GraphicsGale is a lightweight pixel art and animation program for Windows. Originally split between a paid and freeware version, the program is now 100% freeware.

One of the best features of GraphicGale is that it supports hotkey bindings for most editing commands. For example, here are some bindings I have configured — while not the most ergonomic layout, it’s burned into my muscle memory at this point:

* Frame *
Add                       : Insert
Insert into Left          : Shift + Insert
Duplicate                 : Home
Delete                    : End
Forward Frame             : X
Back Frame                : Z

* Layer *
Next Layer                : Shift + Up Arrow
Previous Layer            : Shift + Down Arrow
Reverse Visibility        : Shift + Right Arrow
Reverse Vis. w/ Same Name : Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow

* Palette *
Swap Color                : /

* Edit *
Paste New Image           : Ctrl + Shift + V

* View *
Zoom in                   : W
Zoom out                  : S
Zoom in (Resize window)   : Shift + W
Zoom out (Resize window)  : Shift + S
Grid                      : G
Snap (to grid)            : B
Frame                     : 1
Layer                     : 2
Palette                   : 3
Preview                   : 4
Loupe                     : 5

* Image *
Flip Horizontal           : Shift + H
Flip Vertical             : Shift + V
Rotate by 90 Degrees      : Shift + R
Count Colors Used         : Shift + C

* All Frames *
Rotate                    : Ctrl + Shift + R
Crop                      : Crtl + /
Adjust Color              : Shift + A
Color Depth               : Shift + Z

The program is pretty reliable and I have stuck with it in spite of a few issues:

  • As far as I can tell, as of V2.03.21, there is no import/export settings feature. If you move to a new PC, you have to export a registry key from your old OS and import it into your new OS, or else configure all the shortcuts by hand again. GraphicsGale comes with only basic shortcut keys defined by default, so it’s not uncommon for a user to come up with their own keybindings for their specific workflow. (Update — As of July 4 2017, a portable version is also available which writes configuration to a file.)
  • Resource footprint is very light under normal circumstances, but performance does not scale well with larger image files.
    • Alpha channels can bog down performance on big images. If you don’t need alpha transparency on the image you’re working on, select ‘Image -> Delete Alpha Channel’. ‘Print Screen’ captures of the Desktop often have an unnecessary alpha layer.

Here is the procedure for exporting and importing shortcuts from the Windows Registry:

I’ll write some more here if I can think of anything additional to add. Also, here is a post about defining alpha channel sprite masks.

(e 22/Jun/2017: wording; GraphicsGale is now Freeware.)
(e 23/Jun/2017: added my hotkey binding scheme.)
(e 8/Jul/2017: performance note re: alpha channel on large images.)
(e 18/Jul/2017: I missed that there is now a portable version with its own config file.)