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Theomeny

Questions on Game Art

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I have recently started development on a game that I have been developing in my head for some time. I pitched the idea to some of my friends and they liked the idea so I decided to start. I have a good idea what I will need to do on a technical and design level, but the only problem is I lack artistic skill. The game will be 2d and thus I will be using pixel art. Currently I am in college so I work on the game in my spare time, but I also don’t have a lot of money. I can make a bit over the summer and during college, although this will cut into my development time. I don’t really have a deadline I want this to be finished by. My question is, should I just keep plugging away and trying to develop enough artistic skill that will produce some decent results, or should I outsource to someone to make sprites for me at a cost? Also, if you are decent at pixel art yourself, how long did it take you to get to that stage? 

One more thing, I would ask a friend or someone I know to help, but they either A: Don’t have any artistic skill or B: Aren’t experienced in pixel art

Thank you in advanced!

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The game will be 2d and thus I will be using pixel art.

 

I just wanted to be sure you understand that 2d doesn't have to mean pixel art.  There is nothing wrong with pixel art as long as it fits your game.

 

I personally never got good at pixelling.  I get better results making models and pre-rendering them into sprites, and there are lots of shortcuts I can take when using this pipeline too.

 

Is your game something that is important to you(as far as the end result)?  How long do you want to take?  And do you have the budget for an artist?  Could you possibly find a good artist willing to work for freeas a partner in development(not easy, but has been done)?  Do you intend your game to be a commercial product(actually make money as opposed to just hobby)?  These are all questions that can help you decide whether you should hire an artist or not.  If you have lots of time, it may be worth it to you to chug out learning how to do it yourself.  But then it may not be...it all depends on you and your situation.

 

Hey thank you for the response. I've done some game creation as a hobby with no intention of making them public or selling a finished product but I plan to eventually sell this as a commercial product, even if I don't sell it for that much. I would like to finish the game with a couple years although I am willing to spend longer if needed. I could make around 2-3k a year and I don't really have a lot of expenses right now since most are college debts. Depending on how long this takes I could gather a few thousand for an artist, although I'm not sure if that would cover for a good pixel artist.  Also, I would say that this project is important to me.

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Use public domain assets or buy cheap ones.  Get a hold of a paint program. start playing with it.  edit the stuff you download.  with practice you may become good enough to make stuff from scratch.  i knew zero about artwork when i started making games.  now the next thing for me to learn is modeling and creating textures for 3D characters from scratch. until then i use Bastioni Lab and Blender for humans, and PD assets for animals.  While i can't make a mastodon from scratch, i can edit an elephant to turn it into one. it just takes time and patience.  Probably more patience than coding does.  Or maybe i just find it tedious, while a real artist doesn't.  Or maybe its the fact that i'm trying to build entire virtual game worlds, not just a few 3d models ( 60 or so for my current project ).

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  I get better results making models and pre-rendering them into sprites, and there are lots of shortcuts I can take when using this pipeline too.

 

@kburkhart84, I'm interested in this comment. I think I understand what you are suggesting. Is there a tutorial that explains how to do this? I'm assuming this means using something like Unity or Blender to convert a 3D Model view into a spritesheet somehow.

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@kburkhart84, I'm interested in this comment. I think I understand what you are suggesting. Is there a tutorial that explains how to do this? I'm assuming this means using something like Unity or Blender to convert a 3D Model view into a spritesheet somehow.

 

instead of hand painting sprites, you render them - that's all.  you make or find a 3d model, you render it, and that gives you your image for your sprite.   No real painting skills required - and you tend to get better looking graphics. AOE 1 and a number of other games use rendered sprites. rendered and animated actually.

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instead of hand painting sprites, you render them - that's all.  you make or find a 3d model, you render it, and that gives you your image for your sprite.   No real painting skills required - and you tend to get better looking graphics. AOE 1 and a number of other games use rendered sprites. rendered and animated actually.

Is this actually easier than doing 2d sprites though? I always thought that 3d modeling would be more difficult than just doing pixel art or hand drawn art.

Edited by Theomeny

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instead of hand painting sprites, you render them - that's all.  you make or find a 3d model, you render it, and that gives you your image for your sprite.   No real painting skills required - and you tend to get better looking graphics. AOE 1 and a number of other games use rendered sprites. rendered and animated actually.

Is this actually easier than doing 2d sprites though? I always thought that 3d modeling would be more difficult than just doing pixel art or hand drawn art.

 

 

For me, it is easier.  Some people(including me) are more able to make 3d models than make 2d art in any form(pixel or otherwise).  Also, consider that in a modelling program, I can easily add a default shape such as a sphere, and boom it is there.  But for 2d, I'd have to draw the circle, then depending on the art style add in the lighting.  Then if I want animations....you get the idea.  In 3d, you can take more time to make the initial models and textures, but once you do, the rest is much easier.  Lighting is easy to change, you can easily change colors and textures and just re-render.  Animations etc... are also much easier to change and re-render.  So the more changes you make, the easier it is to do it in 3d than 2d.  With a sprite that has a bunch of animation frames, if you wanted to change lighting, or the color of clothing, that's a lot of frames to go back and do.  But in 3d, I make the change and just re-render things.

 

About the software, I wouldn't use Unity for it(someone mention Unity above).  Blender on the other hand is perfect for it.  It is just about rendering the models with the lighting you want and the camera set how you need(top, side, "isometric", whatever), and then hitting render basically.  You can then take those frames and turn them into sprites(how you do this depends on your game engine, if it requires sprite sheets or handles separate files for individual frames, etc...).

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As an example of using Blender to render sprites, I wrote this blog post some time ago: https://www.gamedev.net/blog/33/entry-2261779-rendering-tree-sprites/

The blog post details using readily available tools (ngPlant and Blender) to generate a tree and render it out as a sprite with a baked-in shadow. Final result:

64aSk2U.png

It's the same basic idea for animated characters, except that you advance 1 frame between each render.

For creating artwork, you can make use of procedural tools like the tree generator detailed in that blog post, to help fill in some of your skill gaps. Additionally, you can use sculpting tools like SculptGL to quickly create artwork, though as with anything worthwhile it can take some practice and learning to get it to work.

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It's the same basic idea for animated characters, except that you advance 1 frame between each render.

 

 

The way I do it once I have the animations set up is to render all frames at once.  It defaults to frames 1-250 so of course you would change that to what you need.  You also want to first select a directory for the renders and a name of some sort for the files.  Then instead of hitting "render" hit "animation" and it will render all the frames all at once in sequence.  The files will have numbers appended to the filenames.  This is much quicker than rendering frame by frame.

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