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Questions on graphic design programs for games

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Hi guys, I have two questions regarding graphic design programs and how they relate to games:

 

1) I stumbled upon this blog on being a games artist and in the "What software I should learn" section, it says " For starters, you should learn Photoshop. It's pretty much the industry standard for 2D artwork. " Why is it this case? I thought Adobe Illustrator and similar vector based drawing programs like Inkscape is standard for 2d artwork. Where does photoshop come in?

 

Here is the link:

 

http://www.cybergooch.com/tutorials/pages/gamejob/getting_a_games_art_job.htm

 

2) Do employers mind if I use freeware programs? I learned how to use photoshop in high school for image manipulation and moved on to a freeware program called GIMP and still has it to this day. Right now, I am practicing vector drawing on Inkscape (Freeware program compared to Illustrator). I have experience in photoshop and illustrator but I am using freeware counterparts because Photoshop and Illustrator combined are expensive, especially since I have loans to pay for college.

 

3) Ok so this may not have to do with the topic but since I am here: Do game artists stay at one company for long or are they like freelancers? I checked out some game art portfolios and the resumes attached. To my surprise, they have worked at multiple game companies as if they were job hopping. I was hoping to stay at one company for a while...

 

Thanks in advance!

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1) I stumbled upon this blog on being a games artist and in the "What software I should learn" section, it says " For starters, you should learn Photoshop. It's pretty much the industry standard for 2D artwork. " Why is it this case? I thought Adobe Illustrator and similar vector based drawing programs like Inkscape is standard for 2d artwork. Where does photoshop come in?

 

Photoshop is an image editor and freehand painting platform. Illustrator is a Vector illustration suite.
 

Illustrator would be standard for assets for iOS games and other simple 2D assets, I should think, what with the vectors, perhaps also inorganic design work, but Photoshop's workflow is much more suited to things such as concept art and other organic designs.

A lot of people even do UI work in Photoshop, if I've heard correctly.

In any case, people expect this from Photoshop:

D2-W-012.jpg

(Copyright Arkane and Viktor Antonov)


And this from Illustrator: adobe-illustrator-cs5-2099.jpg
(Source Needed; Illustrator feature picture I believe)

 

Not quite the same, is it?
While I was searching, I saw a few beautiful painted works that cited Adobe Illustrator, but I can't be sure of any of them, and they were sandwiched between standard vector works. So I'd say it's probably the exception that you can make works like that, and not the rule.

 

2) Do employers mind if I use freeware programs? I learned how to use photoshop in high school for image manipulation and moved on to a freeware program called GIMP and still has it to this day. Right now, I am practicing vector drawing on Inkscape (Freeware program compared to Illustrator). I have experience in photoshop and illustrator but I am using freeware counterparts because Photoshop and Illustrator combined are expensive, especially since I have loans to pay for college.

 

I find GIMP to be horrid! It's not really the same at all. However, that's a personal opinion, and I'm pretty sure if your artistic skills and design sense are honed enough they won't give a diddly squat whether you design using MSPaint and Flash. It's just that you'll probably (and note the probably) be using Photoshop if you're hired to do stuff that they use Photoshop for, so it's a massive plus to them if they know that they won't have to get someone to teach you.

 

3) Ok so this may not have to do with the topic but since I am here: Do game artists stay at one company for long or are they like freelancers? I checked out some game art portfolios and the resumes attached. To my surprise, they have worked at multiple game companies as if they were job hopping. I was hoping to stay at one company for a while...

 

Both. Some are hired and work by salary, some are freelancers and are outsourced. However, I think what you're seeing is more of a weird thing that games companies sometimes do where they hire a team to work on a game...
Then proceed to lay everyone off when it's out or just after a period of time as passed.
I'm sure this isn't too common, but I've heard a lot of stories; and it seems like the general attitude is that you're not expected to stay at one company for all of your career like it might be in some other industries.


Some of this might be a bit off, since I'm still a student, but I hope this does clear up some things.

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Firstly, the 'graphic design' term isn't used that much in games job titles -- the majority of the art for 3D games is 3D modelling and texturing, which is a bit different. Traditional 'graphic design' skills would be more use on the UI team rather than the general art team. Also, many art positions are somewhat multi-skilled, where someone who can do 3D sculpting, 3D modelling/topography, texuring, digital painting and traditional graphic design would be very valuable.
e.g. if you have to model a van, paint the textures on it, and also design a logo that appears on the side, that's a bunch of different art disciplines. At some companies, they might use a group of different specialists to complete the task, or at other jobs they might use one generalist.

1) When it comes to digital painting, which includes most texture work and concept art, then photoshop is the standard. If you're developing icons for a UI, then a vector art package might be more suitable.

2) There's usually a standard set of software per company, which they've licensed for their staff. Depending on the company, you may be able to supplement that with your own choices. Some might not care if you use Gimp, but others might have their whole game engine built around .PSD files, or scripts within Photoshop, or you might have to collaborate and share files, in which case your chosen non-standard tool would be a hassle.

3) At decent sized companies, most jobs are regular full-time positions. It's the same for all disciplines, including code, etc, not just art.
The games industry is very volatile though, with seemingly dozens of studio closures every year, so continual relocation seems to be a fact of life for many people. Edited by Hodgman

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I'm pretty sure the clients don't care what you use as long as they like the product you produce, So by all means, use a freeware program. I use Gimp quiet frequently.

 

What I got from other artist is this. If you contract doesn't say you work is exclusive with them, you are free to freelance. So if I'm with a company that allows me to freelance, I would work both. As long as you have the time, do as you like, if you're able to do so.

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I'm pretty sure the clients don't care what you use as long as they like the product you produce

That is not really correct. Companys often need art which meets certain specs, even if you make kickass art, your art could get declined due to not meeting the requirements.

Some examples:

- pipeline issues (they integrate the art into their pipeline, e.g. the need all textures in a certain layered, psd file).

- format issues (they need scaleable art like svg and not raster art).

- style issues (they need a certain art style, e.g. toon instead of photorealistic)

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That is not really correct. Companys often need art which meets certain specs, even if you make kickass art, your art could get declined due to not meeting the requirements.

 

I'm pretty sure the clients don't care what you use as long as they like the product you produce

Some examples:

- pipeline issues (they integrate the art into their pipeline, e.g. the need all textures in a certain layered, psd file).

- format issues (they need scaleable art like svg and not raster art).

- style issues (they need a certain art style, e.g. toon instead of photorealistic)

 

That's all wrong. A lot of artists don't even use layers. So if they wanted things to be layered, they would have to tell you ahead of time. Let it be noted that GIMP has layers. And anything else they wanted they would let you know ahead of time. A lot of the things you brought up make no sense at all.

 

-Style issues? That's all comes down to the artist, not the program they use... smh

 

Dude, don't listen to him. You can use whatever you want, but A LOT of professional artists use Photoshop. If they want specs from photoshop, you can easily draw in your preferred program, upload it in photoshop, do some small revisions and there goes the specs. It's not like you absolutely have to use photoshop. Not everybody learns it.

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IMO you have to be an insane maniac not to use layers, especially for game assets.

 

I think it depends on the situation, too. Some employers might just want a PNG and don't care what delivered it. Programs come in where there's transfer of specific formats or custom tools involved. It's also different if you're an in-house artist at a company and are required to use the specified tools or an outside contractor, where your end product is tightly specified but how you get there is not. 

 

 

If they want specs from photoshop, you can easily draw in your preferred program, upload it in photoshop, do some small revisions and there goes the specs. It's not like you absolutely have to use photoshop. Not everybody learns it.

 

Umm...

 

I think if you have to use Photoshop to do finishing work anyway, you might as well just use Photoshop from the start and not mess around with awkwardly transferring file formats, especially if you are working on tons of assets.

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1) I stumbled upon this blog on being a games artist and in the "What software I should learn" section, it says " For starters, you should learn Photoshop. It's pretty much the industry standard for 2D artwork. " Why is it this case? I thought Adobe Illustrator and similar vector based drawing programs like Inkscape is standard for 2d artwork. Where does photoshop come in?

 

Photoshop has been in since forever. I remember using Paint Shop Pro because it was easy to crack and simple to use.... I remember when I first started saying "layers are stupid, who would ever use them" LMAO Silly things we say when we are young and ignorant. Photoshop is seriously the most powerful tool. Gimp and other tools can be used but you are really lacking in a lot of tools. Ill give you an example of what i mean. I do concept art right now with a mouse and keyboard. I can do some good work with this but it takes me longer than people who have a $4,000 draw pad. In the industry time = money so anything that can speed up the process and create good quality of work over and over becomes industry standard.

 

2) Do employers mind if I use freeware programs? I learned how to use photoshop in high school for image manipulation and moved on to a freeware program called GIMP and still has it to this day. Right now, I am practicing vector drawing on Inkscape (Freeware program compared to Illustrator). I have experience in photoshop and illustrator but I am using freeware counterparts because Photoshop and Illustrator combined are expensive, especially since I have loans to pay for college.

 

Some might and some may not. It really depends on the employer and what they are asking of you. If they expect the core files there might be issues if the file format you are exporting is not accepted by the industry grade programs. ( most of the times that is not the case ) If you are ever hired to work on a team most often they pay for your software since you will be using one of their seat liscn. Furthermore, Adobe finally got smart and realized that there are millions of artists who can not afford 4000 every year for the new version of the software. So what did they do, they added a subscription based setup that allows you to pay for ALL of their software for a very low rate. $79 gets you access to every product they make and you can use them for release purposes. This means if you do one freelance product at a very LOW rate you can pay for access to all the big industry software no problem. Smartest move for any wouldbe artist.

 

3) Ok so this may not have to do with the topic but since I am here: Do game artists stay at one company for long or are they like freelancers? I checked out some game art portfolios and the resumes attached. To my surprise, they have worked at multiple game companies as if they were job hopping. I was hoping to stay at one company for a while...

 

Much like most markets of today, the game industry is very volatile for artists. Unless you are top notch and deliver a very specific style you could and will be replaced for a lower priced artist. If you earn a name for yourself and you gain a very specific art style you can gain some form of job security but that is really dependent upon what you bring to the table. The worst and best part of art is that today you could be shit and tomorrow you could be a legend. Such is the life of somebody who creates works of art for the appreciation of those around them.

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You are not really understanding what I want to tell you, might be a problem, that I'm not a native speaker.

 

-Style issues? That's all comes down to the artist, not the program they use... smh

Well, every art have a certain style, think of the Simpsons. If you must create a Simpsons character he needs to look like one of them, regardless of what the artist is able to do, that is meant by style. The used tool is in this case most likely not important.

An other example is borderland, the texture need to look like concept art. They have a very specific style you need to meet.

 

If they want specs from photoshop,

With specs I don't meant specular maps, but project/art specification. Larger projects have dozens of artists, still there are some artist and technical artist in lead to define some kind of specification, because at the end all art should reflect the same style and specification.

 

An other example, L4D uses a special technique to render the zombies. The textures need to meet a certain technically specification (e.g. greyscale , detail maps, each channel have a certain task etc.). WoW, Teamfortress 2,Walking Dead, JRPGs, Casual Games all have special styles you need to meet.

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Agreed, once you get more in depth you realize the complexity of it all. Did you know that photoshop doesnt process alphas on PNG files correctly? When you export them for use with SRGB values you get some funk ass effects. you have to obtain a plugin that will allow you to export proper PNG files such as "SuperPNG". This is something I would have never known until I started to make art for games.

 

On another note some programs such as 3dcoat and 3dmax do not play well with third party programs that are free. I can directly export a texturemap to photoshop and back via 3dcoats press and play process. This method could be pivitol when dealing with the art assets used in a art pipeline. Freelance work wont be effected by this but when you get into the big business practice it very much will. I could name off thousands of other processes or events where knowing the tool you are using and what it can and can not do is crucial. The point is that using industry standard tools is very much suggested... if you cant because you can not afford them than that is great but do not pretend like your free tools can do all of the same things that photoshop or any other industry tool can. In most cases they cant.

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