I am a solid programmer and have a strong desire to make a 2D top down game. My immediate stumbling block, however, is the art. I am currently using placeholder images, but I really want to develop my own IP. The problem is that I simply can't draw that well. However, I do have really great three dimensional reasoning, and I am rapidly improving in 3D modeling with Maya.

My hope is that I can develop models in three dimensions, and then generate sprites from cross sections, or use of those models. Is this a viable path of developing production quality 2D art?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What I really want to know i suppose is whether this is a technique that is used by the community or if this just some silly idea that i have concocted. \$\endgroup\$ – Trekkie Feb 9 '17 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not asking for an opinion like "is art like this cool"... i am asking if this technique is viable for creating production quality art. By "viable" I mean has it been done successfully by those who have gone before me :) \$\endgroup\$ – Trekkie Feb 9 '17 at 0:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't stop you from DVing or closing this out but I'm not asking for discussion. It's a pretty straightforward question. It would be like if I asked "is using a slide rule viable for doing logarithmic calculations in bulk?" Yes you can do it but it's not viable for doing it efficiently. That's the kind of answer that I'm looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – Trekkie Feb 9 '17 at 0:44

Donkey Kong Country or Abe's Oddworld Oddessy both come to mind as using 3D models to make 2D Sprites. That was from back in the day when computers were powerful enough to model complex 3D assets, but consoles and PCs were not yet able to display those high quality renders in real-time. The examples you could find of this are near limitless.

The actual pipeline one uses is personal preference. The basic idea for these games that I've used as examples is to

  1. Model in a 3D environment including textures and lighting.
  2. Render the model in each pose that is required for your Sprite sheet and save those renders as bmp files or png or whatever.
  3. Use some sort of software (photoshop, gimp, or an application made specifically for compiling Sprite sheets) to make a Sprite sheet.
  4. Use this Sprite sheet in your game engine

There are a plethora of tutorials on using Sprite sheets for game dev. I will leave you to search out one that appeals to you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you update your answer with a methodology or a link to an example? Your example of where this has been done in the past is definitely what I was looking for... evidence that it is a viable technique. \$\endgroup\$ – Trekkie Feb 9 '17 at 0:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KeithL see my update. Good luck to you. \$\endgroup\$ – Neal Davis Feb 9 '17 at 1:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ You'll notice they made their backgrounds and tile-able assets as pre-rendered 3D-to-2D textures and models as well. Just remember to have the light source be consistently from the same direction in relation to the camera so that when they all go into a scene in the game they have have the same light source in your game world. \$\endgroup\$ – Neal Davis Feb 9 '17 at 1:56

Projection from 3d to 2d simply follows one important rule - If you can find point (x,y,z) that is inside the 3d object, you can mark one 2d point (x,y) as inside the object. Simplest solution is to just drop the z coordinate.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you can "just drop the z coordinate."; how do you make sure where an arm is, w.r.t. the body, in the case of a character? \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Feb 16 '17 at 1:11

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