I was reading this to understand sprites
The author says "Sprites are for graphics that are just single blocks. " What does this mean? One thing I have read is to make a sprite for images which are continuous on a web page.
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It means they cannot be used as a pattern. Take a look at the small print under that paragraph:
*OK, they kinda can do repeating, but it's a little trickier and can only work one-dimensionally (x or y).
So, sprites should be used for graphics that are only displayed once (such as an icon). They should not be used for a gradient pattern intended to be repeated vertically or horizontally and especially should not be used for a tile-able background