Serif in Education

A closer look at Sprites

In almost every industry, you can now find the use of computer graphics. From newspapers, television and billboards to websites, brochures and advertisements, computer graphics have revolutionised both our online and offline world with visual displays and lively images. They add colour, delight and visual simulation to all kinds of media.

A sprite is a two dimensional image or animation that is incorporated to fit a larger scene. As computers have improved, this computer graphic has evolved.  Initially it was developed for the purpose of immediately creating images together for video games using a special hardware. As computer performance improved, the term became obsolete and simply referred to two-dimensional images that fit a larger scene. Then came the era of three-dimensional images, where the term was used to describe the integration of flat images into complex three-dimensional scenes.

In the wider world, sprites can be found in:

1. Billboards

Billboards use sprites in a 3D environment. In the same way that a billboard is positioned to face drivers on a highway, the 3D sprite always faces the camera.

2. Comics and animations

Sprites are popular when it comes to designing digital comic images or animations. ‘Sprite Artists’ will either create their own ‘custom sprites, or use and edit pre-existing sprites (often made by other artists or taken from a video game or other media) in order to create art, comics, or animations. With Serif DrawPlus, students can become their own Sprite Artist by creating their own sprites from scratch, and then exporting them into a program like ‘Scratch’ to incorporate into a game or coding exercise. In this way, programming becomes much more creative and fun!

2. Gaming

Sprites are typically used for characters and other moving objects in video games. Remember the Game Boy? It used sprites!

3. Special Effects

Sprites have been widely used in special effects for various movies. It is often fascinating to think about how much detail is given to images and how they have evolved overtime.

The use of Sprites in Education and the Computer Curriculum

Popular computing programs such as ‘Scratch’ that are used to teach programming use sprites. As I have mentioned already, what is so great about sprites is that they can be used to ignite creativity in the Computing classroom. Teachers using software like Scratch are keen on creating an opportunity for students to create and design their very own two-dimensional images that can be integrated into a wider scene of a game. Serif DrawPlus provides exactly that.

Sprites have changed the appearance of images and their application in the education sector. They are perhaps the basis of a new approach to engage students actively towards their Computing lessons. And when a student is engaged, their understanding increases, which can’t be a bad thing, can it?