Most of the weekend was spent looking into digital and traditional painting techniques, then utilizing the tools I have to make some sort of a digital painting. I have Autodesks Sketchpad Pro and Photoshop CS2, but I have not quite mastered the workflow of them, though I understand their strengths quite well. I am still working on a painting of sorts that I am hoping to finish, to assure myself that I can use these tools properly.
Looking at how artists work and how they achieve such rich colors and detail has been quite interesting. Like with any form of skill or art, the work to get to a comfortable place is always a considerable amount. But, don’t dilute yourself into thinking that only one in a hundred can create interesting and detailed art, the reverse would be more accurate. Opportunity, passion and curiosity will make a master out of anyone.
Just like with sketching and line drawings, there are a number of heuristics and base skills you have to drill into the back of your mind so that you can paint something that you are satisfied with. Mastering line drawing and sketching will help you become a good painter, but the attention will all be on lighting, surface materials, harmonies and color when you leave the land of pencils and erasers.
Just like with any software or music you create, you will need to have a rough concept of what you want to see. Use reference materials to be sure that the proportions and shapes are correct, perspective techniques to make sure that any background detail is represented accurately and placed correctly in the scene. Know and understand core shadows, cast shadows, half tones(true color), highlights and bounced light. It is also a good practice to flip the image horizontally, vertically to force your eyes to look at it differently. You might see errors in shape and color that otherwise would have been missed.
Use layers in photoshop/sketchpad/painter religiously if you are doing digital paintings. Know how to create masks, and split up the painting into logical segments(layers or groups) so that you can work on individual items and not have to redo too much work when errors are caught or adjustments need to be made. Digital tools allow you to do a lot of things that are impossible in the traditional world, and you should make use of them where possible.
Use thumbnails, pay attention to value and color perspective and practice your drawing.
Being able to create paintings and use color effectively, is a very good base when creating textures and concepts for computer games or any type of visual digital medium. But when you are making computer games, competent visual representation is only a 3rd of the problem. Solving mathematical, logical computer programming problems would be another and creating music and sound effects would be the third.
If you want to sell your game and make money of it, you can’t really forget about how to handle the business side of it, the legal framework and how to not get screwed by childish mistakes.
I am going to finish up this painting I have started doing and a few more, look at a couple of courses about texture mapping, then I can start making some concept art pieces for my game and create more content.
It is an interesting workflow for a game where the same person creates all the components and content. There are no excuses, only work.