How to create sprite sheets for Phaser 3 with TexturePacker

Joachim Grill, Andreas Löw
How to create sprite sheets for Phaser 3 with TexturePacker
Last update: More than 3 months ago

What you are going to learn

  • Creating sprite sheets with TexturePacker
  • Loading sprite sheets in Phaser 3
  • Setting pivot points with TexturePacker
  • Playing animations from the sprite sheet
  • Optimizing start up time and reducing download size
  • Complete code is on GitHub

Why should I use a sprite sheet?

The next thing you are going to do is creating a sprite sheet. Using sprite sheets with Phaser has two main reasons:

Speed up loading of the game

Instead of loading tons of single images from a web server all graphics can now be loaded at once. This speeds up loading time of your game.

Improve frame rate

Using a sprite atlas also improves performance of the game. With WebGL textures have only to be set once for rendering.

“Texture Packer is an essential part of our daily workflow. Every bit of GPU memory helps when dealing with mobile html5 games, so intelligent packing of assets is a must. And Texture Packer has all the features we need to effortlessly create atlases for our games.”

Richard Davey (@photonstorm) - Creator of Phaser

Setup a new Phaser project

Creating a new phaser project is quite simple: just clone the Phaser 3 Webpack Project Template from GitHub, fetch the node modules, and run the start script:

git clone MyProject
cd MyProject
npm install
npm start

The start script bundles your project sources using webpack and serves your app on localhost:8080.

The complete demo project we're going to create in this tutorial is also available on GitHub here.

Creating sprite sheets - the easy way

The easiest way to create your sprite sheets is using TexturePacker. Please download TexturePacker from here:

When starting the application choose Try TexturePacker Pro. In the main window use the Choose Data Format button and select Phaser 3 from the list. You can use the filter to find it faster.

Selecting Phaser 3 exporter for TexturePacker

Be careful to select the Phaser 3 format, only this one supports pivot point editing, multi-pack with one single json file and normal map packing. The other two Phaser data file formats can be used with older Phaser versions. In this case please have a look on the previous version of this tutorial

The demo project of this tutorial already contains some artwork in the assets-folder. Simply drag and drop the cityscene folder into TexturePacker.

Adding folders has 2 main advantages over adding single sprites

  • Adding or removing sprites in the folder also adds or removes them from the sprite sheet.
  • Sub folder names become part of the sprite names — e.g. capguy/walk/0001.png and not just 0001.png
Creating sprite sheets for Phaser 3

TexturePacker currently enables Allow rotation by default. The packing algorithm can rotate sprites if this creates smaller textures. Phaser unfortunately only supports rotates sprites with the WebGL renderer. You have to disable the rotation feature if you want to make sure your game runs on all devices (Canvas render as fallback for browsers which don't support WebGL).

Please disable the feature on the Advanced settings page. It's in the Layout section, which you have to expand to see it.

After that use the file selection button to enter a Data file. Name it cityscene.json and place it in the assets folder of your project. By default TexturePacker will save the texture image as cityscene.png in the same folder.

Finally press Publish sprite sheet to create and save the sprite sheet. We are now finished in TexturePacker. That's all it takes to create a sprite sheet.

Loading the sprite sheet in Phaser

The project template contains a src/index.js file which displays a bouncing phaser logo. For our demo app we remove the preload() and create() functions and reuse the configuration as starting point:

import 'phaser';

var config = {
    type: Phaser.AUTO,
    parent: 'phaser-example',
    width: 800,
    height: 600,
    scene: {
        preload: preload,
        create: create

var game = new Phaser.Game(config);

The preload() function is used to load assets. Let's add our own one, which loads the sprite sheet:

function preload()
    this.load.multiatlas('cityscene', 'assets/cityscene.json', 'assets');

The first parameter 'cityscene' specifies the key that can be used to access the atlas after it has been loaded. The second parameter 'assets/cityscene.json' is the atlas definition to load, the last parameter 'assets' is the name of the folder in which the image files are stored.

The create() function is used to setup our game scene. Let's add the background sprite to the scene. Within the sheet the sprite is referenced by its filename (enable "Trim sprite names" in TexturePacker if you prefer sprite names without .png extension):

function create ()
    var background = this.add.sprite(0, 0, 'cityscene', 'background.png');

After saving the index.js file the npm start script will automatically rebuild the game and refresh the browser window. You will see only a quarter of our background image in the top-left corner:

Bad pivot point in Phaser 3

By default, the pivot point of a sprite is in the center of the image, so the call this.add.sprite(0, 0, ...) places the center of our background sprite at position (0,0). In the next section we will learn how to fix this.

Setting pivot points with TexturePacker

Pivot points can easily set for each sprite in TexturePacker. Select background.png on the left side of the TexturePacker window, and then click on the Sprite Settings button in the toolbar. On the left side you can now enable and configure the pivot point of the selected sprite:

Editing Phaser 3 anchor points

Select Top left in the Predefined input field, and re-publish the sprite sheet. Now reload the browser window displaying your phaser game (changed asset files are not detected automatically). The background image should be perfectly placed now:

Aligning sprites with Phaser 3

If the sprite isn't displayed as expected it's always a good idea to check the Javascript console in your browser. Maybe the sprite sheet wasn't found, or you're using a wrong sprite name? There shouldn't be any warning or error in the console!

Adding an animation

To add a walking character to the scene we have to create an animated sprite and move it across the screen. First we'll have to create the sprite and store it in a variable declared outside create():

var capguy;

function create ()
    var background = this.add.sprite(0, 0, 'cityscene', 'background.png');
    capguy = this.add.sprite(0, 400, 'cityscene', 'capguy/walk/0001.png');
    capguy.setScale(0.5, 0.5);

This creates a sprite with the first frame of the animation: capguy/walk/0001.png and places it at position (0,180). The next line scales the sprite down by 50% because it would otherwise be a bit too big for your scene.

The function generateFrameNames() creates a bunch of frame names by creating zero-padded numbers between start and end, surrounded by prefix and suffix. 1 is the start index, 8 the end index, and the 4 is the number of digits to use:

var frameNames = this.anims.generateFrameNames('cityscene', {
                     start: 1, end: 8, zeroPad: 4,
                     prefix: 'capguy/walk/', suffix: '.png'

The resulting names are:

  • { key:'cityscene', frame:'capguy/walk/0001.png' }
  • { key:'cityscene', frame:'capguy/walk/0002.png' }
  • ...
  • { key:'cityscene', frame:'capguy/walk/0008.png' }

Now we can create an animation called walk and add it to the capguy sprite:

    this.anims.create({ key: 'walk', frames: frameNames, frameRate: 10, repeat: -1 });'walk');

The result is Capguy walking on a spot at the left border:

Animating sprites with Phaser 3

Moving the sprite

There are several ways to move a sprite in Phaser. You are going to do a simple animation - just pushing the sprite along and resetting it after Capguy left the scene.

Extend the configuration object of your game to now also call a function called update:

var config = {
    scene: {
        preload: preload,
        create: create,
        update: update

and add the update function like this:

function update(time, delta)
    capguy.x += delta/8;
    if(capguy.x > 800)
        capguy.x = -50;

Not much to say about that: The time (in milliseconds) since the previous update call is passed as second parameter. To increase Capguy's position 125 pixels per second we divide delta by 8. After reaching the right border the sprite position is reset to the left border.

Optimizing your game

The resulting cityscene.png has a size of around 400kb — Not much for a fast internet connection but for a mobile device it might be a good idea to optimize the loading time.

TexturePacker allows you to dramatically reduce the amount of memory used by your sprite sheets — while keeping the sprite quality almost like the original.

To enable this optimization select Texture format PNG-8 (indexed): Optimizing sprite sheets for Phaser 3

Here's the original sheet: 410kb High quality sprite sheet in Phaser 3

Here's the optimized sheet: 115kb - that is 72% less! Using png-8 (pngquant) sprite sheets with Phaser 3 to save memory

Multipack: The easy way to handle too many sprites

So, what do you do if you need more sprites in your game?

If you have many sprite in screen, and your game is experiencing performance issues the right answer is: Create multiple sprite sheets manually. Be aware in which order your sprites get painted and group sprites to reduce the amount of draw calls.

But for the bigger number of users the answer is much simpler:

Enable MultiPack in TexturePacker. TexturePacker automatically packs as many sprite sheets as required to hold all sprites.

The good thing is: The .json file contains all the info, and you don't have to change a single line of code!

Handling many sprites with Phaser 3


That's all for this tutorial. You should now have learned how you can easily add animations to Phaser using TexturePacker. You also saw how easy it is to optimize your game to improve the startup time.