External Graphics Editors
- GIMP This has long been the best paint program for Linux, but it is also one of the best free graphics programs a Windows user can find. Since version 2.3.8 , several features(notably clipboard brushes/patterns, and the ability to select next/prev color in palette via keyboard) have been added that greatly improve its usability for pixeling. Version 2.9 (current development version as of Oct 2015) also adds the ability to use most 'dirty' tools (layer modes, paint modes, layer opacity, airbrush, etc) on indexed images, if you are development-savvy enough to try it.
- Tupi excellent for quick animation sketching. Supports multiple 'scenes' and video output. Be careful of the quirky UI. (Does someone know how to get it to have non-default frame size? That would be handy for attacks). Not exactly an editor so much as a creator
- mtPaint A pixel-oriented paint-program, with features like improved palette management, pattern drawing, and changing drawing colors during drawing. Available for both Windows and Linux.
- Pixia English Port of a nice Japanese Paint Program. Somewhat unusual interface, but not hard to get used to
- Ultimate Paint A paint program with lots of features. The old version is freeware, but the new version is shareware
- Paint AKA Paintbrush, MS Paint. The built-in graphics program that comes with windows
- Paint.NET A windows-based graphics program that aims to be the spiritual successor to MS Paint without the limitations
- Photoshop A windows and Mac based image manipulation program which is considered an industry standard in regards to graphics. It's primary downfall is its immense price tag. However, other than that, Photoshop can do anything you might possibly imagine.
- Pro Motion deserves a mention because it is the definitive pixeling tool (the industry standard for GBA/mobile phone graphics work, etc.). Even if you can't afford to buy it(minimum $30), using the demo version will give you an excellent grasp of what tools are useful for pixeling, and a benchmark to measure other programs' capabilities against.
- Mihov Image Resizer A very simple image format converter, great for turning your BMP format screenshots into GIF or JPG files suitable for posting on the internet
- GraphicsGale A Freeware/Shareware pixel art editor for Windows (Available in English and Japanese)
- GrafX2 An excellent open-source paint program for Windows, Linux, Mac and Amiga. Designed for pixel art, particularly good for tile work due to automatic detection and update of duplicate tiles. Supports animation.
- MyPaint A *strictly* paint program (for use with drawing tablets) -- it just paints, not edits. brilliant for concept art, and almost as good for placeholder sprites (providing you consider the usual "don't use too many colors" etc restrictions when drawing.). Can be used for pixelling, even (set brush opacity = 1 and hardness = 1). the zoom is not pixelly though. Supports layers and layer opacity, so building attack animations using it is pretty straightforward.
- AllegroSpriteEditor A sprite editor originally intended for the allegro game library, but useful for any pixel art. Good animation support.
- Pixen An open source Mac-only pixel art editor
- ImageMagick Command-line program to create, convert, and apply many effects to pictures using various file formats. Open source.
- GMIC is a huge collection of filters (and also a language for writing filters in), most well known for its GIMP plugin. The GIMP plugin is similar in range of functionality to Imagemagick, but with a GUI. The commandline utility can be used in a similar way to ImageMagick, and is generally more consistent and flexible than IM.
- GPick is a color picker and palette editor; it's good for building and comparing palettes. It supports multi-color Drag And Drop. In conjunction with its other features, like colorscheme generation and generating gradients, this makes it very helpful for making master palettes. It can also be useful for checking overall color coordination in a screenshot, tileset, or backdrop.
OHR Graphics Tools
- ohr-cartographer creates images of maps
- ohrgfx extract and save graphics from an RPG file
- CHGPAL change an RPG files palette and update all graphics
- Entries tagged 'utility' on Slime Salad
- PalEdit for editing palettes and for fitting images to palettes
- Palette Pal for creating master palettes
- OHR Palette the default OHRRPGCE palette in several formats
- Flikky's Font Tools convert OHF font to PNG and back again
- ohrtool1 includes "ohrfont", converts between OHRRPGCE font format and PC font format
- 2mas create a palette from a 16x16 BMP/PCX image (obsolete)
- TileTool convert backgrounds and tilesets to/from BMP,PCX,TGA (superceded)
For pixeling (which is how you will probably want to make sprites and tiles), I rank the paint programs in the following order (best first):
- Pro Motion
- MTPaint -- ranked under GIMP because it's less polished so can be unexpected in it's behaviours.
- Paint Shop Pro -- ranked for comparison purposes
- Photoshop -- ranked for comparison purposes.
- Pixia -- not really suited to pixel art at all; I never convinced it to behave appropriately.
- Ultimate Paint -- ranked low because I have no idea of its features.
- Paint.NET -- ranked low because I have no idea of its features.
For CG (generally used for cutscenes and backgrounds):
- Pixia -- or vice versa. I get the impression that one can do a lot with pixia, but I haven't the same sense of control using pixia.
- Photoshop -- ranked for comparison. Could also swap places with GIMP or Pixia, but seems less intuitive and so possibly less efficient to use until you've used it for a long time.
- Paint Shop Pro -- ranked for comparison. Less capacity than Photoshop, more usable.
- Paint.NET -- apparently this is competent at CGish things.. As I mentioned, I haven't used it.
- Ultimate Paint -- it seems to have CG capabilities. I don't know what they are.
MTPaint, ProMotion, and Grafx2 were excluded, as they do not work with 24bit pictures. Paint was excluded, as it has no CG capabilities.
For just general painting (bg, concept.. maybe tile), MyPaint is in a class of it's own. It also can be useful for certain CG blending tasks, as 'knife' blending brushes are available, and all painting is calculated with 16bpc accuracy rather than the typical 8bpc used by GIMP, Pixia, Paint.NET, etc (16bpc allows 256 times the precision when storing intensities, this is why it is much superior for blending.). MyPaint >= 0.80 also has a large set of brushes packaged with it, the fx/experimental brushes are excellent for creative experimentation (eg making up attacks). The 'oratools' package is helpful to use in conjunction with MyPaint, to allow GIMP to read .ORA files (or you can just save flat PNGs to start with.)
See the Paint programs' individual pages for details of their general strong/weak suits.