If you want to contribute something, you have to agree to the license we are using. Please see this thread for details. Credit will be given to everyone, who contributes something appropriate. Regular contributors will get a forum title.
Submissions are handled using the forum. Content will likely be criticized and if needed, changes are asked for. The leads will commit content, if it fills the requirements and is of a certain quality. This is not a democracy, so there won't be polls about what to include and what not.
There is a photobucket account set up in case you need webspace. Please contact me to obtain the login details.
3. File Formats
We are using the .png format for all images, including textures for freeOrion. The format is supported by a wide range of applications, allows for 8bit transparency and can be lossless compressed.
3D content will be utilized by the Ogre3D engine. Therefore, it doesn't matter what program you are using, if you can export to Ogre(.mesh).
However, it might be a good idea to have all the exporting done by the same person(me). I accept everything 3DS Max or Modo can read - .obj is preferred.
4. Game Content
We are dealing basically with 3 different types of content. If there is a need for something, an appropriate thread will be started by one of the leads. Those threads are of highest priority in terms of graphic contributions and should be treated as such.
4.1. User Interfaces
While not being an artistic task, UIs are still worked out on the graphics board, with a lot of input from game designers.
There is not a UI theme for now, as this is considered polishing and therefore scheduled for 0.9/1.0. We are however using a dark overall look and keep everything very minimal. There are no images required for basic UI elements like windows, buttons, scrollbars, etc. - they are all generated by code and the colors can be tweaked from within the game, if desired.
For contributions in UI threads, it's a good idea to work with sketches(on paper or digitally), because changes are a common occurrence. Sketching is faster, easier and utterly sufficient.
4.2. Icons, Images and Animations
Stylistic requirements for those will vary and are provided in the corresponding request threads. Icons are usually done in a simplified, abstract, logo-kind of way. The tonal range should be very small and the icons are kept in greyscale. Coloring is done by code. Examples for this type of work are the tech icons.
Images are approached in a more pictorial way. Those can be created using a 2D or 3D software, depending on what suits the task best or what the author is more capable of. Examples are the splash screen, star and halo images, nebulae etc. A good way to tackle those is by working in a higher resolution(double) than needed and scale down later.
There is only one kind of animation in the game yet. It is included on a per frame basis. There is a drawback of slight lag, because all frames have to be cached. For the future it makes sense to use some kind of video codec, as this is easier on the file sizes as well as on load times.
4.3. 3D Content
This is mainly about ships, effects and anything concerning space combat. It is highly encouraged to work from concept art to maintain a level of consistency.
We should aim for something like this in terms of quality. Also, have a look at this post for reference. There will be no visible weapon systems on the outer hulls of ships, although generic techy looking part can be added.
So, technically what we need is:
- low poly meshes for the ships(There aren't any established poly limits yet, just keep is reasonable.)
color, specular, self-illumination and normal bump maps for each of the meshes.
It's most likely necessary to build high poly models to create the normal bump maps, although they can be painted in certain cases.
5. Non-Game Content
This is content that is not distributed with the game, but is used as a base for other work, like concept art for example. As such, it is the only exception regarding the license. It is used to develop alien and ship designs, storyboards for animations or to establish a mood and composition for certain laborious paintings or 3D pieces.
If you are interested in developing designs for aliens or spaceships and need inspiration, please see the story forum, especially this thread.
The visual descriptions provided, can be interpreted loosely. The key is to develop a unique, specific style in terms of color, material, proportion, shapes, form and everything else related to the design language. One should consider where and how the race lives, how they build, what kind of technology they have etc.
For ships, complete lines should be consistent and major characteristics or story elements of the race have to translate into the designs. For inclusion into the game, only our own original designs will be considered.
This is the part of the roadmap, that is still lying in front of us. The top of it is always of highest priority. It was made with game design and coding in mind. That's why some parts have to be addressed in a slightly modified manner by us. For example: We can't develop ship designs, without having any alien races in mind. It is planed to have 2 different lines of ships, consisting of about 6 hulls each developed for 0.4. Therefore 2 different alien races have to be decided on and developed visually to some degree.
- 0.4 - ship design, space combat
0.5 - diplomacy
0.6 - ground combat
0.7 - espionage, space monsters, random events
0.8 - leaders, races
0.9 - animations, campaign specific graphics, translating
1.0 - polish, testing, bug hunting
There is the Graphics Work page, that lists all available tasks and there are sticky threads that show what is currently worked on or what should be worked on.
A good resource or starting point for any kind of work might be the Junkyard(heavy picture load).
If you have something to propose, whether you are an artist or not, may it be a change or an addition, please create a mock-up to underline the proposal. It doesn't have to be a beauty, it just needs to illustrate the idea. This is especially relevant to UI discussions, but not exclusively.
Here is a list of recommended art-applications for Battle for Wesnoth, which applies just as well to FreeOrion's pixel art.