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Most Confusing Art Techniques?


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#1 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3652

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:47 AM

Hey guys, I'm in the process of finishing an article about art techniques every 2D artist should be aware of aimed specifically at non-artists, i.e. programmers who sometimes make their own art. My question is to all you non-artists out there: What are the most confusing art techniques to you? Why?

 

What in particular strikes you as being difficult in drawing or creating 2D assets? What techniques do you see people using that are beyond your comprehension?

 

So far I'm addressing the following issues in my article (feedback appreciated on these as well):

  • Form/Shape
  • Perspective
  • Contrast/Depth
  • Shading/Lighting
  • Color
  • Anatomy/Proportions
  • Animation

For this one I'm not really focusing on software ("what is the best software????!!") or technical particulars, those are hopefully things that will be addressed in future articles.

 

Thanks!


-Mark the Artist

Digital Art and Technical Design
Developer Journal


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#2 BagelHero   Members   -  Reputation: 1472

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:41 AM

Looking forward to reading this!


Though, Contrast/Depth aren't really... Well, Depth isn't a word I use heard often in arms with Contrast. Perhaps Contrast/Values go together a bit better? Values are often spoken of.
I feel "Creating Depth" is sort of another area entirely, more focused in both line and shading.

That's the only feedback I have for you though, unfortunately. Being an artist myself I can't really speak for what non-artists find difficult!



#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4980

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:48 AM

You've got several of the topics I would consider the most confusing listed there already (animation, perspective, lighting).  I'd add names and categories of different art styles, which are needed when researching a style or advertising for an artist who can do that style.  If I was being formal, I'd call it "Art Style Nomenclature and Phylogeny" lol.  Also, anatomy is typically separated into human and animal, and perspective is typically separated into architectural and organic.

 

I was kinda confused by contrast/depth too.  I'd normally consider visual depth to be the intersection of perspective and shading; that thing sidewalk artists and optical illusion artists are amazing at.  Contrast is more color theory and usability/ergonomics.

 

This is for that crossbones thing, I assume?  I was just trying to figure out if I should offer my Deviant Art tutorials and my developer journal material to be harvested somehow for use with that.  I've written stuff about concept art, the art side of character design, clothing design, human anatomy and proportions (mainly as related to anime style and as related to drawing skinny and fat characters rather than the athletic ones art books always use as examples).  Plus all the design, design document, and story-writing related stuff.


Edited by sunandshadow, 17 March 2013 - 04:27 AM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#4 Poigahn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 520

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 05:29 AM

Hey- Great idea.  I would switch Contrast/Depth & Shading/Lighting to > Contrast/Lighting & Shading/Depth  I beleive that is mort "Art" appropriate.

 

In addition, instead of just animation, which could apply to 3D as well, and to get more of your 2D targeted audience, I would title it Sprite Animation.

 

A tutorial on creating Animated Sprites, or even a program someone could create(Copy) in order to aide in creating sprites would perk up my already cheerful face (LOL)


Your Brain contains the Best Program Ever Written : Manage Your Data Wisely !!


#5 Plethora   Members   -  Reputation: 679

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 05:33 AM

As a non-artist who does my own art some of the time, I think what i struggle with the most is developing a scene as a whole as opposed to an individual asset.  I can think of numerous occasions where I had a handful of assets that, on their own, I was quite happy with, but then I put them together in the scene and it looks like garbage.  Trying to develop a consistent style across a wide range of characters, buildings, objects, scenery, etc. has often proved to be a real struggle for me.

 

Also, I just wanted to throw this out there in case you want to include it.  I used to struggle a lot with perspective, particularly when trying to do character animations.  The single best aid I have ever gotten for my artwork was one of those wooden posable models that you can buy at any art supply store.  Having that thing has made all the difference in the world, and while I hesitate to ever say there is a magic bullet for anything, I feel like just having that model basically made perspective problems a thing of the past for me.


I'm working on a game!  It's called "Spellbook Tactics".  I'd love it if you checked it out, offered some feedback, etc.  I am very excited about my progress thus far and confident about future progress as well!

 

http://infinityelephant.wordpress.com


#6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4980

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:35 PM

As a non-artist who does my own art some of the time, I think what i struggle with the most is developing a scene as a whole as opposed to an individual asset.  I can think of numerous occasions where I had a handful of assets that, on their own, I was quite happy with, but then I put them together in the scene and it looks like garbage.

That's a good point.  I remember when I was trying to learn how to draw comics the topic I could find just nothing about was panel layout and staging/blocking/set design - the concepts all exist in theater, and once in a while you see them mentioned in level design, but there's a lack of coverage of the topic in standard art theory once you go past the basics of composition and leading the eye.  Color palettes are a related thing I've had problems with, especially in painting where I can't just change the colors afterwards like I can in digital art.  I've got one painting of a bunch of fish where I painted each fish separately and the result is that their colors clash pretty badly and they just don't look harmonious.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#7 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3652

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 03:48 PM

Thanks guys! Yes, this is for the crossbones thing. I started a draft, which I guess entitles me to the Contributor ribbon...

 

I think the perspective/depth thing did drift a little bit while I was writing. I realized most 2D games simply dodge the problem of perspective entirely... 2D plat formers in particular are almost completely reliant on atmospheric perspective and parallax.The "Perspective" section is really about classical perspective (vanishing points, etc) while the Depth/Contrast section is really about atmospheric perspective, which is all about contrast. And that kind of contrast also ties into how to indicate what object are important and what aren't. Here's the screenshot I'm using as an example:

 

super-mario-world.jpg

Also note the really sweet pillow shading on that bush...

 

Would "Classical Perspective" and "Atmospheric Perspective and Contrast" make more sense? Maybe have the Atmospheric Depth section closer to the end? Or separate it down further into Perspective (including foreshortening), Atmospheric Perspective, Contrast, Lighting/Shading?

 

As a non-artist who does my own art some of the time, I think what i struggle with the most is developing a scene as a whole as opposed to an individual asset. I can think of numerous occasions where I had a handful of assets that, on their own, I was quite happy with, but then I put them together in the scene and it looks like garbage. Trying to develop a consistent style across a wide range of characters, buildings, objects, scenery, etc. has often proved to be a real struggle for me.

 

Hmm, this is good. I think I need a section for "Consistency."

 

A tutorial on creating Animated Sprites, or even a program someone could create(Copy) in order to aide in creating sprites would perk up my already cheerful face (LOL)

 

Ha, I think a full tutorial on that will have to wait or this article is never going to be done. The basic idea of this article is to introduce these concepts so people can get familiar some basic concepts and have a better idea of what to look for when doing their own research.

 

I'd add names and categories of different art styles, which are needed when researching a style or advertising for an artist who can do that style. If I was being formal, I'd call it "Art Style Nomenclature and Phylogeny" lol

 

What styles do you mean? Anime vs Western Cartoon vs More realistic? I'm not sure I'll include that as a separate section right now but it would definitely make sense to talk about style somewhere...


-Mark the Artist

Digital Art and Technical Design
Developer Journal


#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4980

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:14 PM

For the Mario screenshot example, I think the phrase you want is "controlling viewer focus" or "visually directing player attention".

 

For art styles, Scott McCloud's book Understanding comics had a nice diagram to start with:

Understanding-Comics-p51.png

 

Followed by a larger and more complicated version:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IeKwSdxYPFo/Tyle9ZeLbXI/AAAAAAAAEs4/RF9ClwA8Ya8/s1600/0505-UC-triangle-all.jpg

Western comic and anime are both in the middle of the triangle, a bit more toward the bottom-right corner; so are gothic cartoon style and art nouveau.  On the other hand traditional fantasy art and classical painting style are more toward the bottom left corner, and 3D textures are pushing further and further into that corner.  Puzzle games and goofball things from Dwarf Fortress to the webcomic Triangle and Robert go in the upper corner.  The middle of the right side would be where things like art deco and cave art would be found, and the middle of the left side would be things like impressionism, expressionism, and cubism.

 

This only accounts for line styles, coloring styles have their own separate graph or family tree.  Cell shading, soft shading, flat shading, irregular washes, mixing colors on the canvas, pointilism, photomosaic, translucence, partial color, sepia tones, and assorted common color palettes like classic, bold, neon, metallic, jeweltone - all those things they label boxes of markers with.  Then, I'm not even sure where textural elements like cross-hatching, Gaussian noise, and pattern fills would fit in.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#9 TheSasquatch   Members   -  Reputation: 452

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:27 PM

What in particular strikes you as being difficult in drawing or creating 2D assets?

 

The biggest one for me is people. You're already covering proportions and anatomy, which is great. Not sure if you're including this in anatomy, but facial expressions, portraying emotion, and avoiding that crazy "uncanny valley" effect would all be good topics.

 

You know, I've yet to create a decent sprite animation. Mostly just stick figures that flail their limbs in a rapid, unsettling manner. A good article on sprite walk/run/jump/attack animations would be great; I've only found a few of those online, many of them involving multiple dead forum links before finding an archived post from the 90's in some forgotten corner of the internet. Bonus points if you can find out how they did the animations in high-res 2D fighters like Guilty Gear or BlazBlue; seeing the extreme end of the sprite animation spectrum compared to the relatively simple ~32x64px/~10 frame platformer stuff would provide some good perspective.

 

Seeing the "Color" entry on your list reminded me of another subject I've never quite gotten; I normally draw in pen, so when confronted with RGB/HSV sliders or color pickers in software, I freak out and start picking colors at random. Terrible colors. Some general advice on choosing palettes would be great.



#10 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3652

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 06:16 PM

The biggest one for me is people. You're already covering proportions and anatomy, which is great. Not sure if you're including this in anatomy, but facial expressions, portraying emotion, and avoiding that crazy "uncanny valley" effect would all be good topics.

 

Yep, although I'm pretty terrible at people myself. I'm going to try to give a pretty basic introduction on figure drawing (since I don't really trust myself to be dispensing much more complicated advice on that front). I'm not sure I'll really touch on faces more than "eyes go in the middle of the head."

 

You know, I've yet to create a decent sprite animation. Mostly just stick figures that flail their limbs in a rapid, unsettling manner. A good article on sprite walk/run/jump/attack animations would be great; I've only found a few of those online, many of them involving multiple dead forum links before finding an archived post from the 90's in some forgotten corner of the internet. Bonus points if you can find out how they did the animations in high-res 2D fighters like Guilty Gear or BlazBlue; seeing the extreme end of the sprite animation spectrum compared to the relatively simple ~32x64px/~10 frame platformer stuff would provide some good perspective.

 

Hm, I think I might do an animation article in the future if no one else does first, but for this article I think it'll be a pretty brief but hopefully helpful section. I'm kind of struggling to keep it from just getting longer and longer, since all these topics could easily be articles in their own right.


-Mark the Artist

Digital Art and Technical Design
Developer Journal


#11 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4980

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:43 AM

Hmm, this is enough material for a whole art textbook; I'm not sure how much you'd actually be able to say about each topic if they are all supposed to fit into a brief article.  Maybe a description of how each poses a problem and where to start reading tutorials and such to teach oneself how to solve that problem?  Just guessing.  I'll be interested to see how it turns out, from my point of view as someone who writes articles but wouldn't really know where to start with such a broad topic as this.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#12 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3652

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:50 PM

Hmm, this is enough material for a whole art textbook; I'm not sure how much you'd actually be able to say about each topic if they are all supposed to fit into a brief article.  Maybe a description of how each poses a problem and where to start reading tutorials and such to teach oneself how to solve that problem?  Just guessing.  I'll be interested to see how it turns out, from my point of view as someone who writes articles but wouldn't really know where to start with such a broad topic as this.

 

Ha, it's actually enough for several art textbooks. I've found multiple books on perspective, animation, and proportions... that I could name off the top of my head.

 

My target audience is people who are almost completely unfamiliar with art terminology and techniques, i.e. your classic Programmer Art-maker. My plan is to briefly introduce a subject, provide an example, list some key terms so the reader can search for things themselves, and a link or two to the best page(s) on the subject I could find in a half hour of Googling. This weekend I'll probably post what links I have in another thread to see if people approve or have better ones, actually. Crowdsourcing FTW


-Mark the Artist

Digital Art and Technical Design
Developer Journal


#13 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4980

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 04:45 PM

Heheh, I suppose you're right; I might have only one textbook worth of material in my head on all those subjects put together, but an expert on any of them could probably write a whole book about it alone.

 

But ok, I get the purpose now, and for that kind of audience brief is appropriate. *nodnod*


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#14 deekr   Members   -  Reputation: 191

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:51 PM

I've only tried a couple of times, but I find it difficult to control color in digital applications. Often I'll see a digital painting that has nice gradients or blending of colors that correctly convey texture, depth/shadow, mood, etc... When I've attempted this, my use of color is granular and it shows. I've seen people convey accurate visual expressions with only a handful of colors, which makes me think that there is some part of this process that I'm not picking up on.

 

Right now I can do some concept work by silhouetting and shading from there, but I would really like to be able to make it pop with color. What kinds of things can I practice? Or at least it would be nice to have that answered in the paper. :)



#15 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4980

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 01:11 AM

I've only tried a couple of times, but I find it difficult to control color in digital applications. Often I'll see a digital painting that has nice gradients or blending of colors that correctly convey texture, depth/shadow, mood, etc... When I've attempted this, my use of color is granular and it shows. I've seen people convey accurate visual expressions with only a handful of colors, which makes me think that there is some part of this process that I'm not picking up on.

 

Right now I can do some concept work by silhouetting and shading from there, but I would really like to be able to make it pop with color. What kinds of things can I practice? Or at least it would be nice to have that answered in the paper. smile.png

There are about 4 different color blending/shading styles, as far as I know... well, plus pointillism/geometric ones where you purposely don't blend the colors.  I'd have to see an example of one you thought was really great to tell you which was used.  The styles are:

- Cell shading where there are distinct color areas created with a lasso tool, though people sometimes blend them right at the edge

- Soft shading where blending tools and/or airbrush are used to work an initial flat color layer into cloudy or feathery curves

- Painter shading where splotches of multiple colors are applied to the same layer then partially blended together to mimic blending wet paint on a canvas, or low-opacity levels of color are built up with the paintbrush tool over a greyscale base, which is also a standard painting technique

- Architectural/false-3D approach which involves gradient fills and subtle use of feathered selections


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#16 deekr   Members   -  Reputation: 191

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 12:24 PM

@sunandshadow: Thanks, that was really helpful.

 

I went to look for example paintings that I liked, but then stumbled onto a concept cookie tutorial that was demonstrating painter shading: http://cgcookie.com/concept/2013/03/15/female-character-series-part-2-base-colors/

 

Time to practice.






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