The Difference Between Coders, Artist And Designers


There is a major difference between a designer and a coder, and often you need both.

A coder (also known as a programmer or software developer, developer or even a code jockey) is good with the language, he is typical “geek” you see stereotypically portrayed in the movies typing furiously on a keyboard with all the gobblygook flying up and down on the computer screen.

You imagine that I look like this right?  The “average” geek?

This guy looks like a typical coder, right?   🙂

Now it’s possible that a coder can be good with graphics and drawing stuff, but its not the norm.   It might be that they can dabble and do a bit with images here and there.

Myself, for example I am a coder, so I develop and work on source code, and know my way around photoshop and can crop and resize images and maybe even create  a basic image if pushed.

It’s very common for programmers to create their own graphics for TESTING PURPOSES also know as “programmer graphics”.   This is when the programmer has started a game or is waiting for the real artist to deliver the cool graphics they need.

They might put together a very basic image to enable them to test the game.

A real artist, also known as a designer, of graphics artist is great with graphics.  Their forte is drawing, and creating beautiful images.

And just like a programmer is usually not very good with graphics and images and drawing stuff, the reverse can be said for an artist.

They usually are great with drawing and images but not so good with programming. 

Doing things like getting that beautiful game object flying around the screen, or figuring out the math to get that bullet to move from your ship to the enemy.

Easy when you know right?

The point with all this?

Don’t confuse the two.    Only in rare situations would you expect one person to be good at both programming and also be good with graphics AKA a designer/artist.

If someone tells you that are good with both, there are a few possibilities.

1)  They are lying   2)  They THINK they are good at both  3)  They know one aspect fairly/really well and the other aspect a little,  4)  They know one very well but know someone else who is good at the other thing.

Take me for instance.  I am a coder – I know I am a solid good programmer but have no illusions of being an artist.  I do have a team of artists I rely on to produce my art.

So the bottom line is I can get both parts of the equation done i.e. The programming and the graphics, but I am not good at both.




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Make sense?

The reason I am bringing this up is when you are looking for resources for your projects.

You want to make sure you find someone who knows what they are and are NOT good at.

Then make sure you pick the resources with the skill-sets you need.

Don’t fall into the trap of hiring someone who can do both for you.  There will usually be a price to pay at some point in the future.  It could be low quality graphics, it might be “bugs” in the game that have been introduced, and other undesirable things.

If you instead pick resources who know their strengths and focus on them, you are usually going to end up with a much better product.

To confirm there is nothing wrong with hiring an artist who has on hand a programmer to do the “programming” things, or viva-versa but you will want to be sure of their skills before starting out.

I have been bitten with this one in the past, and please trust me it’s not worth you cutting corners here.

Usually, the best way would be to hire a designer for your “designer” work and a programmer for your “programming work” or a team that can do both.

In the case of the team its usually a good idea to ask for references of their past work so they can prove they have done the work.

Being the cynic that I am , I suggest you find a way for them to prove they did the work. 

For example if they specify a particular game they worked on, look to see their name in the credits, that type of thing.

I’ve interviewed a few programmers/artists who have claimed they worked on a particular game, but when pressed could offer no proof of said involvement.

Nothing beats a bit of proof in the “credits” of a game  🙂

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About the Author Tim Buchalka

Tim and his team completed over 500 reskins for himself or clients, and is an expert in the field.He has written 3 complete games, and has two complete video courses on Udemy that are about reskinning (as well as an Android development course with over 16,000 students!). You can find out more about Tim’s video courses here. He has also written a 110 page ebook about reskins that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed with reskins which is available on this website. You can get a complimentary copy of this ebook as well as discounts to his video courses by visiting this link. To contact Tim, visit this sites contact page.

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