Just in time for Ludum Dare #26, I’m releasing a beta of Spritely, a tool I made for autogenerating placeholder art. We have lots of tools for automatically making music (like Autotracker) or sound effects (like cfxr) – these tools are great for adding in temporary content when you’re rapidly developing a game, or for generating content that you can’t make yourself just yet (I have no musical sense, so Autotracker often comes in handy for this). Why don’t we have one for art?


Spritely is my attempt to make one! It uses image sources like Google Images, OpenClipArt and Wikimedia Commons to generate sprite-sized art automatically. It comes in three flavours – an easy-to-use GUI (which is really ugly), a command-line interface (in case you want to automate things) and a Java library (for building right into your game). Best of all, the code isĀ public domain so you can hack it and extend it to your heart’s content.

Download links for the UI, command line, and the source code in the README on GitHub

What can you use Spritely for? Well, it’s handy for generating art to fill gaps when you’re prototyping – you don’t have to stare at coloured rectangles any more. I’m hoping lots of you will find that useful when you’re coding like crazy in a couple of weeks. But why not think more experimental?

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 16.56.09


For the #7DRL competition this year I tried to make a roguelike generate itself. One of the things I added was enemies, player icons, items and skills that had their graphics generated on-the-fly by Spritely. The player said they wanted to be a dog… or a walrus… or a trumpet… and Spritely made a picture to match. If you reduce Spritely to just searching for one or two images at a time it can do it quite quickly (not quick enough for realtime, but I’m sure you’ll find a creative way around it – in my roguelike I just searched in the background and added the icons in when they were ready).

If you use Spritely for anything, from placeholders to a new genre of games, let me know! You don’t have to, of course, but it will put a smile on my face and also let me justify spending time on making it. I want to create more tools like this that spin off from my day job (where I research techniques for automatic game design). If I get lots of feedback I can show this off to people next time the funding nightmare comes back.

Good luck in Ludum Dare 26! If you have any questions please leave them below. I’ll do my best to update Spritely when I can, but no promises – feel free to make your own extensions and fixes, the code is free!

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9 Responses to “Spritely – Autogenerating Sprites From The Web (Free Tool!)”

  1. Suese says:

    Not too bad. It works alright.

    • mtrc says:

      It varies wildly according to what kind of queries you put in, and where you search. I’ve added some usage tips to the Github page:

      1. Use more general search terms where possible. You can go specific, but you won’t get sprite-worthy results. “Margaret Thatcher” will output messier stuff than “politician”, for example.

      2. OpenClipArt is the best image source right now. Wikimedia Commons is hit and miss (and disabled in the UI version) and Google Images is great, but there are rate-limiting issues that I haven’t entirely worked around yet. Any help from contributors would be appreciated here. I get the user’s local IP to pass as the request, but the referer is not set up properly. I need help here! OpenClipArt has great style in its results, and they’re creative commons, so it’s a double-win.

      3. Fewer images returned is faster, obviously, but if you’re searching Google I recommend at least 2 or 3, because I use a mix of google search terms to try and get different kinds of sprites.

      Good luck! Hope it’s of use.

  2. Shephiroth says:

    Sorry for beeing “the bad guy”, but im not sure if this break the rules. Basically this tool allow people to find resources from different sources (google images, for example). Whats the difference if you grab images using google images yourself??

    • mtrc says:

      Good point! I’m posting it for Ludum Dare mostly because the primary use is placeholders – so you’re working on day one, and you don’t want rectangles there. You just want *something* so the testing doesn’t look awful. So you generate a cat, a dog, and a tree and bung them in quickly. Then you can replace them before submitting!

      As for the other stuff… I don’t know! If the game gets the images from google *while it’s running* I don’t think it violates the rules, does it?

      Good point though. Don’t feel bad! I wouldn’t want anyone breaking the rules for this.

  3. marbu says:

    Is there any public info availible about your Autotracker and cfxr tools? Generative music is a big interest of mine =)

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