Painting in PhotoShop – A Game Developer’s Toolbox

painting in photoshopWith the explosion in gamification of work and play, game developers are the fastest growing users of digital paint programs. As the advanced features offered by digital painting programs grows to meet user needs, the competition has led to a flurry of comparison reviews. The problem with these tit-for-tat reviews is that they overlook the community of expertise which develops around software. In artistic domains, this expertise has far more value than, say, knowledge of a word processing program. For game developers, the legacy of expertise that has developed around PhotoShop has made it one of the most valuable tools of the trade.

The Game Developer’s Brush and Palette

PhotoShop holds its own on features and functionality alone. Most users require a foundation in digital painting fundamentals in PhotoShop to take advantage of all it has to offer. While at a glance, PhotoShop provides comparable functionality to other digital painting programs, once you start painting with Photoshop, it quickly becomes apparent why artists are loyal to this leading painting tool.

PhotoShop provides the basic painting tools – the Brush tool and Pencil tool. To modify a painting, Eraser, Blur and Smudge tools are available. An extensive line of brush options is available. A variety of brush shapes allow you to apply color with broad brush strokes, soft edges, and diverse brush dynamics and blending properties. The texture can be adjusted to the type of paper used. Favorite brush options, tones and other specs can be saved as presets.

With its 30 blend modes, PhotoShop starts to really standout for game developers who thrive on special effects. Taking the time to learn the formulas behind the blend modes can greatly enhance one’s artistry.  The blend modes can be mixed and customized. Seasoned gamed artists have mastered and shared many special effects. Entire courses are organized around subjects such as how to use blend modes on eyes. There are plenty of tools to help you create that perfect effect, including iPhone PhotoShop blending mode apps.

More game developers are setting up their own shops to meet the high demand for games and game apps. The trend in pixel art tools and games is helping the non-artist develop games but these cruder renderings will not complete when it comes to user experience. Vector graphics, the layering of shapes to create multiple dimensions is an alternative. But neither of these methods can compete with the larger trend of 3D modeling and custom sculpting programs to create life-like game elements. The clear trend is toward more advanced game design.

Photoshop Gaming Expertise

While mastering the basic and advanced features and functionality of painting in PhotoShop, tremendous value can be found in its community of experts, which is an ongoing source of innovation and inspiration for both beginner and advanced users. If you are designing games, you will likely want to tap into the knowhow of experts in digital matte painting with Photoshop – the digital painting of photo-realistic interior and exterior environments that appears in most online games. One such PhotoShop expert is seasoned game developer Chad Walker. Among Chad’s impressive credits is a role in developing the award winning Age of Kings for Microsoft. He has also authored books and developed courses in game development.

These experienced game designers have been perfecting PhotoShop techniques to create game effects for many years. In Photoshop for Artists, Chad Walker shares artists’ tricks for using vanishing points, compositing images, 3D and liquify.  A large and diverse offering of Photoshop plugins have been developed. Kwik, the specialist in storytelling, has provided a plugin to help gamifiers develop a good storyline to accompany their spectacular graphics.

Setting Gaming Standards in Photoshop

Certain functions of PhotoShop have become part of standard techniques for industries from advertising to gaming. One such feature is PhotoShop filters. For gamers, training in using PhotoShop filters led by digital game artists can provide an edge. The most sought-after skills are animation, and Photoshop provides expertise here, too. A key focus is 3D models. PhotoShop provides a comprehensive set of tools for building models, manipulating objects, changing environments and scenes, and combining video and 3D to create animation. All of these effects are taught in 3D Modeling in Photoshop – An In Depth Tutorial.

Emphasizing the experiential knowledge of the instructor, PhotoShop is often taught by taking participants through a project from start to finish. As game design becomes more complex, increasingly, learners must master the workflow across several programs. In character development, one character can require at least three different software programs to develop, as is shown in the step-by-step character development of The Complete Character for Games Workflow – Demon Girl.

In advanced game development, even a single item may require multiple mediums and programs. Creating popular gaming items such as swords and shields can be as complex as character development. Leading gamemakers are sculpting objects in special software programs and importing them into PhotoShop for finishing touches. To see the workflow process for a fantasy shield created using four programs, check out the online lesson Creating and Texturing a Fantasy Shield with dDo.

PhotoShop gamers are always innovating. A number of online forums share new techniques. PhotoshopDaily is one of many sites that demonstrates techniques. One chap wanted to know how to create a metal engraving effect, and the site responded with a tutorial. There is nothing that cannot be done in PhotoShop, with the help and advice of the community of experts. At sites like 3D Buzz, participants can actively take part in live game development.

PhotoShop’s evolution into a serious game development platform was driven partly by Adobe and partly by users. Adobe has an underlying motive for providing industry leading game development tools: it wants to position Flash as the leading game development platform. To accomplish this, Adobe integrated game development tools into Creative Cloud. This tighter integration of applications provides a smoother design experience.