A Short Guide on Making 2D Game Art


Making a 2D game is simple: throw a few canaries into the side of a pig fortress and you’ll have two billion downloads and an easily forgotten cinematic universe, right?

The bad news is that it’s not quite that straightforward. The good news is that it is still simpler than you may believe. Whether you’re inspired by Angry Birds or Undertale, this guide will teach you all you need to know before creating your own 2D game.

What is a 2D Game?

2D games are sprite-based flat experiences in which you can only move up, down, left, and/or right across the screen.

2D games do not have to be difficult. They work so well because 2D games have a lower barrier to entry and are significantly easier to learn and play than 3D games.

What Was the First Two-dimensional Game?

Tennis For Two, a simple tennis game and forerunner to the more well-known arcade classic Pong, was the first 2D game ever created.

It was invented in 1958 by American scientist William Higinbotham, paving the way for games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator.

Best wishes, Will.

How Do You Make Your Own Game?

Making your own game can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but if you discover the perfect 2D game maker and make the important decisions early on, you might find that 2D game production is easier than you anticipated.

1. Find the Perfect 2D Game Engine for Your Project

There are many high-quality gaming engines available, but not all of them are created equal. Some are better suited to beginners, others are free to download and maintain, and yet others are more suited to 2D game development rather than 3D game development.

We know what you’re thinking: “This is the part where GameMaker explains why I should use their game engine to make my own game, right?”

We certainly believe we are a terrific option for anyone interested in getting into 2D game production, but choosing the correct game engine is critical. The game engine selects the developer in the same way as the wand selects the wizard.

If you want to realize your game’s full potential, you must ensure that your software can accomplish what you need it to and that you are comfortable using it.

If you’re having trouble determining which 2D game maker is best for you, read our guide to the top game engines for beginners.

2. Select Your 2D Game Genre

One of the first key game design decisions you must make is the genre of your game. Choosing a genre early on will assist in guiding many of the decisions you’ll make later on, such as control systems and design philosophies.

Some game genres, such as puzzle games, platformers, and visual novels, are ideal for 2D. Others, such as first-person shooters, lend themselves well to 3D game production.

If you’re looking for inspiration, have a look at our comprehensive guide to the most popular 2D game genres.

3. Choose Your 2D Art Style

Choosing a 2D art style is a significant decision. Would Limbo’s eerie vibe have worked if it hadn’t been monochromatic? Would the heartbreaking start of Ori and the Blind Forest be as moving if the game employed pixel art?

A well-chosen art style can help you set the tone, tell your story, and distinguish your game from the competition. To assist you in making the best decision for your game, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular video game graphic styles.

4. Make or Choose Your 2D Game Assets

Your project’s assets are the sprites, backdrops, and objects. If you want to create your own game, you’ll need to use free assets, buy ready-made ones, hire someone to develop them for you or create them yourself.

You can obtain 2D assets via the asset library or marketplace of your game engine. If you go this route, you will give up some originality, but you will be able to start building your own games much faster.

Creating 2D game components from scratch takes time, but it gives you complete artistic control over your game. If you intend to create your own 2D assets, here is a quick review of some of the top software options:

  • Adobe Photoshop: $20.99 per month
  • GIMP: Free and open-source image editing software
  • Aseprite: Pixel art creation tool for a one-off $19.99 payment
  • SketchBook Pro: Free on mobile devices, $19.99 on desktop
  • Inkscape: Free and open-source software specializing in vector graphics

We’ve put together a guide to assist you in learning how to create pixel art for 2D games if you’ve decided to make a pixel art game.

How Hard is It to Make a Game?

There is a lot of time and effort that goes into producing independent and AAA games as amazing as they can be, but there are methods to simplify the process.

We’ve produced an essay about the main stages of game development that might help you create a plan to keep your development cycle on track. You might be shocked to learn that there are only seven stages to consider.

Game development, like anything else, becomes simpler with practice. Begin with guided tutorials and simple one-room projects, then gradually expand your understanding. You’ll be able to create games like Undertale, Cuphead, or Stardew Valley before you know it.

How Long Does It Take to Make a 2d Game?

It varies based on the game you’re producing and your own level of experience. Even if you’ve never created a game before, you can create one in half an hour by following our Hero’s Trail guide.

If you want to create your own game from the start, 2D games are easier to create than 3D games, but depending on your circumstances, they might still take months or even years to complete.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a 2D Game?

There is no simple solution to this, either; it will all depend on the game you’re producing and how much of the labor you’re doing yourself, among other things. In our article ‘How much does it cost to produce a video game?’, we go through all of your prospective costs.

However, it is entirely possible to create a game for free – you may download free game-making tools (such as GameMaker!) and get started right away if you choose.

How to Make a Game on a Budget

Some indie developers use Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns to help them raise the funding they need to finish their games. For example, Hyper Light Drifter had an original goal of $27,000 and ended up raising $645k.

You should also think about launching your game under Early Access. When done correctly, Early Access releases benefit both developers and consumers. However, as we explore in our Early Access piece, getting them properly can be a difficult balancing act.

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