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I really enjoy the simple sprite style that is just shapes + slight glow effect. Cipher Prime uses it a lot in their games.

enter image description here

I was wondering how this effect was achieved. Is the sprite itself just have a blur effect or is there some sort of post processing effect at work here?

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Well, you can have it built into the sprite, but typically to render blurs one must use shaders to achieve this effect. (theres many tutorials online). Another way is to perhaps render a stretched version that will, depending on the stretching method, give a blurred effect. And then, to give appearance like above, re-draw the image non-blurred/stretched above that.

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I've always seen this glow built directly into the sprite/alpha, mainly to avoid two render calls when you know the image is always glowing. Though it can be done in all the ways @CobaltHex mentions in this answer if you don't mind the extra shader writing and tweaking to get the look you want. – Patrick Hughes Jun 19 '13 at 22:38

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