Scratch sprites allow you to showcase your creativity in your projects! In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to browse the many options in the Scratch sprites library, upload your own images, and even add your own customizations to create fascinating sprites for Scratch coding. Get ready for a whole bunch of fun!

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What is a Scratch sprite?

A Scratch sprite is the character that your Scratch code controls. For example, you may write some code to make your sprite move around or talk. These sprites can be all sorts of things, ranging from people to animals to objects. All Scratch programs are loaded by default with a cat sprite but you can choose anything you want!

Scratch sprite images in the library

When you start a Scratch program, you have access to a library of sprites with many options to choose from. There’s a circular icon in the bottom right corner that has a cat symbol and a plus sign. Clicking this will show you all of the sprites in the library that you can add to your program. For example, some of the sprites you can find in the library are a penguin, starfish, and dinosaur.

Scratch sprites make your own

How do you get more sprites on Scratch?

If you can’t find the sprite you’re looking for in the library, you can create your own. If there’s a sprite in the library that’s close to what you want, you can make changes by going to the “Costumes” tab. There, you’ll have the option to change the color of the sprite and erase or add features. You can also make your own custom sprite!

How to easily make a custom sprite in Scratch

Option 1: Build it yourself

One option is to begin with a blank canvas. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Click to add a sprite

If you want to start from a blank canvas to make your sprite, in Scratch, you can hover over the symbol to add a sprite from the library.

2. Select the paint brush

Some more options pop up, and you want to select the third one from the top that looks like a paint brush.

3. Get creative with shapes and colors

This will bring up a blank screen where you can use different colors, shapes and text to build the sprite of your wildest dreams!

Option 2: Based off your own image

If you want to make a custom sprite based on an image, such as one of yourself or off the internet, you first need to save the image to your computer. Then, follow these easy steps:

1. Do a quick Google search for an object or item or character

Click on the "Images" tab to see image results. Then click on "Tools" and under the drop down open "Usage Rights" and then select Creative Commons licenses. Now you'll be able to see all the images that aren't copyright, that you can use for your fun project. Save one to your computer.

2. Get rid of the background

Also select one with a transparent background so your sprite fully looks like it’s in the backdrop of your Scratch project. You can use a tool like this one to remove the background from your image if you need to as well.

3. Upload it to Scratch

Then hover over the symbol to add a sprite from the library. This time you want to select the option at the top to upload an image from your computer.

How do you control sprites in Scratch?

Here are some easy steps for controlling your sprite.

  1. Animate the sprite. Many sprites come with additional costumes. You can see if your sprite has costumes by going to the “Costumes” tab. If you repeatedly use the “next costume” Looks block your sprite will have an animated movement.
  2. Move the sprite. In the Motion section, you can make your sprite move by using the “turn” blocks and the “move steps” block.
  3. Change the color of the sprite. If you want your sprite to change color, you can use the “change color effect” Looks block. When you use this block inside a loop, the color of the sprite will change slowly, creating a rainbow effect.
  4. Make the sprite talk. To give your sprite speech bubbles, use the “say” Looks blocks. You can customize the speech of your sprite.
  5. Make the sprite make noise. To add sound, you can use the “play sound” Sounds block. If you go to the Sounds tab at the top, there’s an option at the bottom to browse the sounds already available. Or you can record your own!

Scratch sprites maker

There are different Scratch projects, like the Sprite Maker Studio, where people share the sprites they’ve made. Some of these are available for you to use in your Scratch coding for kids program. Just make sure to click on the sprite and check the copyright first!

Scratch sprites and backdrops

Sprites are the characters of your Scratch program that you control. The backdrop is the setting for your project. You can browse the library of these using another circular button in the bottom right that has a portrait icon with a plus sign. Just like how you upload pictures for sprites, you can also do that for backdrops. If you want to display multiple backdrops, you can use the “next backdrop” Looks block.

Cool Scratch sprites

Explore some awesome Scratch sprites made by different users for inspiration!

  1. Foxcopter: A yellow fox that has many costumes like walking and flying to animate it
  2. Music Tour: A cool project with sound that shows some ways to use the instrument sprites
  3. Six custom sprites: This project shows six custom sprites that look like friendly creatures
  4. Body organs: Here you can find sprites for different human body organs like the lungs and brain
  5. Power rangers: An awesome collection of power rangers to use in your project. Be sure to give the creator credit!

Get started making awesome Scratch sprites

Now you know all the different ways to introduce custom sprites in your Scratch program! Our Scratch coding for kids classes are a great way to try out your sprites. Next, check out this Scratch tutorial for kids or build a geometry dash in Scratch.

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Written by Sophie Andrews, a Create & Learn instructor. Sophie Andrews is a student at Stanford University studying Math and Computational Sciences. She loves teaching and is a teaching assistant for Stanford's introductory computer science classes. Her work focuses on data science. Last year she built the online National Vote Trackers for The Cook Political Report, and she currently leads the Data Team at The Stanford Daily. She's also interned with the FCC and the National Renewable Energy Lab.