The whole is greater than the sum of its’ parts.
I think this point can be summed up in the following sentence;
Don’t ever get demotivated when you are still in the process of creating your art.
This is a common mistake when artists start out in the world of game art creation. The creative and creation process can be daunting at first. Keep in mind that if you judge your art work midway through the creation process you run the risk of it not living up to your expectation. This might lead to the need to start over or even worse, give up.
At the start of tackling a new art creation you might feel a sense of intimidation. This is natural and part of the process. The cause of this trepidation is simply present because you do not yet have the self-confidence built up that ensures the end result will be a success. But this should not matter! Break through this sense of trepidation with the knowledge that you will make something great!
So to sum up, your creation should only ever be viewed and judged when it’s finished. Create art as if nothing depended on it and you were doing it for the waste basket. This will give you a sense of freedom and will allow your creative juices to flow!
Nobody tells this to beginners
Ira Glass, an American radio personality said a very profound thing about bridging the gap and how working through a volume of work makes your creative end result looks so much better.
He said the following;
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.
But there is this gap.
For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you got to know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one project. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just got to fight your way through.”
So to summarize, keep working on your skills by completing a volume of work! This is how you get good at art creation.
Revision is the mother of all skill
So you have created your art asset and it’s finished but it’s still does not live up to your expectations? What do you do?
Revise! Revise! Revise!
Take a good long look at your art piece. Look at each part in detail. Take note of the scale, the shape, the textures and the feel of it. Can you see if anything looks slightly ‘off’? Why exactly does it not meet your expectation? Is there something you can quantify or place into words to describe the cause of this?
Often times your creation may look slightly ‘off’. The reason for this might be because some insignificant part of it makes it appear unrealistic. Your eyes can not be tricked and your brain knows when something looks rooted in reality or not.
So keep on revising your art piece until you reach a point where you are satisfied with how it looks.
Remember that the amount of time you spend on anything is directly proportional to the quality of that end result.
Use references ALWAYS
Everyone knows what a tree looks like right? Wrong! You may have a sense of what a tree looks like but it’s very much a perceptual idea of a tree. No matter what, you will always miss out on small details when simply visualizing and then creating objects from your mind’s eye. Always work with reference.
Working without references means you lose out on all the subtle nuances of an object that makes it look real. Always use reference to root your creation in reality.
You can use google image search, screenshots of existing games or even track down the actual object you wish to model.
Look at the shapes you are trying to make, break these down into smaller simpler shapes and then model based on this. Look at the textures, feel the object and notice how things fit together. Then take all these details an incorporate it into your creation! This is how you create realistic objects.
No art is ever created in void
This is an incredibly important point. If you want to excel in anything there’s little need to reinvent the wheel. Be smart and find someone who is already an expert and learn from them. If you don’t have direct access to the individual then at least study their technique. Studying the technique of experts will fast track your own learning and skill. Simply look at what they did, how they did it and copy the technique.
A great example of this is creating foliage for games. The structure of foliage is pretty difficult to understand and a good solution to overcome this is to simply jump into your favorite video to game and assess how industry professionals create their foliage assets. This will give you valuable ideas on how to tackle the problem and then create assets that are excellent!
So that’s my list. Five points that I feel are so valuable to know when starting out in the creation of game art!