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Stardew Valley fan redesigns character sprites to be as cute as their portraits

Marnie got a major glow-up

A series of Stardew Valley sprites redesigned to look more like their in-game icons.
Stardew Valley sprites redesigned by aliyach.
Image: Twitter/aliyach
Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

If you’ve played Stardew Valley with an eye for romance, then here’s a subject you might have thought about: Some of the townspeople are cuter in their conversation portraits than in their actual sprites. Luckily, a fan has stepped in to rectify this grave injustice by redesigning character sprites to look more like those up-close portraits.

On Wednesday, aliyach published a series of character sprites she had redesigned to look like in-game icons, posting them to Twitter and Reddit. The Reddit post climbed up to the top of r/StardewValley, where fans fawned over the designs.

The project took aliyach two days to complete using PaintTool SAI. Figuring out how to make the character portraits look good at the sprites’ smaller scale proved a challenge. “[It’s] always hard to capture some important details in such small size,” she told Polygon via Reddit chat. “Some characters hair and faces are more complex to draw in that scale.”

In my humble opinion, there are a few standouts — Marnie, for example, looks much cuter with her low bun off to the side, rather than straight on. Alex, Elliot, and Robin all also benefit from a cuter hairdo. Aliyach cited this “difference” between the original and her design as a source of joy, noting that Marnie, the Wizard, Emily, and Mister Qi were among her favorites. She told Polygon, “i like to separate those by designs and their personality but the ones i mention definitely [are] in my fav group.” Aliyach also said she’d be interested in revisiting some of her character sprite designs — particularly Gus — to make them look “less creepy.”

One Reddit commenter said that they had been “waiting for someone to make a mod based on these,” which is, frankly, where my mind also went. Another commenter responded pointing out how challenging it is to make such mods, because it requires designing a number of expressions and poses, including a walk cycle. But luckily, aliyach said that she is also interested in turning her designs into a mod “in the future” — hopefully that dream will one day become a reality.

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