Posted by: Ocean's Dream | January 11, 2009

Character Maker 1999 tutorial


Sorry for going so long without an update. I will now go over using Character Maker 1999. I doubt I’ll do this for other programs, but I may at least go over how to set up a grid in some.

*Note: This is based off of the Character Maker you can download here at the Pixel art programs link to the right.*

I’ll go over the basics and the toolbar for today.

Character Maker doesn’t require any installation. All it asks you for is to register it, and this version of Character Maker doesn’t really require a correct code.

The words are cut off here a bit, I guess it depends on the version. As you see here, it says “Don’t bother with this edit box”. Listen to what it says and don’t bother with it, those letters and box below it are to be ignored. Instead, follow the red arrow to the left.

This popup will appear. It gives you 2 fields. I usually put AAAA for both fields, but it doesn’t really matter. Then, press the button, and go to the middle button in the first window. It should never ask you to do this again.

This is how the program should look like now:

I opened up an existing image that had that palette, you’re given a default 256 color palette when you go make a new document. More on this in another tutorial.


This is the toolbar below the File menus. Nearly everything that is in the file menu above it is represented by an icon, so I won’t go over that. Here are what the icons stand for:

New document, Open, and Save. Control N for new, Control O for Open and Control S for Save work as well.

Undo and Redo buttons. Control Z for Undo as well.

Cut, Copy, and Paste. Otherwise known as Control X, Control C, and Control V. These buttons and the ones before I never really use because the keyboard commands are the same as they are in other programs.

This icon is all by its lonesome. This is the text tool like in Paint and Photoshop. Just write out what you want and it will add the text. There aren’t many options for it, but it’s a pixel program, not a document editor. To pick the color, go to the palette on the bottom. The orange box over the color will be the text color, the blue box over the color will be the background color. Right click on a palette color to make that the background (blue box) color, Left click to make a color the foreground (orange box) color. Here is an example to show you what I mean:

In this example, the grey color will be the text color, the green will be the background color. More on palettes another time.

This is the Character size tool. This would require a bit of explanation too, so I will leave the specifics to a later tutorial. However, this is my favorite tool of Character Maker and the reason why I use it over other programs. There will always be a square/rectangle selection box (with red/yellow marching ants) around your mouse cursor, and this tool determines the size of that selection box. So, if you’re working with 16×16 tiles, set the Character Size to 16×16 and you never have to worry about if things aren’t aligned properly.

Main grid. I never really use this one, but what it does is grid off each pixel. I prefer the subgrid myself.

Subgrid. This is pretty neat. The Character size already acts as a sort of grid, this one subdivides the preview area you see in the top left corner. You can specify how many pixels you want it to grid, so you could have a 8×8 grid for example. It’s pretty helpful for positioning things correctly and tiling. The odd thing is that you have to set the subgrid size in the same tool as the Character size, this tool only turns it on or off.

I didn’t feel like posting all of them, but these until x12 are the zoom levels. Unfortunately 12x is the most you can zoom (30x would be my preference). I usually work at x12, then go to x1 or x2 to take a look.

This little running guy is for animation. Again, I want to leave this for another tutorial, but it’s helpful if you’re doing things like animated sprites. You can set the frames, frame order, and the frame delay there.

This is to resize the image. You can specify the height and width in pixels that you want the image to be. If you leave “In accordance with canvas” unchecked, then resizing is either going to add white space if it’s bigger than the original or crop the image if it’s smaller. If you check “In accordance with canvas”, then resizing will resize the whole image too. They both have their uses, just remember about that “In accordance with canvas”, so you don’t have it unchecked or checked if you don’t want that.

The last icon is for help. I’m not sure if the help option is even available, quite honestly. I will continue next time with the tool box to the left of the preview window.

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