Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Programmer and the Artist

I was just looking at my personal game design history and I noticed some interesting things. When I started programming last year I was a horrible graphic artist. I wanted to do what I've seen many of you guys doing, outsourcing work to an artist, but I didn't really know anyone that could do the job. As I look back I'm glad I never found an artist. Now, this post isn't putting down that process in any way (I think it's great to cooperate on a project) but is more aimed at encouraging programmers to develop their artistic side. I'ld like to see things shift from being the "Programmer and the Artist" to the "Programmer-Artist".

I think every programmer should dedicate a few hours a week (even a month if that's all you can do) to experiment with graphic design. Play around with photoshop, illustrator, motion, or whatever you have at your disposal. Create vector art, bitmap art, and look for interesting tutorials.

For me the rewarding aspect of designing a game is the presentation, not the concept. It's exciting when I come up with a new concept, but I'm not happy with a game until it looks right.

It's comfortable to be just a programmer (as it is to be just an artist) but some of your best stuff is made when you're pushing yourself. Not that I can claim to be a professional artist, but check out my progress on the logos for my last 3 games (about 6 months)...

Alpha Corp:

Galactic Dodgeball:

To be released over the next few weeks:

Again, it's nice to have someone to outsource work to, but sometimes a game doesn't need many graphics and paying someone to do it for you is just a waste of money. Even if you still work with an artist, knowing a little of both worlds makes communication more clear. It's amazing how fast you can improve. Just focus on color scheme, constantly ask yourself what doesn't look right, and fix it.

So, that's my little encouragement to programmers who think graphic design is a skill left to others.