Art is an integral aspect of games. It plays a role not just in terms of visual appeal, but also in terms of functionality. It sets the atmosphere and mood of the game and thus aids in immersing the player into the game’s setting.
It also plays a role in marketing the game. Often, the first impression we form about a particular game comes from the initial marketing artwork we are exposed to. It helps us understand the genre of the game, the theme of the game, and more. Sometimes an excellent marketing artwork is enough to pique our interest and influence our decision to purchase the game down the line.
So, in all ways, game art remains an integral aspect of a game’s experience and marketing.
Most games these days choose to opt for a 3D art style. There are a lot of sensible reasons behind this choice. 3D has an aesthetic that is closer to realism. 3D suits specific genres. 3D is also perceived to be a ‘superior’ art style by a significant portion of the general population.
But this is a misguided perception. Neither 2D nor 3D are superior to one another. Both have their limitation and their strengths. Both offer distinct looks that the other can’t.
There continue to exist games in either art style. In 3D, we have popular games such as Call of Duty, Cyberpunk, GTA, and many other AAA games. In 2D, on the other hand, there are recent hits like Orie and the Blind Forest, Limbo, and Shovel Knight.
So, if you are ever confused about whether you should make a game in 2D or 3D, then either choice is right. It is dependent on the genre of the game and the preferred art style of the game development studio.
If you choose to make 2D art for your game, you might get the question pop into your head, how do you make 2D game art? Below, we aim to explain the entire process in detail.
The first step in creating 2D game art is determining the art style. A game must have a uniform art style. It cannot have multiple art styles simultaneously and shift from one another without a thought.
So before the art production begins, each game development company selects a particular art style and commences work only after this part is nailed down.
Below is a list of 2D art styles common in the gaming industry. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but you can use this as a starting point:
The monochromatic art style is an art style that focuses on limited usage of color. A primary single color or hue is selected, and the entire art style revolves around it. Most of the time, the hue selected is black, and the game has a bleak, black-and-grey-art style.
Some games that follow the monochromatic art style include Limbo and Contre Jour.
Visuals are created digitally using pixels. In previous eras of gaming, pixels on the screen were limited due to the performance limitations of gaming devices of the time. This created a distinct art style that is still used despite leaps and bounds in technological advancement.
The art style is mainly used for the nostalgia it evokes in the gamer. Some games that follow this art style include Shovel Knight and Stardew Valley.
Vector art is a type of art that revolves around specific mathematical formulas. The most significant advantage of these is that they can be enlarged to any size without losing quality. This provides it with a distinct look.
The games that use this 2D game art style include Vector Runner, N++, and Eufloria.
Cutout art is a style that imitates the paper-like art style. It resembles the style of a game world, and characters cut out from a piece of paper.
Some games that use this art style include Fran-now, South Park, and Legend of Bum-Bo.
Doodle art is inspired by doodles, which are hand-drawn sketches and scribbles. The thing about a random artist taking notes and drawing something to pass the time. Often, it is a doodle.
Games that follow this art style try to emulate a similar style intentionally. These games include West of Loathing, Hidden Folks, and Epic Pen.
The second step in making 2D game art is to create 2D assets. There are different types of 2D assets. Below we list each of them:
Concept art is a 2-dimensional game art made to visualize the different art assets to be created for the game. It is a method of ideation that helps the artists make 2D game art of superior quality. The concept artist’s role is to bring out the initial ideas for all the assets in the game and nail down the look.
Characters can be human and non-human characters, such as creatures and animals. These are created based on in-depth knowledge of the body’s anatomy. Character creation is vital as several individual aspects of characters, such as their personality, are expressed through their visual characterization.
The environments can be different terrains that the game is set in. It varies from game to game, and the environment plays a crucial role in immersion. The environment artists must collaborate with the level designers regarding games with levels.
Props are items and objects that are set around in the game. These include crates, chests, utensils, weapons, vehicles, etc. Some props in games are interactive, while others are usually stationary. The design of the prop is made considering this aspect.
You have to choose the right software to learn how to create 2D game art in the best possible manner. There are several top tools for this available at your disposal in the world today. Below we list a few of them.
Photoshop, from Adobe, is a graphics editor software with many features. It can be used for photo editing and is also a powerful drawing tool.
Photoshop is available on both Windows and Mac. There are also several tutorials available that help you learn how to make 2D game art.
Illustrator is another software from Adobe. But it is more focused on vector-style illustrations.
It is one of the leading software to make 2D art for video games. From designing characters and logos, it can be used for a wide range of use cases.
CorelDraw is a vector graphics editor. It is pivotal in the creation of concept art and promotional art. It is a crucial aspect in the art pipeline of several top game art development studios. It is beneficial in the creation of 2D sprites.
Because CoralDraw is a famous graphics editor software, there are several resources available to help you learn how to make 2D art for games using it
Sketchbook is a sketching and illustrator software. It is available on multiple platforms, including mobile. It is a diverse software that can be used for character creation, texture creation, etc.
Inkscape is a free and open-source vector editor. It is apt for character and object design. It can also aid in UI creation.
The 2D game art you create has to align with the target audience’s preferences. For instance, if you are aiming to create a simple game with easy-to-learn and master mechanics that are targeted toward children, then making a 2D game art that is elaborate would be unnecessary. It may even end up negatively affecting the game.
If you have finalized an art style, you have to stick to that particular art style throughout the game. You cannot implement the art style in some areas of the game and then implement a different art style in other places.
Unless it is an intentional stylistic choice.
Also, try to ensure the game art is accurate. Note that accuracy does not mean realism. But accuracy in terms of scale, adherence to anatomical structure, etc.
You can make these if these are intentional choices to enhance the game’s visual appeal. If a disproportionate scale is part of the game’s world and narrative, then a deviation from the norm makes a lot of sense.
Games are rendered in real-time. So, visuals have to change in real-time as well.
This means the game visuals have to be optimized in a better format to ensure all the assets in the game are loaded in quality without negatively affecting the performance.
Quality game art requires time. It requires the artists to put a lot of thought behind each work they have to complete. Rushing the work would end up compromising the overall quality.
The creation of 2D game art is a multi-step process. It involves skill and creativity. In modern times, it also requires proficiency in specific top software.
Game art is a crucial aspect of games. The choice of 2D or 3D is an important one. But the choice has to be made with the full understanding that neither is superior to the other.
Then comes knowing how to create 2D game art.
At Juego Studios, we have a team of developers and artists ready to create 2D games of any genre. Our experts have worked on numerous games across the years, developing and delivering all of them to the utmost perfection.
1. What Are the Different Types of 2D Game Art?
There are numerous types of 2D game art. Among them are monochromatic, vector, cutout, doodle, and pixel art.
2. What Are Some of The Software Used to Create 2D Game Art?
Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator, and CorelDraw are a few 2D game art creation software.
3. What Are Some Mistakes to Avoid While Creating 2D Game Art?
The mistakes you should avoid include a lack of understanding of the target audience, inaccuracy, bad optimization, and rushed work.