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Are there resources for programmers with little to no graphics design talent, but still want to make good-enough graphics for their own programs? I'm interested in both 2d and 3d computer generated graphics techniques, as well as free graphics repositories.

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-1 too broad, and a slight duplicate. See this answer for free graphic resources: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/20/… and this answer for procedural generated textures: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/327/… –  Tetrad Aug 6 '10 at 16:32
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What if this question were worded more along the lines of "How to improve or replace my programmer art?" –  Ricket Aug 6 '10 at 18:25
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That's a different question. I don't see the reason to try to "fix" this question. –  Tetrad Aug 6 '10 at 19:51
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closed as too broad by Byte56 Feb 9 at 19:46

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

6 Answers

Seems to be a little vague.
You have 3 main options, I think.

  1. Learn. The best idea in the long term.
  2. Get someone to do it for you. The most flexible idea.
  3. Get free off the net. The quickest idea.

1 is probably the best if you have plenty of time. It gives you an advantage for any future projects you do, and gives you a wider skillset.

2 is better if you need them to be higher quality, but exactly what you want. May take a while to find someone, without paying them.

3 is the quickest by far, but it isn't great because you have to make do with what you find.

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+1 i fall to the same Q while i do know the dev side i dont have the hands nor imagination to put my ideas to paper... So i would either find on the net, try to find some one to work on it or pay some one. –  Prix Aug 6 '10 at 23:22
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If you have the money, invest in yourself: buy a drawing tablet. Personally, I am a terrible artist, I just can't make good graphics, but it sure didn't help that I was stuck trying to do things with my mouse, sloppily drawing lines or clicking pixel-by-pixel. I can at least roughly sketch something that works, and my Wacom Intuos4 is amazing for that (but surely overkill if you ask a professional). The Wacom Bamboo tablets are "entry-level" consumer models with slightly less accuracy, but they start at $69 (Wacom store; you want one with a pen, not the $49 touch model) and would be just great. So if you are able to somewhat draw things by hand, try getting a tablet - it won't improve your art skills unless you work at it but it can at least make it easier for you to make crappy programmer art. :)

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Agreed that a graphics tablet can make a big difference, if you've got access to the right software (anyone got suggestions for free/cheap alternative for those without access to Photoshop?). Learn how to use brushes properly (setting them so pressure modifies opacity, etc), and you'll be surprised by the difference that pressure sensitivity makes. The Bamboo is entry-level, but is fairly decent - a good starting point to help decide if tablets are for you –  bluescrn Sep 11 '10 at 12:45
    
Well there is GIMP, the popular open-source, free alternative to Photoshop, but it doesn't feature pressure sensitivity which is really a letdown. But every Wacom tablet includes some software; the Bamboo Fun, for example, includes "Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 7.0 Win/6.0 Mac, Corel® Painter™ Essentials 4.0, Nik® Color Efex Pro™ 3.0 WE3" (wacom.com/bamboo/bamboo_fun.php). None of these are time-limited, and I have used Photoshop Elements in the past and found it to be quite functional. –  Ricket Sep 11 '10 at 17:37
    
Oh wow, GIMP does support pressure sensitivity! I'll have to try it next time I'm with my tablet! It's just not enabled by default, which is why I assumed it didn't exist: bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gimp/+bug/117751 - so in that case, I can highly recommend GIMP as a free alternative to Photoshop. :) –  Ricket Sep 11 '10 at 17:44
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For 2D I know there are people that use existing spritesheets and pixel over their own graphics. Whether it's ethical is a debate in its own, whether your pixeling skills will make it look halfway decent is another, but you at least got your animation cycles covered.
If you do know any artists it sometimes works too show them a prototype with programmer art - it'll hurt their eyes so much that they actually offer to pixel you some assets.
A third option for 2D is to use a 3d model and render it with cartoon rendering. But there's still a lot of artistic skill involved getting the models looking and animating the way you want to. Not aware of any real shortcuts in that area.
A fourth option, that seems to work well is to go for a decidedly abstract or amateur look. Milk the fact that you can't draw and make it the theme of your game. The hard part is to be consistent in your chaos, which makes it a skill again.
I feel your pain - I can't draw my way out of a paper bag.

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Here is a good discussion on such resources on StackOverflow - http://stackoverflow.com/questions/143050/where-to-get-sprites-tilesets-for-2d-games

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If the game is good enough and web-based, you can release it without "proper" graphics and no-one will complain.

Desktop Tower Defense is a good example of this.

If it makes enough money you will be able to hire a team of professional artists to revamp it. But you might find the users still prefer the original version.

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Great (and fun :P) example –  Daniel May 1 '11 at 9:22
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