2D Background Design For Games - Vector Techniques
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2D Background Design For Games - Vector Techniques

Create a unique visual style for your game in Photoshop
4.4 (19 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
136 students enrolled
Created by Game Art Co
Last updated 8/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $40 Discount: 75% off
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  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 16 Articles
  • 3 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Assignments
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Research and design a unique visual game style
  • Learn professional game artist workflow
  • Ability to test game graphics in the game engine Unity
  • Apply colour theory knowledge to create eye catching graphics
  • Use shape contrast to create effective overall design
  • Create readable thumbnail sketches in black and white
View Curriculum
  • Basic drawing ability is a must
  • Intermediate understanding of Photoshop & basic understanding of Unity
  • Digital drawing tablet
  • Software required: Free version of Unity (minimum version 5.5of3) & Trial of Photoshop

Focusing on fast vector techniques in Photoshop you will create a unique looking style for a 2d platform running game. Skills you must have already: 

  • Basic drawing ability 
  • Basic experience with Photoshop 
  • Basic understanding of Unity

The vector techniques covered are simple and effective to give maximum impact in a short amount of time. Using Photoshop smart objects is a key concept of the course a technique commonly used by professional game artists.

Split into two sections first you get familiar with the vector tools and thumbnail process. Then we jump into a mini project called the Golden Antelope inspired by Indonesian folklore. You'll see the whole process take shape from thumbnails to finished image.

*Assignments are included during the course to aid you learning. Feedback is available directly from the instructor who has a track record that spans over twenty commercial game releases.

What is also included in the course?

  • Full HD Stylized Background made by a Rovio game artist free to use for your game projects
  • 2D Unity game template to test your assets
  • Links to learning games, articles, tips, tricks & more!

As this course is aimed at those with a basic understanding of Photoshop it moves fast giving you the key concepts so that you can apply the techniques to your own game productions.

Part 1: Nick Sweetman

Guiding you through the basic vector tools and thumbnail process I get you up to speed before you start going through the mini game project. We cover tips and tricks to speed up workflow and look at the main vector techniques with the pen tool.

Part 2: Graphics: Maureen Lukito - Narration: Nick Sweetman

Rovio game artist Maureen Lukito shows the workflow she uses to create a professional 2d game background. We go from scheduling to blocking out the assets and implementing them into the game engine Unity. The template scene gives you the essential elements you need to test your environment: A jumping character, animated parallax layers with basic functionality for you to move through the level. The template is coded by game programmer Yrjö Peussa and is specifically designed for testing and is not a complete game, if you know coding feel free to build on top!

Who is the target audience?
  • Has a basic drawing ability and wants to learn professional game techniques
  • Hobbyist looking to improve skills
Compare to Other Game Art Courses
Curriculum For This Course
71 Lectures
Tips & Tricks for Photoshop Workflow
7 Lectures 14:05
  • Welcome & short overview of the course
  • We start the course with tips and tricks in Photoshop that are used later in the course to help speed up your workflow.
Preview 00:42

  • Clipping mask technique
  • Controlling the direction of gradients
  • Using layer blending modes
Tips & Tricks: Clipping Masks

  • Recording an action
  • Applying a shortcut key
Preview 02:12

Why Use Actions For Games?

  • Creating an adjustment layer
  • Painting on a mask
  • Useful shortcuts for resetting colours
Tips & Tricks: Adjustment Layers

Useful Adjustment Layers for 2D Background Design

  • Converting objects into smart objects
  • Applying changes
  • Reasons to use this workflow for a game production
Preview 01:59

Technique Practice
4 questions
Photoshop Vector Introduction
6 Lectures 16:03
  • Controlling bezier handles
  • Avoiding bad tracing habits
Vectors Part 1: Tracing a simple half-circle

  • Moving bezier handles individually
  • Exaggerating shape
  • Using the Liquify tool to manipulate shapes
Vectors Part 2: Tracing a cloud

  • Sketching out a simplified character
  • Tracing the base shape
Vectors Part 3: Sketching & Tracing your own Squirrel

Vector Tool Summary

Using different methods such as scale, rotate, squash & stretch to create different statue heads

Preview 03:45

Part 1: Sketch and trace with vectors 3 of your own characters. Part 2: Create variations of the statue head
Character & Statue Shape Exercise
1 question

Games that allow you to practice using the vector pen tool

Vector Game Links
Thumbnail Sketching Practice
5 Lectures 14:17

Composition techniques

  • Rule of Thirds 
  • The Golden Mean

What is Value?

  • Using a value scale to sketch thumbnails
  • Creating a landscape using the lasso tool
Practice thumbnail 01: Mountain Scene

  • Brush settings
  • Sketching using the paintbrush and lasso tool
  • Creating a darker value sunset scene
Preview 04:45

Background Checklist

Brainstorming black and white thumbnails
Forest Thumbnails
1 question
Project: The Golden Antelope Graphics by Maureen Lukito
12 Lectures 31:01
  • Research Techniques
  • Vector Process
  • Tips and Tricks
Maureen Lukito Artists Work Process

The importance of scheduling for a game artist

Creating Assets & Scheduling

Game artist overview

Maureen Introduction

  • Game project overview
  • Using Pinterest and Padlet for research
Project Tools & Overview

  • Sketching the main statue
  • Blocking out a placeholder character
  • Creating simplified vines
Thumbnails Part 1: Statues & Vines

  • Sketching Vines
  • Adding trees and foliage
Thumbnails Part 2: Sketching the Foliage

  • Finalising the thumbnails 
  • Preparing thumbnails for the colour phase
Thumbnails Part 3: Waterfall & Cliff

  • Colour Theory History
  • The Painters Colour Wheel
  • Hue, Saturation & Value
  • How our monitors display RGB colour
  • "YURMBY" colour wheel
Preview 02:41

  • Breaking down a background: light on dark or dark on light?
  • Digital colouring process
  • Shape language
  • Colour Schemes: Complimentary, Split-complimentary, Triad, Square
  • Best methods for improving colour knowledge
Colour Theory Part 2: Contrast and the Colour Wheel

Techniques to use inside of Photoshop if you are colour blind

Article Link: Working past Colour Blindness

  • Duplicating smart objects so you can alter them individually
  • Using colour blending mode to apply colour to thumbnails
  • Blocking out a base colour palette
Thumbnails Part 4 Adding Colour

Colour Theory Chapter Slides
The Golden Antelope: Blocking out Colour Vectors
23 Lectures 01:09:54

Optimization techniques for creating games

Optimization & Graphics Resolution

Blocking out the body, horns, legs, eyes and mouth

Preview 03:44

  • Using the offset filter
  • Fixing problems with tiles
Creating a Tileable Background

  • Using primitive vectors to block out the first version of the clouds
  • Layer style effect: Gradient Overlay
Blocking out the Clouds

  • Blocking out the mountains and early waterfall section
  • Using straights against curves
Mountains & Waterfall

  • Creating the main foreground tree trunk
  • Blocking out the branches
Foreground Tree: Trunk & Branches

Using circle shapes to block out the main leaves

Foreground Tree Part 2: Working on the Branches

  • Sketching a leaf shape
  • Applying the leaf shape to the circular sections
  • Overlaying leaf sections to create depth
  • Nesting smart objects

Foreground Tree Part 3: Blocking out the Leaves

  • Using primitives to block out the rounded statue
  • Blocking out the eyes and creating a mouth

Foreground Round Statue Part 1: Base, Eyes & Mouth

Creating a foreground foliage section

Foreground Foliage

Creating the feature statue in the level

Preview 07:09

Creating the main shapes of the flower based on the sketch

Jungle Flower Part 1: Petals and Lighting

Creating a quick simple foreground flower

Red Foreground Flower: Quick Simple Flower

Based on what you have blocked out so far, test out the rough versions in game by replacing existing graphics.
Testing your graphics in Unity
1 question

Creating a glowing magical foreground tree

Midground Trees Part 1: Trunk, Branches, Swirls and Glow

  • Adding branches
  • Creating leaf shapes
  • Applying gradients 
Midground Trees Part 2: Adding Leaves

Using a vector and effect to block out the moon

Adding a Moon

Working on a second pass on the character adding details to the face

Refining the Character

Creating a square waterfall texture for the template

Waterfall texture

  • Adding further lighting to the head
  • Creating cracks for the eyes
Main Statue Part 2: Adding Light and Feature Details

  • Adding creature eyes inside of the mouth
  • Refining the teeth
Main Statue Part 3: Detailing Teeth & Creature Eyes

  • Adding the mouth and nose
  • Creating the head section
Round Statue Detailing: Mouth, Nose & Head

  • Creating the final indonesian inspired cloud
  • Adding detail and lighting
Blocking out a New Stylized Cloud

Sketching and blocking out a vector bird for the foreground

Background Bird: Indonesian Rhinoceros Hornbill
Creating the Jungle Vine
10 Lectures 29:31
  • Breakdown of the tiling system used for the vine
  • Overview of the vector process
Part 1: Breakdown of Tiling & Process

  • Rubber band option for tracing
  • Subtracting vector shapes
  • Merging shape components

Creating the Vine Tile Template

Part 1: Block Out

  • Adding a base value to the vine
  • Blocking out the first base vine shapes
Part 2: Adding Value

  • Applying shadows
  • Adding shrubs
  • Creating a grass section to the top of the vine
Part 3: Adding Lighting & Leaves

  • Adding leaf detail to the vines
  • Creating and refining twisting vines
Part 4: Adding Grass & Moss

  • Adding leaf detail
  • Refining the tiling sections
Part 5: Adding More Leaves

  • Adding a soft-light gradient
  • Checking the tiles work
  • Placing a decorative twirl to the vine section
Part 6: Final Detailing

  • Blocking out a bat creature
  • Testing and placing in the environment
Adding a Bat Creature Using Simple Shapes

Final Asset Tweaking: Blurring Foreground Assets
Unity: Testing out Graphics
8 Lectures 18:24
Adding a Completely New Spritesheet PSD

  • Replacing existing graphics with your own
  • Correcting clipped sprites
Unity Part 1: Replacing & Correcting Sprites

  • Changing parallax speed
  • Altering the waterfall speed
  • Sorting layers
Unity Part 2: Parallax & Layer Sorting

  • Altering the jungle vine mesh collider
  • Testing changes
Unit Part 3: Mesh Colliders & Testing

  • Adding a new sprite
  • Creating a prefab object
  • Downloadable materials: Photoshop PSD by Maureen Lukito
  • Unity Template by Yrjö Peussa
Unity Part 4: Adding Sprites & Prefabs Includes Unity Template

Unity Quick Lecture Summary

Final wrap up of the course

Wrap Up Lecture

A Padlet board with additional links to articles and videos on 2D Background Design

Bonus Lecture: Link To Articles and Video Reference
About the Instructor
Game Art Co
4.4 Average rating
251 Reviews
5,671 Students
3 Courses
Essential Skills for Game Artists

Founded by Nick Sweetman - Game Art Co. is a collective of game artists based in Helsinki, Finland. The land of snow, sauna and mobile games! 

Our courses are practical and focus on the essential core skills and workflow needed by an industry game artist. 

We have a combined experience of over twenty years in the games industry. With over 20 published and award winning titles released on console, PC and mobile. Our artists come from companies that include Rovio, Remedy and Supercell.