I have been looking at two different possibilities for creating artwork for a small, 2d game. And, while I have gone back and forth, I have thought about what it means to use each method, and why I have chosen the one that I think is more plausible.
The first is a pixel-based approach. Since each asset is small (usually 32x32), it is not impossibly hard to create something at least feasible to look at. I don’t have the assumption that my graphics will look professional, or even good. I just want them to be decent enough so as not to induce visual vomiting.
The second is a 3d-based approach; creating 3d models with basic materials, rendering them, and then cropping and scaling them down so that they fit the dimensions I need. I thought that this would be a better method at first, because I am much more inclined toward mathematical thinking than I am the kind of spontaneous spatial reasoning that is required to compose drawings on the fly. And, I was wrong.
For some reason, I have always thought of modeling as being a primarily mathematic activity. You use basic shapes, think of their ratios and relationships, and develop accordingly. But this doesn’t work without an even deeper understanding of all of the things that makes an artist an artist. And I am definitely not a graphic artist.
So, I have decided to lower my head and power through my graphic assets on a pixel-by-pixel basis. I don’t know if it will even be possible, but I am trying, and so far making decent progress. I now fully understand why they call it “programmer art”. But, in all of the things I never really thought I could accomplish (programming itself, music composition, et cetera), I am eking out my existence step by painfully slow step.
Sometimes, I just want to draw every object and character as a black square box, and just write the damned engine, and wait for the rest to be divinely manifested.