UI assets - formats, file types?

In an effort to expand on my services I can offer as a freelance artist, I have been looking at providing UI art. I'm not doing any animations or UX just providing buttons, borders icons et. Are there any specific file formats I need to work in? Any hidden secrets I may need to know?


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    It depends on a studio's game engine, but I don't think file formats matter too much; UE4 and Unity use many different file formats, and then convert them automatically depending on what platform you're compiling your game for. I believe TGA and PNG are the most common. (They're both lossless, but PNG is compressed/smaller, and has the option of being 16-bit.) If you use PNG and Photoshop though, and if your PNGs have transparency, I'd recommend getting the SuperPNG plug-in. Photoshop's default PNG format pre-multiplies your alpha channel, which can cause some visual artefacts. (Anything that's fully transparent gets assigned "white", no matter what its RGB was beforehand, which can make white fringes appear in your work. SuperPNG can keep your alpha channel separate, while also offering some other options.)

    Otherwise, I'd just suggest that you know what resolution screen you're designing for, so that you're working at native resolution and keeping things looking super sharp. It'd also be worth bearing in mind what the native resolution actually looks like in real-world units. Some things that look fine on your 72 pixels/inch monitor become almost invisible when you shift toward the ~400 pixels/inch of many of the newer mobile devices. It's especially worth remembering because with mobile devices, you're often using "touch" controls, so buttons should be large enough that you can tap them unambiguously. (I believe Apple's got a UI guide for this, with a minimum recommended size for buttons, though I forget what that was.)

    I'm not that clued up about UI, but my understanding is that, aside from the actual design of the flow, layout and usability of a UI, it's actually the implementation that makes UI artists particularly in-demand. So, in that sense, it might be worth checking out how the UE4 and Unity5 UI systems work. (I believe they've both reached the point where they're effectively drag-and-drop, and can be animated in the game engines themselves, so you don't even have to know much coding any more, unless you're doing something especially non-standard.)
    Thanked by 2garethf kidult
  • Thanks for the great feedback!
  • PNG = Lossless Compression. Not lossless scalablility.
  • Hey kidult. Long time no see. =)
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