Editing Subimages

GameMaker: Studio has a built-in image editor that can be used to edit individual sub-images of sprites and background images.

To aid you in your task of creating a good game, GameMaker: Studio provides you with its own editor for editing backgrounds and sprites. Both resources share the same editor so although this page refers to sprites, the exact same commands are available for backgrounds too. To call the editor for a sub-image of a sprite, select the sub-image in the sprite editor and choose Edit Image from the Image menu (or double click on it, or press the "Edit Image" button on the toolbar), and to edit a background, open the background properties window and press the button labelled Edit Background.

The built-in editor is primarily meant for making changes to images, not for creating sprites and backgrounds from scratch, as, although the built-in image editor is pretty powerful, it does not have all the features of full-blown paint and drawing package. It is great for roughing out some place-holder images but for brand new sprites and graphics you probably want to use a separate paint program, save the images as PNG files, and then load them into GameMaker: Studio for further work. Note that you can also set an external image editor in the Preferences and so bypass this section all together.

When you start the image editor it will typically looks as follows:

As you can see, the image to be edited takes up the space in the middle of the screen with the editing tools and menus arrayed around it. At the bottom of the screen is the Infobar where you can get basic information about the state of the editor, with the current mouse x/y position and the percentage of zoom being applied shown at all times. It will also show the x/y coordinates of any selection along with the maximal width and height of the selection.


The drop down menus at the top of the screen are almost exactly the same as those found in the Sprite Editor, particularly the Edit Menu, the Transform Menu, and the Image Menu. The File Menu is similar too, but has a few less options and they work in different ways:

You also have a View Menu for controlling how the image being created is shown in the editor.


Like the drop down menus, the toolbar features a number of commands that are covered in the section dealing with the Sprite Editor, however there are a couple of new ones at the end which we will cover here:

Zoom In

Zoom the image in the editor to see better the individual pixels. The mouse wheel can also be used for zoom too.

Zoom Reset

This resets the zoom to a 1x1 ratio.

Zoom In

Zoom the image in the editor out to see better the overall image. The mouse wheel can also be used for zoom too.

Toggle Pixel Grid

You can click this to toggle the pixel grid on or off (the grid is only visible when you zoom in).

Zoom In

This will toggle on and off the preview panel (situated below the colour tools) so you can see the image at actual size even when zoomed in or out.

Drawing Tools

The drawing tools permit you to select different brush sizes, select regions, draw forms, etc... You can use them by left clicking on one and then left clicking in the image being edited. The full list of available draw tools can be found from the following page:

  1. Drawing Tools

Colour And Blending Tools

The right hand side of the window is mostly taken up with the colour tools. These are simple to use, yet give you great control over the colours that you can draw with. At the top you have the section labelled colours with two boxes labelled "Left" and "Right" which set the colour for the corresponding mouse buttons (these boxes also set the colours for certain drawing tools, which we cover in the Drawing Tools section below. Beneath that you have a basic colour picker which covers a very limited range of the most used colours, while beneath that you can find a more advanced colour picker for fine-tuning your choice. The Opacity setting controls the transparency of what is being drawn, with 255 being fully opaque and 0 being fully transparent, while the last control, colour Mode, tells GameMaker: Studio to draw and blend the alpha channel, or to overwrite it using the current alpha.

Note that you can also create custom colour pallets, see the section on Advanced Drawing Tools.

Image Preview

The Image Preview shows you an image of the sprite as it would appear in the game. If you double click on it, you can switch between x1, x2 and x3 scaling, giving you a much clearer picture of the sprite and how it looks while editing it in the main window. Note that you may need to expand the sprite editor window to see this. The preview window can be enabled or disabled from the View Menu.


At the bottom right of the window you can see the controls for the Onion-Skinning function of the image editor. What onion-skinning means is that in a single frame of any sprite animation, you can choose to see any of the preceding or succeeding four frames as a semi-transparent layer under the image frame you are currently working on.

You can choose the alpha value that each frame will be drawn with, from 0 to 255, as well as how many of the frames to show. By setting the Forward value you can see those frames that come after the frame currently being edited and by setting the Backwards value, you can see those that come before. You can set these to a value from 0 (none) to 4 (all four frames will be drawn), permitting you a far greater control over animations and positioning than was previously possible.

Note that we suggest using the onion-skinning over a colour-fill background rather than a transparent one (you can set this option from the View menu of the image editor and selecting Set Transparency Background), as it makes the transparencies of the various skins easier to see.

Advanced Drawing Tools

Apart from those tools listed above, there are also a number of advanced options available to you when working with the Image Editor. You can find more about these options from the following page:

  1. Advanced Tools

Back: Editing Sprites
Next: Editing Collision Masks
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