Artist’s Toolkit

Artist’s Toolkit

In advance of questions concerning ‘how do you draw that (on computer)?’ and ‘what software do you use?’, I want to cover the tools I’ve used in the creation of Water Meter Dash (and in other subsequent projects going on here at Nebula). Today I’ve made a Top Three of the most important equipment I use in making graphics for our games. Please note this list is based on being a 2D artist at the studio.

3. Graphics Software: Photoshop, and more
Knowledge of Adobe Photoshop is perhaps one of the top-most requirements needed in a graphic artist role. Whether it’s UI design, concept art or texture art, Photoshop is perhaps the best and most flexible program for the job. There are infinite amounts of tutorials online, as well as creator-made additions such as textures, custom brushes, and so on. It’s an excellent tool to introduce the user to the rest of the Adobe library, whose programs also support Photoshop’s format in rendering documents, images and videos.

I use Photoshop for background design, vector shapes and animation. However I use Paint Tool SAI for creating concept art and in-game character graphics, as I prefer the toolset. SAI has a similar layout to Photoshop, but is considerably pared down for digital painting.


2. Drawing Tablet/Screen
Let’s face it, making detailed digital art with a mouse is like icing a cake with a hammer. Technology has since marched on to make hardware that responds like a pen or brush, and with the likes of Wacom tablets available on the market it’s easier to access. An ideal graphic tablet ought to come with proper drivers (so the computer can register the sensitivity and movement of the pen), good pressure sensitivity and enough dimension to map the size of your computer screen. I’ve worked with a Medium Intuos 4, but have switched to a Huion h610. If you’re unsure about the learning curve (which will need more practice than ‘a couple of hours’), graphic monitors such as the Wacom Cintiq also exist, albeit pricier and require extra cables ordered separately.

Tablet Reviews on

1. Traditional Skills, ie Pencil and Paper
I’ve deliberately put the basics at number one, as habits from your traditional skills seep into digital skills. The list of how ‘to get better at art’ is forever endless, but practice, self directed study and looking for critique pays off. Want to do character design but your anatomy is off? Get to life drawing classes, make studies, do gestural and constructive drawings. Colour and shading looks off? Examine colour theory, learn the difference between contrasting and analogous colours. Weak background drawing? Work on perspective and make interesting layouts. Hammer out those bad habits and weak spots with gusto!

I hope this will be useful and insightful to some readers, and further discussion is welcome!

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