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I'm currently bad at drawing. If I want to create something looking acceptable, it usually takes me hours and hours to fiddle around just to get the basic looks right.

I think that I'm not completely skill-less, I just lack simple drawing techniques..

  • Am I a hopeless case?
  • Where is a good place to start out in drawing for 2D games? I'd like to be able to create acceptably good backgrounds, terrains / tilemaps, characters and weapons
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possible duplicate of How to improve or replace my programmer art – The Communist Duck Jun 24 '11 at 16:49
Can I learn to create my own artwork isn't the same as [what recourse do I have] to replace my programmer-supplied artwork The fact it's programmer supplied is a red-herring. – Huperniketes Jun 25 '11 at 9:38
If the question is 'can', then it's not a real question since the answer is definitely 'yes'. Therefore the question is 'why', which is covered by that one. – The Communist Duck Jun 25 '11 at 11:19
Just don't. Focus on coding and designing, and leave the art to the artists. It's extremely unlikely you'll ever be as good as you need in both fields, so it's pointless to study both; unless you want to do it for personal reasons or out of curiosity, of course — that is always good — but you have to keep in mind you'll do only one or the other at a professional level anyway. – o0'. Sep 26 '11 at 14:52

Programming generally involves thought processes located in the left-hemisphere of the brain that handle logic, linear sequencing, and predictability. Drawing utilizes thought processes dealing with space, patterns (visual or otherwise), shapes, color, etc located in the right.

You probably got some instruction on the thought processes required to create a program. You will probably need some instruction on the the same for creating artwork.

I recommend first Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards to learn what the thought processes used by artists are; how they work; and importantly, how they feels. If you ever recognize being in the flow where your ability to code just continues effortlessly you have a sense of the way thinking can feel. The spatial and coordination thought processes required for drawing are not often used by programmers who develop using typical conventional practices and languages, and you can feel the difference when they're employed.

The second text I recommend is Kimon Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw. Different drawing techniques, exercises and intents will also help develop your innate ability to draw. And everyone has the ability to draw well once they understand how to draw.

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+1 for answering the question with an explanation based on psychology. – Randolf Richardson Sep 27 '11 at 21:41
I own Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and its a good read, but of limited use for people who want to do concept/game art. The book focuses on drawing what you see, and I disagree with the author on the things needed for drawing from imagination. I believe the sources I provided in my answer are better for imaginative drawing. What is more, they are free! – K.L. Nov 27 '13 at 13:19

You could try starting with pixel art by taking some graph paper and never violating the golden rule of "one colour per square." The alternative to using graph paper is a graphics editing application like Adobe Photoshop and it's "zoom" feature.

With practice, you can keep reducing the total number of different colours used and still make really nice images.

I've included two contrasting examples of pixel art below, the first one being a very simple one of some cherries, and the second one being an amazingly complex one (to see it in detail, you may need to right-click on it and choose "Open"). For more examples of pixel art, use Google's Image Search:

enter image description here

enter image description here

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My biggest piece of advice for this is that acceptable art isn't good enough to create a successful game.

That said, if you can create something that looks right to an honest 3rd party after hours of fiddling then you're not a hopeless case, you just need practice.

There are three things I suggest you do for practice:

  • Find a local art school, if you can, and take a basic drawing class to learn basic techniques
  • Practice drawing real scenery and objects to scale and in full
    • Try to practice on larger paper (11"x17" or larger), and fill the page
  • Find pieces from artists you like and try to replicate them

The more you practice with real scenes, the less time it will take you to create acceptable results. There's no easy way out of this, unfortunately. Furthermore, the more art styles you can absorb, the more stylistic tools you will have to apply to your game.

In terms of specific tools for 2D game art, you can't go wrong with Adobe Photoshop, or the GIMP if you're on a budget. Generally you can either scan a real-life drawing and work with that as a basis, use a graphics tablet system to draw directly into Photoshop, or a combination of the two.

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A great place to start learning is by modifying existing artwork rather than starting from scratch. Find something that's sort of what you want, and modify it to be what you want.

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Check out two sources

The first has a vast video library with great info on digital painting. You will learn the process and the tools.

The second has great info on human anatomy and drawing portraits and figures.

But, the main problem is: you wont get good enough without unreasonable amouts of tiem and hard work

If you have a job or university to go to, AND you are making your own games, you already have enough work on your hands. Learning to make art is hard work and lots of it. The sites I recommended often tell you that you need to be patient, that you need to draw everyday for 1-2 hours at the minimum, and you will have to work for months for substantial improvement.

Im playing around with varous forms of art as a side hobby, and after a year or so, my work is nowhere near worth putting into a game.

The problem with learning art, from a programmers point of view, is that you cant understand it just by reading and seeing it done. If you see some code, have it explained to you, and you can reference it while making your own attempt at the subject, you can get good at it very fast and produce reasonable results quickly. In art, you can intelectually understand the process, but it is not enough to go through it yourself. You have to teach you brain a subconcious understanding of form and lighting, and you have to acquire needed control over what you draw. This can be only done through work work work.

Working in 3D is the same, just harder, because drawing in 2D is almost a prerequisite for 3D work.

And even if you could produce a piece of acceptable quality having little training and experience, it wont be worth the time investment. In the time you make the piece you could write code for someone to earn enough cash to hire an artist.

Learning art is fun, but only if its a goal itself. You see it as a means of acquiring art for your games, "you're gonna have a bad time".

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