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Artists that know programming?

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Hey everyone, I'm new to the forums here, and I have a question I've been hearing a lot about. I'm a 3D artist, with some background in photoshop, and a lot of my friends are telling me it's important for artists to have some experience with coding. Is this generally a good idea? I have no knowledge of coding whatsoever. I can do a little HTML and actionscript, but throw anything besides links and gotoAndPlay at me and I'll be stumped. Should I go out and learn some basic C++ or something? ~Alex

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It's a good idea to learn as much as you can about everything. However, since that can be time consuming, we all tend to specialize.

I'm an artist-turned-programmer, and quite frankly, i'm enjoying the programming a bit more. Good design in a program requires many of the same skills as good design for a website or brochure page layout or an art project of some kind. It's just more technical and functional.

Technically, i don't see a huge relation between graphics and programming though. It's good for each camp to know a bit about the other, but honestly i don't see a large connection.

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Depends on which kind of art. Concept art? No programming knowledge needed. Modelling? It would be nice to be able to script the odd thing and know what it does. For instance, in our engine we have very very limited scripting embedded in our animations.

That said, knowledge is always a good thing, so learn everything you can.

-Greg

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One of the most frustrating things artists do is not follow the guidelines programmers give them. If a programmer tells you all sprites must be a certain size, he has a good reason for it. If you give me all different sizes, you're just going to piss him off. Sometimes, he can't explain to you why it needs to be a certain way - but if you understand some of the technical side, you'll make it easier for him to explain, and generally make communication much simpler.
The converse is also true. The programmer who knows nothing of art may not understand why you complain when he wants every single sprite in the entire game - even the big ass dragons - to be the exact same size.

I know it's a contrived example, and I've only seen it from the programmers perspective, but... I had this one guy. I told him, 32bit targa's, power of 2, use the alpha channel. He gave me color-keyed bitmaps in resolutions like 50*30.

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im an artist who liked to design games learned to program and then recently got back into art

i think you should know a little programing
like python or some other simple language

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artist do not need to know coding, but it would be good idea to learn scripting. such as html or Flash Action script, and maybe even max script.

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I am graduated as a programmer, though I paint since my childhood.
Now, my daily job is programming, and I freelance as an artist.
So it is not impossible.

You should learn the basics, at least, in my opinion to improve communication.
A programmer is rarely able to communicate well (don't mean any offense), you have to take a step towards her/him.

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It can never hurt to know programming if you are planning to work in the games industry. In the process you learn alot about computers themselves, plus it would probably look good on a resume if you could do some scripting.

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at least knowing a little programming is a great thing, it will allow you to communicate with the programmers more efficiently and use more common terminology, and at the very least will give you some kind of foundation for the requirements from the programing department on art assests, and why you cant/shouldnt break them.

just as long as you know the fundamentals of programming and a general idea of game programming and what its all about, you should be fine. But nobody is going to ask a 3D Artist to optimize their code rendering code, or implement some NPC AI scripts for a game.

Learning will also give you a pretty good headstart if you ever needed to delve into Maxscript or MEL scripting. Hell, knowing Maxscript/MEL is a pretty marketable skill in itself.

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On top of what the others have said, it's almost a necessity for artists in certain fields (animation, cinema, etc) to learn how to program and script shaders in a variety of programs.

A knowledge of programming is certainly not a definitive requirement for any artist, but I suppose if your dream is to work in the game industry, it may be beneficial to keep a well-rounded sphere of familiarity with everything you'll interacting with.

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Some companies have a technical artist who should communicate between programmers and artists to find the best methods to be used in a project.

This is my job title, along with special effects.

I am not a programmer, but I understand the concepts behind programming.
I have coded a little hlsl and scripting, which has helped me in my work.

its more important to understand restrictions imposed on you and to test
those restrictions to make sure they are correct than to actually know
how to code.

For instance a tipical thing an artist would be expected to know, is
to 99% of the time keep to power of 2 textures. You don't need to worry
why, you just need to know it is something you need to follow.

There are lots of stuff I don't know how to code, but I know the method or
if it is possible. I don't get bogged down in the math, just understand the flow of the graphics and effects in an engine.

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In the game industry, if that's what you're looking at, you don't need to know programming as an artist. Programmers can't do any sort of art either and they still are the ones that write our engines.

If you mainly want to make particle effects and other engine candy then some scripting helps, but then again, depending where you work and what engine is used there, the script language and approach is going to be different. Whatever you learn in your freetime is unlikely going to be of use in the future. Understanding how scripting works however, should help.

As a 2D or 3D artist you don't need any coding knowledge. Being able to use both halfs of the brain to work within whatever is required, is enough.
Obviously 'knowing more is always better', knowing more about art will help you more tho.

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Quote:
Original post by m4d3c1ips3
Wow, thanks everyone. I would hate to have learned two years worth of C++ or something only to find it not to be useful.


Well the thing is that once you do have some basic programming skills, you can do stuff yourself. Think about this - if you wanted to make a program that loaded an image you did. Think about how you could manipulate it all programatically and see it in real time. Yes, you could do this with PSP or PS, but this is just an example. Imagine if you wanted to make a program that took a image and broke it down into smaller images. The possibilities are limitless, but my main point is that you can gain some useful skills by learning some programming language.

Quote:
Obviously 'knowing more is always better', knowing more about art will help you more tho.


I'd have to disagree. I am only a freshman in college. There are lots of other people that 'know' a lot more than me, but that does not mean they are better than I am or smarter. What matter is how you can apply what you know. I see what you were saying though. So for an artist, if they know basic C++, but they can't do anything with it, then yea, it's pointless. However, if they know the basics and can apply it, to something like my previous paragraph, then that will give them an edge in the field. Same goes with the art. If you know every concept there is, but can't apply it to your own work, then what's hte point of knowing it? You get the idea, like for me, I know geometry, but I have a hard time applying it at times and struggle with it - even though I know a lot of it. Maybe it's just one of those paradoxs pf life...

- Drew

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Then maybe you should learn how to apply it. There's no point in arguing whether knowing more is better or not, it _always_ is. Knowing a lot about cars won't obviously make you a better cook, it also won't make you smarter of course. The knowledge and 'wisdoms' in most fields can be applied to other fields that affect your life tho.
When life gets more complicated, anything you know might help one way or another, sooner or later. And if it's just to impress girls in conversations, most don't like football.

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I'm currently in a 2 man team developing a game for a school project. I do the coding, my teammate does the 3d modelling and its really a blessing that he is a pretty good coder too. For example, he understands the limitations I had to put on our 3D Studio Max exporter due to time constraints. And, it's nice to talk shop every once in a while :P

My first post in about 2 years :D.... edit: no wait, 8 months :)

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Quote:
Original post by Drew_Benton


I'd have to disagree. I am only a freshman in college. There are lots of other people that 'know' a lot more than me, but that does not mean they are better than I am or smarter. What matter is how you can apply what you know. I see what you were saying though. So for an artist, if they know basic C++, but they can't do anything with it, then yea, it's pointless. However, if they know the basics and can apply it, to something like my previous paragraph, then that will give them an edge in the field. Same goes with the art. If you know every concept there is, but can't apply it to your own work, then what's hte point of knowing it? You get the idea, like for me, I know geometry, but I have a hard time applying it at times and struggle with it - even though I know a lot of it. Maybe it's just one of those paradoxs pf life...

- Drew


Do you realise how stupid this sounds disagreeing?
First your saying if you knew more than you do right now
you wouldn't be better or smarter? why not give up education now?

Also you don't have to directly apply a concept for it to be helpful.



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Quote:
Quote:
Original post by Drew_Benton


I'd have to disagree. I am only a freshman in college. There are lots of other people that 'know' a lot more than me, but that does not mean they are better than I am or smarter. What matter is how you can apply what you know. I see what you were saying though. So for an artist, if they know basic C++, but they can't do anything with it, then yea, it's pointless. However, if they know the basics and can apply it, to something like my previous paragraph, then that will give them an edge in the field. Same goes with the art. If you know every concept there is, but can't apply it to your own work, then what's hte point of knowing it? You get the idea, like for me, I know geometry, but I have a hard time applying it at times and struggle with it - even though I know a lot of it. Maybe it's just one of those paradoxs pf life...

- Drew




Do you realise how stupid this sounds disagreeing?
First your saying if you knew more than you do right now
you wouldn't be better or smarter? why not give up education now?

Also you don't have to directly apply a concept for it to be helpful.


Knowledge is not a pre-requisist to creativity, which is what i think he is trying to say. With teaching, just because they can teach idea's doesn't mean their creative enough to make their own. This is never more evident then in some Art classes, where the teacher's are overly harsh on their students because they resent that they can't create good art. There's an saying i've heard off and on in this regard:

"Those who can't do, Teach.".

More of a rude remark i know, but it gives the general idea.

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Quote:
Original post by m4d3c1ips3
Wow, thanks everyone. I would hate to have learned two years worth of C++ or something only to find it not to be useful.

Er. No. You do not need to learn C++ or Java or any other programming languages. Knowing which header file to include for printf() or signal() is pointless for you as an artist.

What you need to know is the hardware aspect of programming. Things such as color key, blit, frames, hardware limitations, triangle limit, etc is important to know. Nobody wants to work with an artist you only know how to draw, the best video game, and the best video card; unless you are a concept artist, this is not acceptable. The miscommunication between programmers and artists usually occurs in the hardware/technical area.

"Use RGB for your art, I am going to use it as the foreground title" and the artist made it in CYMK.
"Don't use JPEG, it's lossy. Use BMP for sprites." and the artist would say "BMP? Are you nuts? JPEG/GIF is smaller."

Just learn what programmers need from you, and you are all set.

[Edited by - alnite on March 10, 2005 6:17:20 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
...im a student in a game design course... ..we do modelling,storyboarding,programming,audio etcetera...

...here is my opinion...

As far as doing 3d modelling, traditional art skills are more relevant (proportions,perspective etc)than programming skills... but is not totally neccessary either

its all a battle against the constraints of time ...
that said, knowing programming does help you integrate better with the rest of your team..also, knowing what the modelling software is actually doing behind the scenes will help to, by understanding the fundamentals of programming.. most of the need to know nuances that are programming related such as making textures divisable by 2 can be learned very quickly if you have art skills and know 3d... matter of days witht the right teacher... :D

having textures divisable by 2 is to do with mip-mapping (anti-aliasing basically) ..its how the computer calculates what to show on screen when it cant show 2 pixels that are side-by-side at once, it just averages the colour and shows that..atleast thats the jist of it..though im not the most informed person...

i personally hope to learn 3d,trad art,programming and sound to some extent all at the same time..ambitious but i'll get to a level that i acccept eventually..so i personally would advise both and more...

to summarise "you don't need to know programming to work here, but it helps"

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Quote:
Original post by Gyrthok
Quote:
Quote:
Original post by Drew_Benton


I'd have to disagree. I am only a freshman in college. There are lots of other people that 'know' a lot more than me, but that does not mean they are better than I am or smarter. What matter is how you can apply what you know. I see what you were saying though. So for an artist, if they know basic C++, but they can't do anything with it, then yea, it's pointless. However, if they know the basics and can apply it, to something like my previous paragraph, then that will give them an edge in the field. Same goes with the art. If you know every concept there is, but can't apply it to your own work, then what's hte point of knowing it? You get the idea, like for me, I know geometry, but I have a hard time applying it at times and struggle with it - even though I know a lot of it. Maybe it's just one of those paradoxs pf life...

- Drew




Do you realise how stupid this sounds disagreeing?
First your saying if you knew more than you do right now
you wouldn't be better or smarter? why not give up education now?

Also you don't have to directly apply a concept for it to be helpful.


Knowledge is not a pre-requisist to creativity, which is what i think he is trying to say. With teaching, just because they can teach idea's doesn't mean their creative enough to make their own. This is never more evident then in some Art classes, where the teacher's are overly harsh on their students because they resent that they can't create good art. There's an saying i've heard off and on in this regard:

"Those who can't do, Teach.".

More of a rude remark i know, but it gives the general idea.


Yes he was applying it in the terms of him vs other people,
Those not being any smarter than him in his opinion. But if you apply the logic
to oneself which is the theme of this thread it does not work.
If you don't learn something how will know if you can apply it or not.
By defintion learning makes you 'smarter'

I think the link between knowledge and creativiy is also very important.
YOu need to feed a brain for it to create.

Also I would not lump every teacher into "those who can't do, teach"
I had tutors at university that where currently praticing sucessful animators.

Are you seriously saying that Michelangelo "can't do" because he taught Raphael? :)

Its such a generalisation

personally I will continue being a sponge picking up every thing I can

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Quote:
By defintion learning makes you 'smarter'


I think we both may be getting term's a little confused here, www.Dictionary.Com says:

Smarter is the equivalent of Intelligence, which is a matter of mental swiftness and the ability to adapt and understand previous and new information.

Learning is the act or process of gaining Knowledge.

Knowledge is the state or fact of knowing, or awareness/familiarity/understanding gained through experience or study.

Nowhere in the two aforementioned words does the phrase "Smarter" appear. The act of learning and accumulating that knowledge is dependant upon your Intelligence Quotient(IQ), or ability to understand and adapt to new information.

So just because someone knows alot, doesn't mean they are any smarter than any other person. ;D

Quote:
I think the link between knowledge and creativiy is also very important.
YOu need to feed a brain for it to create.


I agree, but a person doesn't need a formal education to accumulate knowledge, there are plenty of self taught individuals (some of whom i know) in the world who can be just as qualified, and in some cases more qualitifed then those with a formal education. I'm not trying to discourage or slander schools or Education in general, i think its a good idea that they should get an education.

Quote:
Also I would not lump every teacher into "those who can't do, teach"
I had tutors at university that where currently praticing sucessful animators.

Are you seriously saying that Michelangelo "can't do" because he taught Raphael? :)

Its such a generalisation


I know, i was using the phrase as a analogy to help give a better understanding of my point. I realize its a rude, innacurate and broad term that doesn't apply to a large majority of teachers and artists, and it wasn't my intent to slander or insult them or lump them altogether (i've had a few good teachers in my time as well, and a few bad ones to).

Quote:
personally I will continue being a sponge picking up every thing I can


By all means its your brain so soak away, i'm not here to tell you otherwise. :)

[Edited by - Gyrthok on March 12, 2005 2:16:14 AM]

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