in the first slot as an integral part, as it won't work (that's why black is listed twice in these palettes).
      Also worth noting is that for palette swaps, quite often the hair shares colours with the skin. This is why almost every unit in the game is blonde.

    The colour swap is by far the easiest edit to do of a sprite, and is the only kind that will result in a perfect change, due to the missing physical animations. So let's get started.

    3) Double click on the colour you want to change (most likely of the player 1 colours) to bring up the colour wheel. Select the colour you wish to replace it with, then just hit OK. In this case, all I'm going to do is change the greens to blues.

    4) Repeat till you achieve the desired effect then press okay on the palette window and you're all done. Don't forget to change the accompanying portrait's colours too if that's what you intended. Though this will be more difficult to do as you can't see it until you put it back into FFT Sprite Manager. Feel free to do your basic File > Save as and then name it whatever you want, remembering to save it as a .BMP. That's it, you've just completed a simple sprite edit.

    Though I won't explain how to do so (as it's really not necesary), further ideas you may wish to try are redrawing portions of the sprite, copy/pasting other sprites from other games entirely over the existing sprites on a same scale, completely hand drawing new sprites or whatever. Just remember to try and keep within the areas used by the current sprites, that you'll need to alter the palette to suit anything you import, and that anything you DO draw will disappear during physical animations until someone other than that one japanese guy works out how to prevent this.

    Part Three: The Closing Act - Converting custom sprites into ingame .SPR/.SPR2

    1) Open FFT Sprite Manager, find the sprite you want to overwrite and open it using the standard File > Open and pointing it once again to the sprites directory on the FFT disc/mounted image.

    2) Hit File > Import and select your custom sprite/palette change from wherever you saved it. Your replacement sprite will now show in place of whatever you previously had open.
    Files must be a 256 colour Bitmap to import

    3) You may wish to scroll through the palettes to check if all your changes are okay, then hit File > Save as and save the new .spr somewhere with the name of whatever sprite you intend to overwrite.

    4) Using CD Mage, open up your FFT image file. Browse to the BATTLE directory of the FFT disc in CD Mage, then drag your newly created .spr file from wherever you had it into here. Tell it to overwrite and it'll inject the file directly into the image, doing away with any hastle you'd have had if you extracted it to do this (as Windows can't interperate several key files, and thus trying to remake an iso from that is a hastle).
    You may now boot up your game in a PS1 emulator (or modded PS1) of your choice, hooray!

    Part Four: Guybrush Kicks Butt - Or actually just some closing comments

    As it stands, the ability to edit sprites ingame is somewhat limited.
    If you're the kind of person that's happy to have your new sprites do nothing but cast spells or look silly when they flash back and forth between other sprites for certain attacks, then I suppose that's fine. Myself however, those kind of things bother me too much to settle for them, and so I don't really bother with any of this. It's not so bad though really, because there're a wide variety of sprites ingame, and with a bit of imagination you could make them look like other jobs, and possibly characters, entirely.

    Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few, and I'm not particuarly that imaginative.
    Giving the male Mediator a blue palette would result in a fairly nice FFTA style Blue Mage for instance.
    Male Monks have a slight Locke feel to them, with the jackets and bandanas.
    Not to mention the obvious conversion most people will go for; the wide variety of both recruitable and non-recruitable characters as sprites for palette change "My character" edits.

    That being said, if any of you have spent time making custom sprites without the specifications required for the game in mind, you're likely going to have a rough time of it converting them.

    But I digress, I that's about all there is I can tell in regards to sprite editing for FFT. I'll try and find some other programs (free) to do the palette editing in, but until there's another program that can dump and import the entirety of the sprites there's not much else I can do I'm afraid.


    February 02, 2008, 06:53:46 pm #1 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by karsten
    nice work, kyari. i'm expecting you to update it when melonhead will release the new tool  to decompress/compress sprites :)


    February 02, 2008, 07:19:27 pm #2 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Kyari
    I truely look forward to such a release.


    February 02, 2008, 07:23:43 pm #3 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Zozma
    a fully decompressed sprite, and able to be re inserted into the game.. thats a dream come true for me lol...
    Wiegraf: Draw your sword Ramza!
    Ramza: But im a monk!!

    Kuraudo Sutoraifu

    February 02, 2008, 07:43:52 pm #4 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Kuraudo Sutoraifu
    Thanks for the guide, Kyari!


    April 22, 2008, 12:13:18 am #5 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by LastingDawn
    This is quite how I learned to do it, if this could be merged with the "Creating new sprite inserting/how to" I think it would be quite useful, certainly one of the mose indepth tutorials I've read here.
    "Moment's anger can revert to joy,
    sadness can be turned to delight.
    A nation destroyed cannot be restored,
    the dead brought back to life."

    Art of War

    Beta & Gretchen Forever!!!!