What is a sprite sheet?
A sprite sheet is a single file comprised of graphics that enable certain programs to load them as one file, to create a animation. This makes it very efficient to animate a character or object using the minimum amount of data.
Instead only a part of the entire image is shown at a time, the ‘images’ are then run, and produce the animated product of the sprites.
When coding, the sprites are coded as they are divided, but still has to be told how many frames to wait in between each frame it needs to display.
What? How MAny?
The amount of instances of a typical hero depends on the actions that the hero needs to preform. Running, jumping, climbing, walking, flying and even dying. And any other cycles that need to be animated.
How to guide. By your local sand man:
To create a sprite sheet, one would first need to consider the action or actions that you are about to animate. Lets take a walk cycle.
This is typically divided into a set of images that when run in sequence would make a ‘cycle’ and thus an animation.
This can be achieved by creating a new document in either illustrator or photoshop and adhering to a specific file size for the most efficient loading into unity or another program. This would consist of creating the individual sprites at the art size you want to animate to achieve the best fit for the game you are creating, this can be anywhere from 700x700px to 74x74px for each sprite.
Loading each created sprite onto the sprite sheet would achieve a sprite sheet, and even templates are available for the specific software that you might be using.
After organising your sprites in a sequential order, you would then save the file and import it into the program of your choice to create the animated objects or characters.