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Man, I'm really bad at drawing... I feel myself really ashamed because I cannot draw even a little nice sword... :(

The problem is, on game development (I will be on the programming part, relax!) I will need to explain some game ideas to game artists, like "I need that city like this" or "that character needs to have that look and feel".

My idea is, I really need some BASIC skills on drawing some draft of what I'm thinking...

I'm bad in pen/paper drawing and photoshop/corel drawing, but I'm convicted to learn photoshop or corel to draft something...

Someone has passed that problem? What you recommend?


6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As a programmer/designer there are three types of imagery you will likely be producing.

Technical Specification Images

These are simple crude drawings showing artists/LDs how to place information nodes in the world, how sections of geometry need to be cut up for streaming, how models need to be split for customization and so on.

Pen and Paper are fine for low tech, Photoshop + Wacom is the nicer but expensive solution. You just need to communicate enough information that the artist knows what they are supposed to do. If this is some requirement multiple artists need to deal with, have one of them redraw the image after you explain it to them. Helps them commit the concept to memory and you end up with a nice drawing.

System Visualization/Flowcharts

This is less for artists and more to visually look at gameflow, state machines, or a UI design and make sure you aren't missing anything. Visio is a good tool here which you may already have depending on your version of Office, although GraphViz & Dia are freeware alternatives.

Reference Art

For designers providing reference art if you can't draw well then don't waste the time. Google Image Search is your friend. Just grab images that match the components of what you need. It's helpful to draw over these images with any painting program to make sure it's clear what part of the image is important. If you just like the fabric of a couch and not the shape write that on the image so that three weeks later when the artist is looking at it for reference there isn't any confusion.

Photoshop obviously works here, but Paint.Net is a nice freeware alternative.


I'm pretty terrible at any sort of drawing too, but I bought a Wacom tablet anyway. I find that it's much easier for me to draw something with pen and tablet, than to try and draw it with a mouse, or (even worse) to draw it, scan it in, and then try and clean it up to where it is usable as an asset.

Another option is to get really good at Google image search, and then make a collage of downloaded images. This can be used to give artists a sense of the overall art style of a game, or to choose a color palette, or anything else you want to do. And the best part is it's as easy as downloading images and copy and pasting them together. For example, if you want to convey that a character should have a certain look and feel, search for an image of the body type, and then images of clothes, and images of other accessories (weapons, etc.). The artists should get a great sense of what you want, and they can use their artistic ability to fill in the blanks!


If you get the real artist for the job, all you need to be able to draw is actual simple crosses, boxes, circles etc.

But use a "grid" and perhaps some colors (kids pens are enough for a start) and then remember to write down what each color really means.

Dont use paint as you will have to draw with a mouse.

Rather use "Squares" and "circles" and "lines" for a start.

I always try to make some sort of "grid/layout" of the actual gameuniverse + I use a lot of papers trying to divide my idea into objects I can explain and put into systems later. Might not always give me the best result first time, but the more you do it, the better you will get.

Instead of a Wacom tablet you could just buy a Flatbed Scanner. (I have a Canon Lide 90) secondly, use Google Images for prototype.


Just get yourself a copy of dia http://projects.gnome.org/dia/ It's an open-source vector drawing program. If all you're drawing is circles, squares, lines, and text, it's all you really need.

Here's a game outline I did in DIA: (converted to png format) http://www.aharrisbooks.net/pythonGame/ch07/mailPilot.png

...and here's a state diagram for an adventure game http://www.aharrisbooks.net/pythonGame/ch10/adventure.png

That's enough to get the basic ideas.

I also spent the time to learn some basic 3D modeling in Blender http://www.blender.org. I haven't any particular artistic skills, but I can usually knock together a cartoony model pretty quickly and use a snapshot of it for 2D game sprites.

I have some videos about blender as part of one of my classes: http://synapse.cs.iupui.edu/Mediasite/Catalog/Front.aspx?cid=5d511316-3092-446e-9a69-79d35c41b62d Blender stuff starts at video 13.

Hope this helps


Though I am an artist myself I don't believe you need great art skills to get your point across. I suggest you focus on what you are great at. The book Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design (not an affiliate link) has some examples of simple drawings to get ideas across. The author is a game designer and learned you can get a lot more information across quickly using simple drawings.

My suggestion is to not focus on detailed drawings but focus on how to portray action, movement and basic shape.


A lot of times you can just give decent text instructions, and trust your artist to do their job. I think I drew at most one or two stick men to get a Best Visual Arts award (thanks of course to my artists!).

You can compile reference material by scanning or copying stuff for your artist -- if you want a particular architecture style, chances are at least parts of it exist already.


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