Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where to Start With Game Art

I was tweeted the following question today, and while I'm still fairly new to game art, here's a little of what I've learned in the last-two-and-a-bit years. There's a heap to learn with game art, so it's best (and sometimes hard) to remember - "baby steps". (Also, "better done than perfect".)

My daughter is thinking college with art for video games. Any type of suggestions?

The answer to a question like this is going to depend on a couple of factors. From the jump, does she have a preference for 2D or 3D game art? The two basic skills - drawing and modeling - overlap in a number of areas, but I know modelers that don't draw, and a great many 2D artists that have no interest in learning 3D (the technical and financial barriers to entry can make it very frustrating at the outset.)

There are great (and lousy) schools for each path, though as a note, sometimes when a college advertises a game course, what they're referring to is game design, not game art. Here's a handful of schools and workshops that pop immediately to mind, though I haven't personally attended, and as such can't speak to the quality or the nature of their programs.

Gnomon -
Future Poly -
Full Sail -
DigiPen -
Think Tank (Canada) -
Vancouver Film School (Canada) -

I found my college experience worthwhile (opted for a one year computer animation program to learn the basics of 3D modeling) in that I was surrounded by students discovering things at the same time I was. There's a level of lovely camaraderie that can form when you're cramming in Maya/Max/XSI on last minute demo reels, and I've since worked with a number of my fellow grads in a professional setting.

With that said, there are a number of online courses that might serve as a good starting point. Gnomon, as mentioned above, has professionally produced DVDs on one-shot subjects (concept art, character design, etc) that are generally excellent. YouTube has scads of user created videos for free (Zbrush artist Ryan Kingslien has a whole channel devoted to learning Zbrush - but the quality can vary, and sometimes the information is outdated.

All of this is diving really deep into the pool though. If she'd like to do game art, keeping a sketchbook is one of the best bets, posting her work online (tumblr, DeviantArt, Polycount, Zbrush Central, etc) and getting helpful crits never hurts.

...usually doesn't hurt.

...sometimes hurts a lot.

 I'm still relatively new to game art, but thankfully the internet is full of artists who are lovely and talented willing to help out. Also, if she needs some inspiration, here's my latest favourite bit of character art from JFletcher on Polycount:

PS -  Sculptris is a free modeling program, Blender is as well.


  1. Thanks Kate. I'm currently enrolled in Sheridan Animation and I'm still thinking about Video Game Art. I've already had a look at Gnomon's materials and I'm buidling a portfolio. I'd love to ask you more questions.

    Here's my sheridan experience blog in case you are interested:

  2. Now i'm presently participating in Sheridan Animation for even now contemplating Computer game Artwork. I've already stood a look at Gnomon's materials and I'm buidling a collection. I'd love to inquire more inquiries.
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  4. Hi Kate....what about Capilano University? They've had some success with their graduates.

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