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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArtWorkshopArt direction feedback
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duncankeller
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« on: October 01, 2014, 07:15:32 PM »

Programmer by trade attempting to create art for his side-project - Brace yourselves!

I'm working on a project at home, and I'm pretty early-on in development. I have a finished grayboxed prototype, and I want to get started with art earlier than I normally do so that I can space the work out a little better and not burn myself out on it. That being said, I'm not an artist. Not by a long shot. I know that I'm not going to make the next _INSERT_GOOD_LOOKING_GAME_HERE_ but I'm at least shooting for "doesn't look like crap."

I made a makega.me thread workshopping some ideas with smaller-res sizes, and progressed to the point where I wanted to start creating assets. I created a full-resolution background and a couple basic animations for the main character. Evaluating it, I don't think it's totally awful, but I know some real artists would be able to pick out some tips or changes that I never would have thought of.

So yeah, long story short, what do ya think? Any tips for improvement? Also, I realize I made it pretty explicit I am not an artist, but seriously, any terms/jargon will sail over my head. I experienced this in my last thread, reading more advanced replies with a dumbfounded look on my face. Picture a kid with crayons in his mouth and you'll have a good idea about my art knowledge.

Background with character pasted on top (compression up the butt, bummer):
http://i.imgur.com/XW3dR50.jpg
Not so sure how I feel about it. I don't think it's horrible, but I'm having a hard time with concrete thoughts on it. I am at least happy with the level of detail, which I typically have a very hard time with.

Run Anim:
http://i.imgur.com/guR11Ks.gif
A little shaky, but there is room to polish up later if I want. Generally I am very happy with how it turned out. I really like frame-by-frame animation.

And the previous makega.me thread if anybody is curious:
http://forum.makega.me/t/art-direction-advice/1260/8

Thanks for the thoughts, all
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 12:41:07 AM »

Yeah, major tip: try to avoid using fully desaturated grey colors, such as the gradients in the clouds, together with vivid colors. You could use like a blueish grey or beige grey, just not fully B&W style.

And I also think the cardboard mock-up was better because it had more depth. The cardboard elements look almost like you were able to go behind them while the painted backgrounds are very detached from the foreground. But maybe you like it that way, that would be understandable too.

It's hard to judge the run without a visible floor, but the animation itself is a little spasmodic, so unless you're going for that wiggly animation style on everything, you might want to polish it.
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duncankeller
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 07:27:49 AM »

Yeah, major tip: try to avoid using fully desaturated grey colors, such as the gradients in the clouds, together with vivid colors. You could use like a blueish grey or beige grey, just not fully B&W style.

And I also think the cardboard mock-up was better because it had more depth. The cardboard elements look almost like you were able to go behind them while the painted backgrounds are very detached from the foreground. But maybe you like it that way, that would be understandable too.

It's hard to judge the run without a visible floor, but the animation itself is a little spasmodic, so unless you're going for that wiggly animation style on everything, you might want to polish it.

Huh, interesting. I'll keep the desaturated colors thing in mind, that's a new concept to me.

I liked the carboard mockup too, problem with it is that it requires a going all-in on the theater theme and that wasn't really the direction I wanted to go.

Yeah, the anim is very jittery, for sure, but I'll polish it later. I at least like the direction of it, which is good enough for me this early in the project.

Thanks for the feedback!
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dez
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2014, 08:59:27 AM »

hmmm as far as that first image...
That sky is badly clashing with the ground.

I want to give you a quick tip you can use to just jump start to make your stuff look like it's pro.

Find a game that you like the way it looks.  Take some screens of the parts you think look best (ideally a game or image with few colors)
 
 Then steal the palette.

DO NOT DEVIATE from the palette!   You will be badly tempted to add/change colors.  Do so ONLY after MUCH consideration!
That is my tip.
Ill get you started.  Here is an image of a game with great color:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/ksr/projects/660047/photo-main.jpg?1397831981
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 09:37:25 AM by dez » Logged

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Devr0s
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2014, 04:45:49 PM »

The animated guy looked pretty good although I thought the animation looked more like the guy was skiing, snowshoe-ing or speed skating.
As for the initial look.
I'd suggest paying an artist to do a simple mockup based on your designs. There are tons of fantastic artists on deviant art or other pixel art sites where you could post on the job thread to get quotes. Having someone design a simple mockup like you did will help you a lot since you can then cut up those elements and reuse them fully for your prototype. (I am taking 50-100 bucks here nothing that would break the bank).
If this is simply not an option then I suggest studying all the threads where they talk about game art esp stuff regarding colour wheel.
The beauty of programmer art is that people don't expect it to be great, but if you try to make something look "OK" it can really turn people off.
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duncankeller
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 09:16:25 AM »

The animated guy looked pretty good although I thought the animation looked more like the guy was skiing, snowshoe-ing or speed skating.
As for the initial look.
I'd suggest paying an artist to do a simple mockup based on your designs. There are tons of fantastic artists on deviant art or other pixel art sites where you could post on the job thread to get quotes. Having someone design a simple mockup like you did will help you a lot since you can then cut up those elements and reuse them fully for your prototype. (I am taking 50-100 bucks here nothing that would break the bank).
If this is simply not an option then I suggest studying all the threads where they talk about game art esp stuff regarding colour wheel.
The beauty of programmer art is that people don't expect it to be great, but if you try to make something look "OK" it can really turn people off.

This is very interesting, because it's something I had not even thought of. I have a number of thoughts about your post, I'll try to be as clear as possible, but it's a bit jumbled in my head.

1. Paying somebody never appealed to me. One, I don't have the cash to hire an artist (for a full game). Two, even if it doesn't look amazing, I want to increase my own skill. HOWEVER, paying for a mockup actually appeals to me a bit more, because it can give me a better sense of art direction, which I'm fuzzy on right now.

2. When I say I am aiming for "OK" it doesn't mean that I don't want my game to look as good as possible, I'm just being realistic with my abilities. I wouldn't hire somebody to do the art because I want to improve, but I do want to make the game look appealing.

So, I guess that leaves me with one big question: Would having a well-done mockup by an actual artist actually help me with the art for the game? Thinking past the prototype, a mockup would certainly help solidify the art style, but there are a good chunk of animations / backgrounds I would have to work on myself, and I don't know how much help it would be to have that mockup for reference.

What do you think, can a non-artist like me effectively use a professionally done mockup to elevate the art in the game? Not to perfect level, obviously, but at least better than I would have done without it?

I appreciate the comment, btw, very helpful.
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Devr0s
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2014, 07:00:04 AM »


...one big question: Would having a well-done mockup by an actual artist actually help me with the art for the game?

What do you think, can a non-artist like me effectively use a professionally done mockup to elevate the art in the game?

My suggestion is for you to just make the game fully with your own art. Look at other examples to learn from. Learn how to make repeating elements for tiling. Look at the way others do trees. Choose colours from other games pallettes. Learn about visual hierarchy using saturation colour and value with regards to players vs background elements to make players pop. This will help you learn. Then, if your game prototype is fun and people enjoy playing, you can think about getting a mockup made based on your art and go from there. AT the end of the day, its about making a fun game, not the art so you need to get to that point first.
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