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2D Graphics tools

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Hey everyone, I would like to know what you all would recommend for making a 2D games with the quality of diablo 2? Namely what graphic tools for making people and the background? Another question is about rendering. Lets go use diablo 2 again, since its widely known game. In the game, it appears to be all 2d graphics. So does that mean they didn't use 3D-Studio max? Do you still need to use something like 3-D studio max to render 2d graphics such as diablo 2?

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tools: gimp, photoshop, paintshop pro or paint.net

In diablo they used 3d max to do 2d (IIRC), they could have used photoshop or a simmilar tool only, but since they needed (pre-rendered) cutsceenes they made the models in max and rendered them to as an image.
I believe you can make graphics such as diablo in paint, so I would say no you don't need to use max.

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