Visual Novel Basic Art Tutorial: canvas size for sprites, backgrounds, CGs (updated)

2020.02.09 North Rhine-Westphalia, written by Kuna

Hi guys! ( ´ゝ∀・`*)ノシ

This week I thought of revamping one of my early tutorials. I think that some of the information I wrote in there are not very useful: I just shared what my experience was at the time, but I knew very little. This time I’d like to write what I know on the matter with optimized information.

(By the way, the original post will remain available at this hidden URL).

What I use:

Game screen resolution: 1280×720

Painting software: Paint Tool SAI

Before you start: PPI resolution

Whatever the software you use, whenever launching a new canvas, remind yourself to set the PPI resolution to 300 or 350 pixel / inches, as in the picture below.

This will let you zoom in and out to a certain degree without loosing quality, once your asset is finished.

Low res pictures (like 72 ppi) are not completely useless, though. Since they weight less than full res pictures, you might make this lighter version of your artworks for online usage and have your home page load faster (this was very useful back in the days, when internet was much slower. Nowadays, lighter pictures don’t make much of a difference, but I thought that someone might still need this information).

Low res pictures can also be used online to share artworks without giving away the original quality. Together with a watermark, this can prevent people from printing or selling your art without your permission.

I would recommend to share artworks in a good resolution, especially if you want to spread your art or show your skills to potential buyers. In the case that you don’t feel safe about it, choose to use watermarks or low resolution without shame! : )

Canvas size for character sprites

My [updated] suggestion for the canvas of character sprites is a minimum of 2600-3000 pixels in height (for waist-up sprites like in the picture below).

I used these two sprites in my game. The canvas for both of them was around 3000 px in height. As you can see, when resized they look neat.

For main characters I use a bigger canvas. Back in the days I suggested rather huge numbers for the size, but recently I just go with 4000 px in height. I often zoom in the face of main characters to vary and give different moods to the scenes in my game. 4000 px works fine for this purpose.

You might also be fine with smaller sizes as well. This suggestions are just what I use. : )

Canvas size for CG art and backgrounds

I like to zoom in and out of CG art as well, so my canvas recommendations in this regards will stay rather huge. 😅

I tend to paint in a rough way to go faster and I need to hide my strokes when the artwork is resized for 1280×720 resolution. For this reason I still use a canvas that goes around 4000×2250 pixel.

If that is too huge for you, a small size that I’ve successfully used for backgrounds is 2600×1464. It allows to zoom in to a certain degree, so I would recommend it as a basic canvas!

Thank you for reading!

I hope that this post can be of some help if you’re about to approach visual novel development. I’m actually interested in collecting more information on the topic and, hopefully, publish an exhaustive guide! Starting can be tough but I wish you all the best with your project! : )

Thank you so much for reading! See you next!

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