Art Specification Document

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Art Specs

At a Glance

When creating new brick sprites for Open Surge, please use the following export settings:

Bits-per-pixel 24
Transparency None
Transparent color #ff00ff    
Output format PNG


Open Surge is a retro game, meaning: low-res pixel art.

Desired style: a Saturn-esque mixture of Sonic Mania and Knuckles' Chaotix, with shading. Currently, Surge is flat. We want him to have lighting and more detail, as in the picture below (same for Neon and Charge).

Credits: TopHatter

NOTE: adjust the lighting direction/sun to the top-left corner of the screen, as is the case for the levels.



The general idea is to create the look of a "cartoon-ish" retro game, including vibrant, saturated tones and an emphasis on pixel art. Keep the following in mind:

  • The screen resolution is 426x240 pixels (16:9)
  • The standard magenta (rgb 255,0,255) is used for transparent pixels.
  • The engine supports the portable network graphics (PNG) format. Think 2D pixel art; the PNG format handles that job well.
    • A PNG image should not exceed 2048x2048 pixels and must not exceed 4096x4096 pixels
Gameplay picture

Gameplay picture

User Interface (UI)

  • Acessibility is everything
  • Minimalism ("less is more")
Simple, obvious UI

Level graphics


Open Surge is brick-based. Unlike tiles that are fixed in size, bricks are blocks of variable size that are placed freely on the scene (examples: platforms, ramps, trees, plants). Bricks can be animated or static. They may or may not affect collisions (e.g., decorative scenery vs floor and walls). Furthermore, bricks can be passable in front of the players or behind them (decorative bricks).

Your designs can combine a rough layout of large pillars and platforms with the detail of small rocks and bushes. We can even create classic circular loops by combining a few bricks.

  • Official bricksets must be grid-compatible. That is, the width and the height of every brick must be a multiple of 16. Examples: bricks of 16x16, 32x16 or 16x32 are okay, but a brick of 17x23 is not. There are detailed guidelines at the Bricksets page.
  • The game supports Parallax Scrolling. Backgrounds are usually large in width (about 500~1000 pixels wide) and have diverse heights. We attach the backgrounds to different layers (having different speeds) in order to create the parallax effect. Please read: Backgrounds


  • The items are diverse in terms of animation and size. Examples:

Spring pads.png Item boxes.png


  • The enemies are also diverse, but they tend to be "small" in size and have few animation frames. Example:

Springfling.png Moska.png


Surge spritesheet (v0.5.1)
  • Characters have many animations and many frames. Each animation frame must fit a 64x64 box. Inside that box, graphical boundaries should fit roughly 50x50 pixels (whenever possible). For more information, please read Characters
  • Minimum set of animations:
    • stopped
    • walking
    • running
    • jumping
    • ducking
    • looking up
    • pushing a wall
    • death
    • getting hit
    • spring pad jump
    • breathing underwater (air bubble)
    • braking
    • hold the ceiling
    • ledge
    • waiting
    • winning (level cleared)
    • charging
    • rolling

Testing your art

Testing your art on the game is a matter of modifying a few text files. It's simple to do, and you don't need any programming. Read more at: Sprites