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First off, forgive me if this is a stupid question. The graphic design community isn't my ordinary community, so all the concepts are very foreign to me.

I was looking for ways to anti-alias a sprite for a video game, and upon searching common queries such as "how to anti-alias an image", or "anti-aliasing a sprite in photoshop" I received very little information. Maybe I'm just not looking very hard and am missing something very obvious, but it looks like there isn't one program or one well-defined way to input an image and get an anti-aliased version as output.

I saw a lot of specific situations for anti-aliasing, a lot of which was focused on anti-aliasing fonts for some reason. I was expecting to just see an "anti-alias filter" in photoshop in the first few search results but there doesn't seem to be one (again, unless I'm just being stupid).

So is a lot of anti-aliasing just done by hand? What are some techniques professional sprite artists use to anti-alias their images? Are there programs that do it automatically, or is the only way to get it good results to do it yourself?

  • I don't have experience as a sprite artist to properly answer this question, but I can address why you're finding more info on anti-aliasing fonts. It comes down to the difference between vector and raster graphics . In short, fonts are vectors, and part of the process of displaying vectors on the screen (which is made up of raster pixels) requires that anti-aliasing be automatically performed. – Sean Aug 23 '15 at 6:46
  • @Sean: not really "part of the process". It's perfectly alright to not use antialiasing when drawing vectors. – usr2564301 Aug 23 '15 at 9:50
  • @Jongware: When rendering vectors, antialiasing equates to choosing what to do when a pixel falls some percentage inside and outside a polygon. You could decide to use a binary all-or-nothing rule, and I'd argue making that choice is just a special case of the generalized rendering process. But it's semantics, really. – Sean Aug 23 '15 at 22:22
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Sometimes, it really depends on what you do. For pixel art style sprites its quite commonly done manually. But for general graphics not so much.

Expecting an "anti-alias filer"

This exists its usually called bicubic downsampling. See the computer can not know how to anti-alias because the signal is unknown. But if you provide a better signal it can antialias that.

In pixel graphics each pixel is valuable so this does not yield optimal resuls. Possibly you could think that the image is so small that it exceds the nyquist limit of any sane signal sl it must be done manually.

When you do bigger artworks you use either soft cornered brushes, or vector images. These are anti-aliased easily because there is enough info to do so.

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