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Where do I start as a 2D artist?

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I really want to start making art for video games. But I'm not sure where to start. How do I learn the pipeline? Are there any books or tutorials for 2D artists? Any advice or resource would be extremely helpful!

 

Thanks in advance,

your new and hopefully very successful member :D 

 

P.S. Just to clarify, I am not looking for tutorials on how to draw, I am looking for tutorials on the process of making art for mobile and other 2D games, like what tools to use, what to keep in mind, how to create the art assets from scratch etc..

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P.S. Just to clarify, I am not looking for tutorials on how to draw, I am looking for tutorials on the process of making art for mobile and other 2D games, like what tools to use, what to keep in mind, how to create the art assets from scratch etc..

Then in fact you are looking for tutorials on how to draw, as loading the art into a engine is very easy and if you are using a pre-made engine it's only easier.

 

First the engines: 

Cocos2d for a power full 2D engine, it's a bit hard to learn but it's probably the most advanced 2D engine, it's open source and that is a huge plus in my book.

GameMaker is second on my list as it is a easy to use engine even for beginners, however the free license leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Unreal and Unity is also a option, although they are 3D game engines with 2D game compatibility; the 3D tools does allow for some nice effects.

Both Unreal and Unity is free with terms.

 

As for loading the images in you should Google "How to load sprites into (engine name here)"

 

Next the API:

If you plan on not using a pre-made engine and even then you will need to learn an API as it is they that actually do the rendering for an engine. The two most used are OpenGL(Vulkan) and DirectX. For mobile games you will probably be using OpenGL(Vulkan) even if your engine supports both.

 

Tip: even a 2D image is rendered on a polygon(a 2D plane that is used to make 3D meshes) and many 2D game developers can't understand why their games run at 15fps when it's just a 2D game; if this happens just research how to batch meshes, Cocos2d does batching and the 3D engines will do it for you.

 

The art:

For 2D art you will mostly produce two kinds of resources sprites and sprite-sheets.

Sprites is a simple 2D image, most of your environment will be sprites. Sprite-Sheets, this is a sequence of sprites on one image, only part of the sprite sheet is rendered and when animating each sequence sprite is rendered(This is done by moving the UV of the polygon used to draw the sprite).

 

Tip: It is important to know that sprites perform best when they are square powers of two(8*8, 16*16, 32*32, 64*64...), even when making sprite sheets you should keep this in mind. Only the sprite sheet needs to be a square power of two, the images on it can be strange.

 

Learning art:

http://www.ctrlpaint.com/ learn drawing and digital painting.

http://www.deviantart.com/ find inspiration and useful tutorials.

 

Tip: learn about art, there is in fact a very technical side to it. Don't be afraid of using guides when drawing.

 

 

Software for making 2D art:

Photoshop or Gimp or both if you want, for your pixel needs.(Gimp is the free one)

Krita, for digital painting, the brushes are amazing.

Inkscape for vector art. Gimp, Krita and Phothoshop can do vector, however they aren't vector focused.

Any 2D animation software(Spine 2d) or Any 3D animation software (Blender); It's easy to make 2D assets with 3D software.

 

Tip: Pick the software you want to work with, you don't need all of them in fact you could do it all with only one of these.

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Besides what the others said,
 

But I'm not sure where to start.

You need a portfolio. This is how you get a job.
If you don't have a portfolio you need to make one.
 

How do I learn the pipeline?

If you have zero experience with game assets then maybe you should join a hobbyist team so that you can learn by practice. The programmers will tell you to produce things in a certain format, or point you to the documentation of the engine that the team is using.

The people in charge of the pipeline have to tell you about it, somehow. "So we need your sprites in PNG format with a transparent background, we'll run those through our tool that cuts them into a sprite sheet" etc.

Unless you decide to make a game by yourself in which case you will have to rely on the documentation of your game engine of choice, like Ninja said: how to load sprites into it etc.

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An interesting problem.
There isn't a whole lot to differ creating game art from creating any art, actually. The special considerations you will need to make is largly project dependent, and you will get instructions from the programmer regarding how big the images must be, and in what file format and so on.
But for a 2D artist there isn't really much more to the piprline than just drawing.
You will need to learn about tile maps and sprite sheets. and animation. Google these terms, and you'll know what you need to know in an hour :)

If you are interested in learning how to make games yourself, I would also sugggest looking into a game engine, and spend a little while learning programming.

If not, I suggest going to opengameart.org, and check out the most popular stuff in the 2D category there to see how other artists structure their files.
You could then get involved in some gamedev communities online, and offer your help in game jams and other small projects. Tell people you are new, and they'll be friendly and guide you through whatever process is needed for that particlar game.

There's never enough good 2D artists in our communities, so I hope you'll like making game art. Welcome, and good luck! :)

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Guys, thank you so much. It's exactly what I needed to get me started.

 

@[member='Istarnion'], for now I am more interested in just producing art for games, rather then creating games by myself. So I already bookmarked that site, there's a lot to go through over there! Thanks!

 

@[member='Kryzon'], I've been thinking about this the last couple of hours and I think my best bet for both learning the pipeline and building a portfolio is to join some hobbyist team. Cause right now it seems kind of abstract to just create fake assets for my portfolio, and I don't even know what exactly I should create. I started creating art for an imaginary game Magic vs. Zombies:

[attachment=33596:heroes.png][attachment=33597:Zombies.png]

But after this I'm not sure if I should go on in creating buttons, menus, tiles? I'll definitely consider joining a real project.

 

@[member='Scouting Ninja'], that's an awesome post, thank you! I did some searching and I ran into a program for supposedly easy sprite animation called "Spriter". On first look it seems nice, is it any good? And I'll definitely take a look at Krita, so far I've only been using Photoshop.

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I did some searching and I ran into a program for supposedly easy sprite animation called "Spriter"

It's as good as any of the 2D animation software, the main difference between the animation software is the workflow. You should download a few trails and see what you want to use.

 

Personally I am a 3D artist, I use 3D software for anything.Once you understand how 2D animation software works it is easy to replicate inside the 3D software of you choice.

 

 

Your art looks good. A good idea with a portfolio is to show how many styles you can do, it doesn't help focusing on one theme because people will think it's all you can do.

 

If you are targeting game developers you should make mock games scenes, for example you could take these characters pose them on a good background and put in some HUD elements; show game developers what it would look like in a game.

Make different mock game views and for different games, although remember it's better to have only three or four good portfolio pieces than twenty mediocre ones.

 

If you want to work as a 2D artist you need to go find work, portfolio sites help net in a few although out of every ten jobs offers you will find maybe two that's worth doing.

Make your prices and what the client gets clear, I can't tell you how many times clients get angry because they payed me $50 and they don't get the same AAA quality that shows on my portfolio.

 

 

Also consider selling on https://gamedev.market/, you can brows around to see all the key features of 2D art so you know what is needed for game development.

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How do I learn the pipeline?...      ...what tools to use, what to keep in mind...
 

 

the pipeline will depend on the tools used, which depends on the game in question.  

 

so the first thing you need is a project!

 

volunteer for a indie hobby team, and start learning!

 

The project you work on will determine the tools, artwork requirements and constraints, and how the "pipeline" for that game works. each game pretty much has it own custom "pipeline" unless its two games built off the same exact engine, but with different artwork.

 

this will get you hands on experience in making artwork for games, and working with a dev team.

 

and the more teams you work with, the more well-rounded that experience will be.

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Cause right now it seems kind of abstract to just create fake assets for my portfolio, and I don't even know what exactly I should create. (...)
But after this I'm not sure if I should go on in creating buttons, menus, tiles? I'll definitely consider joining a real project.

"What should I put in my portfolio" depends a lot on your goals. You can find some answers here:

- http://polycount.com/discussion/178125/struggling-to-break-into-the-industry-is-your-folio-helping-you
- http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Portfolio
- http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Game_Industry

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