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To progammers who suck at art

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So you're a games programmer, you REALLY bad at making 2D and 3D art and want to spend as little time messing with that side of things as possible and you have this great idea for something. So you start to write some code but you come to a point where you really need some art for it. What do you do? DO you just endure the various art packages until you get something that vaguely resembles what you want? Do you try to recruit real artists either friends or otherwise? Or do you just try and get by with hard coding basic shapes like cubes, spheres etc. to represent whatever it is you need?

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If it's a texture, I fire up GIMP and put something down (usually some basic color, maybe some text; then I run that through a couple of filters). If I need a model, I do some very basic object in Blender (like, a sphere or a box or some combination of primitives that roughly looks like what I want). There are various tools to make sounds, too, from Audacity to various loop creation tools (hammerhead) and even full featured, open-source audio studio programs.

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You can theoretically make a good game just with geometric shapes and a good story line. I have an idea for a game which has not graphics and is entirely audio based. (copyright: me 2009). Best thing is to team up with an artist. Not because you can't do it yourself but simply because two people = half the time. Or you can learn to do it yourself but this may take a very long time. But if its fun for you then why not?

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Quote:
Original post by animator
I have an idea for a game which has not graphics and is entirely audio based. (copyright: me 2009).

Unfortunately, ideas can't be copyrighted. If it's really novel though, I recommend that you look into getting it patented. :D

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I don't know if its 100% legal, but I ussually 'borrow' textures/sound from other game packages. As long as its for your own & testing, why not? On top of that, you can learn from it, just by looking how they did their visuals (what kind of textures, resoluations, normalMaps, polycount, and so on). Once you get a feeling, you can still try to do your own stuff. And don't forget there are also websites with free textures/models.

Mapping and modelling doesn't have to be that hard though. I'm not a true artist myself either but modelling simple objects such as tables or a house isn't that hard if you put some energy in learning 3D software. Later on you can still replace your 'prototype' art by the work of real artists. At least I may hope so :) Finding them is quite difficult, I think...

Greetings,
Rick

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You can use math to generate most environmental things at run-time. That's what I do for my planet renderer (http://sponeil.net/). It will only get you so far, but it works well for things like terrain, sky, water, clouds, some plants, etc.

For the rest, I agree with everyone else about using something like Blender to create some simple models. You can also search for web sites with royalty-free models and textures, but it can be frustrating to get something that's not really what you want and to have no way to fix it.

Depending on what kind of look you want, you can try going back to math and logic to generate some things. If you look at Spore, it has an interface to let players design the shape of their own creatures/buildings/vehicles. There were a number of stock elements that you could drag to a specific spot on your creature/building/vehicle, and then use the mouse to change the position/shape/size of those elements. It also let you pick colors or pick from a set of pre-defined color patterns. There's no reason you couldn't try something like that for your own game, and simply use the editor yourself to put your models together.

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So you're a games programmer, you REALLY bad at making 2D and 3D art and want to spend as little time messing with that side of things as possible and you have this great idea for something.

Yep, started the same way. I think almost every hobby coder started this way :) Well, I work on my own game engine (now game project) for more the 10 years now and I will give you a small statement from my gained experiences.

Quote:

So you start to write some code but you come to a point where you really need some art for it.

Yeah... too many times, at this point I got so frustrated I almost stopped my project, at least once a year :/

Quote:

What do you do? DO you just endure the various art packages until you get something that vaguely resembles what you want?

I tried it, even bought some model packages, but it was still too messy. The packages needed too much work to get it right. Nice for a quick test, but still a lot of work and frustrating if you want to do more then a quick test.

Quote:

Do you try to recruit real artists either friends or otherwise?

I tried it two times, my first artist lost interest after a few weeks, my last one (best friend) is still on board and we make good progress. But this is just for the last 1/2 year of a 10 year development time !

Quote:

Or do you just try and get by with hard coding basic shapes like cubes, spheres etc. to represent whatever it is you need?

Over the years I wrote several "content" generators, but still they will not make any pretty art and use up a lot of development time !

As you can see, after almost 10 years I got artist support, but in the meanwhile I praticed with gimp and blender and now I'm able to create my own 3d models and textures.

This is just my opinion, but from my experiences and frustration I would start with the right game design and do the art myself. The best next big uber fantasy MMORPG is just out of my artistic scope, if you want to use nice visuals, consider this in your game design.

I learned the hard way that doing your own art is often the faster and better way to get art than by investing hours to create any generators, converting bought or free modelling packages or to search the internet for just the right art.
I really haven't any art talents at all, but I was suprised that I was able to do my own decent art by just practicing. There're a lot of art tutorials and you will see, that doing some decent art is not as tough as you think. Still you have to do a lot of practising. My advice is, take a look at blender and gimp, buy a graphic tablet (i.e. wacom bamboon fun) and start doing some art. Believe me, you will get better over time.

PS: never gave up :)

--
Ashaman

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Quote:
Original post by lightbringer
Quote:
Original post by animator
I have an idea for a game which has not graphics and is entirely audio based. (copyright: me 2009).

Unfortunately, ideas can't be copyrighted. If it's really novel though, I recommend that you look into getting it patented. :D


Pattenting software is easily one of the greatest evils of our time. Software is not an invention. It's an idea and you can't patent an idea. You can, however, copyright a particular intellectual property such as a software product which provides plenty of protection for said software (if we really were to enforce software patents than MacOS would be the only OS with a GUI and so on).

Anyway, as far as answering the actual post, there's a great article right here on GameDev about faking programmer art using a few basic techniques to get somewhat decent graphics.

There are two methods that I use personally -- I just use whatever is freely available (and I mean really freely available, not rips from existing games). If the game is good enough someone will want to donate some time developing better graphics.

The other way is to pay an artist per-sprite (assuming it's 2D) or per model (assuming it's 3D).

If you're working on a 3D game and need textures but aren't particularly skilled with PhotoShop (or something similar, I just like photoshop) than you can use programs that procedurally generate textures like http://www.filterforge.com/ (my personal favorite as it's relatively cheap and does a fantastic job). If you're really good you could even write your own software to generate procedural textures in-game during run-time.

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