View Full Version : developing a game art course
11-12-2004, 05:00 PM
that's right .. i'm acting as a consultant right now for a school in the philippines that's wanting to implement game development as part of their curriculum. probably sounds commonplace for you guys, but not over here.. in the philippines, this will be the first ever 3D class geared specifically towards game art. however i have no idea what the game dev scene is like internationally, but as much as possible we'd like to teach topics to put our graduates on par with our neighbors with game dev experience (sing, china, korea, india ... hopefully japan!!)
if you guys can provide any input on how to structure our game development classes, with topics on art and otherwise, i'd truly appreciate it. regards and thanks!
11-12-2004, 05:02 PM
by the way, i thought this discussion might seem unethical, but i'm not asking anyone to post their school curricula...just keep it along the lines of "in my game art class, i wish we could've done this .." or, even what skills would be useful to have, since the game art scene has changed so much over the last year. and hopefully we won't forget the fundamentals either.
thanks again, i've always found this forum to be very helpful.
Here's a little course development Book/PDF that I contributed to for the state of Washington. It's free in PDF form, and only about $5 for the book form.
I'd recommend balancing out equally the technical side with the "art" side.
Make sure the students are doing regular life drawing or even just traditional art lesson modules alongside the more technical game-oriented stuff. It will produce more creativity and understanding of art than just sitting them in front of Photoshop and 3DS Max every day.
Make sure you have teachers who KNOW the programs they are teaching. The best teachers to have are people who would use the software and skill-sets they're teaching anyway, I know it sounds obvious, but some of my teachers who are supposedly teaching us Photoshop or Flash don't know that much about it, and don't use it in their spare time, or didn't once use it in a previous career.
Encourage creativity, do not force styles or techniques onto the students.
It's late, I'm rambling ... I hope that made some sense - I am a student on a Computer Arts degree course (not specifically games-related, but close enough)!
11-12-2004, 09:17 PM
How old are the people you're going to be teaching? Depending on that and how big this class is going to be, it may be worth seperating your students into programmers and artists. You'll never be able to cover enough of either field to be useful if you're trying to teach both aspects.
I've got a few contacts from my days at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment that I could private message to you if you'd like.
11-13-2004, 02:47 PM
In my game art class... my teacher said things like "You don't have to worry about the polygon count. By the time you graduate it won't matter anyway." But as I think everyone here knows, that just ain't true. You should teach low-poly modelling as a fundamental skill, whether as a final product or as a base mesh for a high poly treatment.
I agree with Mop that life drawing and painting are important.
11-13-2004, 03:11 PM
I'd include a few traditional 2D, 3D, and Drawing courses in there. 2D for things like color theory, compostion, use of line (dashed, dotted, thick, thin, etc), and other artistic theories. 3D like sculpture, for helping students to visualize things in 3 dimensional space, that way when they make the transition to viewing 3D objects on a 2D plane it won't be that big of a jump. Drawing for teaching them how to observe and draw from real life. That and my drawing teacher knew how to make us realize the relevance of traditional arts in the CG world. Like she would have us draw out Character sheets, and then after we finished those, she'd have a model come in, and we'd have to draw our character in the model's poses. Little things like that can really help when tied in later on.
Edit: That and make sure you have teachers that know Photoshop can be used for things other than photo-editing. I've had CG teachers look at me weird when I mention painting with it...
11-13-2004, 11:52 PM
Yeah I'll second the need for some life drawing and colour theory classes, particularly the former. Those were two things sorely missing from the courses I've done. Even now I'm still not to crash hot with proportions and it took my quite a while to get my head around what colours to use where. Linework isn't something thats as important unless you're doing concept art and even then, unless you're making really polished artwork that can be put in manuals or on the web site or whatever, its hardly necessary. Likewise composition - handy for movies or cutscenes, not so useful for general purpose games development. I think you're best to keep the classes to what you really have to know to get into this career - theres a hell of a lot to learn and as it is, you won't be able to cover everything.
Something else you should really drum in is efficint modelling processes (using loops and the like to get a good clean, easily animatable mesh). This is getting more an more important as poly counts rise and it was something that wasn't really covered all that well when I was studying.
11-14-2004, 06:27 PM
thanks for all the suggestions. i am a traditional art junkie myself, so the putting a trad art bend on the classes was never in question.
yes i agree, things like polygon count and animatable topology should be addressed. as much as possible, i'd like to frame the entire course in the context of creating assets for an actual game, so the students aren't looking at one asset and abandoning it as soon as they're done. this should help reinforce the production mindset as well. i'm just afraid it might be seen as limiting, so from the getgo they'll probably be encouraged to think hard on a theme and style they'd like to work on in the long run.
one other option that came up was to have a screening process for the advanced courses, where only the most promising students make it into the class, and armed with art theory and software fundamentals. the only obstacle i see is the school wanting to accept everybody in regardless of potential just to make a buck.
sorry i couldn't address everybody, i'm sort of in a rush. but i've read everything and it's all good stuff. thanks again
11-18-2004, 08:42 AM
There's also this paper that was written on tailoring a curriculum to prepare students to work at EA. It's specific to EA but still an interesting read.
11-18-2004, 10:30 AM
I forsee in the future schools will teach forum ethics and propper forum behavior alongside real life :P
A good thing to teach also is not to be restricted to 1 program but to have the mindset of how 3d models work and how the design proccess works for game modeling and game mechanics. If you have a student that knows that then it just takes experience to make him a great modeler.
11-18-2004, 05:41 PM
lejomphe, that was a very interesting read.
forum ethics, thou shalt not type in l33t speak. /images/graemlins/smile.gif unfortunately due to budget constraints, and because we think it's important that the students produce an actual game demo, we NEED to stick to 1 program (it's Maya, for the curious). The programmers will study its API. i have no doubt that the principles of game art production will trickle into the classes anyway. but the focus is to enable the students to work in a game prodcuction pipeline, and equip them with the skills to eventually become art directors (as opposed to being "the guys on the floor"). a lot of communication/presentation work alongside the technical side of things.
11-19-2004, 05:04 PM
i think it pretty much stands to reason to make sure students are creative not only on the tech side but in the classic sense too ... pretty much what mop said , about making sure the ppl teaching know wot they are talking about , when i did my BA i had alot of trouble with that ... i probly learnt more from life drawing than anything else .. so again , this is a must .. get students to manage there own time and be self driven .. encorage diversity , give briefs that have stringent guidlines and deadlines , most of all , try to discourage students from doing all the same work ... how many times do we see the same characters & envoroments come out in games again and again .. uuh , wheres that other bottle of wine ...
11-20-2004, 04:12 PM
I think you may want to make the class an "intermediate" class, so that you can make sure that the people coming in, that want to, allready have traditional art skills.
The other thing you might want to do, is to give the students an experience of not only the basics of asset creation, but also of the transformation of techology over time.
Example: Get copies of QuakeII. This game has the simplest character assets to create that are playable of any 3d Game engine. It's old, but it gets the students thinking about creating within tight limits. they have one (1) texturemap, and one pallette and a polygon limit of 800 polygons (plus or minus 20 percent). and for a full time student, with lab time, they may be able to create a working game character within 2 weeks. (after they are familiar with the program).
For those that aren't animators, maybe they might want to become environmental artists? In any case allow the students to collaborate AFTER they have done all the steps themselves once. From there you could move to another engine, like either Quake III or Unreal 200X? Having a character they can play, plus the class credit willgive them a sense of accomplishment.
11-20-2004, 04:37 PM
I went to a very fast paced technical school (full sail) I loved it there and it was really exactly the place I needed to go. They made me accountable for my work and demanded that I attend 90 percent of my classes. If not regardless of my grades I'd fail.
That said the price paid for an accelerated program is that we had about enough time to learn the concepts behind the art, and how to technically build things but there was never any time to develope the artistic side of creating game art.
I would say as much as possible do not rush your students. The more time they have in school to develop their skills the sooner after they graduate they'll find work. Right now I know I have some work to do after school before I'm high enough caliber to get a steady job, unfortunetly most of the students at my school are under the impression that the degree matters and I think a lot of them will be shocked (and give up) once they realize it doesn't mean anything.
Another thing I wish my school had covered was facial edge looping with polygons. My school still focuses it's intro modeling class on NURBS and patch modeling and we dont touch poly's till our game character and scene design class so the theory of edge looping on faces is never taught.
And finally anatomy, have a class on muscle structure that's probably one of the most important aspects of modeling. knowing why you make things the way you do.
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