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Moe091

Can I learn to make quality programmer art?

10 posts in this topic

I'm finally starting to get more serious with my game development now that I have time and my programming ability won't hold me back anymore.

 

I wanna create a small but fun and very polished mobile game, I'm pretty familiar with android and opengl es and everything I need to program the game, that part isn't a problem at all. but I can't afford to pay an artist and I don't know any artists willing to team up and make a game together with me(but I am still looking for one wink.png if you are a talented pixel artist and want your game idea brought to life send me a pm) so it looks like I'm going to be relying on programmer art. 

 

In general, I'm not terrible at art. I'm definitely not good at it either, but I am willing to invest tons of time/effort into learning pixel art if it means I'll eventually be able to create professional looking graphics. It seems to me(correct me if I'm wrong) that pixel art is more of something that can be learned than something that you need to be naturally adept at. So although natural talent will obviously give some people an advantage I believe someone like me can learn to create quality pixel art if they put the time into it.

 

So I guess the point of this post is to get peoples opinions on whether or not a regular old programmer with no notable artistic ability like me can learn how to create quality pixel art using tutorials and various online resources. I'd also like to get peoples opinions on about how long it'd take someone like me can start from nothing and learn to create pixel art of acceptable quality(as in good enough so that the art doesn't turn people away from my game or ruin the experience).

 

I'd also be grateful for any tips or ideas on creating good looking programmer art. 

 

And I'm still open to the idea of working with an artist, I decided not to waste my time trying to find a good artist who will work on my idea with no upfront pay and no guarantee of making any money from sales. However if there is a skilled artist that is kinda in my situation but reversed(having a game idea you want to make but not being able to program it) contact me and we may be able to work something out smile.png.

 

 

that is all, thanks for reading through my long post

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I'd personally suggest vector art for a non-artist; I don't know if you are familiar with the show Southpark and the simple stop-motion paper cutout and pivot animation style it uses (well, used for the first season, they got more digital as it went along), but vector art would be good for creating game art like that.  It has a lot of features for automatically making geometric shapes, gradients, and other things which are done by hand in pixel art.

 

On the other hand, there are a lot of pixel sprites ripped from existing games available as references to emulate, so it might be possible to do that even without knowing why the original artist did the shading or whatever the way they did.

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In general, I'm not terrible at art. I'm definitely not good at it either, but I am willing to invest tons of time/effort into learning pixel art if it means I'll eventually be able to create professional looking graphics.

From my own experiences (old guy with two left hands when it comes down to art),  I can say, that making (decent) art is really only a skill, and therefor you can learn and master it. Talent will help you to pick it up more quickly, but even a talented person needs to learn a lot. Most often the issue is, that many people don't learn it properly (drawing out of the mind instead of using references), are slave to self-fulling phrophecy or give up too early. With time you will get better !

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I'd personally suggest vector art for a non-artist; I don't know if you are familiar with the show Southpark and the simple stop-motion paper cutout and pivot animation style it uses (well, used for the first season, they got more digital as it went along), but vector art would be good for creating game art like that. It has a lot of features for automatically making geometric shapes, gradients, and other things which are done by hand in pixel art.


I'd agree with the vector art suggestion. Look at 2D Game Art for Programmers for some great tutorials aimed at non-artists.
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EDIT: I almost forgot, I wanted to ask if anyone could recommend me some really good looking 2d games, I want to look at a few high-end examples of both regular pixel art and vector art, to use as reference/inspiration and to help me decide which would suit my game better

 

 

I was actually going to ask about the vector art. I don't really know anything about it but i remember reading a tutorial before about creating a vector art helicopter for some reason and it looked pretty easy. Thanks for the suggestions I'm definitely gonna give that a go.

 

I also like the idea of using some really good pixel art from other 2d games as reference and making my own sprites but adopting as much as I can from the professional sprites. I'll give that a try to and see what gives me better results.

 

Do you think there's any chance that I could learn to make some quality 'programmer music'? Or am I pushing it a little bit by trying to do that myself too? I don't have much musical knowledge at all but unlike art it is something that I'm definitely naturally good at. I never learned an instrument(i played guitar for a short time when I was younger but it's hardly even worth mentioning because I never really learned much) but I do have a midi keyboard(people usually use keyboards to make game music right? or do they make it completely on the computer with a program like ableton live or fruity loops?) and I mess around with it a lot and can make some decent sounding tunes. I feel like if I put some time into it I could make something acceptable. I'm somewhat familiar with ableton to but I find it harder to make anything that sounds good with that, I could probably make some sound effects tho.

 

I realize it's probably not the best idea to try and do EVERYTHING myself but it is really hard to find people to work with that don't disappear within a week, I'm hoping after I finish a nice polished game that proves I'm a capable programmer I'll be able to find some more reliable and experienced partners to work with. Does anyone have any other ideas  they want to share about how I can manage to make a half decent game with my current resources/abilities? The only things I have going for me are that I have a ton of time to dedicate to coding over the next few months and that I already know everything I need to code an android game.

 

Sorry im kind of derailing my own thread but I already got some good answers to my question, and I like to squeeze every bit advice I can out of my threads smile.png

 

thanks for the helpful replies btw

Edited by Moe091
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For myself, over five years on-and-off, my programmer art has dramatically improved.

I still can't do characters with any skill (lack of practice), but my tile art is very good (for a non-artist).

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The basic concept of vector graphics is that you define points and the computer draws lines, curves, or fills based on those points.  It's a bit philosophically like 3D polygon graphics.  On the other hand pixel art is like filling in the squares in graph paper, which is philosophically similar to 3D voxels.  THE free vector program is Inkscape.  The pay one is Adobe Illustrator, and some Flash packages included a vector graphics program, though they are no longer producing that software.

 

I can't offhand give a list of games with great 2D graphics (and honestly, the "great" ones are going to be too difficult to imitate, you probably want to aim for something solidly good and fun but not groundbreaking).  But for just a few examples I happen to be familiar with, Gaia Online, Dofus, and Plants vs. Zombies use a lot of vector graphics.  Angry Birds wasn't actually done with vector graphics as far as I know, but it would be quite easy to achieve a style like that with vectors.

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Can you create good programmer art?  Yes.  Time investment and return on said investment will depend on your intake ability: how fast do you pick it up, are you learning/studying the right way for your personal brain chemistry, quality of instruction if you're following tutorials/books/classes, etc.

 

Vector art will probably give you "polished" results faster thanks to its mathematical nature: no one laying down vectors has to be able to draw a smooth curve, for example.  Just drag the various anchors for the pen line until the curve looks exactly how you want it to.

 

But in general "can I do X" questions are almost always answerable with "Yes, but will you?" or "Yes, with enough time."  Good luck!

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There're three categories when making 2d art.

 

pixel, painted and vector.

 

All three need art knowledge (lighting, shape, color etc.), the main difference is the use of tool to produce a certain look. Pixel art clearly displays pixels and have a strong retro feel, vector art has very smooth curves, but often flat appearance and painted art use traditional approaches to paint a small image.

 

IMHO the most easiest seems to be vector art, then comes painted art due to its large range of styles (e.g. choose less colors, paint on larger scale, then downsample the image) and the most difficulty is pixel art (here you must choose the right pixel color for each pixel so that it looks like the vision you imagine !).

 

Tutorials/Infos:

- Pixel art by derek yu (game spelunky)

- Vector art (same as dave j)

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You can't make quality programmer art because that term doesn't make sense! Programmer art is programmer art because of it's complete lack of quality, and obvious cluelessness on the part of the creator.

Art is a skill that you learn just like programming. You study the methods and you practice. You keep it up, and you never stop learning new tricks and improving. And just like programming, the difference between the good result and the bad one is one person willing to put in the hours of work.

Get a cheap tablet and some books. You'll need to learn about using shapes, composition, and the proper use of colors. Don't fall into the trap of being afraid to get honest feedback either!
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In general, I'm not terrible at art. I'm definitely not good at it either, but I am willing to invest tons of time/effort into learning pixel art if it means I'll eventually be able to create professional looking graphics.

From my own experiences (old guy with two left hands when it comes down to art),  I can say, that making (decent) art is really only a skill, and therefor you can learn and master it. Talent will help you to pick it up more quickly, but even a talented person needs to learn a lot. Most often the issue is, that many people don't learn it properly (drawing out of the mind instead of using references), are slave to self-fulling phrophecy or give up too early. With time you will get better !

 

I dont know, i disagree to some point. You can learn the skill of art but without the innate ability to do art you really are at a great disadvantage. I can learn to program ( and I have to some degree ) but I can tell you the process is the most annoying since my brain is meant to do art rather than to code. I dont know, I just feel that if you are meant for one thing it will come more natural and you will see roads/routes that somebody who learned the skill from books/videos wont.

 

This really makes me sound like a nerd but I picture the setup much like the difference between a wizard and a sorcerer in a DnD realm. Least, that is how I have always pictured it. Anyway, long story short, I am not saying you cant do it I just think you shouldnt aim for the best stuff in the world. If you are a programmer stay that way unless you really want to spend lots of time learning another craft and hindering your primary one.

 

BTW, I love derek. He was the guy who got me into making games.

Edited by riuthamus
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