Ok, so the whole point in this tutorial series is to provide some tips and tricks that will allow you to build your own game. This lesson we will be looking at the very basics:
- Part One: Install GIMP 2.8 from the web
- Part Two: Basic drawing tools
- Part Three: Uploading images to the web
Part 1: Choose & Install a graphics program from the webs
There is a LOT of choice out there for graphics programs, but the one weÃ”Ã‡Ã–re going to use for the purposes of the God School is GIMP (currently on version 2..The reasons for choosing this one over all the other options are fairly simple:
- ItÃ”Ã‡Ã–s free!
- ItÃ”Ã‡Ã–s got great functionality compared to the basic programs like Paint
- It works on most operating systems (Windows, Linux, MacOS)
- ItÃ”Ã‡Ã–s being actively updated
1. Head over to http://www.gimp.org
2. Click on the download button and choose the download for your operating system (it should auto-detect it so itÃ”Ã‡Ã–s first on the list.
3. Click OK to everything and start the installer
4. Put the kettle on while the installer does its thing...
5. Launch GIMP!
Part Two: Basic Drawing Tools
Ok. So one of the first drawing programs most people have probably had experience with would be something along the lines of MSPaint. Paint is a great wee program for covering all the basics and you can make some really cool things in there (LSNÃ”Ã‡Ã–s games are all drawn in Paint for example) but they have hardly any of the really useful features weÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll be drawing on later. By comparison, programs like Photoshop or GIMP have so many features they can be pretty overwhelming when you first load them up.
So for now, letÃ”Ã‡Ã–s start with the basics:
1. Opening a new file [File > New]
You can choose whatever size it is you want your image to be, but for now weÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll stick to the defaults (640 x 400px). Incidentally, this is a pretty good size for images you want to post in the forum.
This is your CANVAS. It is the base onto which you build up your images.
The basic drawing tools (that IÃ”Ã‡Ã–m sure you already know about) are the pencil & paintbrush for drawing lines, the paintbucket for filling in shapes, the eraser which is pretty self explanatory and (oddly enough) the selection tools. The large black and white boxes allow you to select the colours you want to draw with, and the tiny black and white boxes below reset the colours to black and white.
Whenever you select a tool, a wee toolbox pops up below which lets you set up the properties of that tool, like the size, opacity, brush type etc. Once (and only once) you select a tool, it opens up its unique toolbox. Each tool has a slightly different toolbox depending on the available options, but letÃ”Ã‡Ã–s have a look at some of the options for the pencil.
Mode: This is fairly complex so I wonÃ”Ã‡Ã–t cover it in detail here. Suffice it to say that unless youÃ”Ã‡Ã–re wanting to apply a particular effect to your brush, IÃ”Ã‡Ã–d leave it on normal mode. Dissolve can be pretty cool though if you want a spatter-gun effect for the brush or spraycan.
Opacity: This essentially sets how Ã”Ã‡Ã¿see-throughÃ”Ã‡Ã– your brushstroke is. If opacity is set to 100% (default) then your paint will be completely opaque. Making it more transparent allows you to Ã”Ã‡Ã¿stackÃ”Ã‡Ã– brush-strokes on top of each other so that overlapping sections appear more opaque, like this little guy caught in the spotlights:
Brush Shape: Click on the brush shape icon, and you get a whole variety of choices. There are circles, fuzzy circles, x's, and you can even make your own brush shape.
To make your own brush shape, open the brush tools by selecting Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Brushes (Ctrl-Shift-b), then click on the Ã”Ã‡Ã¿newÃ”Ã‡Ã– icon at the bottom:
You'll have the option of making a new brush. It can be a circle, a square, or a diamond.
Radius controls how large the brush is, spikes gives you extra points for the square or diamond, and hardness changes whether the edge is hard or soft (though you should remember that pencils will always have a hard edge, no matter how soft you make it, and paintbrushes will always have a slightly soft edge, no matter how hard you make it).
Aspect ratio squashes the brush, in case you want an ellipse or a rectangle or squished diamond, angle rotates the brush so it doesn't always need to be level, and spacing determines how far you move the brush before it prints another on the page. If you don't know what that means, set the spacing to about 100 and try drawing something with that brush. You'll soon see what it does.
Size: This oneÃ”Ã‡Ã–s easy! Scale changes the size of the brush. The units are in pixels.
Brush dynamics set out how the brush will draw Ã”Ã‡Ã´ again, there are loads of options here, and the easiest way to get a feel for what they do is to try them out!
2. Making a drawing
This is dead easy! Just grab a brush and make a drawing. These two happy goblins were drawn with the pencil (left) and paintbrush (right) and then filled in with the bucket. Notice how the guy on the right hasnÃ”Ã‡Ã–t filled in all the way? ThatÃ”Ã‡Ã–s because the pencil tool draws lines with hard edges and the brush draws them with soft or graded edges. The fill tool only colours the area that is the same colour as the one you clicked on. So when it meets the soft edge of the paint tool, some of it is left uncoloured. When it meets the hard edge of the pencil tool though, nothing is left uncoloured. I would estimate that for 99% of the drawings youÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll want to make for forum games, youÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll be better off using the pencil (especially for sprite-based games) but the choice is yours and both can be used to great effect.
3. Great. Now whereÃ”Ã‡Ã–s the straight-line tool?
This is where people start to miss the simplicity of Paint, but itÃ”Ã‡Ã–s dead easy once you know how. To draw a straight line, select your drawing tool and click where you want the line to start. Hold down the shift key (may be different on a Mac) and click where you want it to end. Voila!
4. Ok... But what about boxes and circles?
Slightly more annoying to draw, but still easy once you know how. To do this, you need to use one of the selection tools to draw the shape you want. Make sure the colour you want is selected in the colour picker, then go to Edit > Stroke Selection and youÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll be offered a dialogue box. Set the line thickness etc. to whatever you want it to be and youÃ”Ã‡Ã–ve made yourself a shape!
However, youÃ”Ã‡Ã–re still left with a selection box in your image, so unless you want to only draw inside that box, go to Select > None to clear it.
5. Got it! Now how do I show everyone my masterwork?
First thing you need to do is save the file. Now with GIMP, if you go File > Save As like normal, you will only be able to save your image as a .xcf filetype (native GIMP format). To save as something more normal you need File > Export.
Name your file and save it as a .PNG filetype (you need to type .png after the filename). WeÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll talk about filetypes more later, but for now just go with this one. Select all the defaults and youÃ”Ã‡Ã–re done.
Part Three: Uploading to the Internet
There are lots of image hosting sites out there, so if you already have a preference feel free to use that. I like imgur.com because you donÃ”Ã‡Ã–t need an account if you donÃ”Ã‡Ã–t want one and itÃ”Ã‡Ã–s less annoying to use than many others (like imageshack for instance).
Anyway, head on over to http://www.imgur.com or wherever and get your image uploaded:
Once itÃ”Ã‡Ã–s online, click on your image if it doesnÃ”Ã‡Ã–t open automatically, select everything in the BBCode box, copy it (Ctrl-C) and paste it (Ctrl-V) into a forum post:
And itÃ”Ã‡Ã–s as easy as that!
Now, go and get your assignment. Next lesson we move onto using Layers.