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Brikwarrior

How to make a game look great.

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Brikwarrior    100
Hi all, been stressing out over this for a while.

I'm a designer and a programmer. I design games and program them.

I'm NOT an artist, so an artist would be paid to produce artwork for my games.



The problem: I don't know how to get someone to produce amazing artwork so my game looks professional.

Is it just a matter of finding the right artist with magical attention to detail, or is there some kind of workflow that I should follow that can help even regular artists put out amazing work? How many artists do I really need, and what should their skills be?

I've tried hiring an "art director/concept artist" type guy to visualize my game's look, but he did a pretty terrible job, pretty much just looked like something I would throw together in photoshop (my game is an action puzzler). So now I have no usable concept art and I'm back to where I started.


Basically I just don't even know where to start when it comes to artwork anymore. What would you do? Would appreciate some advice!

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GninjaGnome    184
Try browsing Deviant Art. If you find an artist you like, send them an email. Or maybe you could try tweaking your game design to fit it into whatever style artist you find.

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Brikwarrior    100
[quote name='GninjaGnome' timestamp='1302576468' post='4797358']
Try browsing Deviant Art. If you find an artist you like, send them an email. Or maybe you could try tweaking your game design to fit it into whatever style artist you find.
[/quote]

The problem isn't really finding an artist though, there's lots of talented artists out there.

I guess the question is how do I direct artists effectively to get the results I want?

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Hodgman    51324
Good direction comes from having a good art [i]team[/i]. You need an art lead with enough experience to be able to set up good processes and workflows, and you need a good art director who should themselves be highly talented, but also adept at criticizing, mentoring and ensuring the quality of the work is up to scratch. You need someone above the 'grunts' to throw their work back at them with a fresh perspective and a defined quality bar to reach.

I don't know if you can really learn this stuff other than through experience, it's the kind of thing that people pick up from working in exiting highly-effective teams. Also, I'd think you'd have to be a fairly skilled artist yourself to be able to take part in the directing process.

Sounds like you got ripped off with your concept artist :/
For the talent part, make sure they've got a good portfolio, and for the experience/process part, make sure they've shipped some decent games.

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Brikwarrior    100
[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1302615508' post='4797499']
Good direction comes from having a good art [i]team[/i]. You need an art lead with enough experience to be able to set up good processes and workflows, and you need a good art director who should themselves be highly talented, but also adept at criticizing, mentoring and ensuring the quality of the work is up to scratch. You need someone above the 'grunts' to throw their work back at them with a fresh perspective and a defined quality bar to reach.

I don't know if you can really learn this stuff other than through experience, it's the kind of thing that people pick up from working in exiting highly-effective teams. Also, I'd think you'd have to be a fairly skilled artist yourself to be able to take part in the directing process.

Sounds like you got ripped off with your concept artist :/
For the talent part, make sure they've got a good portfolio, and for the experience/process part, make sure they've shipped some decent games.
[/quote]

So basically it's impossible without spending a lot of money or having enough art skill yourself? I can't imagine paying an entire team of artists would be cheap.

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2dbean    100
I'll chime in here as a freelance artist in games. I made a few posts for entrepreneurs like yourself when dealing with freelance artists. Good communication is key. You need to be able to disassemble what you need form the artist. Some freelancers will need art directing but I have worked with plenty of progammers that describe in detail or by example what they are after. It's a way of not needing a full time art director etc. Communication. Here are a few links to help you out, hopefully they shed some light on your dilemma. 2 points of view, one from the freelancer and one from the client (you) Hope this helps.
http://2dbean.blogspot.com/2011/03/guide-for-freelancers-from-clients.html
http://2dbean.blogspot.com/2011/03/freelancing-from-pov-of-freelancer.html

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Hodgman    51324
[quote name='Brikwarrior' timestamp='1302631431' post='4797601']
So basically it's impossible without spending a lot of money or having enough art skill yourself? I can't imagine paying an entire team of artists would be cheap.[/quote]If you only need a small amount of artwork you could still hire just 1 guy, but you'd want them to be the kind of person who knows what kind of processes need to be put in place to ensure a quality result and how to develop a strong working relationship between the two of you. You'd want the kind of person who'd be capable of running a game-team, even if it's just you (the design lead) and him (the art lead) in practice.

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sunandshadow    7426
As a non-artist, I think the simplest approach would be to identify an existing game, website, or other artistic reference which has the style of art you want for your game. Show this to your artist and hire them to do a test piece - if they can't produce something you like, try a different artist.

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2dbean    100
"As a non-artist, I think the simplest approach would be to identify an existing game, website, or other artistic reference which has the style of art you want for your game. Show this to your artist and hire them to do a test piece - if they can't produce something you like, try a different artist."

Understandable but from an artists point of view try and find someones art you like. They should have examples and a portfolio that you like already. Just asking someone to draw and create like someone else is one, incestuous in our industry, and a bit insulting to artists when asked "I like your stuff but do it like this guy instead." It's like asking a writer you admire to stop writing novels and write a musical because that's what you want. Just find a well rounded artist to deal with that's at least aimed in the direction you like.

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jyounger    100
Simply finding an artist to work on the cheap, or with the promise of future royalties[i] [/i]can be a monumental hurdle in itself, let alone an artist that you can direct as you wish.

BlackWhite has the right idea. If you're just starting out (as I assume you are, and I apologize if that's not the case) and you're on a tight budget then be prepared to make concessions. Perhaps even a [i]lot [/i]of concessions. You're likely not going to find a professional-grade artist who is well versed in multiple styles unless you're prepared to offer a professional grade of pay.

You also might not be able to find exactly what you need as far as style or level of detail goes... but the most important aspect to a game's visuals isn't necessarily a high degree of technical aptitude, but [i]consistency[/i]. If you can find an artist who isn't perhaps the best or most fitting, but is able to produce consistent work across the board, then that in itself will go a long way to making your game look good. I've played quite a few low-fi indie games with chunky, childish art made in MSPaint that looked quite charming and stylish, simply because the art was consistent throughout.

Also, you may have a vision of how the game should look floating around in your head, but you might consider loosening the hold you have on that vision. If you can find an artist who can make that vision a reality then more power to you, but letting a [s]more amateur[/s] [s]cheaper[/s] [s]inexperienced[/s] budget friendly artist express themselves in a style that they're more comfortable with will produce better results. After all the goal is to get the game done, yes? If "just the right art" is holding that back, then as harsh as it seems it may be time to reorganize your priorities.

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