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  Developpers & Art.  (Read 3796 times)
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Offline Kryel

Senior Newbie





« Posted 2012-08-14 23:55:23 »

Hello there. (Fr, sorry in advance for my bad english)

I don't know for you, but since the dawn of time my main issue as a developper has always been graphism !
I can code. I can have a headache trying to figure out which "if" of my program is useless. I can troll Java trying to use Goto...
BUT I suck at drawing things. And it's pretty frustrating to "visualize" some ideas/backgrounds/characters only to remind yourself that you can't draw.

Recently I got sicked of ri... I mean using free ressources available on internet, but to be honest, much of them aren't actually that "free".
I don't want to make a game for commercial purposes (being the problem too, since there's no money on the line I can't really expect to find a graphist) but, sometimes you'll want to add a table with pots flowers there in the background, sometimes you may want to have some folks walking in the scene, or sometimes you'll want to have a cat with wings flying around as your final boss... *ahem*
... the fact is, each of thoses things needs you to draw at some point.

Anyway I decided to create several characters (mostly 2D) on my own since i'm coding mostly fighting and platforms games, but you really don't have any other choice but to learn how to draw from scratch (currently on the body proportions lesson, the base really), so then you understand why "Graphist" is a full-fledge job.

My question would be : Is there any software/method/community i'm unaware of which can simplify that task, or does all of you have a pocket-graphist friend who's willing to draw everything for you? (Meaning that I should find one too? Is that a gold rule for developpers? Please enlighten me.)

... sure, learning how to draw things will open new possibilities and is good for self-praising, but it's a bit sad to have to do everything when creating a game...
Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-08-15 00:57:42 »

I am not so bad a graphics stuff but sometimes I need some guidelines to follow.

But recently came across this gold mine

http://opengameart.org/

It has heaps of stuff that is creative commons. It also has huge libraries of templates for sprite animations and whatnot. It made not be a place to get ALL your artwork from but is a great start for learning how to make your own.

Offline ctomni231

JGO Wizard


Medals: 99
Projects: 1
Exp: 7 years


Not a glitch. Just have a lil' pixelexia...


« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-08-15 01:26:08 »

Well, getting art for your game is a very difficult process if you don't draw. The best solution is to find a person who will be willing to draw these items for you. I am both an artist and a programmer, so I can actually tell you why it is very hard to get artists to work on your program. These are a few guidelines I set as a programmer that I would like as an artist.

Artists need direction

Seriously, we programmers know all about code, but we falter when we are trying to describe how a world looks. Being able to express yourself in English is very hard for some programmers. Usually, my colleagues would say...

"I want an archer".
That is nice, but there is a lot more to it than that. Being descriptive and detailed is very important to keep artists occupied.

"I want an archer with golden hair tied in a bun, a metal bow with a feather sticking out of the end, and with flowing white clothes akin to a 16th century dress."
That is more like it Smiley.

I wanna see my work

This is another problem. When programmers ask for art, we usually don't program it in for about 2 - 3 weeks months. That is really bad, when artists draw on a paper we see it in seconds. Artists want to see how the art work applies to your program immediately. If possible, at least show that you are intending to use the art by posting or emailing a screenshot.

Impatience and Dexterity

Programmers think artists can spill out art at the same rate we can spill out code. Remember that good art takes time and to be patient with artists, they really enjoy a person that is willing to wait for quality. Also, make sure you tell artists exactly what you want. If you want 15 sprites of a girl running in black and white. Tell them immediately. Make sure you don't change your mind mid-process ("I want it in color")... like programmers tend to do so often when coding. They can't "backspace" their art away.

Interest

Make sure your artist is involved and is able to give ideas to your game. This is very intrusive to programmers, I know, but it strengthens the artists relationship with you and  makes them more likely to draw more for you when you ask.

Of course, if you can't find someone to draw for you, then you can always go online and look for the copyright free material. It truly depends on what you are looking for, but I am a clip art fan when it comes to gaming. I just search "free clip art". They have a huge variety much more vast than if I were to give you a list of sites Wink.

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Offline Kryel

Senior Newbie





« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-08-15 01:43:38 »

Quote
It made not be a place to get ALL your artwork from but is a great start for learning how to make your own.
Agreed. Actually I'm already using several websites teaching you the basis (lots of artists have "their" way to draw, which is sometimes confusing)


These are a few guidelines I set as a programmer that I would like as an artist.
Don't worry, I'm well aware of the problems.
I talked about that mostly to have feedback, but I understand how it's hard to have a dev & a graphist working on a game. For example, since i'm more into fighting games, my characters will at least need several poses (idle/crouching/attacks...), and I don't really feel like asking that, because it sounds more like asking for a "job" than anything else.
I mean, come on, it may be like 30 images for a single character, I don't think that an artist will have "fun" out of that.
The perfect scenario would be to find an artist which already have all the drawing and sucks at programming  Grin

But more seriously, whenever I think about this I don't know, it feels like asking for a "job", and I find that ironic since i'm mostly coding for "fun".
Unlike developers who "have ideas and decide to develop a game for fun and/or for a small community", I never heard of a "graphist who had several pictures and want to make a game out of it". Maybe they just aren't interested into making game at all? (Actually I just love coding for the fun of it)

Edit :
Uh oh, just to clarify i'm not really looking for an artist since I already decided to learn to draw, but I just wondered how programmers usually deals with this kind of thing.
Offline ctomni231

JGO Wizard


Medals: 99
Projects: 1
Exp: 7 years


Not a glitch. Just have a lil' pixelexia...


« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-08-15 01:51:48 »

Quote
Unlike developers who "have ideas and decide to develop a game for fun and/or for a small community", I never heard of a "graphist who had several pictures and want to make a game out of it". Maybe they just aren't interested into making game at all? (Actually I just love coding for the fun of it)

Yeah, you are correct. When I draw, my fun mostly comes from "getting the idea to paper". That is the most gratifying experience for me as an artist. Anything beyond that for me, is more of a job. There are tools that make spriting for a fighting game easier for artists. Even with those tools, it still is a lot of work and still feels like a job.

However, as a programmer, my most gratifying experience is "getting the ideas in my head into code." I always like to code for fun because you can just let your ideas run wild and code whatever you want. Only get an artist if you are planning to make a serious production for people is my suggestion, anything else and simple graphics (ASCII code) should suffice.

Good luck

Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-08-15 02:58:23 »

One thing I never understand about artists is how most are very into getting paid for their work. Sounds wrong but if you look at most coding communities, its basically give credit and then you can do whatever you want to. Look at libgdx, they don't charge anything as far as know and they sure as hell put a lot of work into that. Artists just seem a little to selfish some times. Guess it is easy for me to speak as I am not super good at photoshop/gimp/3d modeling. Nothing wrong with wanting to get money and all but if you made something for fun, why not let other people use it for fun?

Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 362
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-08-15 09:26:20 »

That's because good artists are utterly, utterly rare. And by "good" I mean technically adept, creatively adept, and actually deliver their work, on time, reliably, time and time again.
If you can find one that meets all the criteria, hang on to them and pay them well.

Unlike programming, nearly all art is completely unique. Programmers can swap bits of code and we stand on the shoulders of giants. Artists on the other hand don't have this.

Also, most of what programmers give away and swap isn't what is actually putting food on their tables.

Cas Smiley

Offline Damocles
« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-08-15 09:40:47 »

My suggestions for graphically handycapped developers when making their own artwork.

#1
dont make complex or photorealistic Artwork (keep a simple, abstract style)

#2
Define and Use a Color-Palette!
Not in the technical sense, but as a reference of colors when creating graphics.
This helps a lot to keep the artwork consistant.
For example: define 3 Main, and 2 Subcolors.
Then make all your artwork out of these 5 Color (and maybe gradients between them). Avoid adding other colors if possible.

Even relatively simple or badly drawn shapes will not sick out too much,
as they follow the color "guidelines"
Nothing is worse than a collection of different style and quality Artwork
(except if you do a Monty Python Comic)

#3
Define a consistant style
Make a few different graphical items, trying to keep the same look and theme
Try reusing elements and workflows for them to keep them looking consistant stylewise.
  
#4
Try out a 2d vector program:    (Inkscape beeing a free one)
There you can even import some (slefdrawn) pictures or photos and transform them to a vectorshape.
this way your simple graphics will look a lot more iconic.
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/kopf/pixelart/supplementary/multi_comparison.html
(sample of such vectorizing algorythms)

2D pixel graphics in high resolution is hard work, that can look messy easily.
A vectorprogram helps you a lot to create larger assets in a relatively short time without worring about
qualityloss. Even simple shapes can look quite good with them.
  
#5
Try out low res graphics. Its simple: the less pixels you have, the less the number of ugly pixels there can be.

#6
Art is often about limiting yourself. (colors, shapetypes, effects, complexity)
A Style is all about limits. So try to express your imagnined item/character
with these limited tools and approaches.

Offline jmart

Junior Member


Medals: 1



« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-08-17 08:00:49 »

Kyrel,

I goto http://www.deviantart.com/ to hire artists (on the right hand side there is a forum of sorts where you can hire people).  Bottom line hiring developers is hard and expensive.  Hiring artists is a lot easier and many times cheaper.  Do the programming yourself, hire the artist.

Currently I use an artist based in Argentina who does great work at very reasonable prices.  I would not partner with an artist from point of view of handing him/her considerable shares of your company, as most of the value is being added by the developer.  There are just too many great freelancers out there competing which drops the prices.

thanks
jose
Offline Damocles
« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-08-17 08:20:51 »

For hiering an Artist, I would recomment to asseble already a full List of Assets
wich are needed by the game.
Really try to think ahead wich elements Must be in. Enough to completely represent the game.
(Any additional Elements could be added later, but the core assets should be defined)

Like a spritesheet with mockup graphics,
And an Excel List describing each asset, filename, dimensions, relation to other assets,
intention how it will be used, important features, animation frames

This way the artist can have an overview and estimate how much work this will actually be.

And maybe even a "mockup" level tool. Where the artist can just load in the Spritesheet, Animations or Models for example,
and move around the Elements and Tiles, and possibly have them animated.
This way an artist can quickly look how it will look ingame and make rapid changes
(and not have to wait for a new build)


Then you should give the Artist the freedom to experiment and define the style.
(so dont overdefine the looks -> thats the artists domain,
 but define technical limits strictly -> thats the programmers domain)

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Offline jmart

Junior Member


Medals: 1



« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-08-17 08:26:25 »

For hiering an Artist, I would recomment to asseble already a full List of Assets
wich are needed by the game.
Really try to think ahead wich elements Must be in. Enough to completely represent the game.
(Any additional Elements could be added later, but the core assets should be defined)

Like a spritesheet with mockup graphics,
And an Excel List describing each asset, filename, dimensions, relation to other assets,
intention how it will be used, important features, animation frames

This way the artist can have an overview and estimate how much work this will actually be.

And maybe even a "mockup" level tool. Where the artist can just load in the Spritesheet, Animations or Models for example,
and move around the Elements and Tiles, and possibly have them animated.
This way an artist can quickly look how it will look ingame and make rapid changes
(and not have to wait for a new build)


Then you should give the Artist the freedom to experiment and define the style.
(so dont overdefine the looks, but define technical limits strictly -> thats the programmers domain)

Before committing a lot of work to an artist try them out by giving them smaller tasks.  For example, I started off with a small image that I needed and assigned it to 3 artists.  The cost was cheap because the asset was small.  But based on how fast the artist got back to me, how diligent they handled the task, and of course the cost and quality, I was able to pick the best artist from the bunch.

Offline Damocles
« Reply #11 - Posted 2012-08-17 08:35:14 »

Ok, i ment the step when you know already wich artist will do the Job. Wink

Its a pain for developer and artist when none has an overview about
the actual work to be done.

This "Hey can you make me a flowerpot, possibly until 5pm, I like to try it"
"No, I these Gui elements dont fit together, can you rework that"
"But I wanted 2 buttons here"

back and forth is really a pain.
And upsets the artist and slows down the developer.

Better is to say: (dirty Example)
I need a 300x200 Ingame-Menu panel "panIngame.png"
with Buttons "continue","options","exit"
named "butIngExit.png" "butIngExitHover.png" etc , each 250x50, alphachannel
Here is the wireframe mockup
Go

And let the artist define the looks.


Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 362
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #12 - Posted 2012-08-17 09:08:21 »

I goto http://www.deviantart.com/ to hire artists (on the right hand side there is a forum of sorts where you can hire people).  Bottom line hiring developers is hard and expensive.  Hiring artists is a lot easier and many times cheaper.  Do the programming yourself, hire the artist.

Currently I use an artist based in Argentina who does great work at very reasonable prices.  I would not partner with an artist from point of view of handing him/her considerable shares of your company, as most of the value is being added by the developer.  There are just too many great freelancers out there competing which drops the prices.
The strange thing is, most of us who've been in the industry any length of time have discovered the complete opposite to be the case - artists are impossible to find, and world+dog can code. Art is easy to find, but actually getting artists to do what you want, on time, under budget, repeatedly, is a monumentally difficult task.

Cas Smiley

Offline Damocles
« Reply #13 - Posted 2012-08-17 09:11:23 »

Do you think its because the artists underestimate the time, or loose motiation?
Or simply change the requirements as they like?

Offline jmart

Junior Member


Medals: 1



« Reply #14 - Posted 2012-08-17 09:13:59 »

Yeah that is interesting to note.  Maybe with more experience I will encounter more bad artists.  Maybe i got lucky.  

One thing is for certain there is truth to the term "starving artist" but you never hear "starving developer".  Developer's make money.  We are not cheap.  in NJ you can make over 100k after a few years of experience.  Developers who I brought up from customer-care into software engineer just a few years ago have moved on to other companies and are making over 100k.  One is making 140k.  

I can get an animated image (e.g. tank, soldier, plane) from my Argentina artist, about 20 frames (walking animation and death scene), for $50.  And that includes edit with feedback.
Offline Damocles
« Reply #15 - Posted 2012-08-17 09:22:44 »

I wish I would earn that much Wink

Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 362
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #16 - Posted 2012-08-17 09:24:49 »

If you've got lucky hold on to the bastard and never let 'em go!! You'll end up having to pay them a lot more too, or they'll bugger off. Nearly all of them work on a loss-leader model.

I never understood why artists were starving until I've been surrounded by developers trying to actually get them to do work. It turns out they are starving because they are nearly all lazy, feckless, unreliable wastes of time and space and they deserve to live on baked beans. And strangely enough the ones that aren't lazy, feckless and unreliable earn a lot of money. Often more than developers, because unlike programming, art actually requires talent which makes it very, very rare.

Cas Smiley

Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #17 - Posted 2012-08-17 23:53:14 »

Argentina....yeah will find cheap stuff there. Not quality but cost.

Offline arnaud_couturier
« Reply #18 - Posted 2012-08-23 23:14:02 »

I completely agree with Damocles: if doing the art ourselves, putting limits is the only practical way to do it.

Otherwise, I noticed I'm never happy with the result, because I'm always falling into the trap "With just a bit more work (and time) this could look awesome" and I never complete even a simple walk animation.
Whereas when restricting myself "the sprite must be 32 by 32 pixels and have 3 frames per second", I know when I'm done.

Also, trying to turn limits into artistic strengths is an interesting challenge. Instead of competing with AAA graphics (you can't), better to show the players things they never see in such games.

And drawing is the last thing I'd try to do. It requires A LOT of practice and even then, it's still too slow and "delicate" for my taste (although hand-drawn and hand-painted stuff can't be beaten).
3d modeling is better for programmers. Very logical and technical. I can make a running low-poly character in one or two hours, then render it at the framerate I like, in the resolution I like, and I can change it anytime.
You must restrict yourself here as well, eg number of triangles under 500, no more than 20 bones for animation, etc... otherwise it can suck your time like hell.
Offline keldon85

Senior Member


Medals: 1



« Reply #19 - Posted 2012-08-24 08:19:56 »


Awesome!!!

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