How to become better at design/aesthetics?

category: general [glöplog]
I think the most important thing which does not get mentioned often enough is: you must care. Composition, palette, style choices, flow, all these tricks of the trade, they all come second. A game designer blogged recently that there are two types of game designers: ones who play games they are designing and ones who don't. It tends to be very easy to see what kind of designer designed every particular game. The same is true for demo design.

If you want to get into arty side of things, you must genuinely care about how it feels to watch your demo. Once you get there, you'll be OK with everything else.
added on the 2015-08-05 15:24:29 by introspec introspec
what about if you care about how it feels.. REALLY care .. but you want people to feel horrible?
added on the 2015-08-05 15:26:44 by farfar farfar
farfar: you will achieve your objective ;)
added on the 2015-08-05 15:28:29 by tomkh tomkh
yeah there are plenty of instructional videos on youtube regarding design tips, plenty of free ebooks and websites too if you google around a bit. i tend to watch some in bed when i cannot fall asleep so it is a win-win situation! :P anyway, demo essentials are: coloring, texturing, lighting, composition. there's a lot of bullshit "rules" to wade through and i often wonder in given examples whether the artists truly followed those rules or just had a stroke of genius (or luck), but, still, they're helpful for training your designer eye. first imitate, then innovate! ;)
farfar: it is every easy, there is no challenge to show someone shitting everything everywhere

First of all people should learn something about colors, shapes and how it all depends and links togather...


So I propose to collect here some links which could help to understand what is design and how it works and makes your works looks better
added on the 2015-08-05 15:39:50 by keen keen
While not having published a single demo in my life, but as part of the audience, I want to add that music, artwork and code/effects should work together. This makes a demo more than the sum of its parts. Also good syncing (my pet passion ;) and effect transitions are important for "immersing" in a demo.
No sure how to learn that though. Maybe by watching demos? ;P
added on the 2015-08-05 15:50:35 by raer raer
Dear pouet,

I am an engineer, and I don't know a thing about how to make stuff look and sound good. I want to change that.

Unfortunately, the usual route via >9000 hours of practice is unavailable. Demoscene and all this art stuff is just a hobby, and it is rather far from my full-time profession (all user-experiencable parts are made N layers of abstractions above me), so I cannot feed from that too.
There are probably around 50-100 free hours left available for demoscene activity until the end of the year, and I'm trying to find the best use for them.

To make things worse, I also don't know what things I don't know, and how these areas of expertise are even called.

Therefore, I have a few very dumb qustions:
1. Are there any introductions on how to make visuals appealing? How to avoid coder colors, ...
2. How to build scenes that induce emotional response?
3. What is the color of grass? Water? Sunset? I sure can derive them by mapping spectral absorbtion lines via CIE tables to RGB, but this looks like overkill.
4. How to compose and master music? How to avoid cofining oneself to random pentatonic notes fed through 3N-line delay and reverb?

Are there any introductory materials? Lectures? Maybe even online courses?


to avoid coder colors, try to use as less colors as you can.. then you will see what you what in the final scene... thats why it is hard to make something cool with B/W only
added on the 2015-08-05 15:53:26 by keen keen

this is good example how you can make simple things to work togather and it looks finished.. it has introduction, the body, the apogie with almost code-like colors(but in one palette with soft colors) and it looks very OK!!! thus it is like a contrast to the first black and white scene, and it has ending..

it would be a good training if you will try to do almost the same..
added on the 2015-08-05 16:05:31 by keen keen
I think the main thing is you should try to make something that would impress YOU

So figure out what it is that makes your favourite demos stand out from the rest, for you, and start by trying to copy that special sauce
What Wayland said. And consume. Movies, artworks, paintings, you name it. This way you might get a feeling for good/better decisions and avoid the fugly ones.
you should study this
BB Image
Just do things and try to improve each time.
added on the 2015-08-05 19:29:39 by ham ham
keen: showing people shitting everywhere isn't going to make people feel horrible, it's going to make them care nothing at all :)
added on the 2015-08-05 20:25:58 by farfar farfar
My advice is always the same: Take live figure drawing classes. Don't think about wether or not you can draw. Just go there. You don't compete with the others, but with yourself.

It will open your eyes. You will learn to care for the important forms and shapes. Go there once a week and you will improve drastically in all aspects. (at least it worked for me).

The other thing I would try to do, is speed paintings. Every morning for a week (or longer if you manage). Use a kitchen timer. Try to stay below 30 minutes. Sometimes copy a picture, sometimes try to draw a theme from your head. Wether you use Wacom, pencils, or acrylics doesn't really matter IMHO.

good luck!

ps. you could share you results with the people at forums.sijun.com. They're quiet motivating and friendly there.
added on the 2015-08-06 08:56:06 by pixtur pixtur
oh wow

I didn't expect such a massive response, but in terms of content it is exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you very much! All of you!

It will probably take me an entire day to reply to everyone, so instead I'm going to address the most important thing that I apparently didn't make clear enough.

Yes, I understand that making progress takes time, a whole lot of it. But what I'm trying to do here is not to take on an entire profession that takes decades to master. I want to replace aimless wandering on a huge phase space of possible pixels configurations with something more importance-sampled, to absorb experience and stick to solutions already found by someone. Random search might give it results in the end, but it would require rather high sample rate to reach something in an adequate time. With my 2-3 intros plus a few shadertoys per year (that already exhaust available time; and i release almost everything i make) this just doesn't seem to lead anywhere.
added on the 2015-08-06 10:05:18 by provod provod
If you don't have time to tweak the colors in your shadertoy, collab with someone, or ask an overpaint, then copy that.
oh my... I just realized that it was you PROVOD, hahaha...
you can contact me directly and I will show you some tips...

and that proposition to take live drawing classes maybe the best, because it should contains composition and coloring lessons...

I saw your 4k on Assembly and I see what the problem is...

Thus contact me, I will help you )
added on the 2015-08-06 12:57:14 by keen keen
I shouldnt say this since im not good at it myself, but: don't work on a design (or whatever you do) in long periods of time, because you might loose focus when you stumble upon issues. it might fuck up or worsen the design you are allready working on. the same goes for doing music, it might sound crap in the end if you dont leave it for a day or two and startup again when your mind is fresh. so my point is, even if you have alot of free time to do graphics or music (in this case), use your time wisely.

many people here have allready given many good advices. if you're not into too many details about colors or artsy stuff you can get alot of help by understanding the color-wheel. that might be a good start, and experiment using hue,saturation and complementary, tertiary colors. hope this also can give some hints.
added on the 2015-08-06 13:22:52 by rudi rudi
Get fucking help! That's my entire saying on this. Why? You're having a serious time problem!

The question about the music itself is already so broad that i wouldn't know where to start. I can also send you a ton of resources, but surely they'll include concepts, relationships and words you've never heard of. And once you understood all those the only thing that helps is countless hours of trial & error before you gain the experience you need to really change the outcome.

Before you'll start with all this you should at least ask yourself:

What do i want my releases to look'n'feel like? How much better than now?

Then be much more specific about your goals unless you've got too much time in your life or wanna go through a lot of frustration.

My 2 cents.
added on the 2015-08-06 21:49:28 by rp rp
hi, im an artist and i would like to build a skyscraper..
is there some easy way to avoid collapse without the use of time consuming tasks like calculation..or numbers generally?
added on the 2015-08-06 23:23:20 by 1in10 1in10
The art of building a skyscraper that won't fall is to build no skyscraper at all.
added on the 2015-08-06 23:28:45 by mog mog
or discover antigravity
Just do a pyramid... and cover it with gold!
added on the 2015-08-07 00:31:59 by ham ham
@ham: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1957&dat=19991217&id=5kRGAAAAIBAJ &sjid=6ecMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5240,4198858&hl=en

..maybe someone calculated the cost for them:)
added on the 2015-08-07 03:39:42 by 1in10 1in10
... consume. Movies, artworks, paintings, you name it. This way you might get a feeling for good/better...

and feast demos. with pleasure. I 'd not wanna make it a "consume" thing. X)
added on the 2015-08-07 04:02:00 by yumeji yumeji