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I would like to know the flow for making modern 2D game artwork.

How are the assets made nowadays? Bitmap? Vector-based? Hand-drawn and painted? Drawn digitally? Modeled in 3D and exported to bitmaps?

I would like some information on programs as well, for fine looking art. Why does Flash's vector art style look good in most games? How do I make equivalent graphics with external tools? Or equaly good and not vector-based, anyway.

Any special hints for animating?

An answer oriented towards a one-man-army indie developer with little experience but some artistic sense would be appreciated! Not a complete dummy with paint programs, but also not a master at all, just need efficient ways to achieve results.

Thanks.

NOTE: Pixel art is not the goal of this question, nothing related to direct pixel manipulation should be brought up here, but you're free to do exactly that :)

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I am afraid this question (multiple questions) is too broad and have to be spitted in multiple questions. –  Ross Feb 8 '11 at 7:35
    
I agree with Ross. You should probably edit or split this question. Also the animation part is already covered here: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/7792/… –  bummzack Feb 8 '11 at 8:23
    
-1, agreed: it would be better for everybody if you were to split this into multiple distinct questions -- you'll get more directed, detailed answers that way. –  Josh Petrie Feb 8 '11 at 16:43

2 Answers 2

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Well, it all depends. First, different kinds of games require different methods, based on the output desired by developers. Here is the usual pipeline of sprite making:

  1. Sketches, how the artist sees the character, object, you name it.
  2. Based on sketches artist produces raw sprites, just to outline features.
  3. High resolution version of the sprite is produced to be further dissected into resolutions and other requirements of the tech.
  4. Final version of sprites to be used in game.

That's basically it. If you need animated sprites, or pixel art, multiply this work by factor of 10. Also, most of the painting is done in Adobe Photoshop using digital pen (google wacom bamboo). 90% of all graphics processing is done in Photoshop.

If you need vector based images, you use special vector editors like Flash. But generally vector art is used for special cases, like flash game, where bandwidth is important, or if style of the game requires multiply mosifications and resize of your images.

And remember, best graphics comes not from tools, but from the artists experience and talent. Technology is just a way to assist artist with his work, they are not going to do the job for you.

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How are the assets made nowadays? Bitmap? Vector-based? Hand-drawn and painted? Drawn digitally? Modeled in 3D and exported to bitmaps?

Well, all of these techniques are used in modern games. I guess the 3D modeling and rendering to bitmaps has become less popular with the possibilities to use rather high-poly models directly in your game.

But any technique is valid. I just recently saw a game where all assets were hand-painted. It looks gorgeous.

I would like some information on programs as well, for fine looking art. Why does Flash's vector art style look good in most games? How do I make equivalent graphics with external tools? Or equaly good and not vector-based, anyway.

It isn't the program that makes a good artist. Expensive software like Photoshop or Illustrator (or the free counterparts GIMP and Inkscape) won't magically turn your art into masterpieces. Use the software that you feel comfortable with. The better you know a tool, the less it will stand in your way, increasing productivity and creativity.

I don't share your opinion on the Flash vector graphics though. I think a lot of these games look awful, but that's just personal taste.

Sadly, there's no best or most efficient way to achieve good results. However, I think it's important to sketch out a style and then stick with it. If an asset doesn't fit into the overall style of your game, redo it. Familiarize yourself with your tools, so that you can turn your ideas into artwork. Personally I always use paper and pencil first, because it's the "tool" I feel most comfortable with and I can achieve results fast. When I'm happy with the drawings, I can scan them and continue working on them in another tool.

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