View Full Version : Photos in textures?
12-23-2004, 09:11 AM
Ok me and this guy is having this discussion whether or not you should use real life photos on character and weapons... I say it's a no-no... especially for example to put a photo of a piece of tape on a gun(even if the highlights are editeted out), as it will look completely out of place, while he says that if you can get away with it, you should use photos...
Am I wrong? cause he brought up the example with Max Payne, but wasn't that engine made for that?
12-23-2004, 10:02 AM
In a sense, you're both right, but he's righter. If it looks out of place, then the artist has failed.
The key here is "If you can get away with it", that, and the overall art direction of the game dictate success with photos in game art. Using photo overlays is very common, using photos directly is less so, but still workable if the game calls for it.
It bears mentioning, though, that using a photo is not necessarily a faster route. They will need cleaning, editing, and sometimes even painted additions. It should be a style choice, not a speed choice. (not as much the case with overlays)
12-23-2004, 10:28 AM
Photos are used all the time in game art. I'd say they're more likely to be used in environment than in characters, but I've seen both. Sometimes it's to get an extra touch of realism in the textures, sometime it's just quicker. But like Asthane said, you still need to clean them up, very rarely can you use just them as is.
When I had to model an area in "T3: Rise of the Machines" that had to look like a destroyed version of downtown Hollywood, I actually drove to Hollywood Blvd. and took tons of digital photos myself and then used them for the building textures.
And I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if artists at Valve drove around downtown Seattle and took a bunch of reference photos to use in Half Life 2.
12-23-2004, 11:01 AM
Actually they went all the way to Romania, Bulgaria etc... to get their eastern europe reference pictures.
I don't think photos are a no-no as such, as long as they aren't simply untouched photos that tile (or in some cases DONT TILE, aaaahhhh).
I usually re-paint or re-touch a lot when I work with photo source.
12-24-2004, 07:40 AM
thanks for the replies! I must accept my defeat /images/graemlins/laugh.gif
12-30-2004, 11:41 AM
It used to be - when games were much lower res that photosourcing looked very out of place. Even resampled and paletted it still looked so much more "real" than the other in-game assets that it was out of place.
Now games are approaching photo realism and have certainly raised the bar on resolution by miles. Photosourcing is an invaluable tool - but it is still critical when using photosourcing to make sure the items you create - match the realism level of the game.
So for isntancce if you photosource a face - and you dont do it with their clothes- the face may look out of place on the body.
Also the face may look out of place in the game world too if its too low res or not photosourced itself as well.
Its the artists job - when using photo source - to make it match and blend - and look like it belongs.
As long as the artist does that - then photosourcing is completely legitimate and will be used more and more in the future as games approach the realism level of movies and beyond.
it's all about output:
get the result you need as fast as possible. Breaking copyright laws, that's the only no-no.
01-06-2005, 09:39 AM
Yea, that's for sure. Don't want a lawsuit on your hands.
If at all possible, take your own photos. If you can't, then buy copyright-free image CDs. If you google for pics, or grab them off of websites, make sure they have no copyright attachments. At the very least, you have to change them enough to be nonrecognizable to the original image. I forgot what the limit is, but it's something like 80-90% of the image has to be changed, before it's considered to not be infringement.
01-06-2005, 02:50 PM
it's all about satisfaction; I personally coulden't be happy showing someone something I 'made' if it was photosourced (im not having a dig at people who do) as I dont feel like it's my work. If you feel like you have acheived something and are happy with it then you might as well do it, but the same applies for everything anything in life.
If you are doing it as a job time requirements may mean that you have to photosource, even if you don't like, it but I belive that if two people produced the same quality texture but one was hand painted while the other was photosourced the person who handpainted it had more skill and could easily recreated the texture photosourced. This is not necessarily true the other way round.
I see your point Frank, but in the case of many realistic games, such as simulators, racing games, some sports games and some shooters, trying to stick to painting only can cause real trouble. If you are doing a landmark building or some other real life object that is very recognizable, why go in there and try painting everything when a photo would be more accurate? After all, it may have taken an engineer, and architect, a designer, and a whole team of skilled craftsmen to create that real life object, and they would be experts in making that thing look right. Keeping this in mind, it would be really tough for a typical game artist to just accurately whip up a texture for this type of model, whereas a good photo will be completely accurate.
Whenever you are trying to reproduce something that exists in real life, photosourced textures are usually a huge time saver. Trying to re-create the realistic look of this type of object through painting when you have a good photo of it is just a waste of time. The key here is the word "good".
Most often, even when using photos, they are not perfect, and will need a lot of cleanup. To really do it well, it really does take a lot of artistic skill, and a good eye. It's not easy eliminating distortion, lighting irregularity, correcting colors, enhancing details, and making the texture blend in with the other assets in the game. It really isn't as easy as just smacking the photo on the model.
One of of the big issues with using photo-sourced textures is they actually demand that artists have better painting skills. Inevitably over the course of production, there will be some asset for which there is not a good photo available, and artists will be forced to do some creative painting. And the artist's painted texture will need to stand right next to photosourced textures, and not look any different stylistically. This can be very tricky, but can be done. Usually it entails painting, then overlaying photos to provide that real world irregularity, but sometimes a very skilled painter can do it without.
So all that I'm saying is that photosourcing can be the best bet for some types of projects. And just because you are using photosourcing, doesn't mean that it takes no artistic skill to do it well. It can be a big time saver in some cases, but can be a bit more demanding in others.
01-07-2005, 03:56 PM
My point was that if you don't enjoy something then why do it? I don't get a kick from photosourcing as many other people don't and if Nostradamus prefers to hand paint all his textures then why shoulden't he? (although he didn't actually mention he prefers to hand paint them, just that he thought it looked bad).
I also belive that to use a photo 'really does take a lot of artistic skill, and a good eye. It's not easy eliminating distortion, lighting irregularity, correcting colors, enhancing details, and making the texture blend in with the other assets in the game' but I still belive that it would take more skill to hand paint the same texture.
Also 'a good photo will be completely accurate' as it has 'taken an engineer, and architect, a designer, and a whole team of skilled craftsmen to create that real life object' means that apart from the cleanup nothing on the texture is my own as even the light and surface detail is naturally created. Not that I'm trying to be against it as it does have a place, like you said its a huge time saver, I just want to encourage people to do what they like not what other people say (although maybe it was off topic in this thread).
No problem Frank. For personal work, I completely agree with you. Do what you like.
However in a professional environment, this is not the case. You will need to do what your art director says, and if he says to use photos, then you've got to do so. If he leaves it up to you, and it is a realistic game, chances are that you will still use photos if you ever want to go home from work. They can just get you quicker results if you are going for realism, than you could by 100% hand painting everything. Professionally, this is totally acceptable in many cases, and can even be preferred in some situations.
Of course, having said all this, I still prefer to paint stuff. Unfortunately, the games that I am working on just don't allow me to do so all of the time. On the game that I am currently working on, the AD actually said "I don't want ANY hand-painted texture creation!" Of course, immediately after this, I turned in a few hand-painted textures along with a bunch of photo sourced ones, just to see if the painted ones would slip by. In reality, the photos that we were supposed to work from were total crap, and would take far more time to salvage than would painting it from scratch. So, I took a gamble, and it worked. My lead asked "How did you get those photos cleaned up so well? They were a real mess, and now they look so good!" I just chuckled, and told them that they were painted, but not to worry, as I didn't have enough time to do any more painting, and would be moving on to assets for which there actually were good photos.
01-07-2005, 05:52 PM
[ QUOTE ]
On the game that I am currently working on, the AD actually said "I don't want ANY hand-painted texture creation!"
[/ QUOTE ]
I don't understand ultimatums like that. You do what gets the job done in the least amount of time, but to a certain level of quality. If it's hand painting that gets the job done, then that's what you do. If it's photo reference, then you use photos.
01-07-2005, 08:52 PM
It's not so easy to hand paint realism. If the goal is realism, photos are a must considering production times. If the photos are taken by the artist(s), and the output is acceptable...i see no problem. I don't think photosourcing is an easy way around any task. There are those who try, and you can tell there was little effort in achieving great results. It's all about the results really. Most people don't feel thrilled about successfully designing a brick wall, but it helps to move things along and focus on the more important tasks.
01-07-2005, 11:09 PM
if any one takes a photo of my wall ill sue them >_<!!!
nah jk, my wall is a photo slut.
im all for photos used in textures.
01-13-2005, 09:09 PM
Totally depends on the style you're going for. There is a lot of artists who frown upon one method or another, such as using photo-source or painting from photos, etc...but the end result is what matters. There are inherent problems with certain methods, but if you're aware of them, and know how to work around them to get the result that you want, then it's a valid method.
No such thing as "cheating" in art.
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