As per what I understand is good etiquette for the class, I took the liberty of completing my own created assignment.
Setup is simple. Open up the image editor of your choice (in my case, MS paint), set the properties of the image to be 16 pixels by 16 pixels, zoom in to the image, and use the pencil tool for good measure. I looked at animation sprites for 8-bit videogames, such as early Mario for inspiration.
I looked specifically at people since I knew I wanted to try my hand at a person. What I learned is that the sprites focus on two or three main features, it is alright to have goofy-looking appendages, since any person will understand that they are in fact arms and legs. Prominent in the Mario sprite are the mustache and the suspenders, while the arms and feet are somewhat out of proportion.
Here, I went for getting a visor, sword, shield featuring a red eagle emblem, and cape. Needless to say, I was surprised at how much detail I could cram into the image. In an ideal world, the eagle could use a few extra pixels, and I could put a little more detail into the sword, but constraints are constraints! I added the cape at the end, because I felt the right hand side of the sprite was a little bare pre-cape, and it suddenly hit me that a cape is appropriate garb for a cartoon character.
Overall, I am quite happy with how it turned out.