How long does it take to learn to draw game art?

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So these weird urges hit me now and then. The latest one is the desire to learn to draw my own custom facesets and stuff to use in the game engine. But before I seriously embark on this probably bad idea, realistically how long does it take to learn to draw?

1. Obviously there is no ceiling to how good you can be. So to be more specific, if you are an artist who's good enough to get paid for your work, how long (approximate hours) did it take you to get to the skill level you have today? Please indicate your style (pixel, anime, portrait, etc.) so it's more clear.

2. Any advice you would give to newbies? What books/courses to learn from?
 

Phantomsurf

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Honestly, it'll take at least a year, but most likely more with consistent practice. I've drawn since I was below 5, but I didn't really start improving until I was about an early teenager, because then I actually started learning anatomy and poses. And sprite/pixel art is an entirely different beast than drawing, and is more about trying to represent something in a small space. I started at 12 and didn't really make anything I'd consider decent until I was in my later teenage years, again, because I started listening to advice and reading tutorials.

There's totally different techniques and expectations for both types of art, as well, so you'll have to practice both knowing they're different.

My best advice is just to find tutorials and make something. Tutorials will show you the techniques you should follow. Focusing on finishing will mean you aren't being hindered by perfectionism.
 

alice_gristle

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About four to five days? Or more if ya not into Betty Edwards, I suppose? Honestly I think drawing is one of the skills that come naturally to humans, like dancing, singing, and killing.
 

BK-tdm

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Realistically how long does it take to learn to draw?
you havent specified any "goal" or style (western comics? Anime? Korean manwha?) So my suggestions are as broad as possible keeping to my area of knowledge.

I'Ve worked dictating "how to draw anime courses" so i can give you a small rundown:

Realistically? You can do a stickman and call it "art" you can ms paint shapes and do your facesets in some weird style and call yourself "artist", art is subjective, which style are you exactly going for?

For anime it can take you some time depending on your desired "style" and how deep you wanna master it, dragonball style can be easy to "learn" but mastering it to pass your art as chrono trigger 2 will take a
1. if you are an artist who's good enough to get paid for your work, how long (approximate hours) did it take you to get to the skill level you have today? Please indicate your style (pixel, anime, portrait, etc.) so it's more clear.
Hours? Havent counted them but i've been drawing for 16 years to get to my skill level and im still learning and getting better, although i found a set "style" and have been upgrading and focusing on it for the past 4 years, pixel art was easier because i already know things like perspective and character design which helps me translate sprites to characters and vice versa, bust, facesets and the like are just applied knowledge too.
2. Any advice you would give to newbies? What books/courses to learn from?

Still need to know clearly what type of style are you going for, a lot of people here do western cartoons faces and busts for their projects so i wont default to anime right of the bat.

An universal advice is to find any artist you would like to imitate or learn something from (hair, eyes, body styles) and start practicing whatever you need from it specifically then move on to another feature you would think would improve your style or add to it, in the end you will grab the skill necessary and start modyfiyng your "copied" style.into something of your own, in the manga industry it happens a lot, Hiro mashima learned from one piece's creator and it shows in the first parts of fairy tail/rave, then you start seeing how his own style developed and he made his own version of it, its called "art evolution" and its just a fancy new way of saying "practice makes perfect".
 

Milennin

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It depends on a lot of factors... talent, passion, time, and what you're using to learn to draw. Some people who've never seriously drawn before may get decent results within weeks of trying, while others may take years to get to that same level.
Of course, it also depends on your definition of "decent". What one person may find acceptable to use in their game, another may consider it not good enough and pushes themselves further before settling on something.
 

Andar

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If you really want to start drawing, I strongly suggest you purchase a cheap drawing tablet for testing.
I don't know how much they'll cost in your country, but you should be able to get an older one for less than 20$, especially used on ebay.

Then you can check how easy it is for you drawing with pen-like tools, and decide if you want to continue that way or not.
 

Liny_An

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I'm not a good example because I've started drawing really young and have been awfully inconsistent... :D But from what I've seen around me, some people had a really decent level after one year of real investment (the equivalent of 1 to 2 hours of drawing per day). That's if you try to improve on only one thing, like facesets or pixel character sprites (so you'd be pretty bad with body anatomy, perspective...). It might be faster than a year if you only focus on one art skill actually.

However, you'll have to be consistent and know how and what to improve. Looking up tutorials and taking a LOT of inspiration from other people. Your best bet is to use references, look up different artists and how they draw portraits/facesets and try to study their art style. Also remember that not everyone has the ability to learn fast, and if you want to be able to draw a lot of other stuff, you'll have to start from the beginning, learning the basics such as anatomy and perspective... which will take much longer than a year.

Hope that was helpful :)
 

Marquise*

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It depends of the time you have to put to it. If you are motivated and have time, it'll be as fast as your tools. If you are a perfectionist, the degree of it you have may stall you a bit.

I knew my way around photoshop and not coding and got trouble with an initial big monster animation and possibility of attack. To fix that coding problem, I photoshop it! XD It took 2 days to redo its charsheet.
 

Finnuval

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As Many have mentioned its impossible to give a clear cut answer here as it depends on too many factors.

For me tho i started drawing as soon as i could hold a pen and at the age of 20 I was good enough to be a 'professional artist' (whatever that means lol). Now im in my 40's however some styles (like anime) still alude me and give me more Trouble then its worth xD

It took me about a year to adjust from traditional to digital art aswell.

And there still are ppl who wil dat i cant draw well enough to be paid and there are ppl who pay me to draw stuff for Them so.... Yeah xD

As for advice well Just do it and keep at it, you'll always get better at something the more you do it.
Also immitate others if they have a style you like. Draw from example to get that musclememory in your hands, use references, share your art so others van give you feedback on it. Ignore the haters but look for those comments from ppl that know what they are talking about.

Dont be afraid to ask for advice or tips when you can and see something they made you like.
Read books, scoure the internet, buy a book on anatomy. When walking outside and you see something interesting snap a picture of It and try to draw it when you are at home.

But most importantly like what you are doing.
 

TheoAllen

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Doesn't take long, as long as you know how to draw digitally in any quality, do image editing, and know the requirement to make a "game art". As in, image size and format.

Now if you are talking about the quality or specific resource type (i.e, tileset). That is where the other factors matter.

For example, one of your criteria is being paid to draw. Realistically, it is just about how confident you are and how do you market yourself. I personally identify myself as has enough quality to actually open shop if I want to (but I don't want to).

1. But to actually answer your question, for at least at the quality you feel like you're worthy enough to get paid, then I would say a year at the minimum if you really want an answer to plan ahead. Give or take. Assume you actually learn.

Disclaimer: This is an approximation.

2. I'm in no position to give advice, but depends on their needs, if they want to actually be a professional and advanced artist, learn anatomy, it helps (I don't because I'm too lazy, but it helps). Also, there is no shame to use a reference.

Oh speaking of my style, my style is anime, as in, anime you see on serials. With hard cell shading rather than soft shading you often see.
 

arsMori

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1. Obviously there is no ceiling to how good you can be. So to be more specific, if you are an artist who's good enough to get paid for your work, how long (approximate hours) did it take you to get to the skill level you have today? Please indicate your style (pixel, anime, portrait, etc.) so it's more clear.
I'm a self taught artist who started when they were around 7-8, and only started formal education recently, so if you were asking about my art journey as a whole, then it's a good 10+ years. I did some character drawing commissions a few years ago, but stopped because I got busy.

However, if it's drawing specifically for games, it actually took me at least month to adapt to drawing for games. I mostly draw character portraits, which would give me a little boost in drawing facesets, tiles, etc.

However, my normal style is a bit painterly / heavily rendered, which, in my opinion, wouldn't really do well in this field, since a game wouldn't really give me the large canvas I am used to. I'm actually trying to develop a second simpler style for my game projects. I normally use a soft, painted shading on my drawings, so I had to learn to adapt to a harder cel-shading style.

I've had a similar issue with pixel art as well, since the key of that is you would need to show what exactly that sprite is in such a low amount of pixel compared to a regular canvas. I actually work on a 24x24 canvas, resized 200% to fit MV's 48x48 size, since I prefer the look of larger pixels. Because of this, I actually had to adjust my character designs to be simpler. If I were to make a sprite of my non-game characters, it would be difficult with the amount of details on their clothes.

2. Any advice you would give to newbies? What books/courses to learn from?

The general "practice everyday" is obviously going to be stated here, since developing muscle memory and confidence in your strokes is important. However, learning the fundamentals (perspective, anatomy) is also highly important for this. For me a good practice would be drawing from life and observing your subject so that you would understand how light treats a certain surface, how a certain texture would be replicated, etc.

I would also recommending analyzing art styles you like. I actually started drawing by copying the Pokemon art style, and while it may not be visible in my current style, it was integral to how I developed, since the shading in Pokemon art helped contribute to my "paint on the shadows" type of shading.

For technique, I'd say it's definitely tool-specific. A good part of my experience comes from painting still life with acrylics, so I learned things like what certain brushes would be good for certain visual effects, and the order of which part to paint, given that you technically have one "layer" and the semi-transparency of the paint.

I now primarily do digital art, but the general idea is the same. While you would have a larger range of tools compared to drawing traditionally, learning how to use these tools is still important. You can only apply so much fancy special effect brushes to your art. For me, using these kinds of fancy brushes are there to assist your drawing, not to replace the need for certain techniques. For example, while my "shortcuts" to applying shadow (ex. blocking out a large area with a Multiply layer, simple gradient) definitely make my workflow faster, it would be useless if I don't know how lighting works.
 

JacSkulls

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I'd say just pick up a pencil and start drawing. If it's faces, make a circle and draw the face as you go. Cheek, chin, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, it can be a lot of work for newbies, trying to perfect a certain style. From Mickey Mouse to Disney characters to Western to Anime... there's no shortages of styles out there. However, the style would be calling you rather than you calling it, pretty much. And I have a reason for saying this.

The biggest reason is that each artists have their own "mark" just like people have their own writing style or the way they talk. For some people, they can draw anything and everything. Others, they'd stick with the style they already learned. Like many others said above, it takes time and patience. Asking us how long it'd take is like asking an Alligator to stand with it's tail and no feet or a duck to say "Thank you, have a nice day". Reason I say that is because everyone have their own timing.

Like me, it took me years just to draw the "perfect" line. But the real trick is... there are no perfect line. There is only perspectives, really. And with perspectives come shapes. I'd say to simply have fun rather than "trying" to draw it as it will always fail. And by having fun, you can go online and learn some neat tricks as I have.

For me, it's all it took. Is to simply have fun.
 

whotfisjojo

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honestly learning how to do art is up to the person and their time schedule how long it takes because everyone is different but if you practice every day drawing the things you CANT draw... if you do that you will be decently skilled sooner than you believed possible... really my greatest tip for someone wanting to learn how to draw is if you have a hard time drawing hands: draw hands! keep doing it no matter how bad! practice!! dont just draw them hidden away because everyone knows what youre doing...

learning how to do game art takes about half the time i think
the MAIN thing ive learned about going from regular art 2 art 4 games is consistency! consistent designs are very important in games- so pick a style you think looks good & stick 2 it!! or at least 4 the game you are working on...lol (dont use style as a crutch for the things you cant draw! having a style is only to enhance what you are best at & what you find appealing!)
second part about game art is its a lot of math trying to figure out the right dimensions, working with limitations, trying to figure out whether something is centered correctly (still a struggle 4 me lol)

if youre really seriously considering doing it
i highly suggest getting some digital art equipment since its for game art bc that is WAY easier than scanning each drawing etc, etc:

heres a very very cheap drawing tablet
and a free drawing program
both of which i use myself for game art commissions!
(the tablet is very durable and responsive and well worth its money- if i hadnt accidently cut the cord off of the 1st one while crafting a few years ago- it wouldve been celebrating its 8th birthday by now! 2nd one is already 3 years old and is still working flawlessly)
hope this helped! :0)
 

overlordmikey

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A lot of people have pointed this out, but becoming good at art is not something you can just point to and say "this amount of time". There is a lot of factors. I've started to practice drawing people and... it's not going so great, but I'll keep trying. Practice make perfect and all that.
 

HankB

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It depends on many factors, including age, gender, nationality, political affiliation, and hair length. Fortunately, back in the 90's, a team of Canadian scientists came up with a workable equation for determining how long it takes for any one person to get gud at drawing game art.

First you start with 29 points. If you are female, add 6 points. If you are Portuguese, Swedish, or Iranian add 3 points. If you identify with a conservative political party, subtract 8 points, but if you identify with a liberal party add 3 points. If you identify as independent, add 1 point. Now subtract your age, and divide by your hair length (in cm) squared. And there's your answer. I know it seems complicated, but this is how science works.

Although sometimes 6 year old bald, male, conservative Italians are really good at drawing game art. So you never know.
 

Featherbrain

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Research by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, popularized by researcher Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers, suggests that it takes an average of 10,000 hours devoted to a skill to become a world-class "elite-level" expert. (It took some only 2,500 hours, but others took more than 25,000 hours to attain great performance.) That's the equivalent of spending 5 years in a 40-hour a week job, plus or minus a few weeks of vacation. Meanwhile, 8000 hours gets you "gud" and 4,000 hours gets you "teacher-level gud."

The elite-level violinists gathered 10,000 hours of practice, 8,000 hours for the ‘good’ violinists, and 4,000 hours for the music-teacher-level violinists. The same trend was seen on pianists. Ericsson concluded that 10,000 hours is the magic number for true expertise.

It's an interesting rule of thumb, but obviously there are a lot of variables at play beyond practice time. Some people are naturally talented at certain things, and some people are naturally fast at learning new things, and some skills tend to "translate" well to others (e.g. if you already paint or sculpt, you're starting at an advantage in making pixel art, etc). If it interests you, put some time into it and see where it takes you.
 
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superkoopa

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I've been dabbling in creating my own art assets since around 2013. It's mostly trial and error, picking up techniques, its not so much a case of being able to draw, but knowing how tools work and what software you can use to help your craft. You could literally draw a stickman, but it will work if it makes sense within the realm of your game. It's all about how you deliver it, thats my two cents anyways!
 

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