What to do about art...

edited in General
So little update on my previous post, I decided on settling on Gamemaker and learning GML. Thanks a lot to everyone that so enthusiastically gave advice on that post, it really helped. Since then I have been hard at work and getting to grips with it. Proud to say I have a very rudimentary little platformer with a stick figure that can jump, move, climb, use levers to open doors, die and kill enemies mario style. Now emphasis on the stick figure....

What do the non-artistic writer, programmer type do as far as art goes for his game. I am jumping straight in and designing my game, I know exactly what I want and basically just honing my skills until I can create it, that is going well, but when I reach that peak, my little stickman will be a sore sight :<.

Any advice?


  • I'd say that if your game gets to a functionally fun stage, stickman or not, it'll be fun. And with that, you can take it to attract artists to your team.

    Or you can pay artists up front, which to me is probably less in your favour. It's always more favourable when you have something unique and fun to show for your game first :)
  • This:
    I'd say that if your game gets to a functionally fun stage, stickman or not, it'll be fun.
    You might also be interested in:


    There are plenty of places to get free art. Unfortunately it won't be custom which has some obvious drawbacks.
  • Embrace your artistic constraints and create anyway!

    Seriously, by making your game fun to play despite bad graphics, you'll attract people who can help you out more than you'd ever imagined. Maybe you'll even end up not needing specific graphics anyway - I find a lot of people assume that they need their game to look a certain way just because they have an expectation set by other games.

    The thing you really need to do is find something unique in your game and get it out there for others to get involved with :) Art will come after that.
  • I strongly recommend this site:

    2D Art for programmers:

    It basically tutorials on how to get some decent art for your games, all created in a free programs called Inkscape and Gimp.
    Thanked by 1hermantulleken
  • I second the blog. I have the artistic talent of a panda whale with a dead fish as a brush, but those tutorials are simple enough to reproduce and technical enough for you to chop and change to get your own uniqueness in it.
  • edited
    I'd second @Dislekcia's suggestion. But it depends on what you want to do.

    If you think want to be a game designer, or game programmer, DO NOT try learn complicated art. You're learning programming and game design at the same time already, adding art on top of that is going to slow down your education.

    Assuming becoming a great game artist is not your intention, "Thomas was Alone" is a great example of what you should aim for first. It has juice and feedback in the movement of the characters (which are important design lessons to learn), and once you've got a fun juicy game you can then focus on animated character design/programming skills.

    Bad art is far worse than minimal art. It'll demoralize you by getting players to focus on the art instead of the things you are actually trying to learn. It's not a lot of effort to make minimal art look good... but bad art is bad art.

    I'm not saying never learn art... I'm just saying, if being a great game artist is not your intention, don't start with art.

    If you don't want to make abstract games either... then I'd suggest starting off with intentionally bad art... use sarcasm to your advantage...


    The horses in Magicka are cardboard cut-outs... and when you select them your character says: "An ordinary horse". I found this way more entertaining than if they'd modeled and animated cool looking horses.

    Of course, I expect Magicka's horses are a bit out of your reach for the moment.

    Maybe aim to be more like what @Nandrew does: http://makegamessa.com/discussion/comment/3388#Comment_3388 His graphics are all obviously placeholders... and then when he does make a fun game other people help him with the graphics (and other things) and it turns out more like this:

    The main point I'm trying to get across is: If you don't have any art skills right now (and don't intend becoming an expert game artist) then acquiring mediocre art skills now is going to slow you down and hold you back and make your games less enjoyable (as no-one gets immersed in mediocre graphics anyway).

    Rather minimize or be sarcastic. And then once you're able to make a fun game, think about gaining those art skills (that doesn't have to be far in the future).

    If you do want to eventually make games with a lot of artistic content (painted visuals, animations, 3D characters etc) then you should still start minimal or sarcastic (unless you want to be the artist on the project). Focus on fewer skills now, and then learn to add the visuals (which slow down development proportional to their complexity) afterwards.

    Thanked by 2Elyaradine hanli
  • Thanks guys for the great advice. I think I will first build the game some more and when I have something really solid start looking if I can find some interest. Learning any form of art is definitely not a past time I can fit into my life at the moment, so it will have to be external. But that's a bridge I will cross at a later stage.

    Thanks again :)
  • Interesting link I found to loads of free art of all types. Thought I'd share

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