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ShiftyCake

Couple of questions for game art designers/animators

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Hey guys. Game art and animation is just entirely out of my depth, so I was hoping for some advice on the questions. This is for the future when I start looking for potential partners for my games.

 

Is Game Art Designer what you are called? I looked it up, but it just seems a little clunky.

 

Is it hard to be both a 2D/3D Game Art Designer? Would you need to specialise in one or the other.

 

And is it hard to be both a Game Art Designer and an Animator? Or again, would you need to specialise in one or the other.

 

To give just a little more information, I'm currently learning and improving my programming. Once I feel comfortable with my programming, I want to start designing games starting from very small projects, and slowly increasing in size and scope. When I start doing this I want to bring on board one hobbyist/beginning game art designer and sound designer each, and I'm (hoping) we will improve as we build the games, slowly building up our skills and expertise.

 

So then, is it possible for the artist I bring on board to tackle these jobs? Do I need to specialise in 2D or 3D games? And what about Isometric art (I have an isometric game designed), is that another specialisation? Do I need to bring in another person for the animation?

 

I'd appreciate any help with this, thanks.

Edited by ShiftyCake

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About your "isometric art"... you are mixing up the 2D/3D art distinction and a point of view chosen for games.

 

2D Art is basically sprite based / bitmap / vector graphics art. Technically are drawing 2D sprites over 2D Backgrounds. These can be bitmaps, thus Pixel based images that get pixalated when zoomed up, or vector graphics, which lend itself better to zooming in as they are not pixelbased.

 

3D Art is Polygon / Vertex based. Its mainly referencing using 3D Models made of polygons that have textures mapped to them, but also includes stuff like particle effects, which sometimes are not much more than animated sprites placed at some point in the 3D world, or skyboxes, which are basically just inverted boxes with 6 images of the sky mapped to its faces.

 

There are mixed forms where 3D models are placed before 2D Backgrounds, or 3D models are used to prerender the animation phases of 2D Sprites that will be used in a 2D game.

There was a time when some games used 2D Sprites placed in 3D Worlds (the good old PS1 era Breath of Fire games did that).

 

 

But the point is: this has nothing to do with the point of view for your game. There were quite some first person 2D games WAY back. The dungeon crawlers and RPGs of olde for example. There are just as much 3D sidescrollers today, as at some point 3D graphics tend to be cheaper to produce than 2D graphics.

So you WILL need to decide wheter to go with 2D art for your isometric game (which can become quite expensive fast, as every character needs 4-8 directions for each animation frame drawn), or 3D art (which has a higher overhead with sculpting/modelling, texturing and animating your characters for example being quite distinctive skills, but tends to be cheaper the "bigger" the game gets, as you can run the same animation for all angles your isometric character is seen in just as an example again).

 

 

I would guess a good 3D artist could model and texturize your characters, and most probably also rig and animate them. You might get way better results by going with multiple "experts" in their area, but that is only going to matter when your game gets really big and your budget is matching the larger scope (meaning you can pay 3 artists instead of just 1).

2D animations are simpler if you are using frame by frame animation, which you probably will have to for an isometric title. Its all just animation frames drawn for you by the 2D artist. Of course, combinatorial explosion and all, you either have very few and/or simple animations, or your 2D artist will have a ton of work to do.

Going with a simpler art style, e.g. 8-bit pixel graphics can make 2D graphics cheaper...

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@Gian-Reto

 

Yeah, you're right. I wasn't thinking of isometric art like that because it seems like a completely different art style, rather then just a change of POV.

 

 

I want to go 3D for my isometric game, just because it's easier from a programming aspect as well (at least from what I've read). I guess my best bet is to take on board an artist who can do a specific range of things, and then outsource any other artist work I need.

 

That still leaves me with the question of: how much realistically can a single artist do at once? I'm looking for the artist to learn along with me, so it's not the skills I need - but the knowledge of how many skills they can realistically learn.

 

I don't know if I'm explaining this very well.

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Is Game Art Designer what you are called?

 

The title is irrelevant, except perhaps when advertising looking for someone.  what you need is known as an "art girl" or "art guy".

 

the skills / talents are basically 3:  

1. hand drawn artwork.

2. 3d modeling.

3, the ability to use tools to create game assets.

 

your artist doesn't have to be able to draw unless you need hand drawn artwork for the game in question.

 

your artist doesn't have to be able to do 3D modeling unless you need 3D artwork for the game in question.

 

your artist will need to be able to use graphics tools to create game assets - for pretty much any type of game you make.  Even if you buy all your art assets, they'll probably need some tweaking before they are game ready.

 

As mentioned above, isometric is a view ( a specific camera angle ). It can be used with 2D or 3D graphics.

 

Ideally, you art person will have all three skills: hand drawing, modeling, and tool skills.

 

But at any given time, you only need the skills called for by the current game project.  So you need tool skills, and maybe hard drawn and / or 3D, depending on the game in question.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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That still leaves me with the question of: how much realistically can a single artist do at once? I'm looking for the artist to learn along with me, so it's not the skills I need - but the knowledge of how many skills they can realistically learn.

 

They can do one model at a time - just like anyone else.  <g>.

 

A good 3D modeler can do a fully rigged and animated skinned mesh from scratch with multiple matching outfits in a couple of weeks. Maybe one week if they're really good.  That's totally from scratch. Usually you have some sort of skinned mesh to start with which can cut that time required down a lot.  A bit of editing of the skinned mesh, then its on to rigging, animation, and outfits.

 

If they are learning, the first one may take a month or more if totally from scratch.  Modeling bodies and modeling faces are almost skills unto themselves, as is non-IK animation.

 

As to how far they can go, it depends on the limits of their talents. If they have the eye of a michael angelo quality sculptor (for the art side), and the brains of a 3D programmer (for the technical side), they will go far.  Lesser candidates will go less far.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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@Gian-Reto

 

Yeah, you're right. I wasn't thinking of isometric art like that because it seems like a completely different art style, rather then just a change of POV.

 

 

I want to go 3D for my isometric game, just because it's easier from a programming aspect as well (at least from what I've read). I guess my best bet is to take on board an artist who can do a specific range of things, and then outsource any other artist work I need.

 

That still leaves me with the question of: how much realistically can a single artist do at once? I'm looking for the artist to learn along with me, so it's not the skills I need - but the knowledge of how many skills they can realistically learn.

 

I don't know if I'm explaining this very well.

 

A LOT depends on your art style.

 

Go with a simple art style, like the stylized low poly style that became trendy among some Indie hipster games, and your artist, if he is a good artist, will churn out assets like ther is no tomorrow (though, to be realistic, stuff still takes time to create in a reasonable quality. There is a certain amount of overhead because of all the needed steps to create even a textureless, animated 3D character).

 

Ask your artist to create a fully rigged, highly detailed high poly character in AAA quality and he will spend months on a single character.

 

So really make sure you tell the artist EXACTLY what you need, and you make sure that you cut corners whereever possible.

 

- Don't want the cam to be able to zoom in? Make sure the texture detail is not excessive for your PoV. Your artist can omit a ton of details on the normal characters, and just spend a little bit more time on the assets that are bigger in your scene.

- Working with textboxes anyway? Drop facial animations, your player will hardly see the facial animations anyway in a isometric PoV, and creating proper facial animations can take a ton of time.

- Do you REALLY need organic creatures in your game? With mechanical units you save a ton of time and headaches on rigging and animation.

 

- Make sure you approach your artist with a clear brief of what you need. Like a clear brief, maybe with simple sketches, for every asset you need. Failing that, make sure you give him additional time to come up with a concept for you to approve (and of course, you will need to pay for that too)

- Make sure you have everything tested before telling your artist to start churning out those assets. There are a ton of possible mistakes or things that just don't work with your choice of engine, render, game concept or whatever else is involved on the non-artsy side. Make sure you have a testmodel, run through the whole pipeline once before the artist starts churning out assets like mad.

Having to redo a testpiece is not so bad. Having to redo 50+ assets will become expensive fast.

 

 

In general, things take way longer than you think to produce in 3D. The fastest thing is to buy stock assets, if they fit your needs (if you need to re-adjust them, they might again take a ton of time). The second fastest thing is kitbashing what you need from pre-existing models (which is what most pro 3D artists do most of the time anyway, they will have a HUGE library of stock and their own prior art they can work with).

The slowest is creating stuff from scratch.

 

So if you think about teaming up with an inexpierienced 3D artist, keep that in mind. Many newbies like working from scratch, it lets them learn more... they also lack the library of models to work with and kitbash. And of course, stock art can range from cheap to very expensive.

Still, set aside a budget for getting ahold of stock art and kitbash piece libraries. It can save your artist a ton of time!

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I just want to point out that a 3D modeler and animator isn't the same thing.

 

A animator spend 3-4 years learning to make objects appear alive, then they entered the market and gained practical experience animating.

A 3D modeler spend 3-4 years learning how to create static objects, then entered the market and gained practical experience modeling and rendering.

 

Now you do get animators that can do 3D modeling and you get 3D modelers like me that can animate because clients prefer using one person for both jobs; however I have 4 years training and 8 years practical in 3D modeling, I only have 3 years training in animation and some experience from freelance work; not even a year.

 

Artist will have a mix bag of things they can do, however they will all have that one thing they focus on.

 

Here is a basic guide, this is based on freelancers I have worked with:

The average 3D modeler:

Expert 3D modeling, Basic lighting, Advanced Rendering, Advanced Rigging, Basic animations, Advanced texturing. Can do any 2D art will use 3D tools to do it.

 

The Average 2D artist: Expert Concept art, Expert Graphic design, Advanced Texturing, Basic 3D software knowledge, Advanced Animations.

 

The Average animator: Expert 2D or 3D animations with advanced skill in the other, Expert rigging, Advanced acting, Advanced 2D or 3D skills.

 

When hiring a freelancer I would look at the portfolio or ask on forums with job listings for an artist that can do X or Y.

 

 

Is Game Art Designer what you are called?

We go by our specialization, the one we decided to dedicate our lives to learning. So each artist will preferred to be call there own thing.

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Okay guys, thanks for all this information, I really appreciate it. So if I'm targeting beginner artists, should I look for an animator and 3D modeler separately? Or, if I have some patience (I'm in no rush), can I get one person who'll build up their experience in both. Would that be realistic?

Edited by ShiftyCake

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Okay guys, thanks for all this information, I really appreciate it. So if I'm targeting beginner artists, should I look for an animator and 3D modeler separately? Or, if I have some patience (I'm in no rush), can I get one person who'll build up their experience in both. Would that be realistic?

 

Maybe you should start with the most important part:

 

How much can you spend on your artists?

Are we talking about a serious budget, so can you pay one or even two guys fully for months (or however long it takes to finish the art for your game), with some reserve money left for uncertainities?

Are we talking about enough money to have a single freelancer work on your game some hours on a hourly basis?

Are we talking about no money involved, rather looking for people ready to work for free?

 

Depending on how much you can spend, the answer will be radically different.

If you look for people ready to work for free, good look finding even a single artist that is ready to work on your project. Forget looking for a separate animator. And be prepared to cut your expectations down to the very minimum. You most probably will have to deal with inexpierienced, and not very highly motivated artists.

If your money is just enough to buy some hours from a freelancer, I would think long and hard if you want to stretch that money to cover two guys. It MIGHT not be a bad idea in the end, as a dedicated animator might work faster on the animation and rigging side, thus getting you more for your money when the animator and the modeler can concentrate on what they do best. BUT: there is always "friction losses" when dealing with multiple people... like the modeler delivering models to you the animator has trouble working with, and stuff like that. I guess you first need to find freelancers ready to work with you, see what their rates and skillsets are before you can make an educated decision.

If you have the money to pay multiple artists fully for months, then yeah, go with specialists. I guess those "friction losses" will be overcome quickly when those guys really have the time to work with each other, and you will get more for your money.

 

 

That is my opinion of course. The important point is: before asking your question, you need to tell us what you are ready to pay.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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