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Here you can learn the basic principles behind Aseprite.

In Aseprite, a sprite consists of a sequence of frames and a stack of layers. The intersection of frames and layers creates an array of editable graphic cels with images/pixels that can be edited with the sprite editor. Layers, frames, and cels are visible in the timeline:

Timeline Overview

Basic Elements of a Sprite

A frame is a single still image in a sprite. Adding and altering frames creates a sequence of images called an animation. The details of how Aseprite cycles through frames is described in greater detail in the animation section. Frames are represented horizontally in the timeline, from left to right.

Each frame's image is produced from a stack of one or more layers, represented in order from bottom to top on the timeline. Layers at the bottom of the timeline are drawn first, and every subsequent layer is added over top of it. Layers assist you by dividing a single complex image into separate graphic component parts.

Each frame-layer intersection is called a cel. The contents of any specific cel may be moved, edited, and deleted without affecting the contents of other cels, which make them ideal for isolating and editing specific elements of a graphic while preserving parts that do not change.


The basic workflow is:

  • Create a new sprite from File > New menu.
  • Draw with pencil tool Pencil Tool Icon using Left click or Right click, and pick colors from the

    color bar using those same buttons.

  • Save your work from File > Save menu as an .aseprite file to preserve all your image information (layers, frames, etc.. Also stores certain workspace preferences.).
  • Export your sprite as a .gif file to publish your image on a website, as a numbered sequence of individual .png files (one file per frame), or as a single .png file with all frames arranged in a single row or column, or as a 2-D sprite sheet.

See the workspace to learn more about the elements of the window. See the workflow section for more details.

A hand on the keyboard

You should put your left hand on the keyboard (or your right hand if you are left-handed). As there are some handy keyboard shortcuts, you can use them from the very beginning to make better use of Aseprite:

  • Keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 can be used to change the

    zoom (you can use the Mouse Wheel to change zoom too).

  • B key is the Pencil tool, and M the rectangular marquee, maybe the

    most common tools that you will use.

  • Alt+Right click samples the Background Color.
  • The Ctrl key (or on macOS) can be used to select the Move tool Move Tool Icon. With it you can easily select or move layers.
  • The Tab key hides and reveals the timeline. If your timeline is ever missing, this is the fastest way to reveal it!

  • Holding Spacebar as you Left click+Drag will pan your view of the sprite you are currently editing. This is useful when you're working on large graphics or are zoomed-in.

Alternative functions for right-click

By default, Right click paints with the Background Color, but you can change this configuration from Edit > Preferences > Editor.


Workspace | Workflow | Sprite