Date: October 08, 2012, 04:02:50 PM
[Describing, for the most part, how I did it in Photoshop5 - but other high-end graphic editors shouldn't prove very different.]
…Now this part is short to describe, but time-consuming and tedious in practice. We’d agreed to go with the Usurpers logo for the Starlost- but with the red parts turned blue, to match the change in the leader portrait’s shoulder-armor and the new faction colors.
There are a lot of ways to do that- the best one I’ve found for varied shades like the logos sport involves a long time zoomed in close with the Magic Wand (fuzzy Select) tool, adding all the red bits of each of five iterations of the logo. It took a lot of time and nit-picking concentration; somewhere close to an hour, I’d guess. Once I had everything selected, hue-shifting the red (and a little orange) to a royal blue didn’t take long. I’d considered using the color balance function instead, but tried the hue-shift first, (each has some benefits over the other, but a hue-shift is usually simpler) and found the result attractive.
However, I found that the yellow parts of the logos could maybe stand to be yellower, so I spent another 10 minutes or so selecting those parts of the logos- they gave me less trouble than the red parts selecting, not least because it was for an intensifying, not an outright color change, so it was less important if I missed the odd pixel.
This time I did use the Color Balance function (Image>Adjust>Color Balance, as opposed to Image> Adjust>Hue/Saturation—[in GIMP, the same functions are found under the Colors menu instead]). I shifted the yellow/blue slider all the way over to yellow. It didn’t make a huge difference, but I thought the logos looked great now. The yellow bit in the center of the Usurper logo clearly was supposed to be a star, something I’d never noticed with the orange parts surrounding it. Against shades of blue, however, it stands out as a star, and looks perfect for the symbol of an stellar exploratory expedition.
The only thing left to do now to complete the graphic was to make my standard changes to the Small Report Logos. I used the sample color and pencil tools in Paint to draw it in by hand. With other logos, especially original ones I made, I sometimes shrink the other logos to fit, but here, adding some color by hand to the pre-existing SRLs seemed best. I sampled the predominant shade of each section of the logo and added it by pencil until I was happy with how it looked.
I selected the result and pasted it into the blank pcx I’d used for scan lining the portrait and diplomacy landscape. I selected the box the logo was in, sampled the transparent background color of the .pcx and reduced the contrast of the logo 50%. This darkened the logo, but also changed the color of the background enough to ruin the transparency, so I switched foreground and background colors to save the original color I’d need in a second, sampled the new background color, clicked Select>Color Range and set the slider to zero before hitting okay. This caused it to select only the exact shade that I’d sampled- the darkened background and nothing of the logo. Then I clicked Edit>Fill, and with it set to use Background Color at Threshold mode with opacity at 100% I hit okay, which filled the selection with the original, transparent-in-the-game, background color.
I carefully selected the logo- except the bottom row of pixels- and pasted it back in the right place in the master copy in Paint, set one pixel lower in the box than the other two. Doing this with the middle, mouse-over, logo causes it to seem to leap slightly forward in-game when your pointer passes over it. I think it’s a neat effect, and I do it in all my faction graphics.
Having already changed the faction colors and dropped in the new leader portrait, the graphic was now done. All that was left was to “sign” it and post. When done with the credits I always add to left over space in the graphic, I copy/pasted the master image back into Photoshop, Image>Mode>Indexed Color, loaded the SMACX palette to be sure all the colors were kosher with the game, and seeing no problems with the result, saved, zipped it up, and posted for Darsnan.
Next up: (maybe) Why you should sign your work, IMO.
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