Hand-Painted and Stylized Texture Tutorials

Projection texturing (part 1) from Slipgatecentral

Painterly styles seem to be all the rage in games these days – something I find pretty understandable since they’re often delightful.  At first blush, though, they can be fiendishly daunting to dive into – there are forms to simplify just the right amount, colors to oversaturate just so, and if you don’t use exactly the right number of magical swirls you’ll be laughed off the forum.  Of this list of texture-de-daunters, the Vertex tutorials are my absolute favorites, all well-written, image-heavy walkthroughs by folks who worked on the likes of WoW, Brink, Darksiders and so on.  Between the two voumes there are four tutorials, from sculpt-first to traditional flat diffuse-only painting, and they’re probably enough to give you an excellent starting point for whatever sort of style you hope to be creating.

One of the best ways to learn, as usual, is to look closely at the work of your favorite artists (especially texture flats if you can find them) and see how they do their textures.  How do they treat edges vs. soft forms?  What aspects of the real-life source are exaggerated and which are de-emphasized?  Are there any recurring patterns or shapes (swirls, runes, underlying blocky or diamond forms)?  Color-pick from their work and see how broad or narrow the range of colors they use is, where they use contrasting and complementary colors, where the cool and warm tones are.  Finally, look at cartoons and charicature – a lot of focus is on identifying and emphasizing the major characteristics of people and animals, and many of the principles can be translated pretty directly into the simplification and exaggeration of form, color, etc. in your stylized textures.