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I wondering what the difference is between a sprite sheet and a texture atlas?

Aren't both the same? In a sprite sheet you have some Sprites and in a texture atlas you also have some sprites, so what's the difference?

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Everything is that same, bits containing ones and zeroes. –  zehelvion Feb 5 '14 at 12:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A sprites-sheet (often refers to a large image that) is supposed to contain the animation frames of a specific 2d character in a game.

A texture-atlas is (often taken to mean something that's) supposed to contain textures of generic quite possibly unrelated entities often in a 3d game and objects in the game, be it animals, platforms, walls, doors and what not.

Also, it may be important to note a texture atlas often contains character skins (character textures) and the actual animation is not stored as 2d imagery in such cases as the animation is such cases is generally based on deformation of the mesh with tools like bones.

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So you could say SpriteSheets contain 2D Charactes and TextureAtlases contain TileSets? –  user41816 Feb 5 '14 at 12:48
tl;dr : Yes that is absolutely correct. Sprites Sheets often mean a large set of some specific charater's animation frames or multiple characters in other instances. Texture Atlas often means a large image that contains many sub images that are textures; 2d tiles fit well in the texture category. So a Tile Set is a very specific kind (or a sub-category) of texture atlas. A texture Atlas may also contain skins in many cases and therefore is not a Tile Set in the general case. –  zehelvion Feb 5 '14 at 12:57

Technically seen it's the same: It's a big image that contains smaller images (sprites).

The 3d vs 2d does not make a difference here since almost all 2d game engines use 3d hardware for rendering....

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