Programmer wanting to learn game art

I’m a programmer and want to get at least semi-competent in games art creation. I’m comfortable but not yet good at shaders/materials and post-process effects. I have experience building procedural meshes and applying materials to those. (Though not yet in Unreal) Nothing else visual.

I was always bored out of my mind in art classes in school, and so had an active lack of interest in artistic things on the computer. Now that I’m older I’d like to learn the very basics of modeling, rigging, animations, texturing, sprite, and HUD creation. (The graphics for the HUD, not the HUD itself. I can handle that. :slight_smile: )

Tools available to me are Paint.NET, GIMP, and Blender. (Plus any free tools recommended here.) Out of those three, I’m reasonably comfortable in Paint.NET. The other two make me feel like a helpless child. I’d like to change that.

Does anyone have any recommendations for tutorials or other learning resources aimed at people like me? For code I typically prefer textual tutorials, but I expect for these I’d probably prefer video tutorials instead. Definitely open to both though.

Awesome! Digital tutors has a ton of basic art creation tutorials and is very affordable. Depending on your dedication you could get through all of them in a month.

Signed up for a free account in case it had the basics of Blender or GIMP. Neither available for free. So I looked through their paid catalog, and it looks like they definitely do have paid Blender content, but no coverage on GIMP, anything and everything is Photoshop. From what I’ve used of each I understand why, Photoshop blows GIMP out of the water. But I can’t justify paying monthly for Photoshop for prototyping content. Especially not with no experience.

I do have a disc of an old version of Photoshop laying around, let me go see what version… Version 5.5. From 1999. Nah. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the pointer though, I might pay for a month for the Blender tutorials on their own.

EDIT: I could also see if I can find a Photoshop to GIMP Rosetta Stone kind of thing, to maybe help watch a Photoshop tutorial and translate it to GIMP. After I learn the basic interface I’m mostly interested in artistic techniques rather than application specific things.

I would consider Substance instead of Photoshop for texture creation if you can afford it. You can cover Photoshop’s need here and there with Gimp even with a couple of Youtube tutorials. If not, then as you said, you can watch Photoshop tutorials to get used to the terminology and technique, then translate it to Gimp.

This Substance?

Might look into it for production-quality textures, not worth it for learning in my eyes though. Also that $10,000 ceiling on indie pricing is worryingly low, and I don’t see an upgrade path listed on the site, so I’d probably be better off buying the $890 pack in the first place. Thanks for the heads up, I’ve seen some of their Unity Asset Store and Unreal Marketplace substances and they seem quite nice, so it might be worth it when I get closer to release.

The power of Substance workflow is procedural way of creation textures. You bake curvature, normal, height and AO maps and then use it for additional effects and masking. For example you can highlight edges of mesh and make it rusty, or bleach surface exposed to the sun, or add dust to particular places and etc. And in case of photoshop you painting with “textures”, but in case of substance you painting with materials, which is the core of modern rendering system. It’s extremely convenient tool IMHO

Spent yesterday learning GIMP basics, and then spent about two hours today coming up with this:

Any criticisms?

Tiles well, though I didn’t size the bricks correctly so you can see rows of different sizes.
Made the normal map by taking my grout layer and my noise on the bricks, made a heightmap, and then ran that through this plugin. Not very happy with the results, mostly that there’s a lot of grout flowing up the bricks and I don’t have a nice hard edge where the bricks come up. Any suggestions? I’ve kept things in their own layers and used layermasks as the tutorials harp on, so there’s a lot of information available to me here.
Pretty happy with the roughness overall, though it’s a bit low on the bricks. I made a roughness map and it wasn’t very good, so I clamped the output between 0.45 and 0.7. But the grout was still too glossy and the bricks were WAY too glossy, so I added 0.2 before the clamp and it’s reasonable.

Its a start!

Its still to shiny, & the bricks are too far apart of you ask me. I won’t worry about these things for now. I will put rendering & materials later in my learning process & focus on modeling if I am in your shoe now. There is however no right or wrong sequence to learn stuff. Perhap try making a simple house, then apply the brick you make to the house as the next step?

Agreed on both counts, thanks for the feedback!


I see where you’re coming from, but since I have a passing familiarity with 2D editing and materials setup, it felt like a more comfortable jumping off point. You could be right, it might be useful to get the hang of modeling first or learn them together. I don’t know.

I think I’m going to finish the actual GIMP tutorials I have lined up, and then start taking a look at Blender probably tomorrow. Then after that I can experiment on my own more with things like these bricks, together with 3D models they’re meant for.

Agreed with the both .