Sometimes I look at a gorgeous, well-drawn indie game and wish I could draw half as well. I’m sure all of you must have been through something similar. Especially when you’re stuck using the standard mouse and keyboard. Code can be done very effectively with these, but art? More often than not, the mouse has its limitations.
Hence this article: a quick-and-dirty exploration into things you can do to overcome your art limitations. This is not an ultimate list. All of these are things I’ve done and had success with. If you have any alternative methods, please share via comment – the more the merrier.
1) Get a tablet. A Wacom Bamboo Pen tab can cost as little as 80 dollars and will work wonders for your art.
2) Scan in your art. This comes from a developer interview I watched with the creator of Rainblood: Town of Death, a fantastically stylized and beautiful 2-D RPG with a Japanese painting art style entirely its own. He would sketch his tileset grid outline on paper, draw, and scan them into his PC. If you can’t get hold of a dedicated drawing tab, get a scanner. This would be a worthy alternative.
3) Get ArtRage or Scribbles. ArtRage is to Paint what a Honda Civic is to a Bugatti Veyron. It’s perhaps the most comprehensive drawing tool out there. It feels like Da Vinci just handed you all of his equipment. Or, if free software is more your choice, there’s MyPaint, SmoothDraw, and a ton of others. Here’s a list: http://alternativeto.net/software/artrage/
4) Go pixelated. This seems to be a very popular choice. If you can’t do HD, do pixels. You can label it “retro” and call it a day. It’s not a solution I prefer, but great stuff has been done purely with pixel art.
5) Work with an artist. I’ve noticed quite a few people overlooking this solution. If you have zero artistic ability, find someone who does and team up with them. Make sure they want to draw in the same way that you want to code your game.
6) Scour the internet for images. Then use GIMP to hammer them into your own vision. This is something I’ve done quite often, especially for [my game] The Maze.
7) Get Lego Digital Designer. This method is a lot more work, but easier. Lego Digital Designer is a virtual space that allows you to build anything out of Legos. Legos being what they are, you can literally build anything. Take screenshots and edit these into shape.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (@yudhanjaya), Master Chief and legendary warrior. Actually, he’s the founder of IndependentGaming.net. In real life he’s a journalist for Readme. When he’s not writing, he’s over at 4250games, building games and tinkering about. He has a love of all things indie and a PC that has seen better days.