Starting a Tileset
Ok, Iím starting (wow). Iím sure you all know by the description Iíve given that this tutorial will tell you all you need to know about the basics of making a tileset. If you have no or very little experience about tilesets, this is where you start out!

The Basics
First of all, there is something I have to make clear about tilesets. I said this was going to cover the basics, and this is as basic as it gets, but itís one of the most important parts of making a tileset. A tileset is a picture (or an image if you prefer), yes thatís it, just a picture. If you do not like drawing pictures, then making a tileset is not for you. If you donít know how to draw a picture, or arenít very good at making a picture, then this tutorial (and lots and LOTS of time and patience) is all you need for making a tileset.

And that concludes the basics of tilesets! Thanks for reading my tutorial!
Ok that was a joke, at least cheer up a bit, there was a purpose to me saying that stuff. So yes, a tileset is a picture, but unlike other pictures it has to be made in a certain way, and has to follow some basic rules in order to work in JCS (the Jazz Creation Station). This is the tricky part, and Iím sure itís given EVERY (including myself) tileset maker out there a headache. Itís difficult to understand at times, but luckily itís easier to do, so you donít have to worry much about understanding it all. For starters, the tileset image has to be 256 colours, this means that an important part of making tilesets, is making a palette as well (The Palette part of the tutorial will explain this in detail). The most important part of understanding the basics of tilesets, is understanding JCS. If you havenít used JCS yet, which is very unlikely, then I suggest you go and familiarise yourself with the program NOW! Everything Iím explaining about tilesets assumes that you know how to use JCS. You donít have to be good at using the program, but tilesets work in JCS, and if you donít know how it works then it is even harder to try and understand what Iím saying.

This image, in all it's glory and a tileThe most important part of a tileset is that it is made of tiles. These tiles are the Ďblocksí you can select in JCS and place inside your level, and have to Ďtileí with each other. Basically this means that the individual tiles should be drawn to fit next to each other to form a big seamless picture. Iíll go into more detail with this later when explaining how to draw a tileset, but for now I will explain how tiles work in JCS.

Each tile is 32x32 pixels in size. Tilesets have to be a perfect fit of tiles, it cant be 10 and a half tiles high, or 7 and a quarter tiles wide. Tilesets have to be 10 tiles wide, which means all tilesets have to be 320 pixels wide. While this canít be changed, the height of a tileset can. Apart from these rules, JCS has a maximum amount of tiles a tileset can have. In normal Jazz2, a tileset has a 1023 tile limit. In TSF (The Secret Files expansion pack to Jazz2), the tile limit is increased to 4095 tiles, this is FOUR TIMES the amount of tiles that normal Jazz2 uses, and is virtually impossible to fill. Both of these limits are strange for tilesets, I said earlier that tilesets have to be 10 tiles wide, which makes it impossible to have tilesets that are 1024 and 4096 tiles big, but in fact 1020 and 4090 tiles in size. This is because a tileset is not only made up of the tileset image itself, but also the animation tiles shown below the tileset. If your tileset is 1020 tiles, then you can have 3 animations in a level. If the tileset was 1000 tiles, then you can have 23 animations in a level. When starting to make a tilesets this isnít too important, because early tilesets very rarely reach 1000 tiles.

Another small yet important part you need to know about making tilesets is to know what colours to use. Yes this is pretty important for anything you have to draw, but even more so with tilesets because it uses a set palette that takes information from these entries (Iíll go into more detail at the palettes section). What you need to know in the basics of tileset making are the transparent colours Jazz2 uses. In case you donít know already, a transparent colour is the colour a program uses to indicate when something isnít there. Itís kind of difficult to explain in words, letís just say that the colour is turned invisible by the program. Jazz2 uses two transparency colours. One Iím sure you all know of and another one not quite as well known. The first colour is the blue you see in JCS, I myself just call it Jazz blue or the Jazz transparency colour, Iím not sure if it has a special name and even if it does thatís not too important to remember. What you need to know is that if you plan on making tilesets youíll be seeing a LOT of this colour.

The second of the transparency colours is black, just plain black, no explanation needed. The reason most people donít know about it is because JCS automatically converts it to Jazz blue when it compiles the tileset. I personally donít recommend using it since it can cause some problems (itís hard to see differences in colour against a black background), but it has got some nifty uses Iíll go into later. Hereís a small table with the details on the two transparency colours:
Colour: RGB Value: Hexadecimal Value:
Jazz Blue 87 Red - 0 Green - 203 Blue #5700CB
Black 0 Red - 0 Green - 0 Blue #000000
Thatís all there is to know about the basics of tilesets, now youíre ready to familiarise yourself with the programs needed to make them.

What is Needed?
This section will tell you all about the different programs used to make tilesets, I use all of them myself, so they will definitely be useful, and do a great job at getting the job done. Personally I think theyíre all great (why would I use them otherwise?) and have always recommended them to anyone who asks what programs are needed to make tilesets.

As with any picture on the PC, to make a tileset you need a drawing program. This could be almost any drawing program, but I use Paint Shop Pro, and most of my tutorials will focus on using Paint Shop Pro. I will not explain any other program, not because of my extreme bias towards Paint Shop Pro (hehe ), but because I donít have enough experience with any other drawing programs to write tutorials about them. I STRONGLY recommend Paint Shop Pro for tileset making though, Iíve never needed anything else from a program, and even Agama uses it! However, Iím sure there are many other drawing programs out there that can (almost) make tilesets just as good as Paint Shop Pro. All the program needs is the ability to work with palettes and be able to save files in .BMP or .PCX format. Thatís not a lot to ask for, but when it comes to the basics thatís all you need!

Apart from a drawing program, you also need something that can edit palette files. Paint Shop Pro can do this, but take my advice: if you ever want to edit palettes (and you will do when youíre making tilesets), the program you need to do this with is Palette Suite! Itís by far the best palette editing program I have seen, and to make it even better, itís made by a fellow Jazz2 player, Toxic Bunny! I am really hyping this program, but itís all deserved, Toxic Bunny did a GREAT job with it! If thatís not enough, itís FREE! Everyone should thank him, give him a hug or something, and then offer him something to drink (heís always thirsty ). Seriously, without Palette Suite compiling a tileset for JCS will be twice as hard and take LOTS more time to finish, you just have to get it, and thank Toxic Bunny in the mean time.

Another program you could need, is TeraLogic Texture Maker. This is used to generate seamless textures 256x256 pixels in size. Oh gee, this is a coincidence, did you know that textured backgrounds in tilesets have to be seamless textures 256x256 pixels in size? Yes, itís great for making textured backgrounds, and textured backgrounds look great in tilesets. It even comes with a tutorial on how to use the program, and itís free, perfect.
Thatís all the programs you need for making tilesets, now itís time to start using them.

Using a Grid
A problem with drawing tilesets, is keeping the tiles aligned. If your tiles are unaligned, even by just ONE (1!!) pixel, your whole tileset will be a mess. Iíve had it happen before quite a few times, and believe me, it is not a nice thing. It could take hours to fix. However, there is a simple way to prevent this from happening, making a grid. With a grid, you have a guide to show you exactly where to draw your tiles to keep everything aligned. You have to use a grid when making a tileset, their function is too important to just ignore one altogether! The great thing about a grid for a tileset is that it is fully customisable; when you make a grid you can make it just the way you like to use it. There is no absolute correct way to do it, as long as it shows where the 32x32 tiles are then it will work. However, most grids follow common patterns, the three main ones are listed below.

  1. This is the easiest way to do it, Paint Shop Pro has a built-in grid you can use. Make a new blank tileset image in Paint Shop Pro. I would suggest it to be 320 pixels wide and 3264 pixels high. This is the maximum size a tileset can be in normal Jazz2, but donít worry about filling it. Itís a lot easier to make an image smaller than to make it bigger, so start with the maximum size and make it smaller when needed. Then, in the Paint Shop Pro menu go to ďView --> Change Grid and Guide PropertiesÖĒ In the new window, set the units to ďPixelsĒ and the horizontal and vertical spacing to ď32Ē and press Ok to finish. Now you can turn your grid on by either pressing ďCtrl+Alt+GĒ or going to ďView --> GridĒ in the menu.

  2. Another way is to have multicoloured tiles to show where the borders of the tiles are. It can be a little inconvenient though; youíll need to change the colour back to the default transparent Jazz2 blue before compiling the tileset, unless you used black as the second colour (top-left of above example). This is the most useful thing about Jazz2 using two different transparency colours, you are able to make a multicoloured grid and you donít have to worry about transparency problems. This is a popular technique, and I hear quite a lot that people use it. However, I do not recommend using it if you use colours close to black in your tileset, itís extremely difficult to try and distinguish dark colours from each other and a mistake could cause some serious problems if you have the colours mixed up.

    The second example of a multicoloured grid (top-right of above example) is the grid I use. Even though pink is not a transparent colour in Jazz2, it is very easy to change colours in Paint Shop Pro so I can change the pink to Jazz blue just before I compile the tileset. The reason I use pink is because itís a very bright colour that isnít used somewhere else in the tiles of my tileset. This makes it easy to distinguish between the tiles Iíve drawn and the background transparency.

  3. The last example is the most common one, as Iím sure everyone has seen it used in the official Jazz2 tilesets. You can make a border around the outside of each tile to show where it is located (top-left example) instead of using different colours. The main problem with this technique is that itís hard to know the exact spacing of the tile with adjacent borders next to each other. The official tilesets had a clever little trick, and made a dotted area along the bottom right of the grid (top-right example) to show where the tile is placed. However, there are other methods of solving this. You can have multicoloured borders on separate tiles, or perhaps even draw a border for every second tile, itís all up to you.
And that concludes the basics of tilesets! Thanks for reading my tutorial! Yes, itís for real this time. However, I know how everyone just LOVES reading (just like I LOVE typing all this out) so at the end of each one of these sections Iím going to include a short list of all the important bits of info for all those lazy readers out there.
The Basics
You need time and patience.
Knowing JCS is very handy.
Tilesets are 256 colours (They need a palette).
Each tile is 32x32 pixels.
Tilesets are 10 tiles wide.
Tilesets can only have a limited number of tiles:
  • 1024 for JJ2
  • 4096 for TSF
Animations count as tiles.
Textured Backgrounds are 256x256 pixels.
Jazz2 Transparency Colours:
  • Jazz Blue (#5700CB)
  • Black (#000000)
Programs needed:
  • Drawing Program (Paint Shop Pro)
  • Palette Editor (Palette Suite)
  • Texture Maker (TeraLogic Texture Maker)
Grids show where the tiles are located.
Three ways to make a grid:
  • Built into the program
  • Multicoloured tiles
  • Borders around tiles

Starting a Tileset

Page 1: The Basics
Page 2: Planning

[Part 1: Starting a Tileset|Part 2: Drawing the Tileset]