For programmers, art can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be! This game art tutorial outlines the basic workflow a more technically minded person might go through to create beautiful assets for a game.
In this post, I put together a tractor from Tractor Trample.
Here are the high level concepts covered:
- Design workflow
- Drawing & manipulating shapes (rectangles, circles, stars, paths)
- Adding shadows
As you read/watch, try to imagine what your next step would be, and see how it compares to what I do. It will help to think critically about what’s being accomplished in each step, so that you can apply these concepts to anything you’d like to draw. I’ll be using Inkscape, a vector editing program, so it might be helpful to gain a baseline familiarity with it on your own, or with another one of my posts.
Here is part one:
I try to start with extremely simple shapes to form the initial outline of what the final character will look like and use images from real life/other people’s work to inspire how I detail those simple shapes. Below, I’ve outlined the steps I go through in part 1 in a little more detail:
- Basic outline with basic shapes (or trace!)
- Add color
- Add detail
The number one obstacle I had to overcome when learning to draw was learning how to disconnect my mental imagery from actual objects. Don’t try and draw things from memory! Hell, if you’re just starting out – don’t be afraid to just trace! In fact, that’s what we’ll start off doing here today.
In this video I use Google Images for inspiration. Google images is good for when I know what I want to draw and want to start forming ideas of what I want it to look like in my head. For example, if I haven’t settled on an art style yet, google images can provide all sorts of different imagry for me to browse through. It can also be helpful if I need to be more specific in the object I want to draw, for example – I want to draw a tractor, but what kind?
Some of my other go to sites are as follows:
- Behance – great for the ability to filter and fine tune your search
- Designspiration – for when you’re hitting a wall, creatively
- Game-Patterns – an excellent resource for studying recurring UI elements in games
2. The Basics
Now, a blank canvas is staring you down. What next?!?! This step is probably the most intimidating but really, it’s the easiest! If you’re brand new to the art process I would suggest copying any inspirational art you’ve found and just pasting it directly into your document. And then trace. Yes, TRACE!
Tracing art or even real objects that you want to draw is a great way to force yourself to notice the little things. Zoom all the way into the pixel level, take note of the characteristics of the lines, the curves. Appreciate the colors used and shadows dropped to add depth. And start simple! Trace out the basic shapes that make up what you’re trying to draw, and move on from there.
Once the basic shapes are in, I like to add color so that I’m not just staring at a bunch of flat black rectangles and circles. No need to get the colors perfect, we can always tweak them later. This step is strictly to help you see a rough outline of the image we’re trying to draw.
Now we’re going to move from object to object, adding little details to make rectangles turn into a tractor chassis and circles into wheels.
The video covers how to alter paths to add some curvature to the tractor body, as well as how to manipulate the star tool to create a cool looking wheel with huge treads.
Finally, I add a thick black outline to the entirety of my tractor. Adding an outline to each object in your image can help differentiate each object when drawing in a flattened style, as we’re doing here. The outline also helps achieve a nice ‘cartoony’ feel.
Congratulations! You’ve got a reasonably finished tractor. In part two, we’re going to add a few more elements like a racing stripe and a steering wheel, as well as give our tractor a little attitude. Then, we’ll finish off with step five by adding shadows.