Several sites offer high-quality collections of 3D
models, animations, 2D artwork, sprite animations and textures that are
usually very reasonably priced.
Often you can save many months of work by carefully sourcing pre-created
collections, and with a little tweaking and re-texturing here and there you
can really make such art your own and tailor it to your game.
As an example, you may buy a pack of skyscraper meshes but re-texture
many of the surfaces (again using bought in assets). Add your own signage
and props, and with fairly minimal time and effort you have something
unique for your game. Compare that to recruiting an artist, who could take
several weeks to achieve the same results if creating the artwork from
Below I have included a list and summary of several of the places I have
used in the past, so all of these come with a personal recommendation.
The biggest collection of art resources on the internet; there is an absolute
treasure trove of content on here and it has a very good navigation interface.
You do have to be careful with the quality and polygon count for some
assets, but I have found the quality to be mostly pretty good with plenty of
outstandingly good models. There are also hundreds of game ready, low
polygon models with normal mapped textures (just type ‘game ready’ in the
search engine to view them).
Very high-quality meshes and textures, all of which are game ready. They
have a number of different theme types, including sci-fi, modern day,
fantasy, vegetation and 3D characters. The prices are very competitive too,
so it is a great resource. One thing to be aware of—some of the models can
be a little high poly, so make sure you check the PDF details for each
collection to ensure the poly counts match with your requirements before
you buy. I would say Dexsoft collections are mostly tailored to PC/console
type games rather than lower spec mobile devices.
One of the newest texture sites, and one of the best. A nice range of
architectural, sci-fi and natural textures, all of which feature a full range of
maps including normal, specular, height and emissive. The textures on Game Textures are modern ‘AAA’ quality, low cost and rather wonderful.
GameDev Market is a new entry in the field, current at beta phase. There are quite a few good quality 3D and 2D assets on here. There are two types of licence for each asset, commercial and non-commercial, with the
commercial licence costing more.
I have only used their texture collections (they also do models), but these are a little dated now. Marlin haven’t released any new content for several
years, so their texture collections lack up-to-date features such as normal
maps. Also, many of the textures are a little low-resolution, but that said
they are still very good quality and ideal for mobile.
A mixed bag of textures with some odd aspect ratios not ideally suited to
games. The prices of the texture collections are relatively cheap and there are enough good textures to make the collections worth owning.
Like Marlin Studios these are getting on in years now, so lacking essential
features like normal maps. That said there are some good town and city
architectural texture packs, but the prices are quite steep.
Sub Dimension Studios
Some good textures, particularly the natural textures and architectural
edging and tile textures. The prices are low, but again there are no normal
Collections of base building material textures such as wood, concrete,
stonework and tiles. The textures are of a high standard and are very high
resolution but often in sizes and aspect ratios that are not compatible with
games, so you will need to do some work to make usable textures.
A huge range of photo textures, most optimized for game use (the site
founder has a background in games). Just about everyone in ‘the biz’ uses
CG Textures, and the subscription prices are low and provide unlimited
access for a year.
Human Photo References
A great site that specializes in human reference textures such as skin, eyes
and pre-made head textures.
Backyard Ninja Free Stuff
A small selection of free to use pixel/2D art. A mixed bag but certainly some
good examples on here.
A great selection of free 2D, 3D and sound resources. Quality varies from
awful to great, but there are plenty of gems on here. Be sure to read the
usage licence for each item before you use. While many are free to use, other content is covered by rather silly restrictive licences, which makes
commercial use impossible.
Graphic River/Envato Network
I love this site—if you want 2D and vector art, this is the place to go. But
why stop there? They also have dedicated sites that sell 3D art, sound effect,
video clips, code and stock photos. One of the best resources for developers
on the internet.
Graphic River has also recently added a number of 2D game tile sets, sprites,
GUIs and other game-specific content.