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August 20, 2017, 03:42:42 am

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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArt (Moderator: JWK5)Learning Art as programmer, or stay with programming?
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LittleTwig
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« on: April 24, 2017, 01:35:18 am »

Hi!
I'm currently a programmer, who is struggling with the art side(as many others). I'm a decent programmer and in my final semester of my Comp. Sc. degree. I feel can program nearly anything I want(even if I have to google a bit Wink. My portfolio is rather lackluster though(just a few small games, with free or ugly programmer art or prototypes and game jam entries and my small c++/opengl engine). It's not good enough to get me some freelance gigs. I've tried rev-share, but those projects tend to die really fast(even if I work on the artists idea)..

My goal is to create a SRPG, similiar to Disgaea and also make a living creating games one day. I can't seem to choose the right path. One the one hand, creating art is a useful skill, but on the other hand I could focus on beeing the best programmer possible and try to make some money with it to pay a professional artist someday. The projects will also take like forever, when I cover the art and programming side on my own. I already now the basics of Blender and Gimp(invested dozens of hours in both), but I still lack the practice.

TL;DR
I feel like specializing in a single skill is the smart move career wise. However, people seem to recommend to learn multiple skills in all those "programmer art" threads I found. I'm not that young anymore(26 years old). If I try to follow the artist route, I'll be in my early/mid 30's before I'm able to create decent art. However, it would be pretty cool to be able to create at least decent concept art for my own games. I also feel like it's easier to run round with mediocre programming skills than mediocre art, so it might not make much sense to invest even more into programming.

Thanks for reading and I apologize for my english skills.
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cynicalsandel
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2017, 01:24:30 pm »

If you want to learn art, then go for it. If you don't enjoy it and/or don't want to dedicate the time to learn and become proficient in it, don't force yourself. Also, not to say that certain varieties of art are easier than others, but you might find that one comes more naturally to you. (ex: I adore working with clay, but loathe 3d modelling.)

This may not be helpful, but you don't necessarily need art to make your SRPG. You could, for example, create the ENTIRE game with placeholder/programmer art. You can always add in better art later once all the mechanics and design are settled.

You've also probably heard a bunch of times to find an artist to collaborate with, and I understand that it's difficult, but sometimes you just gotta keep chugging along until you find a person you work well with. It mostly boils down to networking skills. It's sort of nepotistic in a way. I think people are more likely to work with people they're aware of (maybe even friends with). Either they see their art posted around, maybe their ludum dare/game jam games gained notoriety, or maybe they're just really active on twitter. You gotta get your name out there.

Good luck.
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-Ross
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2017, 05:39:21 pm »

Cynicalsandel pretty much said it all, but I'll add a few more opinions. A lot of the coolest game art stuff I've seen relies heavily on programming skills, for shaders, procedural animation, or whatever. I mean this is pretty cool: https://twitter.com/DifferentName13/status/833091585671720960 and doesn't involve drawing or painting skills at all. Rain World's creatures look cool, and they're mostly a few flat shapes, with cool ideas and coded behaviors behind them. Having some cool graphics is kind of a requirement if you want your work to gain recognition, but that doesn't mean you have to spend years training to become a concept artist. Use what you have.

Finding an artist partner is a good idea too, but if you want to find someone good, first you need to prove that you are good. I was part of a team of 5 random guys from the internet, and we successfully made a game. It's doable, you just need to attract decent people and communicate properly (i.e. often and consistently).
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wccrawford
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 10:30:36 am »

I've long felt that not being able to create decent art holds back my gamedev.  But even though I've put tons of money into it, I haven't put the *time* in that's necessary, and so I'm still pretty bad at it.  I simply don't like doing it enough to get through the crappy parts at the beginning, and I likely never will get anywhere with art.

What I'm saying is that you either need iron willpower or actual interest in art to get anywhere with it.  If you don't have those, then don't bother.

And if you do have them...  Why are you asking?  Just go do it.
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Richard Kain
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 04:02:33 pm »

Learning to be a capable artist is not something that I would recommend for the average game programmer. It requires a certain degree of talent, and it requires a LOT of time and practice. The general returns you will get from it will be negligible. You might be able to become a decent artist, but you will be constantly outshone by those who have devoted more of their time and talent to that craft alone.

I WOULD strongly recommend that you take the time to learn the basics of artistic design and composition. These principles are much more teachable, and easier for a programmer to apply to their projects without being a talented and accomplished artist. Pretty much all of them are applicable to game design and development. All of them will help you to craft an improved visual experience for your game, even if you're just using programmer art to do so. Solid artistic fundamentals are far more important for your project than being a high-end illustrator or animator. And you don't need to be great artist to understand and apply the basic principles.

Focus on learning and applying what is within your reach first. Worry about becoming a great artist second.
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VampireSquid
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2017, 02:37:24 pm »

I like Richard's reply, makes sense to have some skills.  If nothing else it will help you communicate what you are looking for to an artist, if you end up bringing one on.

Beyond that focus on your skills.  It is not just art and programming, there is also the actual game development piece which is yet another skill.  Plus music and sound.  For some genres, writing can be a skill set as well.  Point is there is so much to learn that I would specialize a bit.  I am in a similar boat and focus on the game dev and programming.  I try to restrict to genre's where there aren't that many art assets you would need to create.  If the game gets to the point where I think it is commercial I will just hire out the art work.
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CaptainBland
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2017, 05:26:13 am »

I've been there, too. I think the art I can come out with is vaguely passable but it's never going to turn any heads. That being said, the enjoyability of making artwork is significantly affected by the tool you're using - I used to try and do sprite animation using Paint.NET which is a painful process at best (having to configure a plugin to do it, copy and pasting frames rather than just being able to duplicate...). I find Piskel is a lot nicer. You can also experiment with other art mediums that other games aren't using like photo collages, cutouts or maybe even sculptures to create graphics.

In general my opinion is the first best thing is to find a friend who is a proper artist and can help you out. The second best thing is to pick a simple, pleasing aesthetic and stick with it - then focus on making the game fun.
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DarkAnimator
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 10:11:33 pm »

I'm kinda on the same boat before, I was programmer, then became a 3D animator for 5 years, and eventually became a game developer. so here's my 2 cents:

Going General (art and programming hybrid)
Pros:
  • You can make a game all by yourself
  • You understand the game pipeline like the back of your hand
  • You can fit into any team with ease
  • You get to tackle a lot of integration problems
  • In a large team they'll love you if you are in a managerial position because you seem to know everything
Cons:
  • You are not specialized
  • You need a lot of time to get your experience up to a respectable level
  • Specialized people think you are a joke
  • large/medium size companies like to hire specialists

Going Specialized (Programming or Art only): Just flip the list above

It's possible to get good at art as a programmer (especially 3D art because a lot of times there's a lot of tech behind those). Just give yourself a lot of time to be a bad artist and keep going no matter what people say.

Good luck my friend
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Squire Grooktook
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2017, 05:39:55 am »

This is probably a complex subject, and as an amateur, I'm probably not qualified to offer serious advice. I can share a bit of experience that might help, however:

Something I was afraid of when I started out, and that I've heard from other amateur programmers, is a fear of hiring an artist because "they won't be able to draw it exactly as I envision it."

This is actually not true. If you can find an artist who's style generally matches what you have in mind, and if you have strong art direction skills, you may be surprised at how closely your vision can be replicated. I once fell out of my chair when an early concept sketch perfectly matched what I had imagined.

Art direction skills are key though. You need to have solid writing, communication, and analytical skills. The planning document I wrote for the aforementioned sketch was 17 pages long, but it payed off. And I also think that these art direction skills may be much easier to develop and master than an entirely new artistic medium.

Something to consider.
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2017, 07:53:49 am »

Do what you enjoy and you'll find yourself naturally gravitating the most towards a thing or two and excelling in that, while still having an idea about everything else, which is a great asset both personally and professionally, because it means you'll have a greater understanding of your colleagues' craft than the average programmer with tunnel vision, even if you stick primarily to programming.

There's no point in arguing for or against being a jack of all trades. Just be you, and you'll know which direction is natural to you. I disagree with previous posts: you can absolutely be specialised in one field while remaining decent, or even specialised, in another as well. It's completely up to who you are as a person and how you deal with it. I do agree with the posts telling you to work to your strengths and to make use of your programming skills to lift up your art. Work with what you've got. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to improve! c:
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diegzumillo
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2017, 01:37:20 pm »

Just to add my two cents to the pile. I'm a huge believer in spreading out and learning all kinds of different skills. Once you start to think like an artist it will influence how you program as well, things are not kept separate in our brains.

Even if you don't take it super seriously, just jump into it without big expectations like I do and hope for the best, and it can be very enriching.
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2017, 09:40:21 am »

+1
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JindrichP
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2017, 01:58:59 pm »

I will just support what others have already said: stay with programming and try to grasp a little praxis with graphics (or, as you call it, art). Simply take it as a hobby. Make it for fun and pure enjoyment.
My painting teacher used to say: "Allways try different mediums and different creative things because it will enrich your ideas and skills." For instance, as a designer and graphical artist, I tend to do programming as a hobby when I am want to do something very different (not just sculpting, creating earrings, sewing etc). I also calculate probabilities of winning for many different dice rules and situations etc. :-D I bake cookies. And I am trying to play the violin. :-D
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