I’m a pixel artist and a game developer, but I hate making tilemaps. To me, it’s just tedium – making the same image over and over with little tweaks for corners and edges. And SO many combinations of corners and edges.
So when I heard there was a tool that would automatically create an entire tilemap from as little as just three images, I knew I had to try it.
AutoTileGen lets you create a game-ready tilemap from just three images.
All you need is a single tileable texture, a “cap and bottom” image, and a “sides” image. If you want a background included in your tilemap, that’s a very simple forth image. AutoTileGen then does all the tedious work for you!
How to use AutoTileGen:
Starting from a new file, you’ll notice the grey inside tile, the darker grey background tile (optional) and the colored edges. Each edge corresponds to a direction – the top and bottom edges are on one image, and the left and right edges are on another.
You can edit the individual images by clicking on them to enter the built-in image editor, or by saving the Input file, loading it in your image editor of choice, and then loading the modified Input tile. You’ll want to make sure the inside tile image is a seamless tilable texture, and you’ll also want to design the edge images to look good when transitioning from the inside tile.
With the Input image modified and loaded, you’ll see it previewed in the Preview window in the center. You can now use the Blends and Masks button to determine how the seams between the top and side corners will work. You can also click the black-and-white Mask images under your four main input tiles to modify the shapes of the corners.
There are some other options you can play around with, and you can see those by toggling the gear-shaped Simple/Advanced button. When you’re happy with your tiles, you can export them by hitting the big “save” button on the right in the Output window.
What AutoTileGen does well:
- The biggest pro: This is one of the most time-saving tools out there for pixel artists and tile-based game developers. With four images, you can easily make 48 tiles.
- Starting a new project by hitting the New button starts you with a color-coded template for easy learning.
- Though meant for side-scrolling game, this can easily be adapted to top-down games – use the Background as a Floor and the Foreground tiles as Walls.
- AutoTileGen has a built-in image editor for modifying your tiles quickly.
- It also lets you save the Input tiles and load them from a .png, meaning you can use whichever image editor you like to draw your tiles.
- There’s a built-in palette saving and loading system, so if you’re working on a game with a specific palette, you can load it into AutoTileGen. If you make a tileset with a new palette you created in AutoTileGen, you can save it in the program.
- AutoTileGen has an automatic corner mask creator. By dragging a sliding scale, you can change the shape of the corners of your tiles.
- You can also then edit the corners pixel-for-pixel by drawing the mask yourself in the image editor.
- The Simple/Advanced toggle lets you choose between having just enough options to get your tileset done quickly, or a variety of options to customize your tileset.
- There are a variety of blend modes, including a clean cut, a checker pattern, and an opacity blend. Checkerboard produces some interesting patterns that I would love to experiment with.
- AutoTileGen supports high-res tilesets for non-pixel-art games. When creating a high-res tileset, you may want to set preview rendering to Manual so it’s not trying to auto-refresh as much data. This will help performance.
- You can toggle between “Sample Terrain” preview mode and “Output” preview mode to view your tileset either as it might look in-game, or as the final file will look.
- In “Output” preview mode, you can drag and drop your tiles for a fully custom output file.
- In the Output options, you can toggle a 2-pixel bleed in your tileset. After exporting this, you’ll notice it’s no longer aligned on the grid, since there’s an extra pixel around every tile. This is useful for preventing seams, but it might not be necessary for all tilesets.
What AutoTileGen could improve:
- The program doesn’t work on my Surface with the pen (though touch works and I could use a mouse) also doesn’t work on Wacom Tablet without workaround. This is a bit disappointing, since I love working on my Surface, and using a pen would be helpful when using the image editor.
- It’s got some UI isses – Text and buttons bleed off-screen. AutoTileGen doesn’t use Windows Explorer to select files, and the built-in explorer is not well designed for quick navigation.
- Can’t save as an AutoTileGen project, so if you need to save your work you have to save the Input image and then when you get back to work, load the input image and then redo all of your settings, like the Blends and Masks.
- It has trouble remembering where your project folder is, and goes back to default in appdata every time you close.
- I wish there was a way to use both slopes and regular corners. As of now it’s a one-or-the-other toggle, and I’d have to export one of each and splice them together manually.
- There is no good documentation or tutorials. The program has a tooltips function that can be toggled on (though it really needs to be toggled on by default) and if you really search, a small FAQ page, but the developer has stated that they intend for the program to be learned as you go, which is a line of thinking more suitable to developing a game’s tutorial than developing a software tool.
- Kind of buggy on occasion. The preview screen disappears sometimes, showing either a blank white screen or just the credits.
AutoTileGen is $30 on Steam, which is a bit of a steep price, especially given its relatively low production value, with glitchy non-standard UI and lack of documentation. However, given the time this would save creating tilesets, I would say it’s well worth a purchase, especially if it goes on sale.
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Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of AutoTileGen for review. I was not otherwise paid to review this program.