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youtu.be/HsOKwUwL1bE

Summary: To make pixel art support different outfits or character visible states, make your art where the RG colour channels represent XY in another texture. Then you can change that second texture to modify the character's appearance (add accessories, mud, etc). Similar to how polygonal characters are UV mapped.

Seems like a step beyond palette swaps since they normally don't have a unique colour for each pixel in the animation.

Is this a technique any people are using? The authoring flow seems rough (animating without colour), but maybe others have made more advancements?

Maybe posing a skeleton over the coloured art would be a workable solution to generating the UV positions. Especially since they'd match the colours in the unwrapped texture.

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