How to Sketch Game Assets

In this video, you will learn how to create
game assets using a sketch-like process. There are 2 approaches a game artist can take
to build assets or slap down ideas on the canvas: drawing contours and painting shapes.
Both are valid methods that can lead to the same results. Picking either one is a matter
of taste. Someone who sketches with a pen will feel comfortable sketching on the computer.
A painter will probably feel more efficient painting. You can also choose to use both! Anyway, today, we are only speaking of the sketch approach. Before we talk about drawing, let’s talk about graphic tablets. To sketch on the computer,
you want to be using a pen or graphic tablet. For starters, a graphic tablet enables you
to hand draw images on the computer in a similar way to drawing with pen and paper. There are
tablets that you can place flat down on your desk, like this Intuos4. And there are expensive
screen tablets that you can directly draw on. I have a 13” cintiq myself right here. If you have never owned a tablet before, you should start with a cheap Wacom bamboo or
Intuos. Pick one with an A5 drawing surface at least. In my experience, screen tablets
are only worth the investment if you draw a lot. If you paint digitally instead, you
will likely be better off with a regular, cheaper tablet.
If you can’t afford a tablet or you want to create game assets using your mouse, it
is still possible! However, it is hard to draw with a mouse. You will be better off
using a vector software like Illustrator or Inkscape. Let us make a cute character as a game asset
example. The first step is to establish the pose and
proportions of our character. We can start using a big brush size to prevent us from
getting caught up with the details. I start with a curve that represents the spine and
vertical flow of the character’s pose. The character’s head, chest and center of mass
will most of the time be placed along that curve. You can also start with the head if it works better for you After that, I often add the axes that represent the orientation of the shoulders and of the
pelvis. You can draw from that idea and establish the broad orientation of all limbs using a
simple curve. That way, you can focus on establishing the pose and balance of your character. It
is also fast to do, so you can quickly experiment with many poses!
The next step is to add the big shapes and to define the size of your character’s limbs.
I will come back to proportions in future videos, as they can vary a lot from realistic
human beings to mobile game characters. Here, I’m going for a multiplatform browser type
of game. I want to focus the player’s attention on the character’s upper body. I’m giving
it a prominent head, and I exaggerate its torso and belly to give it more weight.
Now that we have nailed down the structure of our character, we want to plot its main
features. We want to detail its facial features, its clothing, its hair… still with loose
and light strokes. Once we roughed out the whole drawing, we can start inking our character. Inking is the process of taking the rough sketch, and drawing over it in order to produce
clean lines. Inking is not a passive job though. We are not supposed to only draw over the
initial sketch. We are supposed to reinforce the design of the character with our strokes.
Actually, in the comic book or animation industry, this is a job in itself.
In game art, we generally want to draw each limb on individual layers as closed shapes
to make it easier to fill later. That is what I am doing at the moment with this little
astronaut. The idea is that the strokes you put on the
canvas actually bear meaning: a thick stroke reinforces a certain area of your drawing.
For example, you can emphasize your character’s head using a thicker stroke. The curvature
of your lines also matter: flat lines tend to convey a sense of steadiness and solidity.
Curves, on the other hand, create a sense of flow or movement. But I will come back
to those concepts in future tutorials dedicated to drawing. For now, we are just going to focus on creating clean, closed shapes. We simply go over our
initial sketch one limb after the other. And don’t be afraid to redo your strokes multiple
times! We cannot always get them right at the first trial. Once we have our character’s outline, we can use it to fill in our character’s shapes.
In Photoshop, we cannot use the fill tool to fill our shapes in a clean way. To fill
the shapes, I use the Magic wand tool, which you can access using the W Key. I then expand
the selection and fill it using the alt delete key combination. This is a shortcut to fill
the selection with the foreground color. To make the filling process faster, I have made
a simple action that expands and fills a selection for me. All we have left is to repeat the process until all shapes are filled. Sometimes, it
is not enough to expand the fill. This can leave some visible gaps in our layer! In those
cases, we have to fill the area using the brush tool. We have one last step to tackle: shading the character. To do so easily, I lock the alpha
of all layers. I then simply pick the basic round brush. Then, I select a shadow color
using the color picker. And I paint each limb one by one until the whole character is shaded.
Sometimes, I also use clipping masks to add gradients or details that deserve their own
layer. Overall, you can see that the process is relatively
straightforward: you are supposed to draw like you would draw on paper. This means at
least 2 things: For one, I recommend that you don’t zoom
on your canvas, even if you have trouble drawing precise lines at first. You never want to
get caught focusing a single area or on useless details until you nailed the big picture.
Secondly, you are generally going to redraw your assets multiple times. Even professional
animators and comic book artists or game artists draw in multiple passes. They start with many
rough drawings that they ink much later. A quick tip with sketching in general: you
have to keep in mind that you draw using a whole chain of muscles, from your forearm
to your chest. When you start drawing, those muscles need about 15 to 30 minutes to warm
up. During that phase, your line quality will certainly be relatively bad! Or at least under
your capacities. So keep drawing! That’s it for this video! If you liked it
and want to see more, you can become one my channel’s subscribers! And don’t hesitate
become a follower as well on social networks! ♥ Thank you for watching… ♥


  • ala slipknot

    Thank you 🙂 

  • GDQuest

    New week, new game art tutorial!

  • Jeremy Bushon

    Great videos and tips! Thank you very much it helps a lot!

  • Void lon iXaarii

    another great vid! about tablets for those looking into the cheaper range i started out on a cheap Genius tablet and it was still a lot better than mouse. Today for most my work i use an old Intuos 3 but a few weeks ago i was looking for a laptop secondary one and i also considered first a bamboo but seeing the prices and not being impressed by the quality i got a cheap Huion H610 at maybe a third the price, pretty big (too big for what i wanted even), seems pretty well made. My only complaint for non wacom tablets is that I have yet to see one that implements mouse mode which is to me very important.

  • Banama

    great video i've learned a lot

  • Sean Clover

    Amazing tutorial that helps a lot. I do not have PS, can you give me some advices on how to choose a brush for sketching? The one you used feels like the one I saw in a Flash drawing tutorial, which looks quite clean. I cannot find one like that in both Sketchbook and Pixelmator :/

  • Ciprian Amarandei

    I loved your tutorial. Well explained, with lots of important details, yet reasonable short. I am a beginner in both PS and hand drawing and I find that freehand inking works great for me (after couple of hours of practicing). Are there any particular situations where you recommend using the Pen tool for inking?
    We want more tutorials!

  • Midnight_stories

    Wow fantastic tutorial thanks for the help !!!

  • Misha

    I was just wondering if you have any recommendations for people who have to draw with mouse? I have been trying to but it is very tricky and I am one man team, so I don't have an artist to do all the drawings.

    Either way, great video really helpful, I am not much on an artist, but I do my best to get by.

  • El Capitan

    what would be a good size for the design?

  • Dbl Exposure

    What are your brush properties here?

  • Jian Xie

    Greetings, can you explain to me your wand selection and expanding technique you used in the video at around 5:20. Also you mentioned a shortcut you used for this, maybe you can show me the shortcut you used too?

  • Amazigh Gamer

    I didn't know about the warming up thing!! thank you for the advice !!

  • Miles Anderson

    Hi there, would you recommend vector graphics for game to allow for resolution changes?

  • Kueck

    thx for the tutorial and the subtitles(no native english), i learnt a lot



  • thatonegirludontknow

    OH MY GOOOD. In all my years of using photoshop, I never knew about the Alt+Del shortcut. THAT SAVES SO MUCH TIME!!!!!

  • Jian Xie

    Hello, I was wondering what tips you have for creating/drawing characters that need animations such as walking, running, standing animations. I feel for some reason that it is a bit tedious to just draw out all the frames. Is this the only way of doing it or do you have any tools or tricks you use for doing these. Thank you.

  • HoodieCatProductions

    Hey fantastic job really enjoy how this turned out finally 🙂
    Keep going and make art 😀

    Greetings from a fellow YouTube Artist 😉

  • Kaji Ikaraseru

    I know you said that you use a standard circular hard brush, but your ends on the line thin out into a point while mine do not. I would like to know how to get that effect

  • xproamcx

    can you tell me what program u use to draw plz?

  • Harry Sanders

    WOW! What a tutorial

  • Brandon Henley


  • j mack

    Can you share the brushes used for sketching and inking? I am having a hard time picking out good brush sets for game asset creation

  • _desperationis_

    Yeah I'll just stick with drawing it on actual paper.

  • TheCivildecay

    thx, this is a good lesson to start from.

  • Aaron Wise

    Thanks but can this be also possible for isometric art?

  • All-XYZ-Knowledge


  • Sue R

    Thnx 😗😗

  • Mr1990Darkness

    when doing assets like this for a android game how do you know the right size to make the sprite and or tilesets to match?

  • Eric Hallam

    Those drawing pads are great. I use a Microsoft surface for making assets. It's great to have.

  • dimitrios lianos

    Hello very good channel … I liked that you switch to Linux … how do you manage, to connect the Wacom with Linux or have any issues that you solve?? thank you!! what you said about the muscles warming is mind blowing , I see some tutorials and some courses , no one mention this, and this is very logical !!


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