Anatomy of an Autotile (VX/Ace)

in Tutorials

Today, I’m going to cover one of the most baffling parts of creating tiles for RPG Maker VX/Ace, creating autotiles. If you listen to most people, the autotiles are some kind of bizarre mystical force, not to be trifled with if you value your sanity. But in reality, they are very easy to break down, as long as you know the way they are constructed.

I am not much of an artist, so I will be using an existing autotile, a ground autotile from VX Ace, to show you how they work. I will be using a TileA2 ground autotile, as all other autotiles are just variations on this build.

The first step in the construction is to start building from a base tile. A base tile is a standard 32×32 pixel tile. This base tile is copied to cover the entire 2×3 tile autotile.

As you can see, this is fairly simple. All you need to check is that it tiles properly with no odd connections between tiles.

Next, lets break down the completed autotile so that we can look at the individual pieces and how they connected. Some people might think that you want to break it into 32×32 pixel tiles.

But this would be a bad idea. It doesn’t give us a true idea of how the autotile works together. Instead let’s break it into 16×16 pixel minitiles.

When a target tile (the tile the editor needs to make to match the autotile to existing tiles next to it) is created, the editor selects four of these minitiles and combines them. Breaking the autotile up this way for examination and creation allows us to view them the same way the editor does.

Next let’s label the minitiles so that they are easy to refer to. The first thing to do is remove the 4 minitiles creating a 32×32 pixel section in the upper left corner. These are not used by the editor to create a map, it is only displayed in the editor where you select which tile you want to use. I’ll explain later how these are done in the RTP.

Now, let’s mark the autotiles with a letter based on what corner of a target tile they will go in. Mark all NW minitiles as A, all NE minitiles as B, all SW minitiles as C, and all SE minitiles as D.

There are five of each letter, so I’ll add a number next to them. We could just go left to right, top to bottom, but I think that I will instead number them by which edges, the four sides of the minitiles, have borders, the design that runs around the autotile.

I mark minitiles with inside corners as 1, outside corners as 2, no borders as 3, north or south borders as 4, east or west borders as 5. This labeling strategy is shown below.

The next step when creating an autotile is to match up the edges.

An edge is one side of a minitile. When a target tile is built from an autotile, it selects an A, B, C, and D minitile and combines them. Because of this, you have to make sure that not only do your edges match visually when looking on the autotile, but also that each minitile edge matches to every minitile that can be selected to go next to it.

There are two kinds of edges. Edges that face the inside of the target tile are referred to as interior edges. Edges that face the outside of the target tile are referred to as exterior edges. All minitiles have two interior edges and two exterior edges. For example, B minitiles have interior south and west edges, and exterior north and east edges.

The edges marked in red can be ignored. The south edge has no border travelling off the edge of it so the base tile covers proper tiling.The north edge has a border travelling all the way along it so no minitile from this autotile is next to it.

A border travelling off an exterior edge can be attached to either a minitile with a border on one edge or an inside corner minitile. A border travelling off an interior edge can be attached to either a minitile with a border on one edge or an outside corner minitile. Interior corners will never connect. This will cover all possible minitile edge connections.

Once you have these matched up the only thing left is to create the tile used for display in tile selection. In RTP this is created by combining all the 2 minitiles from the autotile.

Glossary

Autotile: The autotile is the full build in the TileA tileset. They come in several styles. TileA2 Style is discussed in this tutorial.

Base Tile: The base tile is the 32×32 tile with no border used by an autotile.

Border: The border is the design added to the outside of an autotile. Minitiles can have borders on one edge, two edges, or an inside corner. A minitile can also have no border at all.

Edge: This just refers to the four sides of a minitile. All minitiles have four edges as they are square. Individual edges are referred to as North, South, East, and West edges.

Exterior Edge: An exterior edge is an edge that faces outside of the target tile.

Interior Edge: An interior edge is an edge that faces the inside of the target tile.

Minitile: A minitile is a 16×16 portion of an autotile. Four minitiles are combined by the editor to create the target tile.

Target Tile: A target tile is the tile created by the editor using four minitiles from the autotile to match to all surrounding target tiles.

Any questions? Any suggestions on how to build autotiles? Don’t hesitate to leave comments in the section below.

8 comments… add one

  • Andre Guerreiro Neto January 28, 2012, 6:37 pm

    I always thought about how really hard it was to create autotiles and that tutorial explains how to do it properly. Straightforward and easy to understand. I’m already saving money for VX Ace. Thank you.

    • Nick Palmer January 29, 2012, 8:22 am

      Yeah, they can be really intimidating if you don’t know what you are doing. I’m going to have a second part to this tutorial (and a second part to the writing tutorial) as well over the next week or two.

      I’ll cover the other autotile styles used, and some tips and tricks to make sure that your autotiles match up right.

      • Brenda December 24, 2013, 7:57 pm

        Did you ever make the second part of this tutorial? I can’t seem to find it…

        I was looking forward to the tips and tricks.

        • Nick Palmer December 26, 2013, 8:37 pm

          Wow, I forgot that I was planning on doing a follow up to this one. I’ll see about fitting it in my schedule. Sorry about forgetting!

  • Richard October 20, 2012, 1:57 pm

    When you showing the breakdown of the mini tiles you have the top left corner of the completed image empty what goes in that square. in the autotiles they have an image in that corner also.

    • Nick Palmer October 20, 2012, 11:34 pm

      Its not used in the actual autotile on maps. All its used for is for the display in the palette. (basically that is what it shows in the area where you are selecting what tile you want to use.)

  • Skitzen July 19, 2013, 11:18 am

    Hello! Using this I created an Actionscript in Photoshop that Automatically converts Vx and VX Ace Autotiles (Animated and non animated) Into ones that work perfectly on XP.

    It can be found here on my post http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/14955-rpg-maker-vx-ace-xp-autotile-converter-actionscript/#entry149049

  • davess February 2, 2014, 6:51 am

    Nice job man.

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