Alpha Centauri 2

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri & Alien Crossfire => Modding => Topic started by: Buster's Uncle on February 09, 2012, 04:21:15 PM

Title: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 09, 2012, 04:21:15 PM
This is the place to discuss the creative end of modding AC, especially the visual art, with experienced artists who know a few tricks.

I've done this extensively at other places, and I have a lot of how-to posts to copy over when I can stomach going back to get them.  In the meanwhile, I want to encourage newbs interested in modding to ask questions, and even show me your work, if you think it's not worth it's own thread.  I will treat you with respect, and do my best to help.

As far as specific instructions for how to do what on your graphics program, I know Photoshop 5, GIMP, and am learning Photoshop CS, which is not that different.

Let's talk graphics!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 15, 2012, 04:47:02 AM
What sort of tutorials do you think that we should provide people? I'm pretty confident in my package (PhotoImpact 6) and don't feel the need for tutorage, although I'm sure that others are willing to learn various things.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 15, 2012, 04:51:34 AM
Pretty much, I want to copy over what I already had, and be ready to answer questions.  Of course, if someone has PhotoImpact 6, I'd expect you to jump in - any thime you see a question first that you know the answer to, really.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 15, 2012, 05:00:04 AM
Sure of course. :D It's quite an old package (current version is 13, and it's very different!) but I got it for free from a computer mag CD, and I use it for everything. Really was just generating activity. ;)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 15, 2012, 05:05:00 AM
Well, please keep doing that - I hate it when I make a few comments and end up with all the last posts.  Have a good day.
Title: Bases far as the eye can see...
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 17, 2012, 04:35:29 PM
A gift to faction artists everywhere...  Click on the titles to go to the Downloads pages.

...

Bases (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=62)
15 structures adapted from Deadlock II, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These were a lot of work to cut out of screenshots and put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=45)

...

Bases2 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=61)
18 structures adapted from Age of Mythology, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These were a lot of work to cut out of screenshots and put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=46)

...

Bases3 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=60)
18 structures adapted from Deadlock II, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These were a lot of work to cut out of screenshots and put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=47)

...

Bases4 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=59)
16 structures adapted from Startopia, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These were a lot of work to cut out of screenshots and put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=48)

...

Bases5 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=58)
10 structures adapted from Startopia, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These were a lot of work to cut out of screenshots and put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

 (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=49)

...

Bases6 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=57)
10 structures adapted from Galactic Civilizations 2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the CG2 files I worked with.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=50)

...

Bases7 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=56)
9 structures adapted from Galactic Civilizations 2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the GC2 files I worked with.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=51)
Title: SMAC(X) Palette
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 17, 2012, 05:50:00 PM
SMAC(X) Palette (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=63)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=53)

The SMAC(X) palette, in .pal form, useful for loading to make sure the colors are still right while art modding in Photoshop -it doesn't work in GIMP, alas, and yrs. truly can't speak to anything else.
Title: Shields fields, and for you a good deal
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 17, 2012, 06:28:00 PM
Bare Shields (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=64)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=54)

All the links to such things I ever saw on the innerwebs seemed to be dead, so I made my own set of bare shields for ease of custom faction making - I only had to do it once that way, and now you don't at all.  I also threw in a few types I invented myself, and visual suggestions for making a few more - and a wooden raft sea platform for no reason. 

Good hunting, mod-san.
Title: Blank faction .pcx - not blank looks.
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 17, 2012, 06:58:23 PM
Blank faction .pcx (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=65)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=52)

This is a slightly cleaned-up version of something Maniac posted long ago.  It saves you a few minutes deleting Yang yourself each time you begin a new custom faction.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 18, 2012, 04:22:51 AM
Keep up the good work! :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 18, 2012, 11:13:03 AM
I am, sir.  Bases8 is halfway done while I wait on advice from a good friend on my main project of the moment. 

I am all about the help, and spreading the big knowlege.
Title: For your Base desires
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 18, 2012, 07:27:27 PM
In celebration of my 500th post here, another treat, exclusive to AC2:

Bases8 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=68)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=56)

18 structures adapted from Galactic Civilizations 2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the GC2 files I worked with.

This is the best-looking collection of bases I've put together since Bases3, I think, and my first-ever AC2 exclusive art modder goodie file - but not my last...  IMAO, there's a few duds here, but a number of strong keepers.  I'm especially fond of the ones on the third and last rows on the left, and on the right, the first, second, sixth and last.  Clearly, I have a taste for domed structures.  The very last set doesn't jump out at you, but the design is nicely futurey, and looks very real - it ought to fit in the game wonderfully.  And the brown and teal thing on the right, and the raised disk and yellow and red glass pyramid on the left are just beautiful, and look like habitats.

These GCII bases add a lot of variety for those of us who are not so great at drawing bases.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 20, 2012, 10:40:40 AM
500! Well done BUncle. :D

Looking again, I see even more use for these things. You have done well, really. *high five*
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 20, 2012, 12:05:14 PM
I've added to my to-do list to put together .zips of portraits suitable for leaderheads -I have a fair number of paintings I've saved, but never used- landscapes and logos, just to have complete set of all the elements that go into a custom faction for graphics newbs to play with.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 20, 2012, 03:37:49 PM
Sounds great. :D Don't go overboard of course, but yeah, definitely a nice way to get people started.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 20, 2012, 03:55:03 PM
Well, you may have noticed that I don't tend to do things halfway, and if I'm going to put up art goodies files, it makes all kind of sense to cover all four of the elements - also, there's nothing but good in backing up what I have on hand in an organized fashion, and, too, I freely admit that this stuff is bait to attract more participation to ac2.

And, you know, helping and good works is extremely validating to your sense of self-worth.  I can alway use me some validation. ;D

Right now, I'm pulling together the first of my instructional blog posts for putting up here...
Title: [Graphics] how-to Pt.1
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 20, 2012, 05:04:16 PM
[Graphics]

If creating/modifying graphics doesn’t interest you I doubt this will.

My specific examples are from Alpha Centauri, but most of the techniques, and all of the comments about the thinking behind the artistic process and decisions should be universally applicable.  The THINKING, in fact, is the main thing in this old article that is still useful.

My first purpose here is to give potential graphics guys a leg up, so I have to go into torturous detail to be really helpful, as I don’t know what they do or do not already know how to do. I don’t have a sophisticated graphics set-up at all, and do a lot the hard way in simple, common programs, but that makes it more universal, albeit perhaps often extraneous to someone with PhotoshopUltimateSuper 2020.  (Also note that if you have Windows7, most of the comments about MS Paint no longer apply, but many of the techniques will still work in other programs.)

You have been warned.

So, while working on the New Vikings (an alt. Pirates faction) today, I started a little status report with a name suggestion to send Darsnan, but things went pretty smoothly, and it turned into running notes to send with the graphic instead…

It occurred to me that a few months (years now) ago while I was a lurker looking for information about various things I wanted to learn to do, I would have loved it if someone had posted about their creation process in really boring detail, naming programs used and tools, and what-not.

And I thought that the bulk of the email [with the blow-by-blow I didn’t waste Darsnan’s time on added in brackets] would make a start.

So I’m going to try to describe the entire actual creation of an faction graphic- we’re in for a long post(s)...

I hope my process will be at least of some interest to any other artists currently active, too- and that they’ll feel free to do the same, and also post here on any miscellaneous graphics issue they want. The next time I do some random graphic myself, this is where I plan to post it.

***

[Darsnan had suggested a name, Ulrik Magnussen, that sounded, not Finnish to me, but Norwegian. (Graphics stuff is coming- it’s all connected, anyway.)]

A Finnish name site was first hit when I looked. Because the original subject of the portrait I’d chosen was apparently named Jim, I chose a j name, Jali (yahlee), for no Jim-looking equivalent at hand, its exoticness and that it doesn’t sound as much like a chick’s name as many on that list.

Magnus was first in the M’s, so I’d say Jali Magnus was a lock, if you’ve nothing to add. Easy to remember, spell and type, too. 

[I’d already cranked up the contrast in Photoshop on the bases he’d sent me this morning .
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=65)
[They were Network Node’s work, and like a lot of his bases, pretty and well-designed, but to my eye, too pastel-looking to look realistic in the game.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=66)
[(Looking at it over a year later, I should have gone to the trouble to clean up all those light pixels around the edges of the bases. They really stand out when you zoom in; small details are important if you want to do good work.

[(In fact, I now think I really muffed fixing up on this set; if I did it over, I‘d zoom in tight and do something about all the speckle-y highlight-and-dark bits all over the base {which cranking up the contrast made even worse} with careful use of the smudge tool to smooth out the flat surfaces to let the details and lines of the base stand out more - tedious work, one pixel at a time, but again, attention to detail is everything in good art.)

[Then I selected the lot and pasted them into the copy of the whole Pirates .pcx I’d previously pasted into MS Paint. I use paint for this because it’s not something Photoshop 5 is any good for- Paint lets you move your paste around before you drop it.  GIMP is good for that, though, and if you have Windows7, you can no longer do this in Paint - no “Draw Opaque“ function anymore.

[Then I opened the blank .pcx (you can get it here (http://alphacentauri2.info/downloads/?sa=view;down=65)) with the empty AC graphics boxes that Maniac had posted sometime in the past in Photoshop (all I began using Photoshop for was opening and saving, and did all the work pasting back and forth between Paint and Lexmark Photo Editor, which complement each other nicely used this way- if either did color manipulation I’d have never gone to the trouble to learn how to use Photoshop). I zoomed on the datalink leaderhead box and selected/copied it. I switched to a second copy of Paint in which was waiting the portrait I’d prepared. (A blow-by-blow of that kind of thing is enough for its own post later.)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=67)

[I pasted in the box from blankpcx.pcx, right-clicked the sample tool in the middle to make the .pcx’s background color this copy of Paint’s background color. I then turned off “Draw Opaque” and hit [Ctrl]z to undo and make the purple-filled box go away. I then [Ctrl]w-ed to resize the image- there were several minutes of trial and error before I found 55% to be ideal for getting what I wanted of the figure to fit in the diplomacy box at what I judged was a good size for the game - ideally you want to get the figure somewhere roughly about the size in the frame of the official factions. So now I had the picture in front of me sized like I wanted with the box it had to fit in around it- I selected what was inside the box and [Ctrl]c-ed. Now it was time for the scan lines.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=68)

[(Note the change to the collar. I've erased more lapels than you'd believe to make clothes look a little more futurey. This image didn't need much work, though.)

[I think I’ve now spent more time preparing this essay than I did assembling the faction graphic- I’m going to post this much and continue later.

[Next up: manual scan-lines with an old edition of Photoshop that lacks an automatic function to do it for me. I’ll probably describe how to do it the really hard way with only Paint and any program that will adjust contrast, too.]
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 21, 2012, 01:45:15 AM
I like the leaderhead. :) Very nice choice there, epic shadows going on too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 21, 2012, 01:51:59 AM
You like, huh?  I thought an old man in a turtleneck and sweater, if not all that futurey, looked plenty nautical, and I sorta liked the dicotomy of an agressive faction with a gentle-looking leader - lends nuance, so to speak.  The official factions tend to telegraph who the good guys and bad are with their faces pretty obviously, (though Lal fools you); sometimes you want to lay it on thick, but sometimes-- you want something more subtle.  This was intended as the latter.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ariete on February 21, 2012, 01:31:44 PM
hi uncle, thanx to support the recruits

i must write you because i know you edit artwork using gimp too. I wanna make flc file for my custom faction so i've opened an exist .flc file and my intention is substitute the different images with custom images.
i 've saw first picture of a .flc file is black with some signals. I read chuft thread on creation .flc file using Psp and he talkin about 4 pink square (colour ff00ff) to add at the extremety of the picture, this i've saw in old faction .flc file, for the new faction i don't see this.
first question : using gimp can i substitute my custom picture (perhaps not with blue hue but just skyline) with the existing in a default .flc file, it run on the game?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 21, 2012, 01:40:10 PM
I never mastered .flcs.  Despite what chuft says, I figured out how to make one without the programs he metioned, but mine had the colors messed up, crashed the game, and I've entirely forgotten how I did it.  It did work as an .flc, but not quite right for AC.  I wish I could be more help - you do need to compile a .gif of 20 or so black-and-white frames at 87x105 pixels first, if I recall, and you can do that in GIMP.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 21, 2012, 03:00:22 PM
The pink would be whatever colour is transparent in your image. :D
Title: [graphics] Scan Lines (Pt.1)
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 21, 2012, 08:09:30 PM
Scan Lines

[Continuing directly  on from the last graphics how-to post, another old article that I publish [with a few bracketed remarks written today inserted] for the illustration of the thinking behind  my process, and in the belief that some people out there will have old systems and need instructions for obsolete programs, or only have something they must adapt one of these techniques to be able to do scan lines.  The more advanced scan lining technique I describe first here will still work without the useless W7 MSPaint, but instead using old versions of GIMP (awkwardly) with one of the contrast-altered copies of the portrait pasted into a second window with a transparent background layer added.  Better is to download the latest version of GIMP and use the new function Filters>Distorts>Erase Every Other Row.  Two future articles will address my evolving scan lining technique, the second using the function I just mentioned and taking under a minute.  Stay tuned.]

Lacking an automatic function that will do scan lines for me, I’ve worked out two ways to do it manually. I’ll tackle them in reverse order of invention.

Once it fits the frame the way I want, I select the inside of the box [[Ctrl]c to copy] and switch back to Photoshop.

The diplomacy frame I selected still waiting, I paste in the portrait. [Ctrl]v to paste] I reselect the picture- inside the box this time- and reduce the contrast 30% [Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast...] (usually- sometimes I think it needs to be brighter, and increase the contrast by the same amount, or reduce it 15% and increase the next by the same- I’ve found a 30% difference in contrast is about perfect for good scan lines.) In this case, the shot I'm working with is just a little too bright/colorful, so I'm definitely reducing the contrast. [In retrospect, I maybe should have gone -15% contrast over +15% - the original shot really looked better at its original levels.  I was still pretty new at this when I wrote it up.]

Then I paste again to drop another copy (which still has the original contrast level) on top of it.

I select a horizontal box the width of the picture, but only one pixel high, at the top of the portrait and hit delete.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=69)

I hit the down arrow key twice- which in Photoshop, moves the select box down two pixels- and hit delete again. I use a two-handed technique, hitting the delete button with a finger of my left hand, and the down arrow with a finger of my right.  As I fly down the picture doing this, pixel-wide stripes of the lower-contrast copy of the portrait underneath are revealed every other row.

When I get to the bottom, I select the whole portrait inside the frame and click Layer>Flatten Image. This makes the two copies one layer- with the scan line striping I made- that I can copy and paste into place on the copy of the whole faction graphic in the other copy of Paint.

(Then I go back to the copy of Paint holding the leaderhead, reduce it in size 80%, and repeat the process- then 73% of the datalinks size, then 60%, and I'm done with the leaderhead.)


[Now a digression about the size/crop technique I still use, though not in Paint anymore.  I don't know why I didn't write this thing in order.]

-Selecting the empty box:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=70)

and pasting it over the portrait.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=72)
(This particular portrait fit the box just right at 56% of the original I was working from. His head is centered nicely in the frame and will be about the size of the official factions in the game -just a bit on the large side. Note that I ran the bottom edge of the box off the bottom by one pixel; I'm not pasting the box back in, just the part of the picture inside it, and there's no reason to crop a pixel row's worth of his body out in favor of the nothing over his head - given that it's pretty well centered at his eyes either way.)

Note that the background color is set to the purple that's transparent in the Alien Crossfire expansion, and the lower thingy [that's the Draw Opaque off box] at the bottom of the toolbox is selected. [Look for what the arrow is pointing at, if you're stuck doing this in an old version of Paint.  (I'm very frustrated with the W7 Paint upgrade.)]

(It means the background color is transparent for stuff you paste in, like the purple inside the blue box. I paste in the box once, right-click on the purple inside with the eye dropper -looking sample tool, which sets the background color to the right shade, [control z] to back up to before I pasted, and paste it back in.)


[Now for the older, truly stone-knives-and-bearskins techniques.]

I used to do the resizing with nothing but tedious trial and error, getting something close to the right size and shape, then seeing if it fit the box, shaving off a few pixels and trying again. It took a bit longer that way, to say the least.  In those days, once I had the portrait size/cropped for each box, I’d open two copies of Paint and paste the portrait into one of them. Then I’d paste it into Lexmark Photo Editor, reduce the contrast 30%, copy it that way, and paste into the other copy of Paint.

Now for the fun part. [That was sarcasm] I’d zoom in on one of the copies of the portrait at 800%, and begin using the line tool to draw horizontal white lines one pixel wide though every other row of the picture.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=71)
It’s simpler to describe, but took 20 times as much tedious work to do. (Your eyesight is probably better than mine, so if you have to do it this way, you may find it easier than I did.) When I had done that to the whole shot, I’d paste it on top of the other copy of the picture in the other copy of Paint with Draw Opaque switched off, (white is the default background color,) resulting in a scan lined shot.

[Remember that back then I was assembling the graphic in another copy of Paint (because Photoshop5 won't let you move your pasted elements around before you deselect and drop them in,) and only pasting the whole faction graphic back into Photoshop for saving as a .pcx at once when I was finished.  Hey, it worked for me.]

(Next up: fun with logos and such.)
Title: Diplomacy Landscapes Downloads files
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 22, 2012, 03:05:47 AM
Diplomacy Landscapes (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=69)

A little selection of 39 possible DLs for your convenience, because Uncle loves you.  Credit goes to Ariete for all the beautiful "Landscape" series of 11 pics in the .zip.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=73)



(See also Random  AC-ish Wallpapers (http://alphacentauri2.info/downloads/?sa=view;down=49)  for more DL fodder.)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=44)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 22, 2012, 03:30:22 PM
In the transom: a set of people pictures, many of them paintings, that would make good leaderhead source material - some generic logos I'm turning up and taking out any words - and of course, more how-to stuff.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on February 25, 2012, 03:12:47 PM
Are those pictures from the gallery? If so, they just worked in my relic IE version... :)

Landscapes will be a nice win. :) I realised the other day on the way home from Uni that the base pics that you have don't have matching landscapes, meaning I'll have to do some Googling (which I can't actually).
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 25, 2012, 03:17:31 PM
They ARE gallery-linked, so that's good news.

I've made one or two landscapes by taking some alien landscape art (or making an Earth landscape fungusy) and sticking in part of a base somewhere in it all blurry with distance...
Title: We interrupt our irregularly-scheduled program for this bulletin
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 29, 2012, 05:24:33 PM
[Another old how-to, but as always, edited to contain no misinformation, given what I’ve learned since.   I’m still learning how to do this stuff better as I go, too.]

Pickly had a question about changing the background colors in the (faction)2&3.pcx files with GIMP while replacing faction logos. To be honest, I use Photoshop for that because I'm used to the select tools there- so my answer wasn't as helpful as I would have liked. I've done a little testing using the Hive2.pcx now, and here's what I learned.

After loading the .pcx into GIMP, I selected Image>Mode>RGB (a lot of functions aren't available with the .pcx set to Indexed colors, so you have to switch mode to RGB, then put it back to Indexed before you save.) First, I used the square select tool to select the entirely black-and blue part.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=90)

Then I used the fuzzy select tool to add blue from the rest of the image to that- it's the fourth tool on the top row of the toolbox, a wand with a round yellow bit on the end. Mine had the threshold setting at 31. When the fuzzy select tool is in use, you can use those red mode buttons at the top of the current tool settings to add or subtract to what you're selecting. It's better to hue-shift everything you're going to change the same way at once when you can, as then you don't have to keep track of as much.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=89)

(Note the stuff the red arrows are pointing at. It's stuff you need to find to do this. I didn't find the Add and Subtract buttons right away, myself...)

After some tedious individual pixel selection, zoomed in real close -but fortunately, it's a small image with high contrast, so not TOO tedious, compared to some I've had to do just lately- I ended up with this:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=91)

[In retrospect, I should have selected those purple bits against the red to hue-shift with the rest…]  Then, Colors>Hue-Saturation. In the control that popped up I shifted the hue of everything selected -90 (to the left)- I'd arbitrarily decided I was preparing the background for a green logo- your mileage will vary- and got the following, which needed the logo erased. I used the circular select tool

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=92)

Afterwards, the smudge tool and a lot of nitpicking work zoomed in close is great for cleaning up anything that doesn't look right around the edges.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=93)

Here it is at 100%, ready for your green custom logo to be added.



Saving it can be a bit of a problem in GIMP; this particular one should save fine as-is, but doing anything to the purple background in the main faction .pcx or [faction]3.pcx renders said background non-transparent.  One way around this is to add a transparent layer, use the Select by Color Tool (with the Threshold set to 0) to select all the background shade, delete it, and then select the entire pic and paste into a blanked-out copy (http://alphacentauri2.info/downloads/?sa=view;down=65) of the .pcx, then save that.  It should already have the right palette, and you only have to Save As to change the filename to what you want.

In cases where the background transparency color is untouched, a simpler way is create a GIMP AC palette; open palette.pcx from your SMAC(X) root directory.  Windows>Dockable Dialogues>Palettes.  Right-click on the background of the Palette box>Import Palette.  Check the Image option at the top>Import.  You should now have a palette called something like palette.pcx at or near the top of the Palette box.  This probably sounds harder, but unlike the transparent background copy/paste dodge, you only have to do it once.

Whenever you save a faction .pcx, first Image>Mode>Indexed and in the Indexed Color Conversion pop-up, click Use custom palette, uncheck Remove unused colors from color map, and click on the colorbox under Use custom palette to load your palette file.  Hit Convert, then save the .pcx as you normally would.

I’ll go into this GIMP palette issue and the workarounds in more detail in a future post.
Title: Leaderhead Portraits
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 05, 2012, 08:46:59 PM
Leaderhead Portraits (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=74)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=107)

84 pictures suitable to build AC leaderheads from.  Some are more ready to size/crop and drop into you next custom faction than others - pretty much all need the clothing altered futuristically for most purposes.  Almost all are far larger than you'll need, to make alterations easier before you reduce them to leaderhead size.

For beginners, look for a future post on how to convert a photograph -or painting done in a slightly too impressionistic brush style, for that matter- into a leaderhead that will look good in the limited SMAC(X) palette and be compatible with the level of realism found in the official factions.
Title: Logos
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 06, 2012, 05:10:59 AM
Logos (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=76)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=108)

84 logo images to use in your next custom faction.

Logos are the easiest part of a faction graphic, so I didn't exactly kill myself cleaning some of these up, and many will need coloring, but this should help you get started...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 12, 2012, 04:49:22 AM
I'm hard at work on Bases 10 lately - & Bases 11, probably, as I estimate 46 structures from Age of Empires II are going in, and that's too much for one file.  Cutting them out of screenshots takes over an hour apiece, I'd guess, so it's a lot of work.

(Bases 9 had already been begun with GalCiv structures when I ran out of steam in the spring.  It has not been overlooked or forgotten...)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 12, 2012, 04:02:53 PM
Oh hey, keep it up! I would have so used Age of Empires 2 for LE as I've already used a few Age of Empires 1 structures.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 12, 2012, 08:12:57 PM
...The first five structures are churches, too.  I had you in mind when I started this.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 13, 2012, 01:46:55 AM
Awww thanks! Well I hope that others can use them too--I only have like 4 factions using original pics left.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2012, 02:16:20 AM
Since it's taking so long - the only way I know to get all the wonders is to play each faction long enough to build one, so that's a couple hours down the drain each even before the cutting out begins - a little sample to tide you over...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2012, 07:54:32 AM
Here's a couple of wonders I cut out in the last few hours. 

It kinda breaks my heart to see all the detail that's lost when they're reduced.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 14, 2012, 05:51:04 PM
Here's a couple of wonders I cut out in the last few hours. 

It kinda breaks my heart to see all the detail that's lost when they're reduced.

That castle brings back fond memories of running The Horde around Asia. It's better to start with the detail than not have it in the first place I suppose..
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2012, 06:00:48 PM
I guess, but smaller structures tranlate better.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2012, 09:49:44 PM
In fact...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2012, 11:52:06 PM
...Just as well post the lot here at full size.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 15, 2012, 05:33:34 AM
.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 15, 2012, 03:36:33 PM
.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 15, 2012, 04:04:26 PM
Have you Built/seen the Pleasure Dome yet?
It's a biatch to get to from your standpoint bc Mongols have a hard time getting to Imperial :(
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 15, 2012, 05:37:42 PM
Nope.  I'm not exactly rushing through all of these in minimal time - not when I'm having fun.  Got about half the cultures to go.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2012, 03:53:31 AM
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 16, 2012, 09:00:42 AM
Helluva tent
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2012, 03:13:08 PM
It is; it most assuredly is.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 16, 2012, 03:29:45 PM
For some strange inexplicable reason that 'tent' shouts

"Planet Cult" at me...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2012, 03:41:32 PM
Pretty explicable; it's the nested domes.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 16, 2012, 04:07:13 PM
Pretty explicable; it's the nested domes.

Logical choice for PCult hybrids you think??
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2012, 05:05:14 PM
Absolutely.

Have someone in mind to cross with?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 16, 2012, 07:00:31 PM
Absolutely.

Have someone in mind to cross with?

Off the top of my head it could be an Islamist fac along the lines that cog was developing. Can't see it having pacifistic tendencies though.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2012, 08:15:44 PM
Oh it might; you only hear about the troublemakers.

If you want, start a thread, tell me more, and let's rock.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 16, 2012, 08:47:42 PM
I might do something like that it's a shame to see ariete's work stagnate. Ditto cog's. But the last thing I'd ever do is hijack any of it.

2 "asides".

1) My previous comment about Islamists reminded me of an old fac from 10 yrs ago where the leaderhead was an obvious knock-off of a Persian chap with thick black rimmed glasses. I've spent an hour or so searching through what passes for my NNode files without success. Any ideas?

2) Is this of any use to you for diplo planetscapes?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2012, 11:10:25 PM
I don't see why not.

"Persian chap with thick black rimmed glasses" isn't ringing any bells.

I never worry about stealing from other faction modders, and provided I'm credited properly, don't care if anyone -ahem- builds on my work.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 17, 2012, 07:42:11 AM
Heh yes I've built upon your work once or twice, at least you liked the results. :D

Some of those AoE2 buildings are pretty sweet!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 17, 2012, 06:41:21 PM
It's a thing fandoms do; build on the work of others.  Within the community, credit is important, but we all lift from outside sources too much to be all proprietary about it.

They are sweet. 

At the least, posting them all here at full size will give others the option of reworking them to their own satisfaction - or customizing.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 17, 2012, 08:02:40 PM
It's a thing fandoms do; build on the work of others.  Within the community, credit is important, but we all lift from outside sources too much to be all proprietary about it.

They are sweet. 

At the least, posting them all here at full size will give others the option of reworking them to their own satisfaction - or customizing.

They are very nice.

Have you taken the indestructible onegar clone for a run yet?

If I remember right you type in the taunt
"how do you turn this on"

Actually I think it's an Aston Martin.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 17, 2012, 08:57:58 PM
Way too overpowered to be any fun.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 18, 2012, 04:57:56 AM
I'm nearly done collecting wonders.  This almost catches me up with what I've cut out.  Need to bear down on that soon...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 19, 2012, 05:01:15 AM
Some of these seem a little warped, is that normal?

I love that Aztec one. :D
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2012, 01:09:46 PM
I think it's to do with my widescreen monitor.  The screenies come out narrowed, which makes the perspective badly off on some of the structures, for example, the town center I posted back in post 34.  I've corrected it on some buildings, but not yet all of them.

It's easy enough to fix, not like the psuedo-3D I had to deal with on Age of Mythology for Bases 3.  They were all narrower at the bottom than the top, and I had to fool with the Scew funtion.  This just takes a simple resize.

That's the Mayan wonder.  The Aztek one was the first wonder I saved, but I haven't cut it out yet.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 19, 2012, 03:23:33 PM
Ah thanks for the correction! It has been a while since I have played that game, for sure.

And yeah I was just asking as it's something I noticed. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2012, 03:29:12 PM
I think I just collected the last strucure I wanted.  If strucures in cold climates didn't have some snow on the roof, it would have saved me a lot of time.

Now to buckle down on the roughly half the stuff I've yet to cut out -tedious work - and finish up...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 19, 2012, 03:31:20 PM
I'm sure somebody will really appreciate ya for doing this hey. :D I'll definitely take a browse through what's available when it's all up and done.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 19, 2012, 04:08:33 PM
I'm sure somebody will really appreciate ya for doing this hey.

Without doubt they will. I like the idea of the Pleasure Dome for a cult hybrid; and the Mayan wonder (yeah, I thought it was Aztec too) are sort of suggesting to me that the Alin come to Planet...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2012, 04:34:51 PM
Well you know, a body with minimal graphics skillz could go through the files I've posted of various elements and assemble their own faction graphics.  The leaderheads would be the most trouble, as few of the pictures in the file I made are painting-converted, and none are cropped right, but there's an example of each element a faction needs there for use.  Easy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 19, 2012, 04:42:34 PM
Yeah it removes one of the major barriers to new faction design. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2012, 04:53:32 PM
And of course, I've explained a good deal of how to do everything.  There should be no impediment, graphically, save time and effort for someone who wants their own custom faction.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 20, 2012, 05:52:40 AM
Crenelations.

Everywhere, everywhere. Zig-zagging, disrupting orderly straight lines, making everything take five times as long.  Sticking up like rude fingers raised at me.

The Gates of Hell are crenelated.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 20, 2012, 07:50:15 AM
What are crenelations?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 20, 2012, 08:07:13 AM
Seriously?  The sine wave shape on top of castle walls.  What did they teach you in college, anyway?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 20, 2012, 08:13:45 AM
Nothing about castles haha

Still hope you get it right soon. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 20, 2012, 03:34:36 PM
Reading books is good for you, sunny-me-lad.

I had me a thought about some base stages...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 20, 2012, 05:48:22 PM
My head hurts.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 20, 2012, 08:00:27 PM
.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 21, 2012, 04:21:28 AM
I like the castles with stages! Still, keep up the good work. :) I hope everybody can take advantage of this. :D

You going to put them into a pack when you're done?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 05:13:31 AM
Yes, of course.

Now, what do you think of this:

 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1237.0;attach=665) (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1237.0;attach=668) (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1237.0;attach=635) (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1237.0;attach=667)
?

I made that first one from the top of the Mayan wonder.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 21, 2012, 05:18:04 AM
Hey with a bit of recolouring on the brown one and resizing, that could work very nicely. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 05:22:02 AM
That was a quick response; I was editing while you answered.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 21, 2012, 05:24:24 AM
Ah sure haha! Well great minds think alike!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 05:56:34 AM
The end result looks like this.

Something was lost in the translation...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 21, 2012, 06:14:49 AM
Do you mean the pixelation?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 06:17:18 AM
Partly; also the loss of detail.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on September 21, 2012, 06:20:20 AM
Yeah true. Perhaps chopping off the bottom storey of each of them would help. :) We'll see when whoever uses them attempts to make a sheet!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 06:24:18 AM
I think I'll definitely be fiddling with those before I'm done.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 21, 2012, 07:19:18 AM
I's very nice stuff BUncle with nice evolution as size increases.

What do you fancy for Perimeters / Tachyons? Picket fence - stone wall?
The end result looks like this.

Something was lost in the translation...

You may just be feeling the frustration that the Firaxis art-boys felt when doing great landscapes and bases, only to have them shrunk down to a few kilobytes when bunged in a template. Your four proto-bases take up a hefty 7kb near as I can see.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 07:55:10 AM
I leave the shields to others - though I have done them in brick and stone before.
Title: Cutting Bases from Screenshots
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 21, 2012, 09:54:00 PM
Cutting Bases from Screenshots

So since I'm deep into it anyway, I thought I'd take a few screenies and talk about how how I do it and why I do it that way.  Someone might benefit.  Check out the red arrows, and you'll have exact instructions for doing it in GIMP.

Screenshots from other games are one of the best sources of bases, especially if you lack the art skills to create convincing ones from scratch.  Be sure they are lit from your right, unless you can rework the lighting, and want to go to the trouble.  This is tedious work, but anyone can make excellent bases this way.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=248)

So I loaded up the screenshot and selected a box around Aztec university with Rectangle Select Tool.  Image>Crop to Selection.  Easy. 

I also cut the town center out of this screeny - after selecting File>Create>From Clipboard.  Save the result for working on later.  Simpler than reloading the screenshot again later.  I've cut as many as five buildings from the same screenshot when I lucked out and they were all unobstructed and workable.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=249)

Now Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel.  (Incidentally, you'll want to get rid of the ruler guides, which default on every time in my copy of GIMP and take up space; I never, ever use them.  That's View>uncheck Show Rulers.)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=250)

Then with the Eraser Tool scaled all the way down to one pixel and Hard edge checked, I begin working my way around the edge of the structure.  You only need a one pixel "moat" between the edge and the rest you're getting rid of, and it saves time to not fool with fitting anything bigger around the tight spots.  Bear with me.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=251)

You'll want to zoom in and out frequently, to get a sense of what you're working with in the bit you're on at the moment - sometimes it's easy to tell what's building and what's not, but sometimes it's pretty tough.  Note all those dingy green pixels I pointed out.  I actually had to [Ctrl]z and back up a couple of steps when I realized I'd been chopping out part of the building.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=252)

When you've gone all the way around, click Fuzzy Select Tool with Threshold cranked up to about 200 anywhere outside the structure and transparent border.  If you've done it right, it'll look like this, and you can hit Delete...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=253)

...But if the structure selects, too, you've probably left some pixel corners touching, as pictured above.

...

These Age of Empires II screenies all come out tall/distorted, probably because of my widescreen monitor and AoE2 saving screenies to its own folder as .BMPs.  It throws the perspective off pretty bad sometimes.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=254)

So, Image>Scale Image>unclick the proportionate dealy pictured, and figure out how much to reduce the hight - I mostly use trial-and error, backing up and redoing it until it looks right to me me.  The result is pictured below.

Good hunting.
Title: Re: Cutting Bases from Screenshots
Post by: Davyboy on September 22, 2012, 08:12:22 AM

Now Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel.  (Incidentally, you'll want to get rid of the ruler guides, which default on every time in my copy of GIMP and take up space; I never, ever use them.  That's View>uncheck Show Rulers.)


There I may be able to help.
My Gimp runs under Linux and is ver 2.6.12 but this should apply ti pretty much all versions:
Under  <Edit --> Preferences --> Appearance> just uncheck ruler guides..
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 22, 2012, 08:20:39 AM
Okay, that took a little poking around to find out I wanted Normal Mode, but it worked.  Thanks man; when I'm working with multiple windows, like lately, having to kill the rulers for space over and over and over is a huge pain.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 27, 2012, 09:28:38 PM
I had an annoying day Sunday; my Age of Empires game was quite wearing, with one of the opponents sending wave after wave after wave after wave of units at me.  And GIMP locked up, loosing a good hour or more of work on a tedious structure.  I thought I'd take a day off from cutting out, and then I got a lot better response to my appeal for more involvement than I expected.

Anyway, I'm back on it - this leaves 19 buildings to go, though many are wonders.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 27, 2012, 10:18:43 PM
Everyone has days where getting out of bed looks like a bad idea in hindsight. I'm just in awe with what you HAVE done so far.

Quote
And GIMP locked up

I take it that was under some Redmond-sired toy operating system. My condolences..
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 27, 2012, 10:39:31 PM
The demon Gates.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Davyboy on September 27, 2012, 11:03:58 PM
The demon Gates.

Oh, I'm working on sending him to Mars too for his many sins in cybernetics. I'm just trying to write a bit of backstory around 'Dickie Boy' atm. It seem s to be being written in 2037 for some reason. More tomorrow.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 28, 2012, 02:13:43 AM
A scenario?  You interest me, sir.

Everyone has days where getting out of bed looks like a bad idea in hindsight. I'm just in awe with what you HAVE done so far.
Eh, this doesn't take a lot of talent - it's just grinding through some tedious work.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 29, 2012, 03:15:43 AM
This bunch went a lot more smoothly. 

15 to go.  How many has it been?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 30, 2012, 11:49:40 PM
Another batch that went well.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 01, 2012, 06:20:45 AM
Seems great. :D
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 01, 2012, 11:57:43 AM
One thing I'm going to have to do with all of these is back off the contast 10% so the non-shadow blacks won't be semi-transparent...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 05, 2012, 12:12:52 PM
Just wanted to note for those interested in the current Bases project that I had to make the Firaxis AC website pages first on my build queue, not least 'cause the work is a pain, and the way to get it done is to do it NOW --- in fact, I haven't had AOE2 on or played any for four or five days now.  I may be posting more how-tos first, but I will get back to bases soonest.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 05, 2012, 06:19:09 PM
Could you help me make smac-style base graphics? I'm not very good at that.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 05, 2012, 06:34:22 PM
Sure.  Where are your bases from? 

Drawing them from scatch is not a big strength of mine, so I usually convert a photo of a building, or use a base from another game, or alter one of the official ones where the faction is a spin-off.  Still, there are some obvious tweaks that would help the bases you have in place; briefly, they could use darkening/higher contrast and lighting from the right.  The sun's always low and on the right in SMAC.

Gimme an hour, and I'll have the last how-to I made about bases posted.   Since I moved to AC2, I've never quite gotten organized., or everything posted I intend to.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 05, 2012, 06:47:26 PM
Also, looky here: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;cat=17 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;cat=17)

I recommend that you download the 8 bases files and have a look at them, in case you're open to using some pre-prepared bases.  Also, Bare Shields and Blank faction .pcx - and the whole lot, really.  The leaderhead, logo, and diplomacy landscape collections aren't nearly as ready to just drop in as the bases ones, but may very well be useful to you, should you embark on future factions.
Title: Faction Bases: Making & Placing
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 05, 2012, 08:24:37 PM
Faction Bases: Making & Placing

See also this closely related how-to, Cutting Bases from Screenshots (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;sa=view;article=20).

[This one is posted out of order because a new friend was looking for help with bases.  References to transparent background and Montezuma will make more sense when I post the previous two or three how-tos -ASAP- as I've skipped to my latest technique, and several previous posts followed making this same faction.]



Bases can be pretty difficult to generate - I’ve drawn a few bases from scratch -though I feel weakest at that- cut them from helicopter shots of real buildings and even made one of Buster’s house from a photo taken from entirely the wrong (ground-level and way too low) angle; (that last was a lot of work and involved a lot of drawing and carefully selecting and distorting bits to get the angles right).  The best source tends to be structures found on the internet -whether from someone’s computer-generated art or another game.  You can also cut them out of screenshots from other games yourself, as I did with most of the 8 bases sets I’ve posted in Downloads (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;cat=17) (check those links for loads of bases ready to drop into you custom faction, as-is; three or four more base set files are in progress).

Bases must be lit from the right, and must be at roughly a pseudo-3D 45 degree angle.  You could make a base out a photo/image of a trashcan or a shoe if it met those qualifications and if you wanted a stupid-looking base.



For the Astral Jaguar Cult, Alexander posted a picture of a base made from the Tikal pyramid, alongside a photo of the original.  I haven’t the foggiest what game it was from [it was Age of Empires 2; that's the Mayan Wonder, as I've since cut out directly from the game and posted at full size recently a few pages back], but that there’s a pseudo-3D game base, so it MUST be from a game.  It’s unfortunate that someone chose to put it against a mottled background that isn’t all one color, but it’ll be easier to cut out than a game screenshot, anyway (all the terrain details, figures and other buildings can be a huge pain to tell from what you mean to keep while you're zoomed way in [and it really was, too]).

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=275)

So, I opened the file I’d saved of it and Layer>Add Alpha Channel.  The first thing I tried was to Fuzzy select the whole background - sometimes you get lucky.  Not very lucky this time -the dark side of the structure & background didn't want to toe the line- but I deleted this bit and than moved on to trimming it zoomed in with the Eraser Tool fairly small Scaled (.10) and with Hard Edge checked (for many things you'd want the fading of pixels you get without Hard Edge checked on the Eraser -edges blend in better that way- but the indexed AC palette doesn't do semi-transparent pixels and is going choose all the way on or off for each, so you want to pick which now).

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=274)

A minute or two erasing left this bit of edge ragged and uneven, so I used the Smudge Tool scaled to one pixel and at 100% Rate to fill in a straight line(while [Shift]ed, you can make a straight line, just like with the Pencil Tool) then reduced the Rate to 50% to do a little randomizing of the shade/color of the pixel.


Then I went back to cutting a transparent zone out of the background - once I had cleared a border out of the background around the edge of the base, erasing the rest would be easy.  When I got the entire dark side cut out, I reduced the Scale of the eraser to one pixel and cleaned up what the Fuzzy select missed (you'd rather Fuzzy Select too little than too much - it can easily eat into parts of the structure you're working on, and erasing more later is less work than trying to redraw missing lines and such)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=285)


Eventually, I had this to show for my efforts:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=271)


Alex wanted the light-glow from the door changed to blue to match the diplomacy landscape picture, which wasn't much trouble.  We'd also talked about silvering up some of the ornamentation on the sides of the base, which was a lot more trouble: 

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=273)

But eventually, I got what I wanted selected - nothing like as much trouble as Montezuma's cape, though still a lot of work - and hue-shifted the results to a sort of pale blue with the Color Saturation turned low enough to look not-quite gray, but not too blue; I also did a little careful smudging of the headdress-looking bits, because some smoothness is essential to achieving a metallic look. 


(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=272)

That got me this - which looked pretty good (notice that I'd improved the outline on the dark side since two pictures ago, right after I'd finished cutting it out) and was finally ready to drop it into the graphic.  Again, as tedious as some of the work was, writing and reading about it is more tedious than doing it.


So, after copying, back in the assembly copy of the whole graphic, I measured the size of the box with the Rectangular Select Tool, pasted and resized, then positioned the first base (the big stage four one to the right) and deselected. 
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=280)

You want the base placed with the bottom cheated upwards if there's any room, and centered left-right.  SMAC(X) is very forgiving about placement, luckily, so don't kill yourself getting it perfect. 

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=276)

If it looks okay in the game when you playtest, you placed it well enough.



When I had all of the first row placed, I selected the entire first row and pasted in the next five rows (Note that somewhere in there, I made a subtle goldening of some bits on the largest base - the official bases sometimes have some special element to them to let the player know at a glance that a base has grown to its ultimate stage):

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=277)

Notice that the edge of the select fills the row exactly - each stage of base is placed exactly the same as the row above/below - which is for a reason and about to save you some work in the next two steps.


So for sea platforms, I do a very simple thing; I use the Ellipse Select Tool to draw an oval lined up with the bottom corners of the base:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=278)

And flood the select with a blue-green-gray shade with the Bucket Fill tool (with most bases I have to erase the bottom of the base do a clean flood fill and then repaste the base back over it, but these skinny pyramids saved me a step).   Then moved to the next base and did the same, then the next and the next. 

This is a crap way to make sea platforms, yes; for my very first all-original faction graphic, I spent a lot of time drawing a raft to place Buster's house on.  Since, I've usually just skipped the platforms entirely, so at least doing this is better.  I followed up by drawing a darker edge on the bottom of the platform to at least make it look real, if not very detailed - you can see it a little in the screenys below; it'll make a difference in the game.  (I WOULD go to more trouble for an aquatic faction, of course, and you may/should choose to be less lazy about it in general.)


(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=281)

I only had to do that four times to complete one row, then I copied and pasted it over the other two seabase rows.


Now, time to place the shields; I opened my Bare Shields (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=64) file, transparencied the background (so I could crank up the Fuzzy Select Tool Threshold real high and not have it select anything but the shield I was wanting, all in one click) and started pasting shields OVER bases.

(I'm using the alien shields on this project for two reasons - they are so much better-looking and easier to work with than the human shields, and these factions are a set, from a different background than the official factions.  You'll want to use the alien shields for everything, but for consistency, try to restrain yourself if your human custom faction is going to be played alongside the originals, and use the fences unless you can think of a story reason your faction would have the alien tech.)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=282)

This is over halfway through the shield-adding process.  Once I had dropped in the shields centered on both rows of the land bases, I selected the upper part of the bare top row and pasted the top over the shielded ones, to cover the shields where they go behind.  Notice the difference in the lower row with the stage two shields, as they have the shields dropped in, but haven't gotten the top pasted back in yet.

Note how the yellow edges of the pasting match the inside of the box edges - this is why you copy the first row over and over - as guides and because that way, every stage one (stage two, and so on) base is placed the same so you can do easy paste-overs a whole row at a time.  Much easier to do than describe for teaching it.


(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=279)

Notice in the above shot that the sea platforms haven't the dotted lines around them - that's because I only shielded the LAND bases, and now I've copied them and am pasting them over the platforms.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=283)

Now, everything is done on the faction, except the Diplomacy Landscape, which is like working with the portraits except for only having to do it once at one size, and the faction colors at the bottom of the file, which is like children coloring with crayons - but I'll do a short post about it soon, as there‘s still many ways you can go wrong…

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 05, 2012, 09:03:54 PM
Sure.  Where are your bases from? 

Drawing them from scatch is not a big strength of mine, so I usually convert a photo of a building, or use a base from another game, or alter one of the official ones where the faction is a spin-off.  Still, there are some obvious tweaks that would help the bases you have in place; briefly, they could use darkening/higher contrast and lighting from the right.  The sun's always low and on the right in SMAC.

Gimme an hour, and I'll have the last how-to I made about bases posted.   Since I moved to AC2, I've never quite gotten organized., or everything posted I intend to.
Remember the image from the alpha.txt help thread? I need help converting it from that to something more SMAC-ish.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 05, 2012, 09:17:34 PM
Yes, we can do that, no problem - I'm working on a how-to with lots of screenshots of processing your leaderhead ATM, because I don't recall ever doing a really thorough one about making a photo look like a painting.  Patience, my young padawan; you have my full attention, but I can only do one thing at a time.  :)

In the meanwhile, look into "they could use darkening/higher contrast and lighting from the right" as I said before - stepping up the color saturation should help, too.  Try fiddling with those things, and I'll be back with you shortly.

What I meant was, did you draw the bases, or are they from a game, a web image, or what?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 05, 2012, 09:27:56 PM
I made them myself from scratch.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 05, 2012, 09:42:03 PM
Impressive.  I always hesitate about drawing them myself.

Okay, I've got the screenshots made, so now it's just a matter of time before I have something for you on the leaderhead -I'm thinking about the next guy who wants to know what you're asking about, too- and we can work on those bases.  If you have any drafts in the meanwhile from fiddling with them as I suggested, feel free to post a little .jpg of the latest first row.
Title: Processing a photo headshot into a painted-looking leaderhead
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 06, 2012, 05:51:46 AM
Processing a photo headshot into a painted-looking leaderhead

Some programs have automatic functions for turning photos into paintings - GIMP has oilify, which I don't think is very good.  Nothing, at any rate, substitutes for just rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself, with your human judgment and an artist's eye.  The SMAC(X) leaderheads all originated as paintings, and your eye catches that, even if you don't realize it consciously.  So your leaderhead needs to look like a painting.  Here's how I do it.

Rainbow Lizard had a leaderhead that didn't take to the SMAC palette well, and asked me to look into it.  He supplied the original photo:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=304)

(Pay attention to the settings showing in the pictures after this; they mostly tell you how, while my comments will tend to focus on the equally important why.) 

Nothing intrinsically wrong with it; it looks like a leaderhead.  But the color level is low, as is the contrast, and the highlights too white, matching the background.  So that background's gotta go - first thing I did was add a transparent background layer-
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=286)

-Start erasing the edge next to the spot -on the shoulder- I could tell was going to be most troublesome about wanting to select along with the background-
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=296)

-Only to discover that those white highlights matched the background way too well for the Fuzzy Select Tool.  I gave up and used the Color Select Tool, after some trial and error, at the default setting-
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=297)

-and then prepared to begin eliminating all the white inside the figure's borders with the Fuzzy Select Tool (Note the red-block mode setting in the Toolbox.  That's Subtract from the current selection)-
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=298)

After a few minutes of zooming in and out and deselecting the easy bits on the visor at various Threshold levels -sometimes it would jump to deselect some background, and I would have to [Ctrl]z to back up and try again at a lower threshold- I got all but a bit on the shoulder and neck -
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=299)

-and did a little more erasing (always have Hard Edge checked when erasing for this kind of thing) and deselecting the rest of the non-background was easy at a low Threshold of 5.0. and that erased border-

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=300)

-So I hit [Delete] and started processing - and it's easier to adjust with no background to either require more selection of just the skin, or turning wierd while you alter the figure's colors, brightness, etc., if you don't select and leave it out.   Sometimes you like the background and want to keep it, and doing something like this to allow you to paste the figure back over it is called for, instead of in this case, where the background was in the way.

The thing is, photographs are just higher resolution than most paintings.  They contain more detail and more colors; not as many as reality, but a lot more than the average painting.  The eye picks up on the differance, even if you don't realise.  Remembering that is the key to what we're going to do here

First, fiddling with the Brightness/Contast; the image needed serious darkening, and higher contrast brings up detail and the color levels, too.  They also balance each other out somewhat.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=301)

And then I brought the Color Saturation up more directly.  This also brightened things more in a different way, and I darkened a little more to compensate.  Everything in this process is partly balancing dark and bright, and all processing/fiddling/altering, done right, results in the right kind of careful artificiality that says painting to the eye.  It was a little too red, so a minor hue-shift, to a hair yellower, too.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=302)

Next, I wanted to do something that would mess up the colors of the hair and visor, so I needed to select everything but them:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=303)

This involves a lot of zooming in and out, selecting and deselecting at different Thresholds, which is typical for the Fuzzy Select - a very useful tool, but aggravating.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=287)

Now here's the thing; human skin contains a lot more colors finely distributed, if you look closely enough, than anyone can manage in artwork, which is why it's so difficult to come up with realistic skin tones when you're going for realism.  Real skin has blues and even greens in it - we're going to reduce those in favor of more of the reds and yellows artists use.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=288)

That brought up the color levels 60%, so to compensate-
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=289)

The shot before last, note the big bit of pink lined by lemon yellow in that problem area on the shoulder.  There's more up the edge of the neck and cheek, so to fix it:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=290)
Then I expanded the select to get all that lemon yellow around it and did something simular - in this case, hue-shifting back towards red a little, darkening a little, reducing the color saturation a little more - all of which browns both somewhat. (Browns are more-or-less dingy, dim, orange in computer colors.

Usually, in processing a leaderhead, I'd have done a lot of selective blurring of very fine details with the Smudge Tool on very low power, but this leaderhead is a younger person than most faction leader images, with much more smooth skin than usual in a photo that was low on that sort of detail, too.  There's a trade-off; no time smoothing/simplifying facial lines and fine speckling typical of photo headshots, but the lack of those details is precisely why it adapted so poorly to the SMAC(X) palette - nothing to break up the color patterns, which looked bad.

So, as I said, real skin is higher-resolution than painted, and has a LOT more colors.  Next, I simply change the mode of the image (literally Image>Mode>Indexed) to a lot less colors:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=291)
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=293)
I change it back to RGB, so I can change the mode BACK to Indexed -- I'm hoping that now, it will take to the SMAC(X) palette, which has twice as many colors:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=292)

-But no.  That's a little better than the problematic problematic attempt I'm demonsrtating how to fix, but still not good enough.  I [Ctrl]z to back up a step, something you do a lot making graphics, and use that Smudge Tool to smear together COLORS where they are in thick bands and the areas I've learned are going to convert badly.  It's too idiosycratic to be worth trying to show.

Next, I do a little sharpening (Filters>Enhance>Sharpen) at around 30% and blurring (Filters>Blur>Blur) and sharpening and blurring, more sharpening - I'm not sure, but this has always been part of the process, and I think it works because low-level sharpening accumulates interuptions of those strange-looking color bands/patterns, and blurring every third or forth time keeps it from getting too pixelated-looking.  What I'm sure of is that it often makes a big difference in this painting thing.  It's another part you have to use that human judgment and artist's eye, and not something easy to/worth trying to show.

Then a little more selective smearing together of color patches and unwanted detail the sharpening put in with the Smudge Tool, still set to 10%, 20% at most.

One secret to helping when your work doesn't want to convert to the SMAC(X) palette well, is that sometimes, it will do better if you do the scan lines and THEN convert; the alternating contrast lines can break up those color bands/patterns, or form intermingled, alternating patterns that cancel out.

I've described the scan-line part before a number of times, but briefly:  select the entire image ([Ctrl]a, [Ctrl]c to copy, Colors>Brightness-Contrast>contrast +15-20, [Ctrl]v to paste back the copy,  Colors>Brightness-Contrast>contrast -15-20, Filters>Distorts>Erase Every Other Row> deselect.  Scanlined.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=294)

For a background, I pasted it over a Matrix thingy, as I did with my own hacker-type faction.  This is the original size of the image, but cropped to the exact porportions of a leaderhead, only a little larger:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=306)

However, the youthful look of the leaderhead, the videogame look of the logo and bases for the faction, and the attitude displayed in the leader quote in the .txt file suggests that a background consistant with youth doing as they please, such as a bright video game sorta background, like he had a game paused on the big screen behind him while he spoke on the comm, would be a better fit for this leaderhead.  It would also fit that the figure was obviously backlit to stand in front of something very bright.

Rainbow, see if these instructions are enough for you to do something with the picture - I'd rather make sure I'd empowered you to do it for yourself than just give you a file already processed.  Teach a man to fish, and all that.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 06, 2012, 06:38:05 AM
I like the results. :) I'd have done a few things a tad differently but it sure looks a lot better than the original...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 06, 2012, 07:58:51 AM
Wow. Thanks for that, it was really helpful. I made mine slightly different becaus I wanted to keep a bit of the paleness.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 06, 2012, 11:56:24 AM
That makes sense, creatively.  This is about empowering you, not about doing it my way.  I'll be interested in your outcome.

Kil, tell us about the tad of difference in your approach...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 07, 2012, 08:53:14 AM
So when's your next tutorial going to be?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2012, 12:21:55 PM
 :) Dunno.  I'm busy like a one-armed man juggling chainsaws - check the OfficialAC button at the top of the page.  I'm working on the tech section lately. 

What have you got in mind?  Have you gone back through the thread and read all the previous ones?  Got any base edits to show me?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2012, 01:58:27 PM
However, you've motivated me to go find everything - I'm organizing right now, and a bunch more are coming soon.  (You're doing us a service, 'cause this is Articles content to attract new members to AC2, and I've put it off for too long.)  For convenience, you might want to check here http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6) and be sure you've read everything I already posted.

Some of them are very dated, but I tended to write under a subconscious assumption that people had been following the series, so reading them all helps the whole make more sense, and there's always a lot about the thinking behind the process, which is very important.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 07, 2012, 03:31:44 PM
I would have put a bit of green backlighting on. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2012, 03:58:36 PM
...Since all that light stuff was around the edges of his hair, and the background was mostly dark.  I was doing a quick dummy background, but I should try that and post, just to see...
Title: Bases
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2012, 06:00:59 PM
Bases

[This goes after "We interrupt our irregularly-scheduled program for this bulletin (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.msg3775#msg3775)-".  As always, these older entries in the series discuss some outdated technique, but also talk a lot about the why and the thinking process, which is eternal, and at least as important.  It's the difference between hackwork and art.]

I’ve decided to change my format from talking about my working process on a faction I finished over six weeks ago to talking about what I’m doing now. I can go into more- and more educational- detail that way.
 
(Yesterday in the Beta Lyrae thread, Darsnan and I were discussing the possibility of changing the bases for his alt. Usurpers/Imperial Starlost Progenitors. I give these remarks about context of the work because the best game art doesn’t just look cool- it tells a story. These things have an important effect on the art decisions you make.)
 
The Starlost- my label, not his- were a naval survey expedition that was lost in space long before the Manifold disaster destroyed Prog civilization, or the schism between Caretakers and Usurpers. After many thousands of years in stasis, they ended up stranded on Beta Lyrea not long before the humans, and instantly came into conflict with the Autochthon- descendants of later Progenitors who were stranded there while the Starlost were in stasis and survived the Sentinels by achieving harmony with the environment. A lot of art decisions went to trying to suggest that the Autochthon are Progs gone native, and keeping a look consistent with their story.
 
(The Autochton (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=308) are alternate Caretakers (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=310), part of my project, mostly in collaboration with Darsnan, to make alternate/splinters of the official factions. I cannot express how amusing I found it to put the aliens in log cabins.)
 
The Starlost want to create the infrastructure to build a starship and leave. I’ve gone for a look that says “Alien Captain Kirk down on his luck” with the art-
(From this (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=313) to (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=312) this . He has more scars, some of his tusks are broken and his armor is a little torn up, but somehow with the new color scheme, he looks less evil and more tired. The trimmed/capped rill horns help too, though that's largely a practical consideration for a starship crew...) thus the approach I took to the diplomacy landscape shot, changing the DL Darsnan pointed me at- of a ship in flight- to the ship grounded and very chewed up-looking.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=317) Usurper DL

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=311) Gebazzu DL

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=315) Starlost DL

With the bases, Darsnan liked my suggestion of running elements of Usurpers and Caretaker base designs together to suggest that these guys are from before the schism.
 
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=316)
+(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=309)
 ___________________________________________________
 (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=314)

So last night, I did a little cut and paste work to put the top of Caretaker bases over Usurper ones. I did some minor fiddling with the Usurper struts to splay them just slightly and make them look a tiny bit more like Caretaker ones. I finished by trimming down a Caretaker subsidiary building to paste at the top of all the Usurper elements as a dome-cap.
 
This morning, Darsnan approved the design I posted last night, and picked one of the color schemes I'd done. We’d agreed on faction color and customizing changes to the Usurper logo colors, so I was ready to begin actual assembly of the graphic.)
 
I opened the Usurper .pcx, and copy/pasted the whole thing into MS Paint. I scan lined the diplomacy landscape I’d gotten approved and pasted into the Paint copy.

Now it was time to put in the bases. I opened the .pcx I’d saved before I made .jpegs to post last night- of the version of the bases Darsnan chose- I’d just done the first row of bases, and saved a copy of only that. I copy/pasted it over the Usurper bases in Paint- my design covers the originals completely, so I did it with Draw Opaque off. I did the same with the next two rows, leaving a bit of the shields showing behind- which will make it easier to get the surround when I get to replacing the rest.
 
When I got to the first row of water bases, I had a decision to make. Some bases look okay unaltered floating; I decided these stilted ones would not. I pasted them in, which left them on top of Usurper platforms –which are pretty generic- they’re brown, though. I copy/pasted that row of bases back into The Usurper file in Photoshop, switched the mode to RGB (Image>Mode>RGB Color) to get access to advanced functions, and sampled the dark brown of the platforms. Then Select>Color Range… I set the fuzziness (how close to the color sampled it needs to stay in selecting inside the select box around the row) to 60% -somewhat exclusive and hit okay. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to get exactly what you want selected- this looked about right, with most, but not all, of the water platforms selected- the darkest parts.
 
Image>Adjust>Color Balance, and I was bringing up the blue and cyan to 100%, with a touch of green, (about 20% was all that didn’t make it TOO green), resulting in a dark, slightly greenish blue that matched the blue parts of the bases proper, but left the platforms looking like separate pieces. I fiddled a little with the lighter-brown bits left over with an eye towards matching them with the pale-gold highlights of the bases, but they didn’t want to select cleanly, and I decided the platforms looked good the way they already were. I then copy/pasted the row three times into the Paint copy over the Usurper water bases. Now, all that was left was to put the shields back.
 
In Photoshop, I opened shields.pcx (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=64)- a file I made long ago of both official sorts of bare shields (and a few I invented) for just such a purpose. I pasted the Progenitor shields into a third copy of MS Paint (the leaderhead is waiting in another, but I’ve already covered that part of the process) to erase the back halves. It’s another thing that’s easier to do in Paint.

I did so with the smallest stage-one shield and copy/pasted over the smallest shielded water base zoomed in at 800%- still with Draw Opaque off, so it only superimposed the shield over the base. I saw that the shield was far wider than the remnants around the back, so I found the pip on one edge of the select box and narrowed it. I tried to match the edges of the front with the back that was already there, narrowed again, and got a nice match. I repeated the process with the next size, taking a few seconds to draw in a gap on the left with the color sample and line tools. When I’d same the same with stage 3, and tried to scroll over to the next size shield, I discovered I’d accidentally skipped the smallest sized, making extra work for myself. Oh well. I pasted the largest size –it fit this time-, needing only a few pixels drawn in on the left, as the building covered the rest.
 
I zoomed out a little and selected the upper parts of the row of water bases I’d just shielded –the upper parts are identical to the land bases, so this way is less work- and copy/pasted them (w/shields) over the stage-one-shield land-base row. Correction: I wanted to do it that way, but concluded that the shields sat too low in front to leave all of the water elements out of the select. Instead, I repeated the process one base at a time. Oh well- I think it’s instructive to leave my missteps in the narrative. I was able to select enough of the water row and copy/paste first to avoid having to draw any gaps in twice. Without the drawing and resizing, it took only a minute to finish the land row.
 
(Then I pasted the Paint master copy back into the Photoshop Usurper .pcx and saved it in an in-progress folder while I went to run a quick errand. Artists, you want to be in the habit of saving your progress often. Stuff happens.)
 
When I got back to work, repeating the process for the stage-two Tachyon shields went much more smoothly without the wasted time resizing- and because I did it on the land bases first and thus could copy/paste the entire row on top of the water bases smoothly.
 
With the bases done, it’s now time to post this and get to work on the logos…
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 08, 2012, 03:07:05 AM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1237.0;attach=1530)


Kil, that was easier said than done, but here.

And for comparison, here it is beside the previous quick effort.  It does make the profound difference of looking real...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=306) (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1237.0;attach=1530)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 08, 2012, 03:09:25 AM
Hey nice work. :) He looks pretty fitting!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: BU Admin on October 08, 2012, 03:18:05 AM
Half the battle is having a good eye about what needs doing, and that was you.
Title: [Graphics] Logos
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 08, 2012, 04:01:36 PM
Logos

[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.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=319)

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.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=318)

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.
Title: [Graphics] His and Her Nerds
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2012, 03:14:32 PM
His and Her Nerds

 
…So I needed a new leader for my alternate/splinter Data Angels. After I collaborated to varying degrees with Darsnan on graphics for splinter factions he’d created for his Eye of the Believer scenario, I kept going to make a complete set of alternates to all the official factions. The alt. Data Angels were the 14th, and would complete the project.

(Actually I’d already done more than one alternate for some of the factions- if I include overhauls I did of someone else’s custom factions, the Cannabis League and Mindworms with Minds, I’d done the Gaians four times.  [Then if you include the alt. Gender leaders project - well, I once played a novelty sp game with four Gaian variants and three Planet Cult that I called "Attack of the Eco-clones".])

So over a month ago [years now], I solicited ideas for the alt. Angels in the “Alternate Official Factions in Progress” thread. Sexymindwworm said “Microsoft”, Psyringe said “nerd”, and I said “Japanese”.

Thursday or Friday night, I googled for pictures of Japanese nerds. I was surprised not to find a lot more than I did - it was really slim pickin's. I saved a few nerd photos- you never know when you might have use for the images you don't use now, later - and loaded my favorite into Photoshop to begin working it over. The nerd was holding up a computer chip, and since it was hard to make out, I decided to take the hand and chip alike out of the picture.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=329)

Before I began working on that, it began to dawn on me that there was a problem. The big chin had fooled me in the thumbnail - this wasn't a very young guy, it was a woman. And a subtly good-looking one when you looked close, at that. See the before and after shots later on.

I pasted the picture into MS Paint, because the first step of turning her into a man would be some copy/paste work to alter the proportions of her face- and as I’ve said before, I find Paint easier to use for copy/paste work than Photoshop5 or Photoshop CS, though these days I use GIMP. I started by zooming in very close and selecting a box that took in most of her chin, and copied it. Then I pasted it back in moved down by one pixel. Then I did it again. Pasting twice moved one pixel each time instead of once moved two pixels keeps the edges of the box-of-face you’re pasting in from showing much as the shading of the face changes along its contours. Then I selected a bigger box that took a bit more of the chin in both directions- you don’t want to paste in the same edges too many times, or it makes a funny pattern- and did it again. The photo was nearly twice the dimensions of the portrait I was working towards, so this wasn’t a big change, but enough to make a prominent chin moreso.

I did the same sort of thing with her jaw line, moving it outward to make the face bigger. Likewise for lengthening her nose. Raised the peaks of the cheeks up and out- Japanese as well as male, remember. It looked like a dude with plucked eyebrows and light makeup now- but- I saw what it still needed then. I proceeded to widen his neck.

So after- I dunno, maybe an hour or two of this; it’s hard to keep track of time when you’re deep in right-brain concentration- I copy/pasted the whole shot back into Photoshop and began using the smudge tool to erase the hand and chip.

There’s a million things I did in the next couple of hours that I could show you if you were in the room with me, but can’t describe in any reasonable length - the process is too intuitive. I smoothed out suspicious irregularities/regularities I'd created around the edges of all the copy/pasting.  I squared those tapered eyebrows and changed the shape of the eyes, removing all the mascara and eyeliner that didn’t stand out a lot, but definitely looked female- all with the smudge tool. I wasted a lot of time trying to select the upper lip and lower face with the magic wand- some things select easy, and others refuse to select just what you want no matter the sensitivity settings, and this was one of the latter. I eventually got something in the right neighborhood selected after far too long trying, and reduced the color saturation and brightness just a tad to make a (bad) five o’clock shadow. (Which, alas, later vanished anyway between the effects of processing the color to make it look painted and the limitations of the SMAC(X) palette, which is not kind to subtle shading.)

His lips were a bit too full and too pink to look male- I selected the lips and reduced the color level a bit, then narrowed them with the smudge tool. I did a lot of things to make him look male and Japanese, far too many to describe in full- if you have talent, you should be able to figure it out like I did. I can’t really draw, and have to depend on nit-picking patience and perfectionism to compensate.

I gave him a haircut- the hair was too full in back where it peaked around the neck, and shortening it there looked more masculine; same for making the hair on top less poofy. I left the long, full, bangs, though, because they looked nerdy.

An easy thing I did towards the end was to make his shirt look a little future-y. I did something I do a lot- removed the lapels from his collars. They stuck up straight now, and no one but me may notice, but the devil is in the details in these things.

It was time to make it look like a SMAC-style painting now. I pasted the shot into GIMP to use Filters>Artisitic>Oilify on very low settings - high settings, even medium, turn your image way too impressionistic. Then I pasted back into Photoshop and spent a long time fiddling with hue/saturation and color balance. It’s another intuitive thing impossible to describe in detail, but the idea is to end up with a narrower range of colors than a photograph. With the color balance function, I generally brought up the red, magenta and yellow at the expense of the blues, greens and cyans- real human skin has a trace of those tints, and paintings tend not to. I kept bringing up those rosy orangey colors, then reducing the color saturation to compensate. There was a good deal of fiddling with the brightness and contrast, too. Also blurring and sharpening to blend my mistakes rearranging in, and carefully reduce the realism further.

Finally, I loaded the SMAC palette- this is one of the only times you’ll like the limitations of the 256-color palette -when the image takes to it well, anyway- because it reduces the range of shades of the skin, making it look even more like a painting. The result was a face that was a little blotchy-skinned- which is ordinarily a lot of work to smooth out, but perfect for a nerd. All the processing had turned the highlights of his hair faintly red, so I selected his hair and turned it back to blue.

The faint background was long wiped out by now, so I selected it, deleted it to the white background color and went looking for a new background to paste the figure onto. The hacker theme made me think of the green on black Matrix thing, which I had no trouble googling. I pasted the figure onto that- and hey! The numbers of the shot I found were Japanese. Perfect. (That background ended up giving me the color scheme I used for the rest of the elements of the faction later- green and black.)

[I believe I blurred and sharpened the whole once or twice, too, to blend them together a bit.  The alternative is a lot of time zoomed in very close with the Smudge tool scaled small at low power, working around the edge of the pasted-figure.  (Anyone who's ever spent much time shooping any photos will have noticed that the edges of people in photographs blend in with their background, or it would be a heckuva a lot easier to make convincing slanderous fakes of Sarah Palin.)  I probably spent a few minutes going around his edge with the Smudge tool, but I don't remember adding the excellently faint greenish tones near his edges, and that looks to be a happy accident of blur/sharpening.]

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=328)

So I added scan lines and dropped the portrait in, then saved and went to bed.

… the next morning when I looked at it, I decided that his jaw was too robust to look really Japanese, so I ended up spending a while with a pre-scan lined copy I’d saved (always save a .bmp or .png before you do the scan lines- you end up needing to revisit the portrait for further alterations or something often enough that you’ll be glad you did) and spent some time slimming his jaw and making his chin more pointed. Now he looked  reasonably Japanese. I re-scan lined and dropped him in again…

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=330)

Voilà!  The leader of Node Masters - he was project manager on the Network Nodes for MorganSoft before he struck out on his own; he left a backdoor in each one...

...

Not long after, as part of a collaboration with Maniac on fixing up the suckier SMAniaC (I tried to talk him into changing it to SManiAC for symmetry and the AC ending, but no dice) factions, I used the original shot again for a SMAniaC faction (The Genesis, replacing a pasty-white creepy mutate), leaving her caucasian and a her this time. Perhaps the difference in process will be educational.

[More than I regret my fuzzy memories of my process on a job I did three years ago, is now that I'm tarting up an old tutorial with pictures, I find that I saved so few pictures of the stages he went through.  Fortunately, I have a little more of the female version.]

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=327)  (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=324)  (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=325)  (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=326)

As you can see, she went through very simular, opposite, steps.  I thinned her jaw line and made her chin less prominent - and took out the cleft.  I made her hair fuller on top and longer in back, though I kept the unruly bangs untouched again - they're still nerdy.  In fact, I deliberately added unruly escaped hairs around the edge of her hair, since the fluffing up had smoothed things out; it's perfect for a non-vain busy lab wonk.  (ProTip: When it comes to straight up redrawing elements of a portrait, hair is easy, at least with the handy-dandy Smudge Tool.)

I tapered the shape of her glasses frames; it's a subtle cue, but squareness of the originals was one of the things that  looked superficially male and fooled me until I took a good look.  I gave her a nose job.  I turned her shirt into a lab coat.

I am proud to say that I reckon I made her noticeably better-looking without making her too good-looking.  She still belongs in a genetics lab, but has just enough of that sexy librarian thing going that grows on you until you'd totally like to make out with her if she'd let you.

Maniac reaction was "I love Dr. Nerdinia!" (my nickname for her.)  He just meant that she's a good character image - I think.

...

[Amusingly, only as I edit this together do I realize that the original was wearing a cloth headband, strangely-placed toboggan, or a snood, of which more is left, when you look for it, on him than her.  If my eyes worked, I'd be a very dangerous artist, but the much sharper monitor I have now helps.  I don't think I ever spotted the nose ring before, either, but it's completely gone, anyway, for both of them.]

Neither leader stands out in my memory as being especially a lot of work, as leaderheads go, and people could play the two together with little more reaction than thinking they must be related - which ought to be a good characterization/background/story point.   (Not the only portrait I've used on more than one faction - I could easily play another novelty game called plain "Attack of the Clones" with no hippies or completely identical leaders.)

Below's the line-up, original alongside both final versions.  They're a good example of the universe of possibilities you have for taking source material in many directions if you're good and think.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=327)  (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=330)  (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=331)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 10, 2012, 03:56:51 AM
Looking at work of mine that I hadn't examined in three+ years until I was preparing the above, the accomplishment I find myself proudest of isn't turning proto-Nerdina into a dude; although it's a flashier sort of showing off, that was somewhat elementary stuff, given a good understanding of the difference between men and women's faces.

The bit that impressed me with myself most was the images of Dr. Nerdina transformed, but still photographic; not only did I make her pretty -much easier said than done- but the dead bril part is that when I zoom in, I can't see the 'seams', that is, signs that the cute lab rat had been shooped.  If I had done a less-than-meticulous job, you'd be able to spot the marks of it around her chin and jaw and nose when you zoom in.  Easy enough to hide it in the painted leaderhead; not so much at photo resolution. 

Seriously; a really good, undetectable extensive photo retouch of a face is extemely difficult, bordering on impossible.  I definitely am going to have to think of a way to draw "proud" as a smilie.

...

Just because I carefully prepare these how-tos as articles doesn't mean I don't invite discussion; Kil, Lizard, I'm looking at you.  Any comments more interesting than "It's nice"?  Any questions or sugestions?  Thoughts?  Unrelated graphics issues?  Lizard, you got anything to show me on those bases of yours?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 10, 2012, 04:46:34 AM
A proud smilie? How about nose in the air, hand on chest? Haha..?

Yeah you clearly put 110% effort into that neuter person to change it into a man and a woman. Talk about an interesting experience for the person.

I can't say I've put as much work into a photo as you have. The most interesting thing I did once was taking a copy of a face (mine) and putting it as an extra layer underneath the normal one, and then blurring it to smithereens. Then I made the top crisp layer have like 50% transparency, which had an interesting dreamy effect.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 10, 2012, 04:59:56 AM
Yeah, the difference, I'm sure, is that you can draw.  Draw well, I mean; I had to get good at some alternatives.

It was an interseting experience for me, as well; I get attached to (as in sweet on) the atractive women leaders after spending so much time looking at them.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 10, 2012, 07:19:26 PM
I've decided to re-haul my bases sheet to use a photo instead. What do you think so far?
(http://imageshack.us/a/img717/1500/hackerxk.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 10, 2012, 08:09:38 PM
I think you're zeroing in on being an accomplished faction artist fast. 

I like what you did with the leaderhead a lot, and I love the improvement with the new bases.  They are a very attractive design.  Watch out for the general pastel-ness of the bases, and I think your lower "in the on postition" report and coucil logos are way too dark. They should be 30-40% lower contrast, not more.

If you saved a copy of script kiddy there prepared and cut out, I'd advise a lighting tweek to make him blend with the background better.  The lighting tool in GIMP kinda sucks and the background lighting is exactly right-to-left, so select the left (your left) half of the figure>Brightness -5%, narrow the selection toward the left by roughly 10 pixels>Brightness -5%, and so on, (probably taking less than half an hour your first time or you might be overdoing it,) then re-scanline and paste the figure back in overtop the old version.  It'll make a difference in how he looks real with that excellent background.  If you don't have that stage saved, you can cut him back out of the background and skip the rescanlining before you put him back on the original - but you have to do it four times that way - it's up to you.

You've made laudible progress, you're getting very close to a finished product, and I'm proud of you.  The art on your next custom faction -you will end up wanting to keep at it at least long enough to make a set of seven, everyone does- will be easy by comparison.

If you find time, tell me a little about yourself - my Buncle powers say that you're around senior in high school-age, North American, and have no business staying up as late as you often do.  Am I full of it? 

...

I've been wrapped up with forum business that I'm about to put to bed for now, and will get the next tutorial ready and posted today, still, just not as early as the last two, which I got prepared the night before.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 10, 2012, 08:14:03 PM
Your Buncle powers are incorrect. I am actually British, so I run on GMT time, rendering your 'stays up late' assumption void. You got the age right, though.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 10, 2012, 08:19:54 PM
Ah.  I haven't 'heard' the British in the phrasing of your posts, but I'd wondered about your schedule.  You get up way too early for my blood, then.

I am not your typical ugly American - I cherish diversity, and only wish for more co-nationals because it gets too quiet here during my evenings.  :)

Would you care to comment on the provenance of your leaderhead photo?  I have two conflicting guesses I'd like to settle between.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 10, 2012, 09:23:28 PM
Actually, I didn't consider that when searching for it, so I have no idea on the nationality of it.
By the way, do  have any ideas on the tier 4 city?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 10, 2012, 09:38:45 PM
A stock photo off the net, then.  It had the look of one of those stock photo sites.

More of the same for the stage four bases, of course.  Maybe a second smaller globe atop, or beside, the big one?  Maybe some touches of gold in spots to indicate it's reached its ulitimate stage?  It's a nice effect, where I've seen it used.

I like your choice of Tachyon Fields, BTW :D, but the perimeter defenses might be placed a little bit high on the cities.
Title: [Graphics] Miscellaneous
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2012, 04:37:11 AM
AC Palette

If you're going to mod SMAC(X) graphics, eventually you'll run into the "blue (or pink) box around my bases" problem...

Do this. Load palette.pcx. That's the color guide the game uses. Save it as a palette your graphics program can use. In Photoshop5, that's done through Image>Mode>Color Table. Choose the Save option on the right of the pop-up. In the pull-down beside Save As, choose Microsoft Palette (*.PAL) and save.

To create a GIMP AC palette; open palette .pcx from your SMAC(X) root directory (any untouched faction.pcx should do, but with this one you can feel sure).  Windows>Dockable Dialogues>Palettes.  Right-click on the background of the Palette box>Import Palette.  Check the Image option at the top>Import.  You should now have a palette called something like palette.pcx at or near the top of the Palette box. 

Whenever you save a faction .pcx, first Image>Mode>Indexed and in the Indexed Color Conversion pop-up, click Use custom palette, uncheck Remove unused colors from color map, and click on the colorbox under Use custom palette to load your palette file.  Hit Convert, then save the .pcx as you normally would.

Load that palette always before you save your work- some color manipulation alters the default palette, and stuff doesn't always display the same in-game. Doing this can head off a lot of problems.




By the way
The sun in Alpha Centauri is always to the right at a late-afternoon angle.

Remember this when you're lighting your bases- they WILL look subtly wrong if you get them turned the wrong way. I have seen others do this with otherwise excellent bases. Do not flip my nice Deadlock bases horizontally, and then credit me like it was MY fault.

(Do not forget to credit me when you steal adapt my stuff, either. I don't mind being ripped off- I’ve done it to others in the past, but I did credit them.)




Signing your work

It was very hard work you did; take pride, man, and take credit.

What I'm talking about is putting some text into the empty spaces of the .pcx files claiming responsibility. Network Node often did this. I always do it.

Why?

Because I'm proud of my work. I can't speak for you, but I often don't bother to have a look at any text files included with other people's art, and you ought to make it easy for me and others.

So why should you do it?

Because I might rip you off for one of my projects. Not wholesale; but for instance, Darsnan has designed several faction graphics by telling me to take the bases from Network Node faction Y and the logo from faction X, and- you get the idea. We all poach from each other all the time, (that's just the way fan creative endeavors are) and it's a good idea to stick your handle in every file you've worked on that you can.  (DO be aware that not everyone shares my relaxed attitude about stealing repurposing, and respect the wishes of those who don't want to be robbed, should you become aware of them.)

Try to give credit when you rip me someone off. It's cool; I'll credit you when I poach from your work. Take it as the complement that it is when your stuff is worth stealing- but be sure to have signed it...

[All these passages were written a long time ago, when I'd recently done few factions that involved punching up someone else's work, and I'd been collaborating with Darsan, doing it the way described above once or twice.  I stand behind my remarks, but haven't adapted another SMACer's art in years.  It's an even prouder thing to do all-original work, especially as you get a body of work under your belt, gaining skill and confidence.  It's not a bad way at all to get started, though.]


A thought on cropping leaderheads

When you have any choice- the shot you're working with is a different shape than you need, for instance, or when the diplomacy sizing comes out a pixel wider & taller- about the positioning of the leader's face, I'd suggest going for whatever tend to center the leader's eyes in the box. Sometimes there's a reason not to do so, but basically it's a video conference, and we're assuming they've got something better than a webcam over their monitor.

The leaderhead, ideally, is looking straight at the player in most cases. Get those eyes as close to the center of the box as possible.



Network Node Factions

I've mentioned poaching from Network Node's work. Network Node was a SMACer and an associated website that is now defunct. There was an amazing quantity of custom factions there, many if not the majority, I gather, by NN himself. It's a wonderful source of material to poach from. For me, not least because I don't feel as comfortable with generating bases from scratch as most of the other elements.

Maniac, who isn't completely helpless with a graphics program but is no artist, patched together several of the original faction graphics for SMAniaC from NN factions and used others wholesale (later, I came along and made him the replacements and improvements used in the latest release, but his patchwork creations were quite servicable.)

I’ve posted a giant .zip of all the NN factions -originally provided by Maniac- in our Downloads: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=102 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=102)

No faction artist should be without it.



Ready-made projects for the faction artist...

Are you an artist in need of a project? Go to Apolyton and search the AC archives - there were about 10 million custom factions posted in the old days, most of them without graphics. In fact, if you're like me, you've downloaded a few custom factions from various sites' Download section only to find them artless, or with an existing faction's art, or graphics half-customized, but with Hive bases.

Well, make some of those poor things some proper full faction graphics. (That's how I came to do the Texas faction art to be found on my factions page.)  It'll keep you as busy as you want to be for quite a long while...



Managing all your files

If you're like me, you're going to end up with a god-awful pile of files related to graphics projects- other peoples' factions you've downloaded, pictures you've used or thought you might use, your finished faction graphics, .zips of your finished graphics, saves of crucial stages in something you worked on- stuff like that.

In one of my SMAC(X) directory copies,  I have it mainly divided into three sub folders I created: Factions, Web page, and Graphics. I dump factions by people I don't know in the Factions folder, which has many sub folders. Because I maintain a web page for my custom factions, I try to put any .zip files in one place there, (and also any thumbnails and screen shots for the page,) and the Graphics folder started for general stuff in progress, and has evolved into my main workspace/storage in the SMAC(X) folder. It has numerous sub folders, too; A lot of my work these days involves multiple factions as a set, and increasingly I need to dump all related files somewhere together to help me keep track.  I have an AC2 subfolder for forum icons and forum-business  art in general.  I have a (bulging) avatars sub; I have folders named after various people I’ve collaborated with, where I keep stuff related to those projects.  Many of the subs have subs.

My system has evolved as I went, and I cannot urge anyone just getting into this hobby enough to not dump stuff into the root folder like I sometimes did at first. That's where blank.pcx.pcx and my blank shields file, shields.pcx reside to this day [writing a long time ago] - two files I use in making almost every new faction graphic- and while I was thinking about it, I just moved those two to Graphics where they'll be slightly easier to find when I want them.  [It’s saved a lot of time, since]

And BTW, I have another graphics-related folder: Official Factions. See, for graphics play testing, it's quicker to replace, say, the Gaian graphic in the root folder and have a look at an old game save. This increasingly resulted in it being a pain when I needed an original faction for something -I’ve done a LOT of modding, and had to do a LOT of play testing; before I did something about it, it got where I had virtually every faction spanning three copies of SMAC(X) replaced or altered- so I finally broke down and made a backup folder for all the official factions; the text files, too, and I get a lot of use out of the folder and save a good deal of time having them where I know they'll be waiting unaltered.

Your mileage may vary, and you'll want to develop a filing system that you're happy with, but I daresay that any modder of any flavor will back me up on this: you need to keep your modding-related files organized, or you will be sorry. Dedicated folders are your friend.


Collaborating

I think the merits are probably highly variable according to your nature, but I recommend getting into collaborations when you can. I’ve found that, having put so much work into a graphic, it bothers me very much when I post one and get little or nothing in the way of comments.

A month or so into my first SMAC forum, someone eventually told me he loved my stuff, but generally didn’t have anything to say about it. That’s a big reason that I go to so much trouble to engage new artists when they pop up; I know how sad and infuriating the sound of crickets chirping in response to good work is.  Believe me, I know from extensive bitter experience.   Knowing that it probably has more to do with (especially) the text modders -and SMACers in general- just not having the visual vocabulary to express their reactions does little to mollify your inner child.

I fell into my first collaboration when I glanced over someone’s scenario- it featured splinter factions, but was all text. I offered to do some graphics and put a face on it- and we were off to the races. There are a lot of things I like about working with a partner on a project- kicking around ideas is fun- but the thing I liked best was having someone not only take, but express, interest in my work.

The ideas discussion of the work can inspire you to is wonderful, too. Have a look at any of the many threads in which I worked on collaborations, scattered over four AC forums, including here at AC2 - I think it shows what a good time we're having almost every time.   The play of ideas and different perspectives is wonderful.  Over very many collaborations over years, I've only had one fail to complete because of creative differences (Don't tell your artist how to crop portraits when you're not an artist and he insists the difference is important.)  It's grand fun when it's working out right.

Also, I became friends with modding giants like Darsnan and Maniac through collaborating with them.

Now, collaboration may or may not be for you. Larry Niven likes to say that in a collaboration, both sides have to do 80% of the work. A certain amount of time has to be devoted to reconciling your respective visions. Outright arguments can break out.

The worst part is the waiting. When you’re all fired up and wanting everything now, no matter how great your collaborator is to work with, he’s not going to post instantly to answer your questions or whatever. You have to live with waiting a day or more sometimes.

There are compensations, though. -I’m just sayin’.


Logos

I see that I've only addressed logos in one specific case that isn't helpful in cases of making something completely original.

Logos are usually the easiest part of a faction graphic, barring faction colors. All you need is a simple symbol that looks like something at the size you need. If you know what sort of thing you want, Google will almost never fail you; when it does, logos aren't that hard to draw from scratch. (And I can't draw worth mentioning.)

A couple of notes, though. I feel it's important to follow the example of the originals in having the lower report and council logos dimmer. It's just a nice effect when they light up while mouse-overed, and you want them to match the official factions when played together.

This is very easy to do. Reduce the contrast for the box it's in around 50%, then put the background color back. Simple. (Watch out for isolated bits of background enclosed within the logo, though.)

Now, making the at-rest small report logo conform to the official style is a bit more complex. I reduce the contrast about 75% (depending on how much color that leaves), then in Photoshop it's Image>Adjust>Color Balance, and bring up the Cyan, Green and Blue levels 50%, then Image>Adjust> Hue/Saturation and bring the color saturation back down 50% to compensate. If the result is a dim greenish-blue, you're probably done. If it still has some color left, more fiddling is in order. I like the at-rest logos to pretty much match the look of the official ones; otherwise, they're sort've a sore thumb to my eye.

A deviation from the official style I always use (because I think it's an improvement) is to make the bottom small report logo full color, and the middle, (mouse-over) one reduced in contrast 50%, plus lowered a single pixel in its box. That causes it to seem to light up and leap forward slightly when your mouse passes over it, then move back into place and light up more when clicked on. I think it's a neat effect, myself.

Good art modding requires pedantic attention to trivial details- and I'm still learning as I go.



Sources for Portraits and Diplomacy Landscapes

Unless you’re a rare bird like Kilkakon, who draws well enough to generate his own leaderheads from scratch, when you don’t have something too specific in mind, Google Images is your friend.  Google “portrait” and spend some time poking around.  Google “painting” and “portrait painting” to find a lot of stuff that needs a lot -and I really mean a lot- less work to get SMAC(X) compatible than a photo.  I even made a good leaderhead from a black and white drawing once, which saved me no work, but was a fun artistic exercise.

Here’s a leaderhead gold mine that I haven’t begun to exhaust:  http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/time/21 (http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/time/21)

That’s a specific page (in the 40’s) of a Time magazine cover gallery - they started with the full-color paintings in the 20s or 30s, and only switched to photos in the 50s or 60s, I seem to recall.  Some are more suitable in style than others, and all the important people portrayed dressed like they were in the year they were in, but it’s still a wonderful source of leaderheads.

Also look for painters’ websites.  Some of them watermark everything and ruin it, but they’re not as prone to that as photographers are, and are another good source for images of people that need far less work to produce leaderheads in an AC-compatible style of painting at the right level of realism.

Here is an example of  the sort of things to be found on an artist’s site:
http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/portraits-public.htm (http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/portraits-public.htm)
http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/portraits-private.htm (http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/portraits-private.htm)
http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/auction.htm (http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/auction.htm)
http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/subway.htm (http://www.danielgreeneartist.com/subway.htm)
I’ve pretty much mined this particular site out, so go find your own painter to rob.

Likewise, architect’s sites are sometimes a good source of  futuristic base and diplomacy landscape fodder, sometimes from the same shot, sometimes you can luck out and get something good from very different angles.

Just the diplomacy landscape shots is ease itself if you only want a generic futuristic cityscape.  Try googling “futuristic cityscape”, for instance.

Deviant Art will require wading through mountains of crappy scrawls and stuff so cute it would turn even Kilkakon off, but also has tons and tons of wonderful stuff to repurpose, too.

Also, don’t forget the Network Node factions (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=102) and/or my Custom Factions page (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions.htm), and that I’m not very proprietary as long as I’m properly credited and you’ve never done me a bad turn.  Both are important, IMO, and that's not entirely a joke.

(Now, I've talked about how important giving credit within the community is.  I honestly see no ethical problem with adapting something from a total stranger who will never be affected at all in any way by a limited-release non-profit fan project, and see no point in detailing what outsider I lifted my starting-point material from - and I take my ethics seriously.  It's textual poaching, according to a dissertation I once read, and fandoms do it.  Don't play about due credit within the SMAC(X) community, though.)

There's a lot of stuff out there, so just google it, man.

Good hunting.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 11, 2012, 04:48:23 PM
By the way, how do you add custom indexes on GIMP? I added RGB on it so I could use some colour tools, but I don't know how to get it back.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2012, 05:00:19 PM
See the first entry in the Misc tutorial, if I understand you correctly.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2012, 05:04:45 PM
Image>Mode>Indexed will hook you up, on a second guess at your meaning.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 11, 2012, 05:14:35 PM
How do I get the exact palette colours you have on your smac palette? It doesn't work in gimp, so I guess I'm meant to bring it to photoshop?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2012, 05:40:58 PM
Crap.  I'm racking my brains trying to remember something from eight or nine months ago that I don't need to otherwise remember, because I use the pasting to a blank copy dodge and also load the finished product into PhotoshopCS and load the palette for a final save.  It's the only thing I still use Photoshop for, but it fixes palette issues for you better.

The .pal palettes load into GIMP upside-down and don't work, mind you; you have to make GIMP its own palette file, as I explained how to do in last night's post.

If you have Photoshop, definitely do that - but the blank copy paste trick covers almost everything if you don't.  Sometimes there are problems with the shadows that way, but it doesn't come up a lot, and black shadows, which will work in vanilla SMAC, just come out solid instead of semi-transparent, which isn't so bad.  You have to avoid SMAC tan shadows, though, 'cause they look really awful when they don't display black and they're solid.

There is a detailed tutorial on the blank copy pasting workaround coming in the next few days -I'll have to check- and I believe I've already explained it enough to get by in how-tos already posted.  I'm juggling a lot of information here.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 11, 2012, 06:23:12 PM
Thank you. I believe I am almost finished with the current faction. I just need to add the perimeter defenses to the tier 4 base and possibly modify the .flc file. If not possible, I'll just pinch the university's.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2012, 06:40:44 PM
I can point you at chuft's .flc thread at WPC, but he uses a lot of programs you probably don't have, and making them is a huge pain even if you do.  I mastered everything (except getting the colors to come out right and not crashing the game ;)) without any of the stuff he describes, but cannot for the life of me remember how I did it almost four years ago, once.

It's pity I remember nothing about stuff I spent weeks figuring out.

Please do not neglect to share your final product in your own thread, and be sure to let us know about your future projects - you probably already have another faction or two in mind.  I, for one, wanna see them, and am always available for help.
Title: [Graphics] Adding Scanlines in GIMP
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2012, 12:10:30 AM
Adding Scanlines in GIMP

[Irritatingly quickly after all the work of composing this, two days, I discovered an infinitely better way, as seen in the next tutorial.  This is offered with my usual rationale for including now-outdated technique; if you aren’t using GIMP and your graphics editor doesn‘t offer an Erase Every Other Row function, you may need to adapt this process or even one of the more primitive ways I’ve described previously]

So, ariete has made a custom faction that's ready for the final touch - scanlines. Here's how to do it in GIMP:

First, I selected the big Datalinks portrait out of the working copy with the transparent background (the purple removed because of issues with how GIMP handles the transparent SMAC(X) colors - this way you can paste the end result into blankpcx.pcx and save; it also avoids pixels mixing with the purple during resizing and such to create weird halos around parts). I hit [control]c to copy the shot, then File>Create>From Clipboard - it's better to do this in a new window:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=337)



If you look closely at the shot above, you'll see the portrait was one pixel too short and two pixels too narrow to fit the box. So to resize, Image>Scale Image:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=341)



Then I clicked on the chain link beside the resize boxes (notice the difference between the two shots below) to make the change not proportional and added one pixel Height and two pixels Width to the size.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=342) (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=343)



Then [control]a & [control]c to copy the resized image. Then Colors>Brightness-Contrast and lowered the contrast exactly 15%.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=335)



[Important update: I have no idea what I was thinking with this next passage and illustration screeny; that's doing it five times more complicated than needed. I'm only not deleting it because you might someday have a REAL reason to need to create a second layer that way.  Until then, just [Ctrl]v to paste in the normal contrast copy in your buffer and skip to the next bracketed remark.]

Now the tricky part; Layer>New Layer>OK. Notice that I had clicked on the new layer to make it the active one in the Layers box (Windows>Dockable Dialogues>Layers to bring that box up) before [control]v to paste in the image in the new layer, then click anywhere outside the image with the Retangular Select Tool to drop the pasted image onto the layer.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=340)


[While the paste-in is still selected] Colors>Brightness-Contrast and raise the contrast exactly 15%, making a 30% difference between the top and bottom layer.  [Deselect.]

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=336)



Then I zoomed in and used the Rectangular Select Tool to select a box as wide as the picture and exactly one pixel high...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=344)



...And [Delete]. I clicked on the image with the Move Tool and hit the Up Arrow key twice and Deleted again, then Up twice more and deleted again, repeating until I'd deleted every other row of the picture in the new layer. Then I moved it back down to where it started:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=339)



Then Image>Flatten Image-
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=338)



-and I copy/pasted the result back into the graphic and saved.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=345)

You'll definitely want to scanline the logos the same way, in a new window against a transparent background; it avoids all the pixel-smearing and other problems - that matters a lot more putting scanlines into something that goes against the purple background than it matter with the portraits, which have no purple background left in the square.




Coming soon: Transparent Colors, the SMAC(X) Palette Problem in GIMP and a Transparent Layer workaround.
Title: [Graphics] Scanlines in GIMP made simple, fast & easy
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2012, 05:51:58 PM
Scanlines in GIMP made simple, fast & easy


Our researchers have made a breakthrough.


Last night, I discovered a feature in GIMP that takes over half the steps out of scanlining and turns a 10-15 minute chore into something I was able to do in 55 seconds - I timed myself.



To illustrate the process, I worked from the version of ariete's male-led faction he posted this morning. I selected the largest portrait, copied, File>Create>From Clipboard (you can skip this step if you're working from the transparent-background assembly copy, but I needed the Brightness-Contrast available in an RGB mode copy, and I couldn't do that in a indexed .pcx without making more work for myself.) I went to the new copy, Colors>Brightness-Contrast>Contrast -15>Okay. [Ctrl]v, Colors>Brightness-Contrast>Contrast +15>Okay.

-All that should be familiar by now. Here's the innovation:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=347)

That's Filters>Distort>Erase Every Other Row. (Notice in the Layers box that the second pasting I'm working on now is still a floating layer as long as I leave it selected) -



This pop-up appears:

 (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=348)

That's Rows (NOT Columns) Even/Odd doesn't matter, Erase.



Hit Okay, and you get:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=349)



Deselect and you get:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=350)

Notice the Layers box says just one layer now - no Flatten Image step.



That there's ready for [Ctrl]a, [Ctrl]c, and paste it back into the faction graphic. Easy.

Good hunting.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2012, 08:14:40 PM
Lizard, we'd love to have you chiming in on the Strategist project...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 12, 2012, 08:44:31 PM
Wow. thanks for that advice on scanlining. Previously, my strategy was to get a selection of 10 or so 1x(width of image) strips, de-contrast them, move the selection down and repeat, but that saves all the time and effort. Thanks.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2012, 08:49:16 PM
 :D Ain't nothin' but a thang, man.  It's what I'm here for, to help.  :D



...

Incidentally, the last two tutorials were a point where I began to go heavy on the illustrations and much more concise on the text instructions -with little of the thinking behind artistic decisions.  They were the first I intended as articles, not merely instructional posts as I was writing them, and more crucial, I was working with ariete, whose English is poor, and I realized that there is a need out there for easy-to-understand instruction, without so much talk.

I think the talk about the philosophy of art/modding is very important, but clearly, it's going to be too difficult for many ESL SMACers to follow.  That's yet another reason many of my tutorials go over the same ground so many times - different focus/angles of attack, evolving technique (no way of being sure there's not a SMAC modder in Mozambique with antique software who can only manage by adapting the way I did it manually four years ago) - and/or different levels of comprehension or instructional needs (not hard to image SMACer artists existing who I couldn't tell anything they didn't know about creativity and the creative process, but would like to know how to do it in Photoshop; that's the opposite of what one expects with gamers, but they do exist).

I've got three tutorials already composed, arranged and almost ready-to-go, and three more I'm going to have to compose from scratch - because I never really addressed faction flag/map colors, diplomacy landscapes, and terrain/NL unit modding.  All will tend to be short, as I'd have already covered them if there was much to say, and that last subject is belated recognition that faction graphics is not the whole of SMAC(X) art modding, just by far the greater part.

Input about what I have yet to cover in a tutorial -and indeed, what I need to cover better- is welcome.  We have an idea in the works for a project to try to assemble these articles into a complete course on SMAC(X) art modding, and I want to get everything.
Title: [Graphics] A Workaround For The AC Palette Problem in GIMP
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 13, 2012, 07:18:49 PM
Transparent Colors, the AC Palette Problem in GIMP and a Transparent Layer workaround

To my monolithic dismay, since I got back into the graphics modding saddle recently [last November],  finding myself confined to GIMP for the moment, along with changes in the Windows 7 version of Paint and my own rustiness, have left me a major learning curve I really didn’t expect. I never thought I’d have to figure out yet another way to do scanlines at my level of experience.

I certainly was shocked to find out I was getting the old ‘blue boxes around my bases’ problem at THIS late date.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=351)

In short, anything you do to the transparent background purple (or pink if you’re vanilla SMAC) will no longer be transparent in the game, and that naturally sucks real hard.  In Photoshop, sampling the background and doing a fill is all it takes to fix it - GIMP doesn’t take care of as much color stuff automatically ‘under the hood‘ for you, and replacing the exact same background color doesn’t work.  Loading the palette in GIMP doesn’t fix this. 

-Also, there a shade of blue that displays a mustard brown in-game, but I’ve only seen that be a problem with one faction that used that exact shade a lot in the leaderhead.

I don’t know if this was a Windows 7 change or what. I’d like to know, but what matters is that I found a workaround:

I assemble my factions in a blank .pcx. You can find a copy here: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=65 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=65) (Look around the Downloads folder that file's in for a lot of other useful goodies and remember who yer buddy is.) Open a copy. I'd advise creating a palette from it before doing anything else - Windows>Dockable Dialogues>Palettes. Right-click on any palette in the menu>Import Palette. Check Image, the second option, below Gradient, and blankpcx.pcx(and a number) and import.

To get a transparent background copy to do the assembling in, Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel. Then Select>By Color>click on the purple background>Delete.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=355)

(Or save a step using the Select by Color Tool in the Toolbax indicated by the red arrow above.) Now you should have the guide boxes and nothing else against a gray-checked background (the gray checks let you know it's a complete transparency).

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=354)

You'll need to Image>Mode>RGB to turn on a lot of the functions in GIMP (same for Photoshop), especially color manipulation. When you’re finished and/or need to check how a color will look in the SMAC(X) palette, Image>Mode>Indexed>check Use custom palette>click on the colored square>pick the palette you made, and uncheck Remove unused colors from colormap. (While it's in Indexed mode, you can reload the palette with Colors>Map>Set Colormap.. - click on the Palette Default box in the pop-up and choose your palette.)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=352)

When the faction is finished, or at least ready to test, paste the whole thing into an unaltered copy of blankpcx.pcx ([Ctrl]a>[Crtl]c>bring up the unaltered copy with the purple>[Ctrl]v) and Save As with the filename you want. For playtesting, I usually replace the Gaians.pcx and have a look in an old gamesave with many Gaian bases - you'll wanna back up/save a copy of the graphic you're replacing, or course.

It's harder to explain than do, really. It surely sounds complicated until you've done it - then it will be no big deal.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=353)

Have fun.
Title: [Graphics] Creating a SMAC(X) Faction Logo
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 14, 2012, 05:28:45 PM
Creating a SMAC(X) Faction Logo


As has become my recent practice, I’ll be giving details of which buttons I pushed in GIMP - for instructional purposes, it seems to be the best choice for a powerful graphics program available for free to all…

So, for the SMACivilization SpaceMayans (the Astral Jaguar Cult) faction logo, I chose this shot out of several Alexander had posted:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=356)
It was perfect for our needs and wouldn’t be difficult to convert.

I cropped it down to the full-color shot in the corner
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=357)
(Rectangle Select Tool to make a box>Image>Crop To Selection). I cranked up the contrast 60% and darkened 30% (Colors>Brightness-Contrast) to bring up the black lines, mostly. We’d talked about making the blue green, so I selected that part (Fuzzy Select Tool with Threshold at 105) and hue-shifted (Colors>Hue-Saturation>top (Hue) slider moved left until it was very green (-45 in this case)). The yellowish part was looking distinctly orange now, so I did the same there (selecting it took more time at lower power because the red part wanted to select, too - I had to click on the yellowest pixels, then change the Fuzzy Select Mode to Add to the current selection at a threshold of 25) then (Colors>Hue-Saturation>Hue +30). I was going for a typically Mexican color scheme, too, thus green and yellow instead of blue and orange.

Then to get rid of the black border and give me a transparent background to work with later, (Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel. Fuzzy Select Tool at threshold 41 selecting the black background>[Delete].) I cropped out all that superfluous border (Image>Autocrop Image) and deselected the empty space left. Because I wanted to bring up the contrast again to bring out the lines, and raising contrast brings up the color saturation, I lowered the color levels in advance (Colors>Hue-Saturation>bottom (Saturation) slider -50%). Then Colors>Brightness-Contrast>Contrast +70%.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=358)

Then I loaded the SMACX palette to see if I was done yet (Image>Mode>Indexed…>checked Use custom palette>clicked on my palette file>unchecked Remove unused colors from color map>Convert) and I nearly was. I Scaled the pink Eraser Tool down to 0.01 in the Toolbox and clicked Hard edge, zoomed in and spent a minute erasing some very dark pixels around the edge.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=359)

The difference from the last shot doesn't jump out at you, but matters.  If you're not able/willing to nit-pick the fine details, you'll not make a very good grapics modder.

Now, time to paste it in. I loaded blankpcx.pcx, Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel, Select by Color Tool>click on the background purple>Delete.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=355)

I went back to the GIMP window with the logo I‘d just prepared, [Ctrl]a>[Ctrl]c, went back to blank, zoomed in on the upper Council Logo box, the largest, selected the inside of the box to measure how much space I had, (86wX72h - who can remember?)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=360)

And pasted the logo in ([Ctrl]v) - surprisingly, it was already the right size.  That’s never happened before.

I repeated the process at the upper Report Logo box - it was one pixel too tall to fit, so Layer>Scale Layer>reduce by one>deselect (Reduced proportionally{just as well leave this one square}. Deselect to drop it in.) Then repeated the same process in the lowest Small Report Logo box, and the Diplomacy Logo box, being careful to center it.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=361)

And then I saved as AstralJaguarCult.png (.png to preserve the transparent background until I’m ready to save the final .pcx copy). I was done with this stage (I’ll come back to this later and make the duller versions for the other boxes when I get to the scanline part) unless Alexander wanted the logo more “outer space” when he sees it, in which case I’ll suggest superimposing a (sacrificial) dagger w/ a glowing light saber-ish blade. That should also keep me from having to re-do any of this…

Like most things graphical, I just took hours explaining something I could have done in minutes - it only sounds difficult because I explain in such tedious detail for instructional purposes. Logos are the easiest part -though this one was easier than most, and sometimes I just draw something, which I couldn‘t do well enough with bases, portraits and landscapes- you can do this.
Title: [Graphics] The Artistic Side of Leaderheads - And Size/cropping the End Result
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 16, 2012, 04:58:54 AM
The Artistic Side of Leader Portraits  - And Size/cropping the End Result


So, for the SMACivilization SpaceMayans, The Astral Jaguar Cult, Alexander posted this:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=367)

Now, I wasn't wild about this shot - it has a lot going for it; a beautiful background and a strong sense of calculating, ruthless, personality in the figure - (the story-telling part of Alpha Centauri is very important, and the look/attitude of the leaders is the most important visual part of that) - but the face is drawn in a very stylized, unrealistic way, with heavy lines and little or no sense of depth. Also, the blue crown thing looks flat.

So, the first thing I did was set to working on the face with the Smudge Tool at small Scale and low Rate; I won’t try to describe every little thing I did, as it would take a week to write and no one would read it - also, I would still be working on it two days later, because stopping to type what I did every time I do something slows me down by a factor of ten, at least.

But I zoomed in close with the smudging at low power and started blurring the lighter areas onto the black lines, smearing them into something more diffuse, like the shaded lines in a real face, and less like drawn lines. I made the cheek lines around the mouth more curved, eliminated or lightened all those deep, sharp, straight, unrealistic lines radiating from the area where the brow, eyes and nose converge. I honestly can’t draw all that well, but I’m a pretty good sculptor who has studied facial anatomy, and using the Smudge Tool is rather like pushing clay around with my fingers.

I also used the Fuzzy Select Tool to pick out individual bits and fiddle with the darkness, too. That was how I freed up enough light skin in the ridiculously lined bit of brow under the crown to smudge around.

Basically, I did 45 minutes or so of smoothing out lines and moving shading around to give the cheeks, especially, but the entire face, too, a more realistic sense of depth. I made Montezuma a lot younger-looking in the process, which I hadn’t intended, but was okay. I regret that making the anatomy of the nose look right changed the shape/character of it so much…

I ended up with this:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=363)

Now, we’d already used shades of blue for two faction colors, so I immediately began Fuzzy Selecting the crown. That involved spending entirely too long zoomed in very close with the threshold set as low as 0.00 at times, selecting individual pixels around the edges, and dark ones that wanted to spread the select to the background and/or the face. Eventually, I ended up with the whole thing selected, as seen above.

Then it was simple to hue-shift it over to a vivid green - remember from the logo post that I was going for a Mexican red-yellow-green color scheme. Because this was for an imaginary Mayans-in-Space  faction, I actually stepped up the color saturation more, and blurred it a little to make it almost glowy.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=362)

In my opinion, the yellow of the cape was too red, and the red of the mantle around his neck was too yellow. More tedious Fuzzy Select pixel-choosing later, I had the above situation. I brought the color saturation way down to get rid of most of the yellow and used the Color Balance function to put the red back.

Then - oh. my. God. Selecting the pixels of the bracelets and the bleeping cape took forEVER. Over two hours, I think. I can’t believe I do this for free. When finally, a lifetime or two later, I had everything I wanted selected, I did the same as before - took the color saturation way down, used Color Balance to put the yellow back, and cranked up the contrast somewhat, trying to bring out the highlights and achieve a metallic golden look - that last part didn’t work so well, but I did get pretty, yellower, cape out of the deal.

As finishing touches, I selected few pixels of iris in those yellow eyes and made them golder. I wanted to give the hair a slightly unnatural blue tint, so more Fuzzy Select pixel choosing, and - it just made his hair look a lot blacker, but I liked its looks better that way, so I left it. I kept making Monty look younger accidentally, but why not? No story reason not to, and frankly, you want to cheat portraits towards looking young and attractive when there‘s no reason not to, because people would rather look at young and attractive.

I also decided to do something about the seeming flatness of the crown - the luminous swirly bits made shading for depth a problem, but it was a simple matter of selecting a pixel-wide strip at one edge of the crown where it curved around his head, darkening 40%, widening a pixel, darkening 20%, repeating three more times, then going about 10% darker for the next six or so. Then doing the other side the same way. Then doing roughly the opposite in the center. It’s a subtle effect, and the glowiness makes it imperfect, but the crown below does seem to curve around his head a little more.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=374)


...


Now it was time for the size/cropping. This part is less artistic and far more mechanical, so more how-to detail will be given than in the mostly why-to above.

I opened blankpcx.pcx and did the transparent background trick, then zoomed in on the big datalinks portrait box, selecting it - the box itself, not the inside.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=378)

I copied, then switched back to the portrait, pasting it in to get an idea of the size I’d need to fit Montezuma in the box.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=364)

This was zoomed in too tight, so I hit [ctrl]z to undo the pasting, and reduced him about 60%. When I pasted in the box and moved it around, this was about right (A little + appears in the center when I drag it around with the mouse, so it was easy to center the box on the bridge of his nose, nearly between his eyes. Perfect - so I deselected.

Now I zoomed in as close as would show the whole box on my &^%$#@! wide-screen monitor, 300%, and used the box as my select guide.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=365)

If I was working alone, at this point, I’d copy/paste into the assembly copy I already dropped the logos into. Since I am collaborating, instead I Image>Crop to Selection(ed), and saved a copy to post for Alex’s approval.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=372)

Today, he asked for a tighter crop. I gave him two crops,  (My initial choice was stronger and the first below frankly, was rubbing his nose in it,)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=379) (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=370)

Full-size and 80%. He chose 80%, and now, with a little time spent making the molding behind Monty a vaguely metallic blue to future the shot up a bit more, I can proceed to drop it into the assembly graphic and move on to the bases. (The Diplomacy Landscape shot goes so much like with the portraits that it isn’t worth a separate entry.)


Next: All about bases, some why and a lot of how-to.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: NewAgeOfPower on October 16, 2012, 07:38:37 AM
Oh man, you are an ARTIST.

Demarchy is almost done, was side-tracked working on Invicta
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 16, 2012, 02:10:41 PM
My whole family are artists.  Any specific things that impressed you? 

I caught on all the previously-done how-tos last night.  I'm planning another leaderhead one for today - show a few steps on the early leaderhead I did that made me realize that I really was good, and one that I'm proud of that was, artistically, fun.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: NewAgeOfPower on October 16, 2012, 10:47:33 PM
Dedication. The amount of time and detail to attention required is very high, and probably frustrating to learn.

Individual pixel-by-pixel editing grinds on my nerves, but is clearly necessary for some work.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2012, 12:33:50 AM
Yes, all true.  It takes a high frustration threshold (which I absolutely do not have) an extremely pedantic nature (which I do, but happily can usually turn on and off at need) and a dedication to the art/task (and when i feel like creating, I do derive a lot of pleasure from looking upon my works and finding them good.)

...

Folks, I had a high-priority random event trigger early today, and I've been way behind schedule since, so if I don't manage today's tutorial today, I'm sorry, but I tried and no refunds.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2012, 02:05:07 AM
Went here on your recommendation.

I do have an image for my faction leader ( I did not create this image, I merely edited it at most.)

Though, I do plan to create my own faction insignia etc. the Crimson Comrades aren't exactly Soviet, which was a more autocratic form of socialism then actual communism. I will be working on such an insignia following the guidelines I read about, and it won't be too complex and 2 dimensional in design.

As for the picture of said leader, here he is.

(http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m494/JarlWolf/VazheliVatzev_zpsce37b971.png)

Vazheli Vatzev, First among the Community of the Crimson Comrades. A leader who I will summarize for you:
Stubborn in his belief of the system, though he is not dogmatic and he is compromising and reasonable to others opinions and suggestions. Acts in a Fatherly, empathetic manner, as he gets to know his fellows. And while he is stern and he keeps objectives focused, he acts rather casual and he believes communities should act in autonomy rather then be constantly directed by a central power. He is effectively decentralist and believes in independence and autonomy, with a sort of communal confederacy enabling cohesion and progress, a way of life and belief in the ideals and overall sense of consensus in that aspect.

While he is a very tolerable man who is resourceful, his stubbornness and his temper can get the better of him, and he is also very blunt. He is an honest man and values the integrity and loyalty of people, and he generally despises people who do betray or break their promises. He can be brash at times in his mannerism, and he has been known to be crude and lack professionalism in diplomacy, though this does not mean that he is arrogant or stupid. In other word's, he can negotiate but he's not exactly one for diplomatic red tape and courtesies, he cuts straight to the point and does not waste time.


I'd like your opinions on the character. In technical issues, my game has encountered a odd glitch where Face Edit has gone black and is therefore rendered unusable, and I did make a old template prior, though I had problems with incorporation. I'll provide the necessary resources and lines the character would say in the needed format.
I'll post more material for anyone who wants to take this project up and assist me. I will in turn repay that kindness by providing a my own time to help produce art for people to use in their factions. (though I won't be able to help format/introduce it, it will just be there as an image you can use or give to someone to help.)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: NewAgeOfPower on October 17, 2012, 02:11:36 AM
I must say, he does give off the image of a Grizzled Veteran.

I can turn this into a faction Portrait for you immediately, scanlines and all, or you can wait for BU to spice it up and tune the coloring schema.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2012, 02:24:38 AM
Possibly, though I need the full on faction template for use in game. For some reason face edit doesn't seem to work and I can't properly see all of it. I reinstalled the game a while ago, and for whatever reason Face Edit is buggy.  :(

As for answering your question though, sure, I'd like to see how it'd look with the closeups and such, though I will need more extensive work with actually implementing it within a faction file, of which i'd download and implement in game.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2012, 02:28:20 AM
[ninja'd]I find it empowers people more when I make them do it themselves.  I have had good results with this approach with my mother and tech for many years, which she acknowledges, even though she always wishes I'd just program the VCR for her.

Now someone who just has no interest in the art end, I don't mind hooking up, but for the rest it's teach a man to fish.


Jarl, that's strong leaderhead source material - you want to be very careful to ameliorate the fierceness of the First's face with making it clear how eagalitarian he is in various places in the .txt.  I like your line of thought; one so rarely encounters someone who understands true communist worker brotherhood.  (I've surely led you to think I'm a communist today, when I think communism is foolish - but get the right population together, one that really gets what communism is about under honest leadership that does, too, then you've got a whole 'nother ballgame - you just have to start over on another planet to even begin to make that work. Lenin poisoned the well for everyone who's followed, except Pol Pot, who screwed up even worse.)

Facedit sucks.  Now you have found this for yourself.  Good.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: NewAgeOfPower on October 17, 2012, 02:31:27 AM
BU will walk you through, now that he's arrived.

I use FacEd to create a TXT, which I have to spend ~10 minutes manually editing. Yeah, its buggy and weird, but sometimes so is SMAC.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2012, 02:38:57 AM
I understand. Though, the Crimson Comrades, while equal, it takes a tough man to be able endure the process of leadership, and in the storyline I devised for Vazheli, he had a rough life both in his past, and it got even more rough for him and his comrades. He is fierce because his fellows are fierce. They are a community, but they are a community of rugged men and women. Which makes sense due to the hostile environment and the overall society itself.

As for my own personal ideals, I am a communist, and I have stood by the ideal for many years and have served on it's behalf as best I could, though I am too old to be gallivanting about preaching, supporting or taking action in the name of it these days, and when it comes down to it Communism is more then a socio/economic system, its a whole way of perception and way of life. And one that is hard for many people in the modern world to embrace, which is understandable.

You use gimp to edit the photo's and such, but what sort of files, or templates do I use to insert the actual pictures to the faction?
I did see the transparent purple images and I knew that you had to fit it into boundaries, but im unsure of the whole process as in terms of digital, technological grasp I am under educated.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: NewAgeOfPower on October 17, 2012, 02:43:37 AM
BU should make a Youtube video on how to edit faction pcx files.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2012, 03:15:58 AM
No he shouldn't.

Jarl, do you have GIMP?  If so, open any faction file - one of the Firaxis official ones, maybe.  Have a look at that, and many of your questions will be answered.

If no GIMP, google it - it,s free and easy to find.  I downloaded and installed for my elderly mother Saturday in around 20-25 minutes.



Marx's fundamental failure was that the system he outlined has to have a new kind of human being to work -one who's less selfish- and less bad apples turning up in the human bunch. 

He also failed to recoginize that his revolutionary philsophy/system had the same weakness most revolutionary movements do - there is violence in revolution, and a gang of bloody-handed killers usually end up in charge.  Revolutionaries from the French Revolution, pre communist, but very much of the same spirit, to Lenin and his terrible successors, to Castro, to Pol Pot have all betrayed the potential of what they started by being unable to stop killing once in charge.  It ruins everything.  Lenin ruined everything.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2012, 05:07:48 AM
I am downloading Gimp, and will experiment for a bit to get the hang of it.

As for the flaws of communism, that's also part of the ideal. While you do point out that human nature degrades it, and that you place much of the blame upon the extremist factions that have undertaken and corrupted it, the very system itself within the manifesto, within the original works stated that for the system to really undergo change and proceed to a communist state,that a revolution must occur. A revolution within a materialistic society that exploits labour and seeks to profit off of that labour, prime example, capitalism. It also would later become the enemy of Fascism due to its inherited egalitarian natures and measure for equality.

To fully support the ideal though, you must not only be aware of it's inherit flaws, but also be embracing of them. We as a species are flawed. And Communism in it's purest form is simply impossible for us to carry out in current conditions, and hard to undertake in any situation anyways. Its a system that is so unstable in it's transition that achieving it is not only risky, but improbable. But if it is achieved, quite possibly the most benevolent and progressive society can form out of it. And it has happened in even Earth's violent history.


As for the leaders Lenin, Castro and others, they were fully aware they had corrupted socialism to meet their own methods of rule. You must also remember though that the original Manifesto Marx and Engels had laid out did not specify precisely how a revolution was supposed to happen. This was good for future revolutionaries as it allowed flexibility to the local conditions of said revolutionaries. Lenin may have twisted the ideal to his own ends, and indeed he did, but he did ensure that his faction consolidate its power and he did sought to end the political instability plaguing his nation. Later Stalin took control and his regime saw less of a communist state or even socialist to more of a autocracy, where lots of the high officers in the government and army were liquidated for security reasons.

I am not going to speak of my background much or where I come from, nor do I honestly want people knowing of my past life, but let me tell you something. While these men were no where near perfect, and in fact men like Stalin were highly paranoid, superstitious and quite the megalomaniac, they did haul their nations from a considerable degree of backwardness. It's just their methods were brutal.

Castro inherited a nation from the Batista regime, and there was a slew of problems plaguing the nation. I actually respect Castro more then most of the Socialist icon leaders because he took a horrendous situation, where exiled Batista's plotted his overthrow, where he had to take the whole system of infrastructure, education and industry from the ground up and build it, and not only that, but avoid American influence and control upon his nation.

His method's were controversial, but he did indeed take his nation from a horribly, under developed plantation economy to somewhat at least with marginal industry, low to little malnutrition (Cuba is officially the only Latin American nation with no malnutrition, according the reports from the United Nations.) and with free healthcare. Beforehand people were horribly exploited and American business monopolized and crushed opposition within the local economy to keep control of it's market.

Fidel changes all this when he took power, and over the course of the following decades he brought a system from essentially nothing and made considerable advancement. His biggest criteria, that of the Cuban missile crisis and the potential horrors of Nuclear war associated with it, was a forced hand on him in my opinion. He was forced to receive the Soviet Union's military support to keep the United States from continuing to harass and extract the newly formed government out. Of which the American Central Intelligence Agency and it's associates, had done against leaders who were freely elected, let alone who led popular coups, such as in Guatemala, Congo, and Columbia. He showed that he was ready to take rather extreme steps but steps none the less, to secure his nation against  foreign threat, even if it meant polarizing his political allegiances in order to secure that.


That rant over, it seems I had went off topic. I plan to investigate GIMP as suggested, and I think it'll be a vast improvement upon the silly program I have right now.
Thank you for your information. I'll report back to you when I make progress or have further questions.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2012, 05:22:10 AM
We're on the same page about all the commie stuff.  I hesitated to include Castro on that list, actually, as he was MUCH less of a bloody-minded killer than the others, and never a commited comunist until it was pretty much forced on him.  The US bungled the situation with Cuba  pretty badly, as we have some sick tradition of doing in Latin America, for some reason.  That crap's gotta stop - the spooks are doing the US a lot of harm overthrowing democracies and smearing our national reputation abroad.

I could split the political OT into its own thread in our OTf, Recreation Commons, if you like, but it's not really OT here - it relates to the creative thought behind your faction, and despite the name, this thread is for the entire creative end of modding SMAC(X), not just the art.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2012, 06:31:27 AM
I'm fine either way, and from what I encountered so far on this forum is that it's full of rather open minded, intelligent people. AN I've seen the opposite in forums. I don't often speak much on most forums I join, mainly family or the few friends I make gaming on here introduce me to them to keep communication up, but I think I might become a little more involved in this community. It seems to be of better standards then what im used to.

As for reports, so far im liking the program. I think I'll design my own buildings and do most of the broad work in relations to images, though I will need assistance later on for hooking it up precisely with the actual faction.
When I have more material, I will post some shots of my progress so you can see the product, and then give your pointers from there.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2012, 12:59:34 PM
Okay, great to hear - sounds like a good plan.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2012, 08:04:01 PM
A thought that just struck me, pertinent to what I said about collaborating in the Miscellaneous tutorial - I estimate that I did my 100th faction graphic a long time ago.  I don't keep count, and don't have things organized enough to make counting very practical, but it was at 57 factions almost three years ago, last time I updated my Custom Factions Page, when I'd been doing it about nine months.

I don't remember doing a single custom faction since before then that wasn't somehow collaborative.  Collaborations really aren't for everyone, but it's the only way I ever do it anymore - that's how much more rewarding I find it.



An article is in the works for today, and things look like getting it done won't be a problem.  Bear with me.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 18, 2012, 08:45:08 PM
So, I'm working on my next faction, a guild of psychics aptly named the Guild of Psychics. I need to find some psychic-y building's to get inspiration from, so I'm thinking one of the mage's guilds from Oblivion, but I cannot find a good viewpoint for one.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 18, 2012, 09:03:03 PM
Have you got the Network Node factions?  They're posted in a file in Downloads - that collection has a strong representation of psychic/magic factions.  You might find something worth lifting there, but it's a lot of factions to look through.

I TOLD sisko you would go on to make more. ;b;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2012, 04:42:25 AM
It's frustrating - I've had just enough forum activity and random events triggering all week to keep me from building up a head of steam on the tutorial in progress.  I did manage the get a good bit written since action on the boards calmed around suppertime, but I hit a point where I needed to go find a years-old thread to refresh my memory, and that's burned over an hour so far.  And now I'm getting sleepy fast.  Folks, I really am staying on this, but having a terrible week for getting anything that takes extended conentration done.

Soon with the next article, I promise.  I've got another three to go after the next before I feel like I've covered everything at least once.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 19, 2012, 02:08:55 PM
Haha @ Rainbow Lizard, we've both made psychic factions now. Good luck on yours! Perhaps something pyramidy might work out.

@BU Just a quick question, not a request for tutorial, but you know how you cleaned up some of the NN faction graphics, the pyramids being an obvious example, but a few others as well? Did you ever make a tutorial for that? One of the factions I would like to use from NN is one of those vectorised ones.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2012, 02:33:57 PM
You know a lot more about vectorised than I do.  I wish I could get you to write up what you know about how they generated the bases and wonderful diplomacy landscapes.  It might be enough to set someone on the right track to doing it themselves, and maybe even teaching us how.  This thread isn't meant to be the BU show.


I've used elements from a few NN factions, but never really cleaned one up - the bases tend to be a bit too pastel in the colors and a little too high-contrast.  In the how-to where I was working with the Vangard base, I did it wrong (and said so).  I should have LOWERED the contrast, and also raised the color saturation/darkened to do something about the pastel.

Wracking my brain to remember an awful lot of factions ago, the second I worked on was the Cannibis League, where Gaian graphics had Shaggy subtituted as leader and a pot leaf logo.  I customized the bases, turning them greener and adding some bits pinched off a battle ogre to make them into giant Gaian-base bongs.  I thought it was funny.  I tweaked the logos, and did some serious punching up of the leaderhead.  That's really it for cleaning up someone else's graphic that I remember - I also put custom bases in a few where the artist had done all but, and used Hive bases or something.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2012, 03:05:17 PM
-You do need to keep the sun-low-on-the-right rule in mind.  Those pyramids we both independantly reworked while we were learning needed reworking mostly because of lighting issues.  Also, again, too pastel-colored.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 19, 2012, 03:16:47 PM
Yeah that's what I meant, how to fix their colouring, not how to make them in the first place.

...bongs. XD
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2012, 03:32:11 PM
Hey, I don't smoke the mary-hootchie, and don't even approve of smoking it, but that was a funny faction in the first place, and hippies make bongs out of everything.  The Gaian bases needed customizing, it was my second faction graphic ever, and base-bongs are hilarious.   ;lol


Tell us what you can surmise about how they made the bases anyway.  :whip:
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 19, 2012, 03:38:40 PM
I'm actually not 100% sure. The landscapes were definitely done seperately to the sprite bases.

The vectors are a combination of rather basic geometric shapes, but I can't say I've ever done a base like that. I do it by hand, usually pixel by pixel.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2012, 03:49:30 PM
[Graphics]  My First Faction Graphic, or How I Got Started

Think I'll put that on the list for next tutorial.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 20, 2012, 03:03:51 AM
...Now I'm having trouble getting going on the article even when it's quiet.  My momentum has been broken...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 20, 2012, 04:52:53 AM
...And I peed away my chance today.  Now there's people to talk to hanging around, and I'm not gonna make it again today.  Not happy with myself...

(I note that talking to people is my whole goal/motivation/reward for being here - and also my duty now, as someone in charge.)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 20, 2012, 08:36:18 AM
So, do you think it's a good idea to work on two factions at a time?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 20, 2012, 12:14:30 PM
I don't know why you shouldn't. 

I do think you should show/tell us more...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 20, 2012, 06:47:45 PM
This one is my Viking Faction, The Paladins of Thor. I'll make a thread on my custom factions soon.
Well, it seems imageshack just hates me today, so just an attachment.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 20, 2012, 06:56:33 PM
Click on Albums at the top of the page - not hard to figure out, you can start your own, and [img] link from there.  It's how I do it.
Title: [Graphics] Leaderheads: Two Showy Examples of the Possibilities
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 21, 2012, 05:41:24 PM
Leaderheads: Two Showy Examples of the Possibilities

This is from a 40’s Time Magazine cover:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=399)

The pleasant-looking chubby mature gentleman is Tse-veng Soong, Chinese politician and banker.  He was President of the Republic of China for a few years in the late 40s, reputed to be the only man the nationalists and communists both trusted.  He was Chiang Kai-shek’s brother in-law, and the richest man in China at one time, who earlier had financed the Flying Tigers - out of his own pocket. 

All irrelevant to the purpose of this article, but, a great man at the center of great events for a good deal of his life, and at least in the US, pretty completely forgotten.  Worth looking up, if you like that kind of thing.



So, the cover portrait struck me as a fine leaderhead - I simply do not remember how I got from that to setting out to do what I did - which was to make him a lot younger.  This was for an Asian faction leader to go with an artless custom faction of Darsnan’s, so it surely resulted from discussion with him as part of that collaboration.   

-(much later) It took quite a while to track that conversation down, but Darsnan’s faction was an alt. Hive, the Protectorate, led by one Kyong Shin, described as “a person younger than Yang, and more determined/autocratic looking.”  I posted two promising-looking painted portraits of Chinese leaders and Darsnan chose Soong over Chiang Kai-shek (I didn’t know at the time they were in-laws, Soong’s sister being the famous Madame Kai-shek, whom I have also since used as a faction leader.)  I don’t see the intensity Darsnan wanted in Soong, though the subject began younger than Yang.

Naturally, after so long I can’t be a great deal more specific in detailing the process than if someone else had done it and I was speculating how.  Reviewing the exchange over it with my collaborator helps slightly.

First, I put him on a diet.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=401)
I narrowed his head -20% springs to mind- in MSPaint - this is back when I did all I could in Paint.  You can see the marks on the background near his head and where his ear tips repeat.

Then, I pasted him into Photoshop and started working on him with the Smudge Tool, my perennial favorite.  The face needed general streamlining in shape, as simple narrowing hadn’t gotten nearly all the fat in his cheeks.  Of course I went after the lines in his face, softening, and more often, removing.

I brought his hairline lower and a bit further in on the sides - always a youthful cue, even in the un-baldest of older men. I added a widow’s peak, as Soong had what might be the remnant of one and that seemed somehow in keeping with an intense personality, looking a little predatory. 

I narrowed his ears slightly to make them stick out less and because ears grow slowly all your life, and are another subtle cue of age.  I slimmed the tip of his nose a good deal for the same reason, incidentally also adding to the intensity of expression I was working toward.

I took out the smile lines, both youthening and, well, taking out smile lines.  I worked the puffy lower cheeks in until I got a gentle, non-chubby/jowly jaw line - it tended to follow the hollow of the cheeks, making a nice, slender, triangular face.

It was a very long process, time spent deep in creative right-brain mode as I ended up virtually redrawing the face completely.  Right-brain mode being what it is, I would have had trouble detailing what I did in very high resolution at all five minutes after I finished.  A thing that surprises and impresses me now is that the posts I made at the time indicate that I did the whole job in under six hours - it looks so thoroughly redrawn that I’d been assuming I’d messed with it for days.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=400)   

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Kyong Shin. 

I fancied then that Soong might have looked like that in his youth, and have since seen a photo at around that age - Shin could be his brother, anyway.

“Wow! Thats pretty high quality,” Darsnan said.  This portrait customization was how I found out I had real talent for this - I was very surprised by how well it turned out.  The quality of what you see is reduced a little deliberately, because it looked so real that I worried it would look too much like a processed photo set against a painted backdrop.  The anatomy of the cheeks is off, but it looks like an original creation, not an altered picture off the web. 

All that was left to do was change his clothes.  Darsnan wanted something North Korean, so I redrew that suit into a green mao jacket.  Clothes are like hair in being easy to alter massively and get satisfactory results.  I think, looking back, that iconic as the mao style is, I should have futured the collar more - but it’s hard to see any detail in the collar, even in the larger, pre-scan lined and SMAC(X) palleted versions here, so it doesn’t really matter.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=402)

Kyong Shin has been my avatar at CFC for years - I wear one or another of my custom faction leaders for an avatar everywhere, and this early work is one of the ones of which I am still proudest.

………………………………...........................................................................................


I stumbled over this semi-colored line drawing while looking for a hippy woman to lead an alt. Gaian faction:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=404)     

It looks very much like the sort of thing my sister had as posters hanging in her room when she was young.  The subject was framed in a non-traditional way for a leaderhead, (which I assume is why Darsnan had me make something different for alt. Gaians later), and too much work to turn into something I could use, but I just plain liked the shot, and decided to have a go at it.

This one, I did on my own, and therefore have a lot less old post commentary to refresh my memory about how I did it.  But my purpose in this particular tutorial is not to tell you how to do what I did, but to show you that it can be done, and figured out as you go, by an untrained artist with little experience and little expertise in Photoshop. 

However, here's what little that I do remember, just to get you started:  first I did a flood-fill, with the paint bucket tool, of a peachy  Caucasian skin-tone.  Erred on the side of a golden tan, because a nature hippy is going to get some sun.  That filled less of the white space of her face and neck than you’d expect, and I did some smearing around with the Smudge Tool on medium Threshold.

Coloring is easy; it's giving the work depth that's hard.

Now this next part is the big secret to converting a line drawing to a full-color painting well: I selected the lines that defined her nose and jaw and turned them into a much darker shade of the same peachy skin-tone, almost brown.  (Shadows have a little less color saturation, as well as being darker, because light carries color.  That’s why you see more-or-less in black-and-white on a moonlit night.)  Then I worked the lines with the smudge tool on low power, to blur them in realistically. 

I did the same sort of thing with the lines defining her lips, eyes, and eyebrows, all separately for the differences in color needed.

That was only the beginning.  I used the dodge/burn tool to darken or lighten areas to give her cheeks, and darkened her some eye sockets.  Blended all with the Smudge Tool. Made her some bosoms, and managed to not get carried away by making them too big or too obvious.  All much more complex than that, and I took a while doing it, but that’s the basic technique.  You just have to understand lighting and facial anatomy, and be persistent.  If I could figure it out, you can, too.

I was very happy with how it turned out:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=405)

Attractive, and a little more mature, with a hint of intensity the original didn’t have.  I like.  But this one was a bit of a heartbreaker - the freckles didn’t make it through the transition to the AC pallet and scanlining.  I’ve also never gotten any word that anyone but me liked it.  But I know good work when I see it, and I did very good work here.

(Incidentally, I don’t see the problem with the framing - she’s just sitting close to the monitor/camera.  We don’t have to follow the official style slavishly.   We just want leaderheads that convey personality and look like they could be video conferencing.)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=403)       (http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=406)

Good luck with your future ambitious projects; I have poor eyesight and had a blurry monitor at the time, and had to figure these out as I went.  You can do it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 23, 2012, 12:34:44 AM
Based on discussing it with Kilkakon and encouragement from my artist sister, I remembered a few details about how I colored the line drawing, and have just now edited in four paragraphs of vague technique.  Those who've already read it might want to look again at the second part.
Title: [Graphics] How I Got Started Modding
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 23, 2012, 05:03:30 AM
My First Faction Graphic 
or:  How I Got Started Modding


SO, I’m like a lot of people; I played SMAC for years, and eventually got curious if there were any goodies online - I think I downloaded the TNG-Picard “Federation” and the Ric Fair Wrestlers faction off The Arrival 6-8 years ago, but couldn’t get them to load/work and gave up pretty quickly. 

In, I dunno, late ‘08, I finally got Alien Crossfire.  I’d wanted it forever and played with it over a summer a few years before until the loan of the CD ended.  Finally I had my own copy.  I never thought it was much of an upgrade, but new SP movies were a lot of fun after all those years, and I loved having twice as many opponents to choose from - it lent some freshness to an old beloved game for me.

This swiftly lead to me rooting around back online looking for goodies again and to try to find out how to get the custom factions I had to work, and straight to trying out SMAniaC.

Now, Maniac’s since become a pal, and I wouldn’t dream of badmouthing, but I didn’t care for the SE changes - I guess I found the reasoning behind them too tough to follow.  But the seven custom factions he included - well, here was more variety and freshness again.  I got very interested in custom factions and resumed looking for them and information about how to install and fix.

Probably everyone who’s ever taken an interest in custom factions has experienced the same; there are a lot of custom factions out there that sound great in the description in some forum’s Downloads section, but lose a lot of appeal when they’re downloaded only find out they have no graphics, leaving you looking like Deirdre again, or have the Free Drone graphics file renamed but unaltered again, or, thanks to the antichrist of SMAC(X) modding, Facedit, the Hive or partly-customized graphics with the Hive bases and often the logo and diplomacy landscape again.

(Do not touch Facedit, folks.  It is so buggy and awful as to almost constitute malware.  There are much better ways to do every single thing it does, unless you‘re very lazy and/or stupid.)

So I had six custom factions with a full spectrum of those shortcomings downloaded - not a single full graphic in the lot.  When I finally worked out how to load them into SMAC(X) (had to fix the Wrestlers rules file first), no one but the Feminine Union had any colors to their flags or text (which was illegible that way)- and Britney's color was too hard to tell from Sister Miriam’s. It was even more annoying to have identical non-colors for the rest; something had to be done.

Poking around, I saw the difference between the Union's .pcx file and the rest- there were little color boxes in the lower left-hand corner (it’s a difference between SMAC and SMAX, which you should always do because it’s easy and vanilla SMAC just ignores it, so no harm, but essential for working right in Crossfire). After that, the fix was pretty easy.

It also bothered me that The Eighth Faction, or Mindworms With Minds, defaulted to Gaian graphics and colors.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=408)

I had an old copy of Photoshop5 that I never used, or much knew how to, because like all high-end graphics programs the interface is very user-hostile to anyone who hasn’t had a long time to become familiar with it.  It would open the uncommon .pcx format, though, and I wanted to play them Mindworms and not have them suck by looking exactly like Gaians, so I set out to “put sunglasses” on everything to at least make them distinguishable.

I think the first thing I did was paste the graphic over into MSPaint - say what you will about Paint, but it doesn’t take a PhD and six months to figure out how to do what can be done there.  I think I tackled the bases first, doing some rather inept red stippling on the bases to make them Xenofungusy.  Remember, I was new to graphics modding, not  SMAC. 

And I gave Deirdre glowing red eyes.  Something about the nature of the faction and those default graphics put the idea in my head that it was a result of a lab experiment run amok, and visually mind-controlling Deirdre was my first step into the greater area of the storytelling aspect of SMAC(X) that has been my real specialty, not just the art, since.

It was a customization that I could do in under an hour now, but took a couple of days then, what with figuring out how.  -It is the nature of telling a story well that even many relevant details have to be left out to keep the length reasonable - I was rooting around all the official art files in my AC root folder on my hard drive, and searching/figuring out answers to technical questions and doing some hardcore lurking through old threads on SMAC forums, mostly ‘poly, all at the same time.  All the stuff was informing all the other stuff I did any given day/week.

So I did the most basic of art customizations to make the Mindworms individual - a little red on the bases and a little red eye on the leader - then started fixing up the half-done, half-Gaian .pcx files that came with the Cannibis League.  Then I’d get an idea about something else to do on the Mindworms art.  I was working on both for a couple of weeks and got into fixing up the Wrestlers, who had Believer bases and needed improvements to the other elements, The Federation, which needed a real captain (named Kirk), and custom bases, the Borg, with an excellent leaderhead and logo, but Hive bases, and the Feminine Union, with it’s crapulent leaderhead of Britney Spears crying out to be replaced with her in her Queen of Mars get-up from the Oops, I Did It Again video - I was new enough to Alien Crossfire to not recognize the Usurper bases the Union had, and someday, I’ll have to fix that, but I did create a neat logo to replace the Firaxis spiral it had been given.

Then I commenced on my first all-original faction, the Pretty Princesses, based on/for my perfect niece, five at the time - this was half her life ago.  Custom everything, completely original, including the .txt files, and I daresay the nicest bases I ever drew from scratch, the house she lived in then.

It just kept snowballing, as did my enthusiasm - I ended up in a manic spell, getting as little as four hours sleep a night, waking up itching to get back to it.  This went on for a month.

I don’t recall exactly how I went about it, but I tracked down the native life in units.pcx and pasted a tiny mindworm onto Deirdre’s forehead.  I made her skin ruddy, as if her body chemistry was a little xenoformed.  I found the .bmp of the mindworm in the lab that’s in the SMAC(X) folder and used it in the center of a blanked-out Gaian logo silhouette as the new logo - and superimposed the worm over the diplomacy landscape.

I ultimately decided that the hue-shifting I’d done in Photoshop on the bases wasn’t enough, and carefully placed the top of a fungal tower on the highest point of the bases.  There was no missing the Gaian origins, but no chance of mistaking the two.

The final touch I later came up with was to flip Deirdreworm’s portrait left-right.  The thing was finally done.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=407)

(Note the joke in the bottom right corner.) What I did when to which faction is a complex issue, but this is the first one I set out to make, and the first I finished.  The Eighth Faction is ridiculously overpowered, but in the game?  The art hints at a story, and it looks great.

And that’s how I got started.

Title: [Graphics] Faction/Flag Colors
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 24, 2012, 12:14:52 AM
Faction/Flag Colors


I’ve never really addressed the faction colors, because it’s pretty kindergarten-obvious stuff, and there’s not a lot to say.  But it’s still possible to mess up, so a few remarks:

This is an Alien Crossfire thing, but you should add it to your faction graphics even if you only have and care about vanilla SMAC.  If you publish/share your work, SMAX users will find your nice factions all crappy and broken, otherwise.

This is a blank version of what goes in the bottom left corner of the main faction.pcx, crammed right into the bottom left corner:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=409)

It’s not brain surgery - here it is with colors, the very first thing I did in my very first custom faction:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=410)

That’s a bright color alternating with almost black - (completely black is semi-transparent for base shadows, and would look strange as a faction contrast color.)  You don’t want to deviate significantly from bright/dark, bright/dark, bright/dark, slightly different shade for vehicle color - doing it that way is how it was designed to work, and doesn’t look as good in the game if you try to get clever. 

Trust me; I wasted a lot of time trying to get cute with the color format when I was starting out, and it just doesn’t work as well.  The base names look  fuzzy and harder to read without the strong contrast.  Same for the flags.  The borders don’t show up right on the map without bright contrasted with dark.

Don’t do what I did, and waste a lot of time trying to find a unique color for your faction.  1.) There are only 255 colors in the game palette, and 3/4ths of them are too dark and dingy to show up on the mini world map in the game, and 2.) 14 of what’s left are already taken, and a few of the second seven are already a bit too close the some of the first seven.   (The minimap thing is important, though, and if you don’t pay attention to it in play testing, the end users of your factions will tell you about it.)   

Just pick out a bright primary or secondary color that goes with the color scheme of the other elements in the faction and don’t worry about it.  Seriously.  SMAC2 should have a better palette, but there’s no point trying to make factions for it  quite yet.

And that’s really all there is to say on the subject.  Bright/dark, basic colors, and spend your time worrying over the other elements that you have more choices about.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 25, 2012, 04:27:30 PM
What are the dimensions of those little squares?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 25, 2012, 04:32:32 PM
Hold on - I'm booting GIMP to check.

The inside of the box is 7x7 pixels.  You want to just paste in the boxes, anyway.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: NewAgeOfPower on October 26, 2012, 04:49:28 AM
@ Rainbow

Like the Paladin design, but you need to change the Diplomacy Background.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 26, 2012, 08:13:53 PM
And how about the positioning?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 26, 2012, 08:39:44 PM
What positioning do you mean?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 26, 2012, 08:54:42 PM
I mean the co-ordinates that each one occupies, for example, I can tell the first one has it's bottom left at (768,0).
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 26, 2012, 09:11:33 PM
The color squares?  Just copy/paste the whole color box set in at once from another faction .pcx - if the blue border lines fit the bottom left corner exactly, just inside the .pcx, no pink/purple border, you've got the position exactly right.  I would guess the game only samples one pixel in each box, so it's hard to screw up.  I've seen people run the box borders off the edge accidentally, and it doesn't seem to break anything, just looks sloppy to other art modders.

You're thinking like a programmer, which is fine for understanding what's needed, but trying to do it very much the hard way for this, I think.  That's why I was surprized when you asked for the box dimensions.

Would you happen to have teh haxxor coding skillz, sir?  If you can decompile and fiddle with the game code, you could be a VERY popular person around here.  TOO popular, in fact.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 27, 2012, 06:49:03 AM
Yeah I work off existing templates so the boxes are already there, makes it easier. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on October 31, 2012, 09:17:26 AM
So how are you doing on the next graphics sheet?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 31, 2012, 01:28:09 PM
Tutorial?  Oh, I'm having trouble juggling all my duties; I had a run of bad luck about random events triggering.  There's a whole, whole LOT of work that doesn't show to running a forum well, and it's automatically tougher to to get anything that takes long done when there's activity on the boards.  Good conversation is my real motivation for working so hard on building this forum, but the two aren't entirely compatible.

Too, it's hard to get motivated to do a boring little piece about diplomacy landscapes - it's so redundant with the mountain of stuff I HAVE already said about leaderheads.  Having someone asking after it IS very motivating, though, and I'll try very hard to get something up tonight.

The next one, the last in what I have planned for the series, should be more interesting; modding terrain & native life units isn't very difficult if you've mastered faction art, but there is a bit to be said about how to do it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 31, 2012, 01:54:50 PM
Also, there's this:  you've read all the tutorials, yes?  Once the next two are up, have I left anything out?

I'm working towards a project to wrap it all up in a neat package as a sort of complete course of AC graphic modding, thus the entry on faction colors and the one on diplomacy landscapes, that cover pretty obvious stuff, but needed to be addressed for completeness' sake.  I plan to do up an introductory article, too, explaining some kindergarten basic concepts.  There's no predicting what any given user looking for this kind of information already knows.

So, have I left anything out?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 31, 2012, 03:48:57 PM
Same question to everyone who follows this thread and the tutorials at all - am I leaving anything out?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 01, 2012, 03:54:30 AM
Okay, sorry.  We've got a Game of the Month releasing tomorrow, and a good deal of my day was eaten by that...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rainbow Lizard on November 07, 2012, 06:04:12 PM
How about the faction3.pcx file? How do I convert logos to that metal-style one used in the sky of those images?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 07, 2012, 06:11:14 PM
Basically, you want to turn the thing a (very slightly greenish) bright yellow with Color Balance and crank the contrast way up to bring out the highlights.  It'll take a little fiddling on your part, but isn't rocket science.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ariete on November 13, 2012, 10:16:57 PM
i remeber a section where you explain how do shadows for bases ... i wrong ... i try to search here but it isn't
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 13, 2012, 10:30:24 PM
Solid black.  Not looks pretty black, actual all-the-way black, HTML notation 000000, is a semi-transparent color in SMAC(X).  Draw a shape in black, and you havbe your base shadow.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ariete on November 13, 2012, 10:33:10 PM
right and then i must overlap the bases to the shadowa, is correct?? there's not other meth??
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 13, 2012, 11:17:32 PM
Correct, I think.  No better way occurs to me - this is one of those things that I never notice when I'm playing, and so don't bother to do to my bases. 

Kilkakon does notice, and does do base shadows, so when he sees this, he may be more help.  He's too polite to admit he thinks my work is sloppy that way.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ariete on November 14, 2012, 12:37:02 PM
initially i had even delete all shadows but then i ask me there's a reason if there are the shadows, the work appear more complete
these my first work are sloppy BU
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on November 15, 2012, 10:55:34 AM
I draw the shadows on by hand... the only suggestion I can make if you are brave is to edit the palette so the shadow colour is something a bit nicer to work with (I usually go with pink shadows).

Remind me sometime to make better faction templates BU...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on April 07, 2013, 06:40:31 PM
Just bumping for the benefit of lurkers and other graphic knowledge-seekers - and I'm beginning to feel faint stirrings of a desire to do something productive, so a new Bases file may be coming soon...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 03, 2013, 07:51:56 PM
I need a bit of help with inputting my graphics I made for my custom faction.

The main issues im having is an error that when I put the faction pictures (The base pallets+leaderheads and icons, the death scene and others) I try to open/edit them with GIMP. It responds to me saying they aren't a PCX file. Any advice?


Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 03, 2013, 08:06:46 PM
Hmmm.  Post the file so I can look into it.

I gather you're using Facedit - I wonder if that has something to do with the problem.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 03, 2013, 08:22:02 PM
Pre Edit: figured out how to upload things.

Here's a picture of said pallet.
(http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m494/JarlWolf/CrimsonComradesACFaction_zpsc61732af.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 03, 2013, 10:03:27 PM
I'm not able to open the .pcxs either - got any backup files in other formats?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 03, 2013, 11:56:53 PM
I do have the thing both on paint and in a GIMP file, though only for the base/leader portrait pallet stuff. Though, that's the only thing I've actually modified thus far as I haven't touched the death screen and such yet.


So if you can figure a way to supply me the death screen/ and other stuff needed for a faction that'd be sufficient methinks.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 04, 2013, 12:30:08 AM
See if this works for you.

I've also erased the logo from drone2.pcx - you shouldn't have a lot of trouble substituting yours. [Edit - try the copy in my next post instead.]

I like what you've done so far - is it on purpose that you left the scanlines out?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 04, 2013, 12:35:35 AM
The scanlines as in the sort of old style digital film strip/monitor effect? Yes, but more so because its a quality factor. I wanted to keep the image crisp and clear, and I found it looked better without ( I did try it with it though.)


Trying it now, will edit this post to tell you if it works. Thanks for helping me out by the way.

Edit: Graphics are working, the profile picture and stuff fits, but the issue right now is that there is a big cyan/teal/light blue square surrounding my bases on the map.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 04, 2013, 12:53:17 AM
The thing about the scanlines is -- it won't really fit in with the others, visually.  If you were making an entire set of factions you intended to only play together, like Kilkakon did with his Lost Eden set, it wouldn't make any difference.  Still, it's up to you.

-I realized I forgot to re-index the mode before I saved the drone2.pcx; try this one instead.

I enjoy helping people with graphics stuff, so no big deal there.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 04, 2013, 01:05:00 AM
The thing about the scanlines is -- it won't really fit in with the others, visually.  If you were making an entire set of factions you intended to only play together, like Kilkakon did with his Lost Eden set, it wouldn't make any difference.  Still, it's up to you.
I might just do that, and make a set of factions. I could also edit the leaderhead a bit, but it doesn't seem to be too big a contrast. Its still got that sort of painterly style that SMAC/SMAX has.

-I realized I forgot to re-index the mode before I saved the drone2.pcx; try this one instead.
I seem to have made the former one work somehow. Though, whats the issue if I don't replace the old with this one?

I enjoy helping people with graphics stuff, so no big deal there.
And I greatly appreciate it. I am glad to have a helpful community to support my endeavors with custom factions.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 04, 2013, 01:22:08 AM
[shrugs] That's a big part of what makes this community - we help each other.

I believe that without the indexing and the SMAC(X) palette loaded, the colors will be completely wrong in the game - not even able to tell what you're looking at wrong.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 04, 2013, 02:32:33 AM
Right, will change it out. I am also experiencing trouble with the loaded pallet graphics: They loaded, like I see the buildings and my territory colours, leaderheads etc work, the problem is there is this arrogant light blue sqaure type thing surrounding my buildings and logo's. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 04, 2013, 02:59:20 AM
That's a palette problem.  This copy of the palette should work with GIMP. (I think - I can't always keep track of files going back almost five years now.)

You do know the trick about erasing the purple background and pasting what remains into a blank .pcx?  I called it something like the GIMP Palette Workaround when I wrote it up; if you do anything to the background color, like paste the identical color in, it will no longer be transparent in the game.  Palette loading won't fix that.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 04, 2013, 03:43:25 AM
Tried it, it unfortunately doesn't work with GIMP. Says that its an unknown file type.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 04, 2013, 03:51:17 AM
Follow the instructions here (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;sa=view;article=29), and you should be okay.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 04, 2013, 06:51:47 AM
Mission accomplished. It works!


I did a bit of a different process though, I didn't bother to do the crazy renders. All I simply did, was just use the fresh undamaged pallet you gave me, then I (somewhat painstakingly, but worth it in the end) copied with precision the bases and other things onto the pallet squares. I saved myself the renders, and I just tested it in game, it works. Thank you for all your help, I can now begin to release this to the public.


EDIT: Two last questions

For uploading a faction, how do we go about that? I know how to upload files, but uploading the entire faction in working order?

And I know this isn't so much a graphical question, but is there a way I could implement voice files for the faction quote? Check my custom faction thread for more insight on that/ Darkness' voice application thread.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 04, 2013, 03:20:44 PM
Place copies of all your faction files in your SMAX root directory - the same place as teranx.exe.  Now, open alphax.txt.  Near the bottom you'll find this:

................................................................................................
#FACTIONS
GAIANS,   GAIANS
HIVE,     HIVE
UNIV,     UNIV
MORGAN,   MORGAN
SPARTANS, SPARTANS
BELIEVE,  BELIEVE
PEACE,    PEACE

;
; First item is file name, second item is search key.
; These should always be the same except for debugging purposes.
;
#NEWFACTIONS
CYBORG,   CYBORG
PIRATES,  PIRATES
DRONE,    DRONE
ANGELS,   ANGELS
FUNGBOY,  FUNGBOY
CARETAKE, CARETAKE
USURPER,  USURPER

;
; These are factions you want included in the startup list.
; These may also be chosen when a random faction is selected.
; First item is file name, second item is search key.
; These should always be the same except for debugging purposes.
;
................................................................................................

Next is the lines for custom factions.  If memory serves, the search key is the first line of working information, which is "#CRIMSON COMRADES" in your faction file.  I just copied that twice, as I don't believe it's case-sensitive.

................................................................................................
#CUSTOMFACTIONS
buster, buster
newbs, newbs
Cannabis, Cannabis
OtherBorg, OtherBorg
federate, federate
CRIMSON COMRADES, CRIMSON COMRADES
................................................................................................
Ignore the extra custom factions.


A number of people here know how to do the sound file thing, but I'm not one of them.  Kil?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: RossoBianco1895 on July 18, 2013, 03:09:22 PM
Hi there,

thanks to all the contributors here, all the advice helped me lot to customise this or that in SMAC.
But I've encountered a small problem with a custom faction I'm working on. Inspired by the new Superman movie Man of Steel, I try to make a Krypton vs. Earth factions scenario. Currently I'm in the process of making two Krypton factions, Faora and Zod. So I started with Faora (darn, she's so hot  :D ) and everything went smoothly so far, BUT I have a problem with the faction logos. As you can see in the picture below (I hope it works), the report logos and the small report logos are the same. That's because if I have it the original size, the small report logos won't show (like in the HQ reports), but instead the large report logos. It's not a major problem (don't know where the large report logos show up anyway) but I'm still curious why it doesn't work. Maybe someone knows what's wrong.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 18, 2013, 03:15:51 PM
Hmm.. very odd. So just to clarify problem: If you put report logo's at larger size the smaller logo's will not show up in game, and instead be covered/replaced by the report logo's?

Or am I missing the problem here?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: RossoBianco1895 on July 18, 2013, 03:23:52 PM
Exactly. Needless to say that it just shows a fraction of the logo and that looks odd. With putting the small report logos into the report logos field I worked around the problem, but still. Where do the large report logos show up in game anyway?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 18, 2013, 03:33:49 PM
I don't understand - you knew how to resize for the council and diplomacy logos; you want the same thing for the report logos.

That Faora IS hot.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: RossoBianco1895 on July 18, 2013, 03:42:24 PM
No, I had it all at the proper sizes and locations, but then the small report logos are overwritten by the large ones in game somehow. I posted a screenshot with an older custom version, where i had all the logos at proper sizes and locations in the pcx file.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 18, 2013, 03:46:48 PM
Hm. Maybe it's the colours you worked with. Also, make sure not to cover the entire square with the logo, that may be your issue: Just increase your current report logo's size by maybe 25% or some such, but make sure there is a nice gap between the box borders and your logo.

Also, what programs do you use to edit?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 18, 2013, 03:51:36 PM
That is strange.  My guess would be that something is wrong with your copy of SMAC(X), and you need to do a reinstall.

However, that doesn't account for why the other factions work properly.  I don't know of any way in the world, using faction files, to make the game address a different than usual spot in the art.  I'm sorta stumped ATM...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: RossoBianco1895 on July 18, 2013, 03:54:37 PM
Well, all the other logos show up fine, the colours are along with the smac palette.
I'm using a (very old) version of photoshop. PS 7 I believe.
But I'll try to reduce the sizes a bit, as you suggested. Thx for the quick replies. I'll report if it worked.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 18, 2013, 03:56:14 PM
Welcome to AC2, BTW.  It's always good to meet another modder.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 18, 2013, 04:23:40 PM
And if you need futher help let us know. Also, I have plans for something and if you got a faction you've made (that isn't based off of outside sources in the sense of recreations of factions in other story's) I may have a proposition for you to get your faction promoted.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: RossoBianco1895 on July 18, 2013, 05:27:23 PM
Thanks guys. Nothing worked so far, but as the large report logos only show on the score board, it doesnt bother me THAT much. Once I'm done with one faction I'll post it here (pcx, txt and mp3) so maybe you could check it out in your game and see if it works for you. If so, then i know something's wrong with my installation of the game.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 18, 2013, 05:45:33 PM
So everything but the small report logo displays correctly?  Hmm.

Try this: copy/paste the graphic into a different .pcx -maybe overwrite an official faction- and save. The easiest way to do a quick playtest of graphics is to replace the art for a faction you have in a savegame where there's bases in all four stages of growth.  I think the report logo is what shows on the F10 screen. 

I'm thinking there may be a possibility that your initial save of the .pcx may have glitched in such a way that it displays differently to the game program than it does in Photoshop - that seems unlikely, but it would be good to eliminate the possibility.  -It just stands to reason that if the other factions work correctly, the problem has to be in the individual art file.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: RossoBianco1895 on July 18, 2013, 08:48:22 PM
I just realised this glitch only occurs, when I activate the scenario editor and switch side (which I did all the time to check). If I play a different faction from the start the custom logos show up as they should. I've could have tried that earlier, lol. Man, that was stupid  ::) So in a normal game everything shows properly. Sorry, if I caused anyone a headache  ;)

Another thing, long time ago, I played call to power 1+2 with friends. If I remember correctly then in one of those games were two kinds of future cities, one with a glass dome and another with spires. If anyone still have this game and could post a screenshot that would be great. Those city icons would make a fine base in smac too, I think.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 18, 2013, 09:54:44 PM
I have a bunch of files posted in Downloads of structures laid out as SMAC(X) bases, ready to drop in - lotta stuff from Galactic Civilizations II, and some from Deadlock...

-Also, try Google Images for CTP stuff.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on July 19, 2013, 04:57:52 AM
Also I can crop out the images for you if you want: Just let me know what you are looking for specifically and I'll see what I can do.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on July 19, 2013, 06:09:34 AM
Glad you worked out it was cheating that was breaking your logos. :O

I agree BU. :O
Title: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Geo on July 29, 2013, 05:36:53 PM
Here's the assassin file for you to look at Geo:

Thanks. I see it's a .png file. Can SMAC(X) read these? Reason I'm asking is that I attempted to replace the base citizen icons yesterday, and had to switch from .pcx to .png, and back to .pcx filetype. But the icons showed up black ingame. :(
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 29, 2013, 05:45:10 PM
No SMAC(X) only reads .pcxs, and you probably have a palette problem - many programs will let you save as .pcx without switching the mode back to indexed, but the game won't be able to read those.  I see you're poking around in the Articles right now - if that doesn't get you knowleged up enough, I'll try to help.
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Geo on July 29, 2013, 05:54:02 PM
Basically, I need the human icons and progenitor icons switched (aliencit and newicons).

And which file does the game use for the 'Alien Crossfire' and 'Alpha Centauri' screen? The one with both stars in the background and Chiron to the right.
I tried changing things in openinga, openingb and ac_logo_sm, but to no avail.
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 29, 2013, 05:56:54 PM
I'll poke around and see what I can find for those, and get back to you.
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 29, 2013, 06:11:02 PM
Okay, I don't understand why you had to switch modes for a tedious but straightforward copy/paste job on the icons.  I could do it for you, but I'd be doing you more of a favor seeing that you knew how to do it yourself...

Tell me more about the starscape thing.  Are you trying to do something like the attachment?
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Geo on July 29, 2013, 06:52:13 PM
Okay, I don't understand why you had to switch modes for a tedious but straightforward copy/paste job on the icons.  I could do it for you, but I'd be doing you more of a favor seeing that you knew how to do it yourself...

Because Paint doesn't recognize .pcx files. :(
Basically, I opened them in IrfanView, made a save as a .png file (which Paint does recognize), opened them in Paint and did the tedious copy/paste job. Then everything in reverse (opening the adjusted .png file in IrfanView and saving it as a .pcx file.

Tell me more about the starscape thing.  Are you trying to do something like the attachment?

Yes, but appearantly I worked with the wrong files.  ???
Something like in the attachment I'd like to achieve.
Basically I copied letters from the words 'Alpha Centauri' and placed them over the 'Crossfire' part of the Alien Crossfire logo.
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 29, 2013, 06:58:24 PM
You want xopeninga.pcx or openinga.pcx, depending.

If you still have the .png version of the icons, open it>open separate copy of the .pcx in IrfanView>go to the .png copy>[Ctrl]a>[Ctrl]c>tab to the .pcx>[Ctrl]v>save>download GIMP.  I can help you a lot more in GIMP.

Shall I move these posts to Graphics, where they're on topic?
Title: Re: Re: JarlWolf's Custom Factions
Post by: Geo on July 29, 2013, 07:03:33 PM
Shall I move these posts to Graphics, where they're on topic?

Probably for the best.  :D
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on July 29, 2013, 08:35:58 PM
Bloody hell! I completely overlooked the possibility the expansion would have its own full-blown opening screens. I thought the ac_logo_sm overwrote part of the openinga/b pics.  ;lol

Any idea where ac_logo_sm is used for then?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 29, 2013, 08:38:20 PM
Not off the top of my head, no.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on July 29, 2013, 08:41:13 PM
Btw, I used to give GIMP a try several years ago, but it was a very frustrating experience and decided to continue working pixel by pixel.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 29, 2013, 08:55:50 PM
I worked for my first couple of years doing whatever could be done in MSPaint and pasting into PhotoShop5 to save, so I do understand - but then I had to get a new machine and A) Photoshop5 won't run in W7, and B) I can't stand the W7 version of Paint.  I've gotten used to the "aircraft panel" that is GIMP now.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on July 30, 2013, 03:23:38 PM
All I was trying to show is that you can use the background colour in the first slot of the colours at the bottom of the pcx file and it works. :) Doesn't work for bases but it does for the shield.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on July 30, 2013, 04:10:30 PM
Too bad it doesn't work for bases. Might come handy at a time to have 'flagless' units besides the probe team.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on July 30, 2013, 04:16:15 PM
Yeah! I went with transparent and dark red for the assassins to give them a stealthy look. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 30, 2013, 04:51:15 PM
Building on from my previous post, I should add that I once had no intention of ever learning Photoshop, save using it to open and save .pcxs - not realizing how much annoyance Photoshop was saving me by handling a lot of the palette issues automatically.  I could alter brightness/contrast and rotate images in a program that came with my printer that was bad at a number of things Paint was good for, and able to do things Paint couldn't at all, so I was doing a LOT pasting back and forth between programs.

But both Paint and Lexmark Photo Editor were useless for color manipulation and lighting effects.  At some point, an artist needs those capacities.  Geo, when you reach those points - I enjoy teaching, and you don't have to learn everything GIMP can do all at once.  One trick at a time, the same way I taught myself, will do it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 04, 2013, 04:09:27 AM
Green1!

I have the Exterminatus with some life given to their image, I have worked out some graphics for them, use at your own risk.
(http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m494/JarlWolf/Exterminatus_zpsd6322493.png)
Enjoy.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 04, 2013, 04:16:21 AM
You've gotten very good at this Jarl -

But it would take only a few more minutes to add scanlines, and you've got to start signing your work.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 04, 2013, 04:19:05 AM
I'll look into that then, though if someone were to steal my work wouldn't they just edit my name out anyways? I'll do it though. I am thinking of a logo/insignia for myself at the moment...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 04, 2013, 04:25:32 AM
Can't say it's not possible, but stealing your work is fairly acceptable in the community - denying you credit is absolutely not.  If you don't put credit on everything you can, somebody making free with your art may not know it's by you.

You saw the stuff I told Sigma about easy scanlines, I assume...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 04, 2013, 04:34:31 AM
Mhm... I indeed have. Though I find how I am operating it seems to work fairly well: All I am doing is taking my tailored buildings, using two gimp windows and sort of selectively cutting out their shape and pasting directly. I've gotten quite proficient at it. Though note: Stealing and using is two different things. I don't mind if people use my work, I want them to. Stealing to me is taking the credit for said work.

I think I'll start putting a custom designed insignia on my work: I am not much for names and a symbol I can identify with better. I am known by different names in different places so its better this way I think.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 04, 2013, 04:35:57 AM
Okay.  An artist's logo never occurred to me, but that makes a lot of sense.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 04, 2013, 07:32:13 AM
Said Signature, I'll be using this from now on.

(http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m494/JarlWolf/ACSignature_zps10f084ca.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on August 04, 2013, 09:44:04 AM
([url]http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m494/JarlWolf/ACSignature_zps10f084ca.png[/url])


Why am I not surprised? ;lol ;b;

It's a beautiful set, but also bit of a tradition breaker by using mostly different graphics for land -and sea bases.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 04, 2013, 11:55:22 AM
Well I thought it was in tradition of SMAC as the naval bases look a little different to the land ones. All my factions have that sort of pattern: There is a land form of the base for a faction, and then a sea one. I find its more realistic that way. Sea bases are going to be different to land ones, different facilities needed.

I just hope that their 'theme' is the same. I like to keep similar architecture styles for my factions.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Green1 on August 04, 2013, 11:07:48 PM
Green1!

I have the Exterminatus with some life given to their image, I have worked out some graphics for them, use at your own risk.
([url]http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m494/JarlWolf/Exterminatus_zpsd6322493.png[/url])
Enjoy.




I was telling Jarl in a PM that I was feeling all jealous because I have been playing games with Ete's faction while my faction still looked like Marr!

Thanks... It looks really appropriate and sharp.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 04, 2013, 11:14:30 PM
I does have the virtue of being attractive and very individual.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Green1 on August 04, 2013, 11:17:33 PM
It looks good enough to give you Oh Crap moments...

Imagine starting an AAR to THIS !!!!! (shown in scenario mode. I would have NO CLUE how bad I would be screwed in a real game):
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 04, 2013, 11:19:57 PM
I am glad they work with no problems.
You are welcome for the texturepack, I am honoured to see it used.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Green1 on August 04, 2013, 11:22:02 PM
Believe me... this will be used A LOT.

Anyways, thanks again... I probably should take my Exterminatus balance and testing to a new thread... and let those that need gfx oogle at this thread again..
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Sigma on August 06, 2013, 04:51:42 PM
Can I get some tips on water bases? I haven't figured out a good way of generating the water effect around the foundation of my bases, so it looks like the structures are just sitting there instead of actually occupying water volume.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 06, 2013, 04:56:24 PM
I've always been lazy about water bases, so I'm the wrong one to ask.  Probably your best bet is to paste in the surf scrum from around the water bases of an official faction.

Kilkakon goes to a lot more trouble with water bases, mind you, so if he sees this, he can probably be more help.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 09, 2013, 11:04:15 PM
And myself of course!

I love making water bases. Don't be afraid to approach me as well, you can check out some of my work in my custom factions thread.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Sigma on August 09, 2013, 11:05:26 PM
And myself of course!

I love making water bases. Don't be afraid to approach me as well, you can check out some of my work in my custom factions thread.
Fair enough. What would be your suggestion for generating scrum?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 09, 2013, 11:10:44 PM
Well if you want it to actually appear like its in a liquid, with waves/water displacement/ripples:

I suggest adding in tiny curved lines at the foot of the structures. Not all around, it can be broken: and only one or two. Space them out a bit as well. Even if they aren't the exact colour of the water pallet they will still look fairly good: I suggest going with lighter colours, like a white+light blue.

I'll post a screenshot of said technique in a moment.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 09, 2013, 11:22:07 PM
Jarl, I wonder if someone shouldn't try to put together an art goodie file for Downloads of things like surf effects and sea platform designs -and whatever else I haven't thought of, Jarl.  There's a lot of ego-gratification when you see other artists using stuff from a goodie file you made and posted, Jarl.  -We can also never have too many original shield designs, Jarl.

:innocent:
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 09, 2013, 11:38:28 PM
It almost seems like your trying to tell me something.


 ;lol

Maybe. I think a technique list or helpful hints and guides thing would be good: maybe have it where there is artistic techniques used by various people sort of like that line thing, etc.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 09, 2013, 11:45:59 PM
 :D

If you want to start posting some thoughts to help you get started and organize your thinking, here would be a good place.  I don't have a monopoly on teaching.

Well, I do, actually, but I'm not set on keeping it - I'd be proud if you contributed things I haven't and/or haven't thought of.  There's plenty of room left for how-to stuff here and in Articles...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on August 10, 2013, 01:33:37 AM
What I do is I have a few factions, some with a square city and some with a round city. I take a chunk of the wakes from the seacity that's closest and just keep copy/pasting it like crazy over the new city I'm making. I add some extra pixels here and there as well to make it suit more.

If you really want to go to town, the full on method I do these days is make a platform for the city to stand on, and then make almost all of it underwater (leaving 1-2 pixels of the sides dry), making the underwater sections really blue. Then I add the wakes on.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 10, 2013, 01:46:37 AM
You and Jarl should collaborate on that goodie file some pushy jerk was harping on upthread; it's something I'm lazy and useless about, and there's a need to be filled there for new artists...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 12, 2013, 10:08:07 PM
Speaking of art tips... I just found an enormously, stupidly easy way to make transparent backgrounds when selecting things in another window.
You can do colour selection on what you are working on and then you can just select that specific colour and delete it. This way you can easily select things without having to do a whole process in the faction sheet.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on August 13, 2013, 01:51:42 AM
In my art package, it's quite easy to keep the transparent colour by modifying the palette so the other purples aren't in there anymore.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 13, 2013, 02:22:21 AM
I wish you'd write that up - three people have tried to explain it to me, but I haven't wrapped my head around it yet.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on August 13, 2013, 02:26:01 AM
Mhmmm-- do you have something similar to this in GIMP?

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 13, 2013, 02:28:48 AM
Yeah.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on August 13, 2013, 02:31:12 AM
Well that's all it is really. Any colours which match the special ones need to be nuked out--I select the offending ones and use the edit button to change them to cyan. I also change the shadow colour to a pink colour.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 13, 2013, 02:46:03 AM
siiighh

Head still not wrapping.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on August 13, 2013, 02:52:35 AM
Not much else can be said really. :/ Ah well I don't have the time to get into more detail while working sorry
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 13, 2013, 03:52:03 AM
I'll just screenshot my working process to you, to show you what I mean.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Oblivion on August 22, 2013, 09:07:23 AM
Hello!

I just recently started playing SMACv4 and I want to change my city graphics to the 40k Hives and I could really use some help with that.

I have GIMP, the technical knowledge, and the guides to do this, but I'm still having the in-game transparency issue where my cities are surrounded by some solid color.

I tried opening univ.pcx, Import Palette from Image, Copying the city graphics, Switching from RGB to Indexed (my palette selected), then Exporting. Is there anything else I can try? I'd really appreciate any help with this, I've tried everything I could find, included the blank.pcx and the palette.pal.

EDIT: Just tried opening a normal .pcx and re-saving after generating the palette and switching between RGB/Indexed modes. This also gives the cities a box.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 22, 2013, 09:40:29 AM
http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;sa=view;article=29 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;sa=view;article=29)

I'm up way past my bedtime, but that should be what you need.  Jarlwolf can help you otherwise, and/or I'll be awake tomorrow.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 22, 2013, 10:53:43 AM
Right, I can help you with this. Here is my advice:

1. Go to the downloads section: Download the Blank PCX template.
2. Have an untouched copy of that always: NEVER save over it or you have to redownload.
3. Have the Blank PCX open and your pallet with the structures on it at the same time, in their own separate respective windows in GIMP.
4. In the ones with your buildings, go to Tools, then Selection tools and pick Colour Select or "By colour select" and click on the purple surrounding your buildings/icons, and delete it. If it worked you should have a checkered background around your structures.
5. Once you've done that merely select and copy your buildings, and paste on the Blank PCX. Then, export it as a PCX with the shorthand name of your faction and put it in your Alpha Centauri folder.

And then all you do is test. I also advise you to keep a copy of the faction's PCX in a folder somewhere as a backup: If you use facedit and you change stats, it will overwrite your PCX's you've created. So when you do use FaceEdit at all, once you saved and modified you need to immediately copy your backup PCX and override the old one with it.

Hope that helped, if you are still confused, just put the files in an attachment and I'll take a look at them.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Sigma on August 22, 2013, 02:18:40 PM
Right, I can help you with this. Here is my advice:

1. Go to the downloads section: Download the Blank PCX template.
2. Have an untouched copy of that always: NEVER save over it or you have to redownload.
3. Have the Blank PCX open and your pallet with the structures on it at the same time, in their own separate respective windows in GIMP.
4. In the ones with your buildings, go to Tools, then Selection tools and pick Colour Select or "By colour select" and click on the purple surrounding your buildings/icons, and delete it. If it worked you should have a checkered background around your structures.
5. Once you've done that merely select and copy your buildings, and paste on the Blank PCX. Then, export it as a PCX with the shorthand name of your faction and put it in your Alpha Centauri folder.

And then all you do is test. I also advise you to keep a copy of the faction's PCX in a folder somewhere as a backup: If you use facedit and you change stats, it will overwrite your PCX's you've created. So when you do use FaceEdit at all, once you saved and modified you need to immediately copy your backup PCX and override the old one with it.

Hope that helped, if you are still confused, just put the files in an attachment and I'll take a look at them.
A slightly quicker way to do this is after doing the color select, go to Select -> Invert, which will cause Gimp to sellect everything except the background color to copy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Oblivion on August 22, 2013, 06:00:59 PM
Wow! I didn't expect such a fast response from everyone. I'll try it out in a second.

I have to say, this game is overripe for a full W40k mod. Just replace the worms with Orks! I'll make a graphic reskin of my faction as the Thousand Sons Legion, and perhaps edit their dialogue as well in the next few days.

EDIT: JarlWolf, thanks for explaining that to me! I followed your directions exactly and it worked. Finally! I tried your guide last night, but without success. It may have something to do with palette generation, which I didn't do this time.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 22, 2013, 06:21:07 PM
I do so love having a deep bench of competent artists - takes so much pressure off me. :D
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on August 22, 2013, 07:51:48 PM
Also on the note of Warhammer 40K, I think Chaos Demons would be better replacement for worms, which can also be a cool effect for chaos factions like your Thousand Sons to "harness the power of Chaos." Have Orkz as their own faction,

Ork mode activate*
DA WAAAGH NEEDZ TA BE EN ETZ OWN FACTION. JUZ HAVE DA ORKZ AS ALIENZ YE?
deactivate*
And you have to have the Imperial Guard in their somewhere, it'd be a crime against humanity to not include them.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 02, 2013, 03:08:35 PM
Everyone's familiar with this page, of course - http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions.htm (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions.htm)  It looks a little like the Firaxis page, a third of the files are just art, and the lazy so-and-so who made it hasn't added any new factions in almost four years.

Well, here's how I turned insomnia Saturday night/Sunday morning useful:
http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm)

It's only the tutorials I've had in Articles for about a year strung out consecutively, and it's mostly meant to channel traffic here, but Jarl thought I should make an announcement, so now I have.

I'm intending to/toying with the idea of a .png representation of the primary faction .pcx avec hovertext explaining what each element does, and one more little article talking about modding the terrain.  We'll see...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 04, 2013, 04:50:45 AM
For them as ain't familiar, here's the Factions Page from the Official Firaxis stuff we host:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=636) (http://alphacentauri2.info/official/factions.html)


And here's the top of my custom factions page:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=635) (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions.htm)


And finally, here's the new addition:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=637) (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm)


They're all hyperlinked, and you can click on any of the pictures to go have a closer look at the original...

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 04, 2013, 04:54:11 AM
I quite like it. It's a step by step format and it even details some history of the creation process, thoughts and concepts behind a few factions.

Though I realize its meant as an instructive tool, not one for satiating curiosity on your work history with factions or as a faction wiki style thing, I wouldn't mind more information on the concepts of factions and the making of, interactions between creators, brainstorming, discussions, that sort of thing. You may not think it, but knowing these sorts of things is highly interesting to people (myself included) as it gives insight on how a creator such as yourself and others think and approach things, and on an instructive level it can help people understand and visualize the process of making graphics, factions etc.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 04, 2013, 04:56:48 AM
I dunno - I think I've done a great deal of that already, and there's no end to it if you're too shameless about repeating yourself, a line I'm already toeing...

I suspect my time is better spent, at this point, gathering up factions I've done since the last update of the first page in 2009 and putting them up at last...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 04, 2013, 05:02:35 AM
One doesn't need to solely speak of yourself, it can be of other faction creators too. Like the thoughts behind the Ypanag or other aliens/factions, etc.

Stuff like that can be documented, the concepts behind them and such so people have a better understanding of not just the creation process, but the factions themselves. I am sure there had been many fruitful conversations and thought pongs between you and Darsnan and other folks. Of course, this is a mere humble suggestion and its ultimately up to you (and related party) if you care to share it.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2013, 12:33:55 AM
Elements of a Faction Graphic

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=638)

1.)  The transparent background color.  For SMAC (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri), it is pink, and for SMAX (Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire[X]), purple - both work in both versions.  I'd rather look at the purple, but that's up to you.

2.)  The base shadow.  This is a semi-transparent color that displays in the game as a darkened shadow area.  SMAC shadows are tan, SMAX jet black - incidentally, you want to be careful to avoid absolute black and the particular shades the program uses for transparency effects.

3.)  The stage one land base.  This is where you start in the game, unless you're playing an aquatic faction.

4.)  Stage two land base.  As you build facilities and population, the base grows to reflect it.

5.)  Stage three land base.

6.)  Stage four land base; full size, and the ultimate stage.

7.)  Land bases with perimeter defenses.

8.)  Land bases with tachyon fields.

9.)  Sea bases.  Most need a platform.

10.)  Sea bases with perimeter defenses.

11.)  Sea bases with tachyon fields.

12.)  The faction's logo as it displays in the Planetary Council screen.  The lower example is the default, and the upper shows when the faction is selected.

13.)  Diplomacy logo.  It displays to the other factions when you talk to them one-on-one over the commlink, just as their diplomacy logo does for you.

14.)  Report logo - it displays on the left in the F4 and other report screens.

15.)  Small Report Logos.  This is what displays in the report screens for other factions.  To maintain stylistic consistency with the official factions, it is important that you match the dim blue-green color of the top, at-rest, logo.

16.)  The Datalinks leader portrait.  The leaderhead is important to establish the personality of the faction, the storytelling elements being what make SMACX so special, and what an art modder specializes in.  As with the Small Report Logo, to maintain stylistic consistency with the official factions, it is important that you include the scanlines, or your factions won’t fit in with the Firaxis ones or the custom factions others made.  The scanlines, of course, represent the low technology everyone starts with before they get the rebuilding of civilization well underway.

17.)  Small Council leaderhead.  This is what displays in the Planetary Council screen when you’re not planetary governor.

18.)  Big Council leaderhead.  This is what displays in the Planetary Council screen when you are governor.

19.)   Diplomacy leaderhead.  What other leaders see when they talk to you one-on-one.

20.)  Diplomacy landscape.  Displays in the lower right corner during diplomacy.

21.)  Faction colors.  Unneeded in SMAC, but please don’t leave this out just because you don’t have Xfire.

22.)  Sign your work here.  It’s a very good idea to put credits in the empty space of the .pcx - fan artists repurpose each other’s work all the time, and sometimes credits in the text files get overlooked.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2013, 03:12:08 AM
...A fancy version of the above with links to jump back and forth has been added the my Tutorial page: http://alphacentauri2.info/My Custom Factions/Custom FactionsPage2.htm (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm)

Man, I've been over a week figuring out how to make that work.  Definitely check it out - it was more work than it looks like...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 11, 2013, 11:40:55 AM
Wow. Goes quite indepth.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ariete on October 11, 2013, 11:55:24 AM
2.)  The base shadow.  This is a semi-transparent color that displays in the game as a darkened shadow area.  SMAC shadows are tan, SMAX jet black - incidentally, you want to be careful to avoid absolute black and the particular shades the program uses for transparency effects.

just one thang uncle : when i converted smac bases of hive, gaian, belivers, spartan and morgan, in smacx bases, so on purple background, i paint those shadows with the same colour i found on smacx bases as usurpers and if i didn't wrong the shadow are absolute black; but it's true in game are a bit dark, maybe a dark grey does better.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 11, 2013, 03:21:07 PM
There's a way to change which colors work as transparencies, but it displays the same in the game, so it doesn't really matter.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2013, 05:44:14 PM
BTW?  I am ethically compelled to mention that I couldn't have done that new 'Elements' feature on the tutorial page without EXTENSIVE technical advice from Mylochka and Kilkakon.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 12, 2013, 06:31:45 PM
You mean graphically, or the explanation?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2013, 07:45:26 PM
I mean making the layout work - my .html editor programs are horrible, and Kil helped me fix some broken code - and Mylochka told me enough that I didn't have to outline the numbers by hand on the image when I was shooping them in.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 12, 2013, 08:42:26 PM
Lots of power to Kil' and 'Lochka then.  :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 12, 2013, 09:20:56 PM
Oh yes oh yes oh yes - they saved me a lot of work and improved the quality of the end result. 

This is a valuable function of our community; we help each other.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ariete on October 13, 2013, 04:31:02 PM
the fact Dio totaly build and paint its custom bases with gimp is a cool thang, it mean is a valuable software which give much opportunities for somehow have a good practice as artistic talent. i've just make a try and my own results seem not so beautiful, maybe i need some basis matrix captured by any strategy games, as i did with c&c structures for my firsts facs. so i'm thinking a mad thang ... drawing bases on a paper, scan the result, resize image and make other devices with software (if i remember right, looking NN custom facs, maybe one bases set was did in this way, at least it seems did so).
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 31, 2014, 07:22:10 AM
Bases9 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=263)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=669)

18 structures adapted from Galactic Civilizations 2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the GC2 files I worked with.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on May 31, 2014, 08:35:42 AM
I really like the ones in the bottom right, the 3 above the bottom one. Very industrial looking, could easily combine and splice them...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on May 31, 2014, 09:13:35 AM
Nicely done. :)

Now, combine some (elements) of them to make progressively growing bases. :D
For instance, the seventh on the left column, and the sixth and eight on the right combined may make a nice combo as a base expands in size.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 31, 2014, 04:48:48 PM
Interesting thing - there's no particular reason but random chance that Bases8 is such a good-looking collection and this one only okay; I'm going through the files of GalCiv structures by filename, and E-F just didn't have nearly as many stunners that reduced prettily.

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=56[/url])
Both enlarge when clicked on, BTW.
([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=669[/url])


I'm having that problem with Bases10, too: there's lots of beautiful structures there, but many lose so very much in reduction and pasted into the SMACX pallet.  A lot of light pixels pop up, because you get funny color translations sometimes that really stand out.  It's tough to compensate for and when you're arranging so many, you hate to spend excessive time on any one base sequence.
Title: Bases10
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 11, 2014, 06:07:17 AM
Bases10 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=268)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=689)

11 structures adapted from Age of Empires II, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2014, 01:44:27 AM
A little project I played with this afternoon, just to see how well I could do it.

The first shot attached turned up in a news story the other day.  I'm not sure, but the model may be the same woman I turned into Dr. Nerdina for the SMAniaC Genesis faction, as seen earlier in this thread.  That big mannish chin - but not sure at all.  It still struck me as possible future leaderhead fodder, so I saved a copy.  I was curious how well I could feminize and make more attractive this rather less-attractive-to-begin-with shot.

The second attachment is my result.  She doesn't do as much for me as the Nerdina did, but I'd say it's a decided improvement.

I still got it?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on September 16, 2014, 08:41:57 PM
She definitely looks more rounded (softer) in her face.
Not sure if the glasses don't look a tad too big though. Perhaps its the enlarged eyes?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2014, 09:31:52 PM
Dunno - they suggest a high-tech faction, and that could be enhanced with lens coloring and trick like that.  Part of the interest in the shot is in the distortion of the lenses - which I enhanced by making her eyes even larger, slightly.

(I mostly was doing this as a photo-manipulation exercise with no real leaderhead purpose in mind.)

Quick alter of the lenses...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 16, 2014, 10:16:32 PM
Is this better, or am I over-complicating it?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on September 17, 2014, 02:57:24 PM
Four is better IMO. The red is more recognizable then in five.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Nexii on September 17, 2014, 06:42:42 PM
I would have went with Zakharov colors (right eye red, left eye green)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 17, 2014, 07:10:46 PM
It's mighty derivative already, don't you think?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Nexii on September 17, 2014, 09:17:32 PM
Naw Zak's got it going on
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 17, 2014, 09:44:26 PM
I'll redo in red and green, then.

Please wait while your request is being processed...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 17, 2014, 10:16:53 PM
?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on September 17, 2014, 10:18:45 PM
Now give 'r a scifi outfit. :P
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 17, 2014, 10:21:13 PM
Hmmm.  I'll have to think about that awhile...

She needs a SF background more...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 18, 2014, 05:48:47 AM
...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 18, 2014, 06:33:17 AM
...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on September 18, 2014, 05:07:18 PM
Diving suit of the future? :D

No, since she's supposed to fall in the tech weenie category, I'd thought of mechanical ornaments like some SMAC leaders have (like Domai or Yang) on those "neck collars" of theirs.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 18, 2014, 09:56:53 PM
Tell me more...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on September 19, 2014, 08:38:54 AM
Its not like I'd be using new graphic material in the foreseeable future, you know. Just giving my :2c:.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on September 21, 2014, 06:12:40 AM
Give her a neck collar with cables running from it along her arm, for some sort of futuristic device for power or something.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 25, 2014, 02:17:45 AM
I'm still letting this percolate in the back of my brain...
Title: Bases11
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 25, 2014, 09:14:13 PM
Bases11 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=271)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=691)

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 26, 2014, 09:41:44 PM
I just stumbled over some make-your-own-diplomacy-landscape fodder in a story about the Alberta tar sands.

Naturally, all of these would require some fungusing first, but plop a base in the middle, blur just so and size/crop, and you've got something serviceable...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 26, 2014, 09:42:59 PM
Four more.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on September 28, 2014, 03:41:39 PM
This seems like a prudent place to post what I've been fiddling with. The portrait is from the cover art to an old game called Game Over (yes, really): http://www.mobygames.com/game/game-over/cover-art (http://www.mobygames.com/game/game-over/cover-art)

The only thing left to do with the graphics is for me to come up with a logo for the faction. That is proving to be surprisingly difficult.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 28, 2014, 03:45:55 PM
Logos are pretty much the easiest part.  Tell us more about your faction - a little free association should be all it takes to come up with a idea.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on September 29, 2014, 01:33:57 PM
I've got something to my liking for the faction logo now. That brings me to a related point: Is there a blank version of faction3.pcx anywhere for easy insertion of new logos?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 29, 2014, 04:32:50 PM
I don't think so - that would be a worthwhile little project...

You are going to share the finished faction graphic?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on September 29, 2014, 05:03:52 PM
I'll certainly share this. It's the least I could do after how helpful all the stuff here has been to me.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 29, 2014, 08:55:54 PM
...The problem with making a blank 3.pcx (and 2.pcx) is the punishment sphere shot - not only does it have two genders and aliens to deal with, the background the logo goes over is not black, and so not suitable for just any logo - they actually come in a variety of dark background colors.

Making one for one gender/color range would be a crappy utility - covering all the variations is going to be tedious and require an additional file to cover most of the options...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on September 30, 2014, 01:29:00 AM
Really nice looking graphic BUncle.. I quite like the third row of that last picture.

On another note- is there link to description of your new faction, Crowley?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 30, 2014, 01:50:16 AM
Bases11 or the landscapes?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on September 30, 2014, 01:54:46 AM
Bases11. Some of those landscapes would work well too- especially the industrial ones. Would require little editing.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 30, 2014, 01:56:33 AM
Yep - a little too Earth, most of them.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on September 30, 2014, 11:00:12 AM
I don't have much in the way of a description for the faction. Mainly this is to have my own look for the faction and making its actual attributes how I happen to feel like. With the look I was going for a galactic empire style, more Metal Hurlant than Star Wars.

I noticed the variations with faction3.pcx myself. The gender of the person in the punishment sphere is a bit slipshod. The Hive, Morganites, Peacekeepers and University actually have a woman there. Oh well, I can certainly make do with what we already have in the game.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 30, 2014, 08:14:42 PM
DL fodder?

(http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/c2z6_udSDlDhF__5RZ7jHw--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTI4NDtweW9mZj0wO3E9Njk7dz00NTA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/Reuters/2014-09-29T113716Z_1_LYNXNPEA8S0I2_RTROPTP_2_CHINA-ECONOMY-ACTIVITY.JPG)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on October 02, 2014, 11:54:19 AM
Buster's Uncle, I added transparent shadows to my base graphics and then used your workaround for the transparency issue. This left me with bases in-game with bright orange shadows. I think the issue is that in the palette for your blank.pcx color #246 is solid black, as is #250, while in the original game files the former has the orange transparent shadow color. Filling the shadows with the blank.pcx palette #246 left them solid black. I'm using GIMP, and I have noticed the problem with it before that it doesn't seem to know how to keep indexed colors straight when more than one spot in the palette has the exact same hue.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 02, 2014, 02:50:19 PM
You're on the right track - it's the same issue, GIMP not being able to handle transparencies.  The problem isn't black or tan shadows.  The game uses either the same, just like purple or pink.  The solution is something to do with color slots that, for some reason, I've never been able to wrap my head around.  I'll ping Kilkakon and try to get him to swing by and explain it to you.

(I just skip the shadows - I can't see them in-game unless I lean in close and squint real hard.  There's a flag in the middle of base shadows ruining the effect.)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on October 02, 2014, 03:04:47 PM
I've had the same issue when doing custom graphics for Ultima VII via Exult with GIMP. The solution I've used which also seems to work fine here is to alter the colors in the palette so that each one is wholly unique. This also led me to realize what causes the problem of supposed transparency resulting in blue blocks around the bases: Color slot #255 is the transparent one, but #252 uses an identical purple which messes things up with GIMP. You can change #255 to whatever color you please as long as it doesn't have duplicates in the palette, and then use that for the transparent background.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 02, 2014, 03:13:56 PM
Is that working for you ingame?  To the extent I understand it, sounds like you've got it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on October 02, 2014, 04:10:44 PM
Yep, it works fine.
Title: Placing Bases and Shields
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2014, 12:46:40 AM
A great blessing of SMACX faction modding is that the game is very forgiving about base placement and perspective; you have to screw up pretty badly to have a base not look right against the landscape.  Taking care of all the details for 24 copies of the base can be quite tedious, but here are some shortcuts to make it manageable.

Since BlueFlux inspired me to write this up, I began with opening up Bases5 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=58) and selecting the base he used in his learning faction.  Even using bases you created/repurposed yourself, most of the following instructions will apply.  -Arranging bases for only one row of the six and copy/pasting the rest will save a lot of time and effort at several stages of this process.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=705)
(Skip this cropping step - I just wanted to make the screenshots easier to deal with.)


Because GIMP handles the transparent background color badly and this base stuff involves a lot of copy/pasting back and forth, GIMP users (it's free and available to download; just google it) need to work with the background color removed - incidentally, being able to do good transparencies is a useful skill for things like avatars and smilies, too.

So Layers>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=716)


Using the Select by Color tool with Threshold set to zero (see red arrows) select the background color
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=718)


[Delete]
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=719)
Select the base row>[Ctrl]c to copy.


Load up Blank faction.pcx (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=65)
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=699)
-and make the background transparent.


Select the first row>[Ctrl]v to paste.  Repeat three times.  It helps to select and paste the light blue lines along with the bases, for ease of alignment.  -You now have each size base in exactly the same spot in the square, which is about to be useful in placing shields - and sea platforms, if you use a separate structure for that.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=720)
I started out as a faction creator not knowing any better than to place each base manually twenty. four. times. instead of only four.  This is definitely a better way.


The base I'm working with is a poor example to demonstrate the sea stuff - it comes with a foundation that doubles nicely as a sea platform and the largest stage takes up most of the available space at the bottom.  However, to slightly distinguish it visually,  I drew in an outline of dull blue-gray...
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=721)


And added some sea-foam scatter of similar dull blue-greens with a little white.  I put the purple background back temporarily so the argle-bargle would be more visible in the screenshot.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=722)


I only had to do that for four bases, the ones in the forth (unshielded sea bases) row, then copy/pasted that row twice more into the next two to complete the set.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=723)


Now for the shields.  I loaded my Bare Shields (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=64) file and transparencied the background.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=724)


There's a constant temptation to use the alien shields - they're better-looking and MUCH easier to work with.  But, like many touches new faction modders tend to find optional, like leaderhead scanlines, it's important to maximize compatibility with the official factions if you want your work to be well-received and popular with other fans.  What makes SMACX so special, more than anything else, is the storyline, the personality it projects.  A good custom faction tells a little story, in the names, the appearance and expression of the leader, the faction quotes, and, not least, the look of the bases.  You need a reason for your faction to be using Progenitor shields if you're serious about what you're doing.  Better to invent something new than cop out using Prog shields.

So I selected half the first human shield.  (Bases come in such a variety of sizes and shapes that I didn't even try to make them one size fits all when I created my bare shields file.  A big virtue of the human shields is that all you really need are the posts - it's easy to draw in the rails, if you have to.)
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=706)


I pasted the half-shield over the stage four base..
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=707)


And it was close enough to a fit, as the back half will be completely covered when I'm done.  But if it needed a little more space, I'd go Layer(not Image - that would change the entire graphic - until the paste is deselected, the program treats it as a separate layer)>Scale Layer
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=708)


Click on the little chain icon the red arrow points at (to uncouple height from width)
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=709)
and bump up the height four pixels.   This can also serve as the simplest perspective fix; bases/shields/sea platforms should look like they're viewed from a roughly 30-45 degree angle.  If the base looks like it's sitting flat on the ground ingame, you've gotten it close enough.  Again, the game is very forgiving about that.


So, after drawing in the gap in the rails (in front; the back's getting covered up in a few steps)
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=710)
I got this.


After repeating for the other bases in the row - and repeating the process on the next row with the tachyon shields, I got this:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=711)


Now for a cute trick I discovered after a couple of years of wasting time when I placed shields, erasing the bits that covered part of the base before I dropped them in --  I select (roughly) the top half of the entire first row (estimating what will cover extra shields below - sometimes the base is narrow, and that's really easy).
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=712)
It's best to select the entire inside of the upper half of the boxes - the dotted outline helps serve as a placement guide, so you don't have to zoom in as close and match it pixel-by pixel.  This is a place having all your rows identical through repeated copy/pasting saves a lot of time and effort - you can do pastes like this an entire row at a time.  Man, did I waste a lot of time/effort for a couple of years as I was first teaching myself how to do this.


So I paste, and use the arrow key to move it down to the next (stage one shields) row.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=713)


And repeat with the tachyon field row.  If you look close and squint, you'll see that a few pixels of the corners of the paste-in cover bits of the shield - so before deselecting, I use the Eraser Tool (indicated w/red arrow) to delete the extra pixels from the paste.  (Takes a little trial-and-error using [Ctrl]z to back up from mistakes, but a useful part of pasting technique, especially with complex shapes.  I end up doing that in several other parts of a faction graphic.)
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=714)


So that gives me the land shield rows finished.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=715)


And here's the other place having all your rows identical through repeated copy/pasting saves a lot of time and effort - you only have to drop in each size shield once, not twice, provided your sea bases are the same as the land ones (with sea platforms added underneath or not - you can use the same techniques, BTW, as I've gone into here for adding sea plaforms).  I copy pasted the land shield rows over the sea ones.
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=717)


So after loading a second copy of Blank faction.pcx, and copy/pasting the lot in...

Here's the finished product, ready to drop into a custom faction:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=704)
.pcx copy attached.  Feel free.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 07, 2014, 12:53:49 AM
Yep, it works fine.
...Woah, you did the whole thing. I guess I should be glad you didn't do the same for me, as I wouldn't have learned as well. I like how you named it Bannana Base :).
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2014, 01:02:32 AM
:D

Yeah - I learned a long time ago, teaching my mother how to program the VCR in the late 80s, that you learn better using your own hands.

In fact, my dad never learned how to use the microwave until, tired of heating something for him for the fifth time at the same meal, I made him get up and I used his finger to push the buttons as I explained.  I'd merely explained/shown lots of times, but after that, he could heat his own cup of coffee.

Once you reach a certain level of mastery, watching is often enough (sometimes just seeing the final product and thinking about it a little), but beginners need to  use their own hands.  I certainly could take less time just doing the odd art job FOR people -that tute took a good part of two days to illustrate a maybe 15 minute job- but this is better in the long run.  Teach a man to fish, dude; teach a man to fish.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 07, 2014, 04:39:24 PM
:D

Yeah - I learned a long time ago, teaching my mother how to program the VCR in the late 80s, that you learn better using your own hands.

In fact, my dad never learned how to use the microwave until, tired of heating something for him for the fifth time at the same meal, I made him get up and I used his finger to push the buttons as I explained.  I'd merely explained/shown lots of times, but after that, he could heat his own cup of coffee.

Once you reach a certain level of mastery, watching is often enough (sometimes just seeing the final product and thinking about it a little), but beginners need to  use their own hands.  I certainly could take less time just doing the odd art job FOR people -that tute took a good part of two days to illustrate a maybe 15 minute job- but this is better in the long run.  Teach a man to fish, dude; teach a man to fish.
I noticed what you did with the shields/walls in your tutorial.
There is another way to do that. Normally I put the walls up first, then put the base over it, then copy the bottom half of the wall and put it over. Works just as well.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2014, 05:03:24 PM
Seems to me like that wouldn't tend to be compatible with placing all the bases alike.  Shields need to be placed to fit the bases, not the other way around.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 07, 2014, 05:20:50 PM
Seems to me like that wouldn't tend to be compatible with placing all the bases alike.  Shields need to be placed to fit the bases, not the other way around.
If you need to you can select more or less than half.
Next time you make a faction, try it that way and tell me if I'm wrong. It's what I've used for all mine so far. Except for when I place the blue/yellow shield frames in your shields pack. I just put those over.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2014, 05:41:43 PM
I can't see how that works without individually placing the bases or being able to see the future.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 07, 2014, 06:05:24 PM
I can't see how that works without individually placing the bases or being able to see the future.

I'll just make a GIF to show you how then.
The first frame is nothing...
Second is with a wall
Third is with the red base over it...
Fourth is when I put that bottom part over it.
(http://i.imgur.com/1nfu97S.gif?1)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 07, 2014, 06:08:23 PM
My way's faster and I don't think you're following my logic.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 07, 2014, 06:30:30 PM
My way's faster and I don't think you're following my logic.
Meh. How much can it really matter?
You should check out the Boys from Brazil fact (fascists). It turned out really well. It also fits with the default 14 facs quite nicely.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 07, 2014, 10:17:01 PM
Here is a wall I drew from scratch people can use if they want: (http://i.imgur.com/B978uUP.png?1)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 08, 2014, 03:30:09 AM
Bases12 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=275)

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=725)

A sorry-looking bunch this time, if you ask me.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 08, 2014, 04:44:23 AM
I think its because of how pixellated they are- if one uses these... will need to touch up or mix them I think to get a solid result.
Title: Blank.pcx2&3 - M,F,Prog
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2014, 01:10:10 AM
Blank.pcx2&3 - M,F,Prog (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=276)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=726)

Three logo-free versions of [faction]2.pcx and [faction]3.pcx apiece, covering both genders and the aliens, ready for the logo of your next custom faction.

Enjoy.
Title: Re: Blank.pcx2&3 - M,F,Prog
Post by: Flux on October 09, 2014, 01:16:35 AM
Blank.pcx2&3 - M,F,Prog ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=276[/url])

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=726[/url])

Three logo-free versions of [faction]2.pcx and [faction]3.pcx apiece, covering both genders and the aliens, ready for the logo of your next custom faction.

Enjoy.

...
Oh my gosh
Thank you so much. I couldn't find these in the game files, and all my ___2 and ___3s had logos underneath the ones I had for my custom facs.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2014, 01:35:00 AM
:D

Good deeds is how I convince myself I'm not a worthless butthole.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 09, 2014, 02:03:07 AM
:D

Good deeds is how I convince myself I'm not a worthless butthole. ( :-\)
Yeah, thanks. I think I'm actually going to try and play a round with one of my numerous factions I made.

 :adore:
All hail king BUncle. First in the hearts of our graphicsmen.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2014, 07:56:59 PM
DL?

(http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/B8CliqiRrFF7FrQ_Javtng--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTM4NDtweW9mZj0wO3E9Njk7dz01NzU-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_US/News/SPACE.com/Construction_of_Giant_Telescope_in-c402c282944061b48c490f33b8cef99d)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 09, 2014, 08:19:52 PM
You should start looking in BE wonder art. Or perhaps even the city art. More choices there to show growing cities by adding structures.
Title: Re: Blank.pcx2&3 - M,F,Prog
Post by: Crowley on October 09, 2014, 10:31:05 PM
Three logo-free versions of [faction]2.pcx and [faction]3.pcx apiece, covering both genders and the aliens, ready for the logo of your next custom faction.

Enjoy.

Vootie! Thank you so very much!

Now, here's a finished (probably) version of my faction graphics as far as that first sheet goes. I added shading and shadows on the bases and settled on a logo.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2014, 10:34:01 PM
Vootie!
Nexus fan?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on October 09, 2014, 10:35:23 PM
No, I started using that exclamation because of the best new alien species in Star Control 3.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 10, 2014, 09:43:31 PM
(http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/ycWwvU4fut5m_Yj795MiyA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTM4MTtweW9mZj0wO3E9Njk7dz01NzU-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_US/News/LiveScience.com/seti-telescopes.jpg1412802735)
Title: More graphics goody files for Downloads - Help needed
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 16, 2014, 04:30:04 AM
Gentlemen, I finished Bases23 last night - I'm pacing out the releases in case I get in a mood again and stop working, and more, because of BE coming out in nine days.  I want to have plenty of SMACX goodies to catch the interest of the BE-heads in the next few months.

So I'm thinking this:

We're way past 100 bases to play with, and we really ought to put together at least one other Downloads file apiece of leaderheads, logos and diplomacy landscapes.  -Maybe go all out on the leaderheads and make them completely ready to go - processed into paintings, scanlines and all.  Newbs are SO bad at leaderheads at first.

It would be cool to get collections of all the elements together, ready for someone with nothing but elementary copy/paste skills -and at least a little good taste/visual storytelling ability- to pick and choose and patch together their own faction graphics.  Just spitballing an idea.

It would lower the initial challenge of starting out; the control panel of any high-end graphics editor is challenge enough at first.  The end result for us would be more custom factions to play with and more modders to talk shop with.  They'll come around with questions soon enough.

SO --- I'll get around to this in maybe a year, maybe two, if it's all left for me to do by myself - I got a million bases to go, for one thing.  But if everyone will contribute some stuff - I could finish up the glasses girl I was working with recently, and cool diplomacy landscape sources are easy to come by-  we could easily have enough to consolidate into a Downloads file or two -which sisko and I could use to promote this forum, BTW- in less than a month.

Are you game or are you lame?  Talk to me.  Post stuff.  Let's see what we can slap together as a group.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 16, 2014, 04:38:45 AM
Now, here's a finished (probably) version of my faction graphics as far as that first sheet goes. I added shading and shadows on the bases and settled on a logo.
I just have one thing to say.

Game Over.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 16, 2014, 06:22:38 AM
One thing I want to see is more diplomacy landscapes and potential leaderheads. Logos aren't too hard to make and bases we already have a vast selection of- so people shouldn't have a problem on that front. But finding leaderheads that are SMAC/X lore friendly is somewhat of a challenge- I somewhat lucked out with mine and even though I didn't add scanlines (which I can still do if I want, I know how to easily) I feel they are fairly cohesive with original factions.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 16, 2014, 03:51:04 PM
Agreed about the logos - that's the one element I feel competent to draw from scratch if I have to.

Leaderheads aren't a huge challenge, once you master the technique for processing photos into paintings, but it's very time-consuming, and I haven't figured out a good way to teach it.

The net is full of science-fictiony cityscapes, starscapes, and planetscapes, so diplomacy landscapes aren't much of a problem.
Title: Bases13
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 16, 2014, 07:02:12 PM
Bases13 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=277)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=737)

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the GC2 files I worked with.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Crowley on October 16, 2014, 11:55:16 PM
I just have one thing to say.

Game Over.

Awesome cover art, terrible game.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2014, 12:12:22 AM
I like the bottom structures the most, BUncle
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2014, 12:17:27 AM
I didn't do a great job of fixing the perspective on this set.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 17, 2014, 02:01:45 AM
Awesome cover art, terrible game.
Heh yep. I feel like remaking it one day. :P

I actually still have the original cassettes and Commodore 64 to play it on. Should LP it one day hehe



Nice work BU ^_^ Yeah the brown and green dome ones are the best ones here I think.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2014, 02:09:23 AM
The second row would've been pretty good if I'd done better with the perspective...

I save copies of all the files, BTW, between taking off the cloudy white halo and beginning to alter the proportions and size - so if anyone wants to use one, but not exactly like what I did with it, I can supply a copy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 17, 2014, 02:12:14 AM
Yeah it's hard to correct perspective as all of them are so lopsided.

I still love the cocktail stick in lava pit one. Need to come up with an idea for that.
Title: Re: More graphics goody files for Downloads section - Help needed
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2014, 02:14:59 AM
Gentlemen, I finished Bases23 last night - I'm pacing out the releases in case I get in a mood again and stop working, and more, because of BE coming out in nine days.  I want to have plenty of SMACX goodies to catch the interest of the BE-heads in the next few months.

So I'm thinking this:

We're way past 100 bases to play with, and we really ought to put together at least one other Downloads file apiece of leaderheads, logos and diplomacy landscapes.  -Maybe go all out on the leaderheads and make them completely ready to go - processed into paintings, scanlines and all.  Newbs are SO bad at leaderheads at first.

It would be cool to get collections of all the elements together, ready for someone with nothing but elementary copy/paste skills -and at least a little good taste/visual storytelling ability- to pick and choose and patch together their own faction graphics.  Just spitballing an idea.

It would lower the initial challenge of starting out; the control panel of any high-end graphics editor is challenge enough at first.  The end result for us would be more custom factions to play with and more modders to talk shop with.  They'll come around with questions soon enough.

SO --- I'll get around to this in maybe a year, maybe two, if it's all left for me to do by myself - I got a million bases to go, for one thing.  But if everyone will contribute some stuff - I could finish up the glasses girl I was working with recently, and cool diplomacy landscape sources are easy to come by-  we could easily have enough to consolidate into a Downloads file or two -which sisko and I could use to promote this forum, BTW- in less than a month.

Are you game or are you lame?  Talk to me.  Post stuff.  Let's see what we can slap together as a group.
Any interest at all, anyone?  Non-artists can pitch in, too, with some googling and posting images that look to have potential w/ alterations made.  You'll find that diplomacy landscape fodder is especially easy to find - and painter and/or photographer sites are good places to find leaderhead source material.

I spent a lot of time and effort teaching every art modder here but Kilkakon most everything they know, so artists, consider yourself duly guilt-tripped into helping...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: gwillybj on October 17, 2014, 03:04:44 AM
Apple's New Headquarters:

(http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Renderings-2.jpg)

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/apples-new-headquarters (http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/apples-new-headquarters)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: gwillybj on October 17, 2014, 03:11:25 AM
Siemens Headquarters to be the First LEED Platinum Office Building in the Middle East

(http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-content/uploads/23.jpg)

http://inhabitat.com/siemens-headquarters-to-be-the-first-leed-platinum-office-building-in-the-middle-east/ (http://inhabitat.com/siemens-headquarters-to-be-the-first-leed-platinum-office-building-in-the-middle-east/)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on October 17, 2014, 03:21:54 AM
One thing I want to see is more diplomacy landscapes and potential leaderheads. Logos aren't too hard to make and bases we already have a vast selection of- so people shouldn't have a problem on that front. But finding leaderheads that are SMAC/X lore friendly is somewhat of a challenge- I somewhat lucked out with mine and even though I didn't add scanlines (which I can still do if I want, I know how to easily) I feel they are fairly cohesive with original factions.
The best leaderhead I've found is actually for my Red Unit, from a game made a few years back called Supreme Commander. Although not original, it does work to find leaderheads ripped straight from other games. And if you get it from a game not alot of people played, nobody really seems to notice.
Of course, there is shame in this. It seems photo-leaderhead is the best way to get original and good looking leaderheads. But this is something not many have mastered, and before I came here I couldn't do anything like that, so I'm still in the dark.
Most bases are taken from other games, or pictures/drawing that are from the right perspective. I would imagine drawing one from scratch would be possible, but I wont do that unless I feel it is completely neccesary. Even if you lack the ability to search google or edit images at all, we have a bunch of base packs from BUncle already anyway.
If you need a landscape, type in "sci-fi painting" and you get some decent ones from that. A picture of Coruscant from Star Wars or anything to that effect works marvelously. When it comes to writing, as long as you have some talent it shouldn't be that difficult, although I don't. And I've gotten help on my better factions.
So it seems the hardest part likely is the leaderhead, although normally I just take an interesting picture and build a lore around that. The Red Unit leaderhead was a cyborg-girl with implants and red glowing vein-like things running from it.
That seems to be all the parts of faction-making. Don't judge this, as it's rather late and I'm barely thinking about what I write. Thats just my random gibberish on making factions.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 17, 2014, 06:38:30 AM
Your input is interesting, don't downplay it. And quite frankly I've done similar things as well; or find obscure characters from other fictions or games... Richard Warrick is an unused Starcraft 2 Battlecruiser picture, my picture/ Vazheli Vatzev was a rather ambigious artist, I forget the name of, Sepsu is Nappa done realistically from Dragon Ball Z, Portia was a random image search, and Mraxis is a picture of a dwarf of some sorts.

Mind, bases, even leaderheads, and often symbols have been made from scratch before. I believe Dio actually accomplished this for his alternative takes on original factions (which I suggest you try, its quite interesting in how it changes the factions up.)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on October 17, 2014, 07:05:16 AM
Yeah I made my faction logos also.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2014, 08:16:01 AM
I've manufactured a few bases and logos from scratch, and at least made a lot of leaderheads and a few diplomacy landscapes from photos.

Tonight, I made this:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=738)


Into this:
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=739)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 17, 2014, 10:01:43 PM
Do we have ourselfes  a new talent here? :D
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 17, 2014, 10:22:38 PM
Naw, I been doing this for years.

I created a template for putting them in, and I processed the last lady I was working on, and dropped her in, too.

Six to go...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 18, 2014, 12:01:47 AM
Apple's New Headquarters:

([url]http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Renderings-2.jpg[/url])

[url]http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/apples-new-headquarters[/url] ([url]http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/apples-new-headquarters[/url])
Siemens Headquarters to be the First LEED Platinum Office Building in the Middle East

([url]http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-content/uploads/23.jpg[/url])

[url]http://inhabitat.com/siemens-headquarters-to-be-the-first-leed-platinum-office-building-in-the-middle-east/[/url] ([url]http://inhabitat.com/siemens-headquarters-to-be-the-first-leed-platinum-office-building-in-the-middle-east/[/url])
;b; ;b;

Do we have ourselfes  a new talent here? :D
BTW, if you were following my conversation with Kil, that's supposed to be Lindly, of course - but she's whoever whomever ends up using her in a faction says, of course.



Folks, it was pledge week at my classical music station last week - find me some painted headshots that are easy to leaderhead up, so I don't have to bore you with begging and guilt-tripping.  Stuff from other games, like Flux said, or whatever.  Science fictiony painted headshots.  I'll credit contributors, naturally.

I was on this 5 1/2 hours past my bedtime last night, and my head is splitting today.  Won't you please help?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 18, 2014, 01:54:25 AM
Your handle could be in here, immortalized among future modders...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=740)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 18, 2014, 02:08:12 AM
?
(http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/b0/df/10/b0df1060f6bec8d9ee81fb7fdc885cae.jpg)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2014, 02:03:16 AM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=741)
Click to embiggen.  I had to reduce the quality of the .gif to get it small enough to to load, but this is the gist.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 19, 2014, 06:21:16 AM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=742)

Is anyone gonna get in on this action?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 20, 2014, 12:33:54 AM
I really like some of these... im almost tempted to take these on and make a faction out of them, but im putting all my resources towards the AAR at present.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 20, 2014, 01:02:47 AM
Some babes there, eh? :D

I've wanted to get back on this all day, but been sidetracked doing avatars...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: sisko on October 20, 2014, 06:54:46 AM
.., but been sidetracked doing avatars...
Sorry for that. Babes will get us more traffic.. :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 20, 2014, 01:51:04 PM
And I'm not done yet - redrawing those bare faction logos is time - consuming.  Still, it's a thing worth doing, to have something no one can easily duplicate.

I could go ahead and post Portraits1 to Downloads today, and start putting the word out...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 21, 2014, 02:15:09 AM
Portraits1 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=278)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=741)

Leaderheads are the most time-consuming aspect of a SMACX faction graphic, so in the same spirit as the Bases files, here are eight leaderheads, ready to copy/paste as-is into your next custom faction.  It is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Bases series, also in this section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)

These portraits were a lot of work, but all I ask is that you credit me in the blank space of the .pcx you use one in.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.  Good hunting.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 23, 2014, 08:52:09 PM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=854)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 23, 2014, 09:15:50 PM
The third one on the left, and number 2 and 4 on the right column have potential (portraits 3).
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 23, 2014, 10:00:57 PM
I put a lot of work into number 2 and 4 on the right column...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 24, 2014, 01:42:05 AM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=856)



Now.

-A question for the peanut gallery--

Post
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=855)

or

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=742)
Next?  Which will draw more attention to the forum?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 24, 2014, 06:26:52 AM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=857)

That makes 40 leaderheads - 12 of them male - if you count the two all-armor ones in Portraits4 as male.  Seems like everyone like drawing babes, including all the women artists.  Hard to find dudes who aren't total twinks.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 24, 2014, 06:33:49 AM
Twinks.  Twinks and vampires everywhere.

And vampire twinks.  Lotsa vampire twinks. ;goofy;
Title: Bases14
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 24, 2014, 04:29:28 PM
Bases14 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=279)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=855)

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits series, also in this section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the GC2 files I worked with.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Sigma on October 24, 2014, 06:03:45 PM
Woah those Row 5 and 7 bases are awesome. Huge potential there for faction modders.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 24, 2014, 06:29:18 PM
I was disappointed at how row five reduced - but total agreement about row seven.
Title: Portraits2
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 25, 2014, 04:14:19 AM
Portraits2 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=280)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=742)

Leaderheads are the most time-consuming aspect of a SMACX faction graphic, so in the same spirit as the Bases files, here are eight leaderheads, ready to copy/paste as-is into your next custom faction.  It is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Bases series, also in this section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)

These portraits were a lot of work, but all I ask is that you credit me in the blank space of the .pcx you use one in.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.   Enjoy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 26, 2014, 05:15:43 AM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=861)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 27, 2014, 05:37:22 AM
Spent the last few hours making another Talent leaderhead...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=866)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 27, 2014, 08:02:58 AM
That looks like a certain somebody I know  ;)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on October 27, 2014, 03:08:08 PM
That just looks... wrong... somehow. ???
You sure a red face wouldn't appear better on the model in question? ;cute
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 27, 2014, 06:28:22 PM
Why?  I spent some time making the face less red...

That looks like a certain somebody I know  ;)
You know Buster's Daddy?  It kinda looks like him...

(He's Dr. Buster's Daddy now.)
Title: Bases15
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 28, 2014, 02:40:22 AM
Bases15 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=282)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=860)

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits series, also in this section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to I Have No Name for the GC2 files I worked with.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Sigma on October 28, 2014, 02:42:25 PM
Rows 6-9 are pro-tier.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 28, 2014, 02:52:41 PM
Yeah - about half the GC2 files I have are small and don't blow up very well - I need to start skipping those, as they just take up space and make me look inept.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: JarlWolf on October 28, 2014, 10:03:00 PM
Tier 6 im tempted to use as a replacement for my Valhallans factions, those look really space viking and I love it...
Title: Diplomacy Landscapes1
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 29, 2014, 06:26:52 PM
Diplomacy Landscapes1 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=283)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=869)

23 diplomacy landscapes, size/croped and scanlined to copy/paste as-is into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Diplomacy landscapes are one of the easier aspects of a SMACX faction graphic to create -provided one hasn't anything terribly specific in mind- but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up - given a logo appropriate to the faction, all the elements of a faction graphic are available in AC2's Download section for anyone with elementary copy/paste skills and a graphics program that can handle .pcx files - a good eye/taste helps, too.  (See also the Bases and Portraits series.)

For info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 31, 2014, 03:01:29 AM
So I really enjoyed SMACing up gwilly, and while I was posting a news story today, I noticed that the boyfriend of the Ebola nurse in Maine had a great face:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=871)

So a few hours of right-brain mode later:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=872)

With this the final result:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=870)

Portraits7 is 1/4th done w/ no twinks so far, and all original work...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 02, 2014, 04:17:09 PM
In fact, I liked the look of the wrinkles on this incredibly Caucasian World Health Organization official I saw in an ebola story, but not the incredibly white part - for a lot of reasons, it's bad to make our future too white and male, so-
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 02, 2014, 11:48:50 PM
-Speaking of which,

Benazir Bhutto
(http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/benazir_bhutto_10-640x480.jpg)

and Yulia Tymoshenko
(http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/73156000/jpg/_73156752_021242940-1.jpg)

-Respectively, the best-looking heads of state in the world when each lady was running a country, would make excellent leaderhead material.  Ideas about how to future them would be welcome.

I also found Brother Lal's brother, Rajendra Pachauri, who's the head of some climate thingy at the UN.  The beard streak was too awesome to pass up.
(http://topnews.in/law/files/pachauri111.jpg)

Him I can future by doing something weird with his collar - that doesn't work with women's fashions, and as I though of the two ladies because they're so attractive, I hate to paste shiny junk on their faces or make their eyes glow.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 03, 2014, 04:07:29 AM
I may have futured her enough, subtly - she's certainly otherwise ready to go.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 03, 2014, 04:55:39 AM
She always did look like she was from space, somehow - one of her nicknames is "Ukrainian Leia".
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 05, 2014, 02:31:43 AM
Portraits3 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=284)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=854)

Leaderheads are the most time-consuming aspect of a SMACX faction graphic, so in the same spirit as the Bases files, here are eight leaderheads, ready to copy/paste as-is into your next custom faction.  It is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Bases series, also in this section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0

These portraits were a lot of work, but all I ask is that you credit me in the blank space of the .pcx you use one in.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.   Enjoy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 05, 2014, 06:50:27 PM
Got P.M. Bhutto done last night

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=875)

and am reasonably satisfied with the result.
Title: This is Ground Control to Major Tom
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 06, 2014, 02:55:26 AM
I was going to work on Lal's cousin tonight, but I got inspired by something in the news...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=876)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on November 06, 2014, 03:15:21 AM
Monty Python IN SPACE comes to mind.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 06, 2014, 03:21:50 AM
Too white and male - but I'll consider it.

When I do Lal's grampa, I'll only be one shy of completing Portraits7, all photos worked over by me.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 06, 2014, 04:02:09 AM
I need a woman - preferably non-white, and either old & craggy/wrinkled or good-looking; very, in either case.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Rymdolov on November 06, 2014, 07:44:34 AM
Speaking of great faces - what do you think of Sweden's new prime minister, Stefan Löfven? Though to be honest he looks so much cooler when he's not smiling (or trying to smile...).

(http://www.riksdagen.se/Global/bilder/personbilder/stefan-lofven-192.jpg)

Very white and male, though. Perhaps you could find a use for our new minister of culture, Alice Bah Kuhnke?

(http://www.regeringen.se/content/2/c6/01/90/62/b5dd6e98.jpg)

I really like your leaderheads, BU. Keep up the good work!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on November 06, 2014, 09:43:11 AM
Too white and male - but I'll consider it.

No, I meant looking at that reworked Canadian astronaut. It reminds me of Monty Python. Must be the mustache.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 08, 2014, 03:06:50 PM
SO -

It had occurred to me that there was no reason I couldn't reuse the shots I'd previously posted to Downloads as diplomacy landscape fodder - that file is still useful for artists who want to customize, and the current size/cropped & scanlined series is for non/beginning/lazy artists who have nothing in particular in mind for a faction.

So Tuesday night, I began going through my Landscapes folder and slapped together this:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=877)
(Click to embiggen.)

It doesn't take forever to size/crop/scanline 23 shots that need no alterations, and these mostly didn't. 

-And then, mid-day Wednesday, my ISP gave up working - I needed something to do, and-

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=878)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=879)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=880)

That got me through Thursday w/o dying of boredom. 

Yesterday, I couldn't get on to use Rym's shot of Alice Bah Kuhnke, but I got a folder full of headshots, too, and Portraits7 was only two heads shy, so:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=881)

The bald lady may or may not mess up this set being all photos worked into paintings by me; I can't tell if the original was unusually detailed/accomplished CGI or a photo someone had already shooped - I reworked her extensively, at any rate, and none of these are just googled and dropped in.


It's good to be back.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 08, 2014, 04:22:18 PM
-snip-
'Diplomacy landscapes'
;eek
Temptation to make hive re-skin with community-made art: great
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 08, 2014, 04:25:12 PM
It doesn't take forever to size/crop/scanline 23 shots that need no alterations, and these mostly didn't.
Also, I had a day with nothing else to do.  I've been collecting images I might use in SMACX modding since before you learned how to read.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on November 08, 2014, 04:48:59 PM
Alot of nice gems there in the diplo landscapes, BUncle.

Also, I didn't give Tymoshenko a second thought when you first showed your work on her on us, but seeing her pic all sized up she fits right in. ;b;
Title: Re: This is Ground Control to Major Tom
Post by: Ford_Prefect on November 09, 2014, 05:12:20 AM
I was going to work on Lal's cousin tonight, but I got inspired by something in the news...

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=876[/url])


 :D  ;b;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 13, 2014, 05:26:09 PM
...Got a lot more work done while I was cast into the outer darkness for a week, but I'll need a while to get uploaded and organized to show - provided the phone doesn't die again...
Title: Page Three: Art Modding Goody Files
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 13, 2014, 09:07:11 PM
What I did on my internet vacation

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=882)
http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html)

-Well, it's not all I produced, but the main thing.  You'll find Bases24 previewed on the page, and I've begun Bases25.

I'm debating whether to come up with five more logos myself, or throw Portraits1 open to the group to complete...
Title: Logos1
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 13, 2014, 11:44:46 PM
(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=883)

You Can Get Your Name On My Art Modding Goodies Page.

Seriously, guys - download the attached .pcx, add a logo or two (or five) and your credit, and post.

I have a lot of catching up to do yet from my week in exile, and I'd love to get out of finishing this all by myself.  The theme this far is mostly space and space travel - gambling or drones, popular faction ideas (I covered terraforming and Unity crew/reunification, both perennial favorites), or fill-in-the-blank is fine - once you decide on a theme, the ideas just roll in, and the rest is (fairly) easy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 14, 2014, 02:07:19 AM
Flux-Plomacy landscapes!
Because you know, spoofing makes the world go 'round.   I'm looking at you, DiplomacyLandscapes1
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 14, 2014, 02:22:54 AM
;lol  ;b;

You did that last year?


Here's the blank template, BTW, so you don't have to overwrite me.  Should I post more of this sort of thing in hopes of someone going to town on bases, portraits and logos?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 14, 2014, 03:22:17 AM
;lol  ;b;

You did that last year?


Here's the blank template, BTW, so you don't have to overwrite me.  Should I post more of this sort of thing in hopes of someone <--- Probably Me  going to town on bases, portraits and logos?
If you posted all your blank templates, it wouldn't be a stretch to expect me to make my own flux series of them.
EDIT: Post 200! Woo...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 14, 2014, 03:54:06 AM
Okayfine.

If you want to do whole goodie files by yourself and post to Downloads - take the next number in the series and go for it - Bases25 and Logos1 one are in the works, and I have no work done or particular plans after DiplomacyLandscapes5 or Portraits 7, aside from slowly releasing them.  I guess I could always renumber anything you supplanted, so don't let that stop you putting stuff up, soonest, that we can promote to the benefit of the community.

I take it your sig is supposed to look like that?  Congrats on post #200.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 14, 2014, 11:05:32 PM

I take it your sig is supposed to look like that?  Congrats on post #200.
Um, yeah.
Well kind of. I was going to try and make a blue laser go across the bottom, but I never finished it. Looks kind of stupid. Let me fix that...
I may make a bases as I know it takes a long time to find good ones. But 25 could be more diverse if I find every one individually on google images. I think that first I'm going to make a "blank" faction template.
(Blank meaning outlines of the leaderhead, a holographic base etc.)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 14, 2014, 11:24:36 PM
What I did on my internet vacation

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=882[/url])
[url]http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html[/url] ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html[/url])

-Well, it's not all I produced, but the main thing.  You'll find Bases24 previewed on the page, and I've begun Bases25.

I'm debating whether to come up with five more logos myself, or throw Portraits1 open to the group to complete...
([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=883[/url])

You Can Get Your Name On My Art Modding Goodies Page.

Seriously, guys - download the attached .pcx, add a logo or two (or five) and your credit, and post.

I have a lot of catching up to do yet from my week in exile, and I'd love to get out of finishing this all by myself.  The theme this far is mostly space and space travel - gambling or drones, popular faction ideas (I covered terraforming and Unity crew/reunification, both perennial favorites), or fill-in-the-blank is fine - once you decide on a theme, the ideas just roll in, and the rest is (fairly) easy.
Can anyone guess what makes me a sad panda?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 14, 2014, 11:28:48 PM

Can anyone guess what makes me a sad panda?
um
Not completely sure what you meant by that.
Is it because nobody has added any logos yet?
Or maybe because the webpage got cut off?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 14, 2014, 11:32:38 PM
Could it be zero feedback after days of hard work?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 14, 2014, 11:36:05 PM
About the sig - have you considered animating the beam and combining that with the move function?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 14, 2014, 11:51:47 PM
About the sig - have you considered animating the beam and combining that with the move function?
Feedback...
Well, the bare shields file and the rest I've already used. They've been there for a long time. Very useful though, I would hate making facs without them.
It would force me to do them myself.  ???
Actually though, I must admit that I'm not much for any of those logos. They are just scraps of gameplay art. (but really though, who would use a drone or a picture of AC with black around it as a logo?) As for the others... They really don't work. We have a rocket with flames out of it that looks slightly too fat and too animated. BUncle Man would fit better for a Buster's Stepsons faction. Also, we have an Earth. We're on Alpha Centauri? And a former... What? Of course, we appreciate you doing it anyway. Those are just my grumblings, although I like the old one you did with just a white backround and then a ton of little bits and pieces to make logos out of with more editing.
That said, I couldn't think of anything to add easy either.
About the sig... Well, I suppose I could probably make it look all squiggly. Like a tadpole swimming. But I do not have the patience for that. Of course, I'm sure I'll end up doing something to that blue laser beam soon.


I hate criticizing free stuff.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 12:00:44 AM
The spaceship is a deliberately retro thing.  The one superimposed on the sunburst is a callback to Asimov's Foundation series...

Naturally, I wasn't very serious with a lot of these, or I wouldn't have wasted space on a BuncleMan logo.

Let's see if I can slap together a sample of what I have in mind for the sig - shouldn't take long.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 12:12:17 AM
Here, Flux; try substituting this image.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 15, 2014, 01:32:55 AM
Here, Flux; try substituting this image.
Okay. It looks good with the moving except for the white background.
Thanks. I'm going to fail attempt to remove that.
Shouldn't be to hard, right?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 15, 2014, 01:34:59 AM
Okay, attempting to remove white background.
EDIT: Apparently I broke it.

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 02:04:07 AM
Try this.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 15, 2014, 02:12:19 AM
Try this.
Combined with the marquee it looks pretty good.
Thanks!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 02:18:02 AM
Pew! Pew! Pewpew Pew!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 15, 2014, 02:29:13 AM
Pew! Pew! Pewpew Pew!
*A wild idea appears!
ID: "Modern Pistol"
Location: Signature, line 2

EDIT:
Dialogue: "But then the laser isn't "BLUEFLUX""
yeah, I think I'll stick with the lonely laser.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 05:06:23 AM
Okay, I went ahead and finished it on my own, he said, citing lack of interest.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=883)

One of these days I'm gonna go all Little Red Hen on you guys. ;nod

---

I doubt I'll bother to do any more of these - because again, logos are easy, and generally the last thing anybody does on a faction, and not something easily made generic - these aren't likely to see a lot of use, but no one can say I didn't try to cover all the bases.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 15, 2014, 05:12:14 AM
Your portraits template confused me a bit, so I made my own. I think there was a bunch of small slots that had no apparent use.
And now I present to you Leaderheads1 by me!
Took basically every leaderhead possible from the game Supreme Commander.
Also posting my template, just in-case anybody else wants it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 05:16:22 AM
I'll explain tomorrow.  Have a good night.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: gwillybj on November 15, 2014, 12:59:46 PM
BU: Neat idea with the King of Spades. My faction would, of course, use the Joker.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 07:40:52 PM
Of course, the joker was the first thing I thought of, but I was using a screenshot from Windows Free Cell - no joker available.''
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 08:11:50 PM
Okay, Flux, you already know this, but:
([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=638[/url])

16.)  The Datalinks leader portrait.  The leaderhead is important to establish the personality of the faction, the storytelling elements being what make SMACX so special, and what an art modder specializes in.  As with the Small Report Logo, to maintain stylistic consistency with the official factions, it is important that you include the scanlines, or your factions won’t fit in with the Firaxis ones or the custom factions others made.  The scanlines, of course, represent the low technology everyone starts with before they get the rebuilding of civilization well underway.

17.)  Small Council leaderhead.  This is what displays in the Planetary Council screen when you’re not planetary governor.

18.)  Big Council leaderhead.  This is what displays in the Planetary Council screen when you are governor.

19.)   Diplomacy leaderhead.  What other leaders see when they talk to you one-on-one.


Four different copies of the leaderhead in a faction graphic, right?  I just set them adjacent in a row touching with a flipped row butted against underneath to save space.  I think the arrangement I came up with for the Portraits template optimizes the use of space in the file - I can't image how it would be possible to pack all four sizes with no gaps - even with a complicated arrangement that separated the leaderheads in a set.  -And the idea is sort of to idiot-proof and make it as easy as humanly possible for beginners and non-artists to get started on the visual side of faction creation.

There's nothing wrong with leaving a little more work for the end-user to do by only posting the largest, datalinks, size, and leaving off the scanlines (although I'm sure that will result in mostly lazy scanline-skipping on the part of the end-users), but you gots to improve your size/cropping technique.  Half that set is kinda useless because you squished them narrow to fit the box - and at least two widened enough to show.  ;no

Pretty elementary to size them proportionally close to 198x164 and then crop to exact dimensions and copy/paste.  I go over how to do this repeatedly in tutorials I know you've seen.  You can do it.
Title: Logos1: at last, at least 20 of every faction graphic component
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 15, 2014, 10:12:04 PM
Logos1 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=286)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=883)

20 logos, size/cropped and scanlined, ready to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Logos are the easiest aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Bases, Diplomacy Landscapes and Portraits series, also in this section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to create, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 02:37:17 AM

Pretty elementary to size them proportionally close to 198x164 and then crop to exact dimensions and copy/paste.  I go over how to do this repeatedly in tutorials I know you've seen.  You can do it.
hmm
Hmmmm...
Your right.
I need to make these all into more painting-like leaderheads for my own good. Along with fixing the other little things.
Then I will convert to your template I suppose. It's about just making it easier for the others, right?
I think the hardest part was how low-quality the picture was when I first opened it up and zoomed in. You can hardly tell what anything is. I mean, the details are only a few pixels it feels like. I actually zoomed out a few times to make sure things were what I thought they were.
Steps:
1. Removing wrinkles/lines
2. Decided to make him have a few war scars for good measure. Gash on his cheek and a bruise on his cheek.
3. His hair doesn't need so much detail I've decided. Probably the most time-consuming part of this was removing to spike from his head (surprisingly)
4. There is pink around his eyes. Going to get rid of that. Also re-doing the eyebrows.
5. Finishing touched. Don't think I did much here.
6. Adding a new background, and converting to SMAC pallet... Literally all of the colors went through. First time that has ever happened to me.
7. Increased contrast. Saved the pic.

Well, that is the first time I tried to edit a picture to make it look painted by myself. Looking for feedback.
Here is my first attempt:
(first pic is first edit, second cut-out, 3rd is original)
So... I guess I succeeded sort-of? Looks very rookie.
EDIT: Just noticed a flaw. Gonna update that.
POST EDIT: Fixed it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 02:43:59 AM
I accidentally included part of the background in his hair  ;lol
Fixed it though.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 02:47:55 AM
Interesting.  I like that you're making to effort to get better. ;b;

Where's the original from?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 02:52:00 AM
And ooh.  You edited in another shot while I was posting.  I like him against the new background. ;b;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 03:07:31 AM
And ooh.  You edited in another shot while I was posting.  I like him against the new background. ;b;
Interesting.  I like that you're making to effort to get better. ;b;

Where's the original from?
Well, the original is from the game Supreme Commander. He's a strategist in that game if I remember right. I put most leaderheads in from that game in the Leaderheads1 thing. I found one really good portrait that I didn't put in though, she looked way to fat when you tried to crop.
And you mean the third one for the new background? That was the original, the Jedi council is mine. You can tell, the face looks significantly different.
Let me try and put mine in the original background, see if that is better.
Ooh, going to need to edit it. Apparently it doesn't fit the original outline very well. I guess I should've kept it in the first background.
All-in-all, I'm going to say that was a decent first try.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 03:14:45 AM
You're doing well.  You can't get good without trying - and we all have to have the courage to suck until we're good.  You have talent.  Keep at it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 03:35:02 AM
You're doing well.  You can't get good without trying - and we all have to have the courage to suck until we're good.  You have talent.  Keep at it.
I'm interpreting that I have potential, but I suck right now.   :-\
Should be expected for my first time.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 03:47:33 AM
You don't suck.  You just have room to grow as an artist, and are growing.

I still have room for growth, and am growing.  Lot of that going around.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 04:10:44 AM
You don't suck.  You just have room to grow as an artist, and are growing.

I still have room for growth, and am growing.  Lot of that going around.
I meant more for the leaderhead alone, not the skill of Art Modding in general.
A good way to get better would be to hold a contest to see who can make the best ____ out of ___'s face - Then we could compare eachother's.
Before I retire for today, I decided I would treat you with this.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 08:14:52 PM
As some practice, I decided to remove Ivana's implants.
Well, I should work on the forehead a little more, might not be the best color for the lighting.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 08:17:55 PM
She's squished.  I like her face, especially, of the set -the light eyes give her a perfect space/alien touch- but she's narrow...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 08:23:40 PM
You mean for the portait box?
Yeah. I found an actual drawing/painting of her, but that is narrow as well.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 08:25:47 PM
I think she'd be better widened maybe 10%.  She looks squished.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 08:30:12 PM
The picture above is the one from the game. Can't do anything about it.
Looking at the set though, she does look too skinny.
You like this better? I can get rid of the repeating background easily enough.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 08:33:21 PM
Yeah.  ;b;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 16, 2014, 08:34:51 PM
You might enjoy this:
Dostya Taunts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSzDDq8Hm6M (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSzDDq8Hm6M)
Dostya leaderhead moving/talking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d6czSnJMJI (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d6czSnJMJI)

Her personality fits the Red Unit - That faction is basically a spoof of the Cybran from SupCom.
Although the real leader is Brackman. He did get a spot as a scientist in the text file though.
Title: Leaderhead Contest
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 16, 2014, 11:56:29 PM
Flux tells me he's really serious about let's have a making a leaderhead contest - so what the heck.  I happen to have saved the following shot yesterday from an Ebola news story:

(http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AO879_EBOLA2_M_20141113104414.jpg)

That there's Ebola survivor Ashoka Mukpo - the strange name on a white American guy is because he was raised by a guru and is supposed to be the reincarnation of an important Tibetan lama.  He seems pretty normal, considering.

Flux, pictures of the top of his head are all over Google Images - that's part of the contest if you don't want to draw something in yourself, because skipping all the work we can through googling is often part of what we do.  Any rules to suggest, Flux?  I'd say making the final result substantially -if not excusively- based on this shot and not a better one of Mr. Mukpo would be good, though have a party on the background and anything you can alter yourself, and adding robot crap to his face is fine.

Protip: there's an easy way to get6 him looking at the camera, and you should.
Title: Re: Leaderhead Contest
Post by: Flux on November 17, 2014, 01:34:19 AM
Leaderhead contest!
Okay. Well, I think the point of this was for comparisons of it. So maybe he should have be a certain theme? Cyborg seems to be a common and fun-to-do one. I suggest that.
I'd say it should be based off this shot, though you can the original "organic parts" it in subtle ways. (for example, re-doing the eyes to look at the camera). Of course other backgrounds should be allowed.
So basically as long as it's clearly the same guy cyborgic you should be golden.
That's my suggestions.
Title: Leaderhead Contest
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 17, 2014, 01:50:11 AM
Well, I'm having a lazy day to try to get some stress to go away, so I'll give you a head start of however much you want - you can decide whether you want to go first, last or simultaneous submission.  I won't start working before tomorrow afternoon.

I dunno if I'll want to borg him, but I'll offer the advantage of I'll do something with basically this shot, and you can go find something better of him to work with if you want.  -I think we can agree that he has to be futured somehow.  Really, the whole point is practice at making a good leaderhead from a photo, so if a good leaderhead results, that should qualify.

Anyone else want to play?  More people trying ought to prove more fun.  Try to subject your posts "Leaderhead Contest".
Title: Leaderhead Contest
Post by: Flux on November 17, 2014, 02:02:27 AM
Well, I'm having a lazy day to try to get some stress to go away, so I'll give you a head start of however much you want - you can decide whether you want to go first, last or simultaneous submission.  I won't start working before tomorrow afternoon.

I dunno if I'll want to borg him, but I'll offer the advantage of I'll do something with basically this shot, and you can go find something better of him to work with if you want.  -I think we can agree that he has to be futured somehow.  Really, the whole point is practice at making a good leaderhead from a photo, so if a good leaderhead results, that should qualify.

Anyone else want to play?  More people trying ought to prove more fun.  Try to subject your posts "Leaderhead Contest".
Almost all of the pictures on google images of him are super-crappy quality. You found one of the best ones out there I think. Simultaneous submission should be fine as long as it gets done quick enough. Let's just message eachother when we're both done and then post at the same time. If anyone else joins, it will be the same way. I might start working on him today, but there really shouldn't be a time limit as long as nobody forsakes us like Green1.  :P
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 17, 2014, 02:07:58 AM
Yeah, take as long as you like - I'll need maybe three or four hours.

People come and go with innerwebs forums - I don't it like it, either, when someone gets busy having a life instead of posting to entertain me, but it's a thing we have to make our peace with.  Giving Green a hard time about it as friendly teasing is one thing, but let's not badmouth him in earnest because a boss at work changed his shift.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 17, 2014, 02:42:08 AM
Eh, I'm not going to do it tonight. I've only done 1 thing that I've kept. Not many ideas right now.
I will say that it's so much easier to detail those smaller leaderheads. I should've expected that.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Dio on November 17, 2014, 04:09:36 AM
Yeah, take as long as you like - I'll need maybe three or four hours.

People come and go with innerwebs forums - I don't it like it, either, when someone gets busy having a life instead of posting to entertain me, but it's a thing we have to make our peace with.  Giving Green a hard time about it as friendly teasing is one thing, but let's not badmouth him in earnest because a boss at work changed his shift.
I plan to continue posting whenever and whatever worthwhile material I can. In response to actual graphics, I am continuing to encounter certain difficulties with pseudo 3-D effects on certain logos. I am currently working on resolving the issue.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 17, 2014, 04:19:53 AM
I'll throw that in on DiplomacyLandscapes6. ;b;

Tell me more about this logo problem...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 18, 2014, 04:07:06 AM
Hey, BU, what Bases are you on? The last you posted was 15, but I know you do them in advance.
I'll probably do one so I wanted to know.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 18, 2014, 04:09:53 AM
I've started Bases25.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 18, 2014, 05:26:10 PM
-Keep in mind that I'm pacing out publishing, and I've got Portraits4-7 and Diplomacy Landscapes2-5 to release before then, in addition to Bases16-24 -plus anything else I might decide to create by that time- so if you get it ready to publish before I put up Bases16, you might want to take its place, and I'll just renumber that one so you don't have to wait forever for your turn.

-add "alphacentauri2.info" to the credits and I'll just treat it like part of the series, if you like...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 18, 2014, 09:54:22 PM
-Keep in mind that I'm pacing out publishing, and I've got Portraits4-7 and Diplomacy Landscapes2-5 to release before then, in addition to Bases16-24 -plus anything else I might decide to create by that time- so if you get it ready to publish before I put up Bases16, you might want to take its place, and I'll just renumber that one so you don't have to wait forever for your turn.

-add "alphacentauri2.info" to the credits and I'll just treat it like part of the series, if you like...
I could really care less. I'll just put the file as Bases 26.
Title: Lost Eden Bases
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 19, 2014, 01:43:44 PM
Lost Eden Bases (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=259)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=884)

A variety of bases from Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Age of Empires and other sources, originally for Kilkakon's Lost Eden project. Feel free to use for your own factions, just give me some credit! :D
Title: Lost Eden Bases
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 19, 2014, 01:47:23 PM
-These are (faction).pcxes with everything already in place, including diplomacy landscapes - the end user just needs a leader, a logo and faction colors added.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 21, 2014, 01:59:09 AM
Shun me, I made a crappy sprite animation.
(https://i.imgflip.com/eepes.gif) (https://imgflip.com/gif/eepes) (https://imgflip.com/gifgenerator)
It looks kind of like a piece of paper rotating when you see at it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 21, 2014, 02:06:22 AM
Too busy shunning you to comment.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 21, 2014, 02:16:26 AM
Too busy shunning you to comment.
Super sonic style!
I've put myself into the mood for Genesis games. See ya in 1991.




Sometimes I can draw okay... Not today.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 21, 2014, 02:20:27 AM
Put yourself into the mood for the AAR it's your turn in, or I WILL shun you.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 21, 2014, 02:24:19 AM
Put yourself into the mood for the AAR it's your turn in, or I WILL shun you.
Oh crap.
Really?
 :( I guess I should get that done now.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 21, 2014, 02:25:49 AM
:) really.   :whip:
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on November 25, 2014, 07:01:10 PM
So I decided to attempt to make a flash, and I ended up with this:
(https://i.imgflip.com/ekis7.gif) (https://imgflip.com/gif/ekis7) (https://imgflip.com/gifgenerator)
Title: Bases16
Post by: Buster's Uncle on November 26, 2014, 09:38:27 PM
Bases16 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=287)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=727)

18 structures adapted from Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits, Diplomacy Landscapes and Logos series, also in this Downloads section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to BlueFlux for the SW: GB files I worked with.
Title: Diplomacy Landscapes2
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 18, 2014, 02:07:29 AM
Diplomacy Landscapes2 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=288)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=877)

23 diplomacy landscapes, size/croped and scanlined to copy/paste as-is into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Diplomacy landscapes are one of the easier aspects of a SMACX faction graphic to create -provided one hasn't anything terribly specific in mind- but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up - given a logo appropriate to the faction, all the elements of a faction graphic are available in AC2's Download section for anyone with elementary copy/paste skills and a graphics program that can handle .pcx files - a good eye/taste helps, too.  (See also the Bases and Portraits series.)

For info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on December 29, 2014, 06:34:08 PM
Does anybody have this map by any chance?
(http://apolyton.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=110340&d=1122671550)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 29, 2014, 09:50:03 PM
I've seen SMAC Earth maps before - is that what you mean?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on December 29, 2014, 10:56:19 PM
I've seen SMAC Earth maps before - is that what you mean?
If it's an Earth map, then it would include Africa.
So yes. That one in particular looked really nice to me for some reason.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 29, 2014, 10:59:28 PM
Looks like there's been some mild terrain texture modding.  Looks good.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on December 30, 2014, 04:55:51 AM
Alright, I figure this fits in this thread well enough
This guy named Lobo on a different forum used to take requests for avatars. My avatar is an example.
Unfortunately he doesn't do that anymore. Me and a few other people have joked about being his legacy, and I actually went through with that.
Modded my avatar to look like Shadow the Hedgehog. It turned out pretty okay and I felt like editing an image for some inexplicable reason.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on January 06, 2015, 01:00:57 PM
About that map--that may or may not be Flygon's. I remember him playing on an Earth map--ask him :)

Such a quirky style of avatar XD
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 10, 2015, 03:07:42 AM

Such a quirky style of avatar XD

Living proof that the 80's are still cool?
Pacmanatar
Pac Man Fever (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-MONIvP6kI#noexternalembed)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on January 10, 2015, 11:57:32 PM
The 80s were not cool.

I was there, and it was a stupid decade.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 11, 2015, 12:02:50 AM
The 80s were not cool.

I was there, and it was a stupid decade.
Eh, I meant that as a rhetorical question. I know little about the 80's aside from the fact the US had a good president (Reaganites) and Nintendo made a pretty important Video Game console.
Well, most decades tend to be stupid.
I mean, lets take a look at the past...
1910's -World War Freakin' 1
1920's -Woo! Stock market crash
1930's -They call him Adolf
1940's -Blood 'n gore
1950's -Korean War
1960's -Vietnam War
1970's -Err...
1980's -very stupid
1990's - :dunno:
2000's -Afghanistan, 9/11... Other stuff too
2010's -EBOLA!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on January 11, 2015, 12:08:43 AM
Reagan sucked.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 11, 2015, 12:10:58 AM
Reagan sucked.
There's always going to be somebody that says every president sucked.
But I like him. Even if I wasn't there, I know some stuff about him. I mean, I have a biography on him a few feet away from me on a shelf.
But I'd rather not argue about that here.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on January 11, 2015, 12:34:16 AM
You're not going to.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 29, 2015, 10:20:54 PM
--Terminated--
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on January 29, 2015, 10:27:15 PM
 :(
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 29, 2015, 10:33:28 PM
Is that frown because I did crappy?  ;cute
Is it because I downplayed myself?
Is it because I mentioned ii in a previously clean forum?

Is it really THAT horrible?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 29, 2015, 11:11:57 PM
I just noticed I titled the edited pic "talent"
I SWEAR that wasn't intended to imply he has any...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on January 29, 2015, 11:16:04 PM
Is it because I mentioned JB in a previously clean forum?
:(
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 29, 2015, 11:23:39 PM
Well, yar innocence is gone. <- the whole forum) Nothing you can do about that, now.
It'll happen - Eventually we'll get someone here just to troll. He'll reference the man, now.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on January 29, 2015, 11:27:57 PM
 :'(
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 29, 2015, 11:28:39 PM
I know what'll make you feel better - Hang on...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Flux on January 29, 2015, 11:41:11 PM
Now pretend that didn't happen.
Gonna move on from this thread, maybe make a smilie...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Geo on February 06, 2015, 06:00:25 AM
This thread is now purified! ;lol ;b;
Title: Bases17
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 07, 2015, 05:16:07 PM
Bases17 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=290)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=728)

10 structures adapted from Rise of Nations, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits, Diplomacy Landscapes and Logos series, also in this Downloads section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to JarlWolf for the RON files I worked with.
Title: Diplomacy Landscapes3
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 02, 2015, 07:01:59 PM
Diplomacy Landscapes3 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=292)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=878)

23 diplomacy landscapes, size/croped and scanlined to copy/paste as-is into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Diplomacy landscapes are one of the easier aspects of a SMACX faction graphic to create -provided one hasn't anything terribly specific in mind- but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up - given a logo appropriate to the faction, all the elements of a faction graphic are available in AC2's Download section for anyone with elementary copy/paste skills and a graphics program that can handle .pcx files - a good eye/taste helps, too.  (See also the Bases and Portraits series.)

For info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=292 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=292)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 08, 2015, 04:23:15 PM
Portraits5 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=302)

Leaderheads are the most time-consuming aspect of a SMACX faction graphic, so in the same spirit as the Bases, Logos and Landscape series (also to be found in the same section of AC2 Downloads), here are eight leaderheads, ready to copy/paste as-is into your next custom faction.  It is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  For info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)

These portraits were a lot of work, but all I ask is that you credit me in the blank space of the .pcx you use one in.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.   Enjoy.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=857)
(Click to embiggen)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 13, 2015, 02:04:11 AM
Well; it was just an avatar challenge, but I realize looking at the result that if I ever get around to doing that Star Trek faction set for a GotM I proposed years ago, I've got a leaderhead already for the Orions...

(http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1319.0;attach=15957;image)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Vidsek on July 13, 2015, 05:16:43 AM
   The eye (iris) color seems a bit drab now, but the metallic nails are spock on.

                                              Vidsek,  Been tested and not colorblind.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 13, 2015, 05:25:10 AM
Her eyes were a pain - I didn't touch the irises, but had to alter the whites a bit to get the pink out and not have it look like inept makeup.  The blue just doesn't stand out as much in a green face.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 13, 2015, 08:29:43 PM
Is the attached better?  Her eyes were piercingly blue in the shot I worked from -I'm sure my enhancement would look all cartoon fake in a more natural pink face- but I fancy this improves on the previous shot (pictured again inside the post for comparison).

(http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1319.0;attach=15957;image)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Vidsek on July 15, 2015, 09:32:19 AM
  Assuming the lower image is the newest, I'd say you've done an excellent job of bringing out the blue. 

  Now, of course, blue is not your only option...what goes well with green...red?  Orange?  Yellow?   Maybe best to call it done, and done well :)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 15, 2015, 02:03:31 PM
;nod

The metallic nails were already there, BTW.  She wore a goggled gold Brittany Spears space outfit elsewhere in the video from which the screenshot I worked on was taken - I just left them alone, knowing a good space lady touch when I saw one...
Title: Base/Landscape GOLDMINE!
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 16, 2015, 08:54:44 PM
16+ Pics Of Fairy Tale Architecture From Norway  (http://www.boredpanda.com/fairy-tale-architecture-norway/?afterlogin=savevote&post=248369&score=1)

This is now up to 40 beautiful pics, suitable mostly for something like the Middle Earth mod zsozso was working on 5 years ago.  You have to keep hitting the orange "Show (#) More" bar at the bottom after the first 10.  I just saved all 40 to my bases folder, although there's enough for another several Landscapes file(s)...

A few good ones (Click to big up):

(http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fairy-tale-viking-architecture-norway-1__880.jpg)

(http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fairy-tale-viking-architecture-norway-11__880.jpg)

(http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fairy-tale-viking-architecture-norway-2__880.jpg)

(http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fairytale-architecture-norway-3__880.jpg)

(http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/P3036272__880.jpg)

(http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fantoft-stavekirke1__880.jpg)
Title: Bases18
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 24, 2015, 02:34:14 PM
Bases18 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=304)

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=729)

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits, Diplomacy Landscapes and Logos series, also in this Downloads section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to Russia4life for the GC2 files I worked with.

http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=304 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=304)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Chumbles on September 14, 2015, 07:54:53 PM
Portraits5 is awesome and stellar work; has anyone any recommendations for a free/cheap graphix editor which easily maintains the transparent 'colour'.  Long ages ago I used PSP4 with 98SE and that was fine, but the keying migrated/shifted in XP and 7.  I was reduced to a quivering mass of protoplasm   ;brainhurts  I was burned by having to give up after hours of work - I was trying to create a Compact Space mod (Pride of Chanur, which struck me as being an ideal starting point for a story...)  So, I gave up but I'd like to have another try (at my aged, slow pace).

Lord knows I won't reach your standard Buncle  (do you drive an old car? ?carbuncle?  :-[ Sorry)  but I'd like to try.  And congrats to you and the others on this excellent site.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2015, 08:23:56 PM
GIMP is a free download.

My modding tutorials here: http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm) -Mostly detailed GIMP instructions.  Much talk about why, more about how-to; you have to supply the talent - but it's more nit-picking patient persistence than talent that it take to be good.

I like talking shop and I like teaching.  I expect to see your work, and I'd love to answer questions.

(1991 Chevrolet.)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Chumbles on September 14, 2015, 09:04:33 PM
You are a gentleman and a scholar!  Seeing my work depends on my health; I didn't choose SS as an avatar without reason.

 :adore:

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2015, 09:55:31 PM
...Galactus might show up to beat you up before you can post what you're working on?

How ancient?  I'm 50 and feelin' it...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Chumbles on September 14, 2015, 11:13:29 PM
Ancient as in 64!  Determinedly hanging on; very slowly recovering from nearly dying 4 times in 9 months!  So stuck indoors for 2 years in hospital and now at home, thank the ghods for games (smac/x, civ iv etc) and the internet!  Time for sleep (UK based). Good night Ben Sisko; (now wouldn't Kira Nerys be brilliant as the military Santiago type?)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 14, 2015, 11:26:34 PM
Ro Laren - Kira was always entirely too cuddly for the tough lady role.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 15, 2015, 02:04:26 AM
We have a Star Trek thread in Recreation Commons, BTW.  -It's heavy on real Star Trek, but youse kids and yer TNG stuff are welcome - the real fans can discuss that stuff knowledgably, and won't give you a very hard time.  See also, the Enterprise theme; it's not about business...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2015, 02:43:58 AM
Just messing around with a pic because I felt like messing, and got this:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=3982.0;attach=16559;image)
There's probably a custom faction idea somewhere in there...

The Avenging Angels - aggressive religious fanatics with a (creepy) gene-engineered twist and a bit of Flash Gordon's Hawkmen cache'.  Hmm?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2015, 03:55:26 AM
Just messing around with a pic because I felt like messing, and got this:

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=3982.0;attach=16559;image[/url])
There's probably a custom faction idea somewhere in there...

The Avenging Angels - aggressive religious fanatics with a (creepy) gene-engineered twist and a bit of Flash Gordon's Hawkmen cache'.  Hmm?

I'm not going to make that faction. probably, so if anyone wants to run with it...  Check with me, though - I have more ideas about it...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on September 19, 2015, 04:00:03 AM
They could be Jewish, BTW, just to be different and please Yitzi.  DO talk to someone (or be) Jewish to get it right before you run with that.  The kabbalah is full of flowery angel names and terms for flavor...
Title: Re: Bases16
Post by: ComradeCrimson on December 31, 2015, 04:34:37 PM
Bases16 ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=287[/url])

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=727[/url])

18 structures adapted from Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits, Diplomacy Landscapes and Logos series, also in this Downloads section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: [url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0[/url] ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0[/url])  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to BlueFlux for the SW: GB files I worked with.


I think I might use one of these for my Unity faction, particularly the row on the bottom left. Do I credit you for it, BUncle? Is there any others I should credit for the city graphics?

I also have a question, is it possible to edit the "childhood" pictures that show when talking to a faction leader? The default is  ;deidre; and her past.

I'm looking for a really good symbol for the United Army of Humanity/Unity as well, and one for the Pathos Bastion. I might just make one but even just concept ideas could help me out loads.

City graphics are needed as well for the Pathos Bastion, debating whether to make my own or use existing sets. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 31, 2015, 11:02:11 PM
I publish the Bases sets to be used - "Bases from Bases16 by Buster's Uncle" in the empty space of the .pcx will do for credit.

The pictures sequence is an .flv file, and it is possible -if a huge pain- to make your own, but I've never been able to wrap my head around it.  ...I think Kilkakon knows how, if you can get his attention...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 31, 2015, 11:17:16 PM
Here's all my graphics goodie files listed in one place, for ideas: http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html)

All the game art tutorials I've put together here:  http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm) - though you only need copy/paste skills if you can find what you need in the art goodie files...

-If you haven't figured out what you want for a logo/symbol by the time you've finished the rest of the graphic, I'm sure the community will have some suggestions from looking at the rest --- but seriously, logos are the easiest part; easy to think of something, easy to draw.
Title: Diplomacy Landscapes4
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 07, 2016, 07:08:11 PM
Diplomacy Landscapes4 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=324)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=879)

23 diplomacy landscapes, size/croped and scanlined to copy/paste as-is into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Diplomacy landscapes are one of the easier aspects of a SMACX faction graphic to create -provided one hasn't anything terribly specific in mind- but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up - given a logo appropriate to the faction, all the elements of a faction graphic are available in AC2's Download section for anyone with elementary copy/paste skills and a graphics program that can handle .pcx files - a good eye/taste helps, too.  (See also the Bases and Portraits series.)

For info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ComradeCrimson on February 09, 2016, 08:54:57 PM
Oooo some of these look rather suitable for some things I got in mind for. I'll likely use one or two of these for the Pathos Bastion or Pioneers when I get around to it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 09, 2016, 09:01:41 PM
...If, looking through what's displayed on my custom factions art goodie page, you see something you'd like to use that I haven't uploaded the .pcx yet, let me know...
Title: Portraits6
Post by: Buster's Uncle on April 15, 2016, 09:49:37 PM
Portraits6 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=339)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=861)

Leaderheads are the most time-consuming aspect of a SMACX faction graphic, so in the same spirit as the Bases, Logos and Landscape series (also to be found in this section of AC2 Downloads), here are eight leaderheads, ready to copy/paste as-is into your next custom faction.  It is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  For info on art techniques and to ask any questions, post here.

These portraits were a lot of work, but all I ask is that you credit me in the blank space of the .pcx you use one in.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.   Enjoy.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 04:19:50 AM
I wanted to create and release an altered colour palette for the leaders in both SMAC and SMAC/X, as I find the use of bright, primary colours on the unit flags to be a little jarring and ugly: especially when zoomed in with PRACX.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to identify where I can change this data for the original seven. Tutorials that I've read on creating new factions indicate the palette at the lower left corner of the faction's PCX file, but the game doesn't seem to read that for the SMAC factions. I can change those colours as much as I like with no luck: Yang's bright blue doesn't disappear. I managed to change the border colours and base text colours in palette.pcx, but not anything else.

I'm at a loss at this point: Yang's colours aren't mentioned anywhere in his .txt file, and I've reviewed every single PCX file included with the base game for another possible source, with no luck. I'm using GIMP to swap out the "Yang blue" colour in the palette directly. I even checked system.txt (which has a nice warning to avoid changing it), but 208 and 242 (Yang's colours) aren't referenced, other than in some comments.

Any advice? Is this data hardcoded? While I'm inquiring, where are the native life's colour values stored? I have no trouble changing the SMAX expansion faction's colours. I thought this would be a quick, fun creative project that might interest somebody, but I'm having no luck so far.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 05:38:48 AM
A.) The faction flag colors are hard-coded in SMAC - aside from Sparta, I think that shouldn't be happening in SMAX for the original seven.  I'm stumped tonight, but maybe when I'm wide awake tomorrow, I'll figure it out.  Stay tuned.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 05:53:31 AM
A.) The faction flag colors are hard-coded in SMAC - aside from Sparta, I think that shouldn't be happening in SMAX for the original seven.  I'm stumped tonight, but maybe when I'm wide awake tomorrow, I'll figure it out.  Stay tuned.

Thank you kindly. I'm also having trouble changing the Pirate's colours, so perhaps I spoke too soon about being able to change the SMAX leader colours. I know I can change the Planet Cult colours, at least.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 02:13:59 PM
Now that sounds like you're trying to change colors slightly - the SMACX palette is only 255 colors, four of those are transparencies, and a lot of the rest are too dark or muddy to show up much on the minimap, and even when you get a different enough shade/hue for it not to default back to the original when you fill the color boxes in the .pcx, it's liable to be too similar to tell the difference at a glance.  I talk about it several times in the course of my tutorials - http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6) or http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm)
-probably "Miscellaneous", for instance, that I spent a lot of time and effort on my earliest custom factions trying to find unique flag/map colors for each to maximize the compatibility of every faction with every other possible faction playing the same game - and concluded that it's a mug's game; there just aren't enough colors.  There weren't enough colors to give all the Crossfire factions really different colors that looked good, witness Caretaker green.  It's quite vexing, but nothing can be done - not enough colors.

See if this answers what you wanted to know, I'll make with clarifications if you need, and don't be shy about asking this kind of thing.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 02:31:36 PM
Now that sounds like you're trying to change colors slightly - the SMACX palette is only 255 colors, four of those are transparencies, and a lot of the rest are too dark or muddy to show up much on the minimap, and even when you get a different enough shade/hue for it not to default back to the original when you fill the color boxes in the .pcx, it's liable to be too similar to tell the difference at a glance.  I talk about it several times in the course of my tutorials - [url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6[/url] ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6[/url]) or [url]http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm[/url] ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20FactionsPage2.htm[/url])
-probably "Miscellaneous", for instance, that I spent a lot of time and effort on my earliest custom factions trying to find unique flag/map colors for each to maximize the compatibility of every faction with every other possible faction playing the same game - and concluded that it's a mug's game; there just aren't enough colors.  There weren't enough colors to give all the Crossfire factions really different colors that looked good, witness Caretaker green.  It's quite vexing, but nothing can be done - not enough colors.

See if this answers what you wanted to know, I'll make with clarifications if you need, and don't be shy about asking this kind of thing.


Is there no way to change that palette? I can change "Hive Blue" in the palette.pcx file, but the game doesn't seem to recognize the change.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 02:50:15 PM
There is a way, but I never quite understood it when I was told how.  I believe Draz has tried to explain it to me and Kilkakon knows how.  If a search of this subforum for palette-changing or some term like that doesn't turn up something you understand, PM DrazharLn to make sure he sees this series of posts...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 02:51:58 PM
I'll do some more searching.

Mockup: http://i.imgur.com/CHkAa67.gif (http://i.imgur.com/CHkAa67.gif)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 02:53:47 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/CHkAa67.gif)

Is the changed color sufficiently distinguishable from the Peacekeeper color?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 03:03:17 PM
Is the changed color sufficiently distinguishable from the Peacekeeper color?


Well, my idea was that I'd use a palette. That colour is also reasonably close to the Data Angels. For the mockup I just picked a random blue from DawnBringer (http://pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12795). Each faction would get a colour from the palette, ideally including native life. This would ensure distuinguishable colours for every faction, and hopefully eliminate some of the saturation. Of course, if the whole game uses the palette, I may need to adjust colours more subtly or borrow from different palettes (http://androidarts.com/palette/16pal.htm) in case those colours are used in unexpected places. The Peacekeepers would get a new colour, or I'd use the darker blue for the Hive, and the Data Angels would probably get a new colour altogether if I can get away with it.

I didn't really think this would be a difficult project, to be honest. I've have had it released already if the game respected palette.pcx. The game doesn't seem to be running in Windows 256 colour mode, at least not with PRACX installed, so presumably the game has an internal palette somewhere in memory (or if I'm lucky, in the files). Alternatively, GIMP isn't saving the files correctly and this really is a simple task.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 03:40:35 PM
I'm never sure if I'm understanding you right.  When you put a color in those bottom left boxes in the .pcx, the closest color in the SMACX palette, which loaded with the .pcx file is what appears -booting GIMP now to make sure I put this right- Image>Mode>RBG to get around that only has everything in the file change back at once when you reload the palette while changing mode back to indexed so you can save.

I definitely described how to save the SMACX palette in GIMP in a tutorial mentioning palette in the title, I think.  Changing the palette is what you'll have to do to get the results you want, I'm sure.  Kilkakon used it extensively in Lost Eden to give the mod a very unique look with more pastels, but I don't recall if he described how to change the palette in the Lost Eden threads.

Protip: pastels stand out less against the minimap unless they're rather light.

I'm having a glance at my collected tutorials to see what I said about custom landscape colors -changing the look of the fungus, especially, which I've done a few times and is not tough- I'm guessing someone who finds the faction colors garish would love to fool around with that...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 03:50:50 PM
I'm never sure if I'm understanding you right.  When you put a color in those bottom left boxes in the .pcx, the closest color in the SMACX palette, which loaded with the .pcx file is what appears -booting GIMP now to make sure I put this right- Image>Mode>RBG to get around that only has everything in the file change back at once when you reload the palette while changing mode back to indexed so you can save.

I definitely described how to save the SMACX palette in GIMP in a tutorial mentioning palette in the title, I think.  Changing the palette is what you'll have to do to get the results you want, I'm sure.  Kilkakon used it extensively in Lost Eden to give the mod a very unique look with more pastels, but I don't recall if he described how to change the palette in the Lost Eden threads.

Protip: pastels stand out less against the minimap unless they're rather light.

I'm having a glance at my collected tutorials to see what I said about custom landscape colors -changing the look of the fungus, especially, which I've done a few times and is not tough- I'm guessing someone who finds the faction colors garish would love to fool around with that...

I'm sorry? I'm not sure I'm saying wrong: I'm trying to assign a new colour to every faction, in a manner that hopefully is both nice looking and differentiates factions better. I defer to existing palettes elsewhere because they've already done the work of making sure the colours don't look too similar. I've been uncertain about changing the colours too much though (such as in my mockup) given that the game only has 255 colours I'm hesitant to change the palette drastically. I've been looking into the Hive first because they're one of my favourite factions, but I intended to get around to everyone. I'll look at Lost Eden and see what that did, but I'll probably give up on this project.

To change the palette I'm opening palette.pcx and hive.pcx with GIMP. It's in Indexed mode so I use the Colormap window to change it, as per GIMP Documentation (https://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-indexed-palette-dialog.html). Right click on the colour in the Colormap, change it to the new one, and export/save. I do the same in hive.pcx. After confirming that both files saved correctly, I start the game and nothing has changed.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 04:25:48 PM
chuft knew how to make that work, too, so searching him might turn up instructions (never a member here, but tends to get mentioned when the subject comes up).

I'll hang in there with you as long as it takes...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 09, 2016, 08:22:07 PM
Hi! Let me know if i can help with city sets :) Did a number of those for CivIII...

(http://s11.postimg.org/4733til5f/Untitled2.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 08:34:54 PM
chuft knew how to make that work, too, so searching him might turn up instructions (never a member here, but tends to get mentioned when the subject comes up).

I'll hang in there with you as long as it takes...


Thank you for your help and your suggestions. I've found a way forward that I hadn't thought of until now.

Lost Eden doesn't change the palette that I can see. There's no included palette.pcx and every faction uses standard SMAX colours.

I don't know how to contact Chuft. Chuft's accounts haven't been logged into for several years.

I read every tutorial I could find, including every tutorial that you linked me. As far as I can tell none of them discuss changing SMAX's palette: only using it. I'm personally uninterested in creating or using new factions and I already know GIMP well: as far as I can tell I'm editing the resources correctly and my changes are ignored by the game engine.

I have had some success (http://i.imgur.com/d9p4vz3.gif) by not trying to change the original palette, so I'm going to proceed this way. The colours won't be quite as nice as I'd hoped, but I already obsess too much over pixel art and colour selection.

Perhaps changing the palette isn't possible without PRACX changes? I don't really know. I can't find any complaints about the saturated faction colours and the game's been out for 17 years now, so I suspect there isn't much interest in bypassing this limitation if it exists.

Hi! Let me know if i can help with city sets :) Did a number of those for CivIII...


I like the look of that city set. I'm not certain if the offer is directed at me or is a broad offer for everybody. Thank you! I hadn't initially intended to improve the faction artwork, and I don't mind the existing unimproved city sets. If you're interested, however, I'm not particularly fond of the Tachyon Field or Perimeter Defence artwork for the original 14 factions. The Tachyon Field graphics (and also the progenitor Perimeter Defence graphics) aren't particularly attractive in my opinion. New art would really help in that regard. Something resembling these (http://www.ftlgame.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=24982) shield graphics for the Tachyon Fields would look beautiful, but I'm not certain how that would look.

I'm sure somebody can come up with better looking city defences then these graphics, but I doubt my ability as an artist to improve on them, particularly with the palette restriction. Perhaps it might be easiest to simply make the human Tachyon Field graphics better resemble the Progenitor defences, even if it's just a simple colour swap. If nothing comes up, I might look into making that change.

(http://i.imgur.com/HKnae8U.png) (http://i.imgur.com/qN4onCD.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 09, 2016, 08:41:42 PM
^Ok... Seems the new shield is a sphere that is composed of something like the bases of an icosaedron, although far more than 20 evidently... :)

I will need two things to make that:

-size of the tile
-any particular palette which should be used

So if you have the tile in the palette, just post the palleted image and i will do the rest

Edit: Oh, you want the "wall" graphic altered? I suppose it is part of the actual city set graphics? (so it would need copy/paste work and not just making a new perimeter... I may try it, although it would take less time if you want a graphic that stands by itself instead of needing to co-exist with other ones not by myself :D )
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 08:48:16 PM
chuft knew how to make that work, too, so searching him might turn up instructions (never a member here, but tends to get mentioned when the subject comes up).

I'll hang in there with you as long as it takes...


Thank you for your help and your suggestions. I've found a way forward that I hadn't thought of until now.

Lost Eden doesn't change the palette that I can see. There's no included palette.pcx and every faction uses standard SMAX colours.

I don't know how to contact Chuft. Chuft's accounts haven't been logged into for several years.

I read every tutorial I could find, including every tutorial that you linked me. As far as I can tell none of them discuss changing SMAX's palette: only using it. I'm personally uninterested in creating or using new factions and I already know GIMP well: as far as I can tell I'm editing the resources correctly and my changes are ignored by the game engine.

I have had some success ([url]http://i.imgur.com/d9p4vz3.gif[/url]) by not trying to change the original palette, so I'm going to proceed this way. The colours won't be quite as nice as I'd hoped, but I already obsess too much over pixel art and colour selection.

Perhaps changing the palette isn't possible without PRACX changes? I don't really know. I can't find any complaints about the saturated faction colours and the game's been out for 17 years now, so I suspect there isn't much interest in bypassing this limitation if it exists.
Okydoke - I don't know what it is wrong with my brain, 'cause customizing the palette didn't look hard any of the times I've seen it explained, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it.

I'm SURE how to has been explained here, but I'll go find it the easiest place I know of, and be right back...  Should at least make find the next time it comes up easier.

I've designed a few sorts of alternate shields, BTW, and I'm not sure there's enough pixels in the base file squares to do something like that hex dome, but if I can get caught up later today, I might take a run at it...


Hi! Let me know if i can help with city sets :) Did a number of those for CivIII...

([url]http://s11.postimg.org/4733til5f/Untitled2.png[/url])
Valka said you were a big III modder.

The graphic goody files I've worked up and am slowly releasing look like this:
Bases18 ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=304[/url])

9 structures adapted from GalCiv2, laid out to copy/paste into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=729[/url])

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits, Diplomacy Landscapes and Logos series, also in this Downloads section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: [url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0[/url] ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0[/url])  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.

Thanks to Russia4life for the GC2 files I worked with.

[url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=304[/url] ([url]http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=304[/url])
-but the layout doesn't matter beyond getting the row of four stages like that for convenience of copy/pasting.

-What I'm trying to say is we can never make too many bases sets available to encourage new modders - or lazy old ones.  I never had CivIII, and have no idea of the city stages or how those files are laid out...

-If you take a fancy to trying your hand at Alpha Centauri art, try the tutorial links I put up this morning on the last page to get up to speed, and don't be afraid to ask questions or talk shop.  I love talking art modding shop.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 08:53:50 PM
Edit: Oh, you want the "wall" graphic altered? I suppose it is part of the actual city set graphics? (so it would need copy/paste work and not just making a new perimeter... I may try it, although it would take less time if you want a graphic that stands by itself instead of needing to co-exist with other ones not by myself :D )

I'll defer to BUncle's tutorials, but here's the game's palette file, my hive.pcx (human faction), and the usurper.pcx (alien faction) file.

Yeah, I really just dislike the wall graphics, and they're built into the city graphics. If you do new (generic/empty) wall/defence graphics for both the humans and the aliens, you can release them as a modder's resource and I can personally do the work at integrating them into all of the game's factions.

Thank you! At the end, it would all be released as a "improved artwork and colours" mod.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 09, 2016, 08:58:58 PM
Ok! Thank you both, i will try to have something up in the somewhat near future... Btw, does the game work on Linux? (currently using that..). Even if it doesn't it's ok, i will just have difficulty in-game checking the files.

Btw, if you want new city sets, you could post some image of what you want them to sort of look like. I can model most such stuff, but i am not aware of the architecture to be used :D
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 09:01:39 PM
Ok! Thank you both, i will try to have something up in the somewhat near future... Btw, does the game work on Linux? (currently using that..). Even if it doesn't it's ok, i will just have difficulty in-game checking the files.


This (http://alphacentauri2.info/wiki/Installing) page outlines installation, including on Linux. There was an official Linux release, but it's very old. It wouldn't run on modern Linux distributions easily.

The Linux version is also really hard to find.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 09:21:27 PM
I've asked for Draz to come in here - he has the Linux version, too.  His tech power is max.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 09:36:39 PM
No joy finding palette editing instructions - chuft's are all deleted, and I can't find anything here.  If I'm remembering right that Draz understand the trick, he'll be by sooner than Kilkakon, though I've also left a note for him to come by...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 09, 2016, 09:55:17 PM
No joy finding palette editing instructions - chuft's are all deleted, and I can't find anything here.  If I'm remembering right that Draz understand the trick, he'll be by sooner than Kilkakon, though I've also left a note for him to come by...


Thanks. No rush. I've made the following faction colour changes for now, without changing the palette. Unchanged factions are on the left, changed factions are on the right. Original colours are on the top. Some of them are very subtle, but I prefer the changes in every case. The differences come out better with animated GIF comparisons, so I'll sprinkle the release thread liberally with them when I'm done. Everything has been tested and works well with the default game. I'm mostly content with this release: if I could change the palette I'd be able to improve things further. The Pirates are the furthest away from their original colours, and the Gaians and Hive have both barely changed and aren't much better. The Spartans have barely changed, but there's now better consistency with the faction's text colours and their flag colours.

(http://i.imgur.com/CDi7poQ.jpg)

I'll wait around to see if the palette can be changed before releasing anything, and then I'll see about re-releasing eventually if improved city graphics happen. I should also do more playtesting.

This will almost certainly conflict (colour-wise) with custom factions. I don't use them and there's no way to address that.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 09, 2016, 09:56:41 PM
You're a prize, Harp. ;b;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: DrazharLn on May 10, 2016, 12:18:03 AM
Unfortunately, I know nothing about changing the palette of SMACX, nor about how SMACX uses the palette file. I'd have tried the same approach as Harpalus' approach of changing the colour palette with GIMP, but I guess that doesn't work.

I'm expecting to receive a much better decompiled version of the source than I've ever had access to Soon(TM), and once that's publicly released it may turn out to be quite easy to get smacx to draw in full colour, I seem to recall that plotinus thought it would be easy.

@Kyriakos,

The best Linux version available is the windows version + patches running in Wine. With PRACX, it seems to work just fine. Without PRACX, the videos didn't play right (audio, no image).

I do have the native Linux version as well, but the important patches don't work with it. I only have it for modding reasons.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 10, 2016, 12:32:40 AM
Thanks all :D

Anyway, i made this placeholder "Antciv", to test the colors and some very simple architectural plan, what do you think of it? (juxtaposed to the in-game Gaia walled #1)

(http://i.imgur.com/m8yyQ9V.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: DrazharLn on May 10, 2016, 12:42:29 AM
I like that the larger base isn't just a scaled up version of the smaller one.

The perimeter defence is a very different style to the SMACX ones, though, which would probably hurt readability. Not sure about the green tops, either: I can't tell what they're supposed to be.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 10, 2016, 12:44:57 AM
I like that the larger base isn't just a scaled up version of the smaller one.

The perimeter defence is a very different style to the SMACX ones, though, which would probably hurt readability. Not sure about the green tops, either: I can't tell what they're supposed to be.

You can't tell that the green tops are the only actual living environment in the nest? Are you not from Antcity?!? ;)

(just placeholder :D )
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: DrazharLn on May 10, 2016, 12:56:28 AM
:P
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Harpalus on May 10, 2016, 01:57:54 AM
Thanks all :D

Anyway, i made this placeholder "Antciv", to test the colors and some very simple architectural plan, what do you think of it? (juxtaposed to the in-game Gaia walled #1)

([url]http://i.imgur.com/m8yyQ9V.png[/url])


Looks great! Making the perimeter defence round (or hexagonal) would help with the readabiltiy that DrazharLn mentioned. I do much prefer the style to the original. Keep up the good work!

The first thing I'll fix are the Gaian's floating walls.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 10, 2016, 02:46:57 AM
The way the game squares lay, that wall would look okay diamond orientation, serviceable straight-front square (I've tried stuff like that a few times, and it looks a little wrong, but not terribly) and very wrong, I think, turned roughly 45 degrees off either like that.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: DrazharLn on May 10, 2016, 12:22:00 PM
Forgot to post this link I found while looking for palette stuff. Haven't tried it, but Civ3 used the Jackal engine as well, so you'd imagine it would work...

http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=500056 (http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=500056)

OTOH, it's not so far from what Harpalus tried already - though I think it would be sensible to edit the faction pcx files, not palette.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 16, 2016, 06:39:10 PM
Ok all, can you post some kind of concept art for what you want made? (other than that triangle-filled defensive wall) :)

Cause it likely will be doable. Any kind of pic would do, eg a pic from a similar object/building in another game would be just fine...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 16, 2016, 07:06:00 PM
That's at Harp, I assume.

Check here http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html#Bases (http://alphacentauri2.info/My%20Custom%20Factions/Custom%20Factions3.html#Bases) for a look at how I laid out a bunch of goody files of bases for anyone to use.  We can never have too many.  They're all bare land bases, assuming the end user can fill in the rest.  I don't know how much you know about SMACX art...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 16, 2016, 07:16:02 PM
Ok, i will give it a try :D

Better to start with some stand-alone file, yes, such as those...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 16, 2016, 07:57:30 PM
...Everything I can think of SMACX art modder ought to know -except for a few words about terrain modding, but not much to say to anyone who already can do decent factions- is on page two...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ComradeCrimson on May 16, 2016, 11:07:42 PM
Hi! Let me know if i can help with city sets :) Did a number of those for CivIII...

([url]http://s11.postimg.org/4733til5f/Untitled2.png[/url])



Oh man, your work is quite beautiful looking.

I am actually sort of stumped on how to make my cities look for one of my custom factions, the Pathos Bastion. In my custom factions page there's more info, but essentially its a city state that requires monolithic structures, somewhat ornate looking- almost like a ziggurat or hanging gardens of bablyon except less focused on greenery and more impressive architecture, as its meant for a singular city state type faction that focuses on talents and peak performance of citizenry at the cost of almost impossible expansion beyond one city.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on May 18, 2016, 08:26:41 AM
Hi! Let me know if i can help with city sets :) Did a number of those for CivIII...

([url]http://s11.postimg.org/4733til5f/Untitled2.png[/url])



Oh man, your work is quite beautiful looking.

I am actually sort of stumped on how to make my cities look for one of my custom factions, the Pathos Bastion. In my custom factions page there's more info, but essentially its a city state that requires monolithic structures, somewhat ornate looking- almost like a ziggurat or hanging gardens of bablyon except less focused on greenery and more impressive architecture, as its meant for a singular city state type faction that focuses on talents and peak performance of citizenry at the cost of almost impossible expansion beyond one city.


Thank you :D

That sounds a bit like a Khmer set i had created for civIII, years ago:

(http://i.imgur.com/8puja.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 20, 2016, 01:21:21 PM
Harpalus, thanks to the Yahoo! spiderbot, I found the .flc thread the search function wouldn't turn up - no useful information about palette-changing, except the Flygon knows how to do it.  Kilkakon is doing whatever and saying he'll come by for two weeks now instead of just coming by, so I recommend you PM Flygon directing his attention here.  I'd really like to have some instructions here where I could find them when someone asks.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on June 09, 2016, 09:39:27 AM
Going through my notes it appears I've never worked with flcs. Somebody did one for me at CivFanatics way back when but they used the original palette to do it. I don't have any tools for it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kyriakos on June 09, 2016, 12:15:36 PM
Just to note that i am not perpetually away, just had no time to work on this... :)
Title: Bases19
Post by: Buster's Uncle on August 21, 2016, 02:59:26 PM
Bases19 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=342)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=730)

Bases are the most difficult aspect of a SMACX faction graphic to create, so it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up.  See also the Portraits, Diplomacy Landscapes and Logos series, also in this Downloads section, and for info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on September 21, 2016, 03:53:43 PM
I've worked out a way to more rapidly assemble base art for SMAC, which I will relate here.

I mainly use Paint Shop Pro for my personal graphics work, so this system will work best with that, but I imagine Photoshop is similar enough and has similar enough commands that this will work between the two. I've also included a .PSD copy of the file I use for rapid assembly.

Basically the file consists of space enough for one layer of city pane, tracking the growth from outpost to full settlement:

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/citypane.png)

The various alterations - the perimeter defense, tachyon field, seabase, and defense variations for seabase, are included as separate, invisible layers within the file.

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/layers.png)

This way, all you have to do is hammer out the growth progression for your base once, and then switch each layer on to get the improvements you desire set up immediately.

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/withwalls.png)

The shortcomings of this method is that I did not design the template's walls to expand or contract with the city, but that never made sense to me in the first place; when a medieval city built walls, they went up how they went up, and anything they couldn't fit inside the darn things got built outside and that was that!

With PaintShop Pro, you can then use the "Copy Merged" command to copy the city pane layer with the walls as a single layer.

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/copymerged.png)

You can then paste the merged copy as a new image, and switch its palette to SMAC's in order to set the transparency properly.

I downloaded a shields.pcx file off the site here, and will work on adding all of those into my citypane template file, but for now, here is my prototype as it stands.

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/wheelercities.png)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on September 22, 2016, 04:40:53 AM
For my next trick in graphics automation, leader portraits! Another one of my classic favorites, Baldur's Gate, is similar to SMAC in that you can pick out and use custom portraits for your characters, so I am already familiar with the principles of selecting, preparing, and cutting these images - as well as automating processes using PaintShop Pro!

First, of course, you have to pick a graphic to use:

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/selected_portrait.png)

Next, you need to pick out a crop that you'd like for all four portraits. This step isn't automated just because it requires a great deal of discretion on your part as a modder. From a technical standpoint, you'll get the best results if your crop is still larger than the resolution of the largest leader portrait, i.e. 162 x 196.

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/sel_port_crop.png)

You'll also notice I picked a tall crop; the script is designed to assumed there will be spare room at the bottom to cut out, so make sure you have room to spare at the bottom.

Make sure your work area has been pared down to just the portrait you intend to run the script on; it may accidentally refocus on the wrong image by mistake, otherwise.

Next, go to File > Scripts > Run, or selected SMAC Portrait All In One 2.0 from the scripts pane and hit the play button:

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/script_panel.png)

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/results.png)

A moment later and voila! The program will automatically resize, sharpen, and apply scanlines to the portrait in quick succession, outputting four new images which can be pasted into their respective slots on <faction>.pcx!

Unfortunately, this one I don't know how to make work in Photoshop, though I know it has similar capabilities. Anyone who is interested is welcome to convert the code for that program and redistribute it.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on October 09, 2016, 06:06:04 PM
So, inspired by ComradeCrimson's VA work on my faction blurb, I decided to really get down to business and see about conquering the esoteric world of the faction .FLC. My initial research was not promising - everything pointed towards sites and resources long gone, such as networknode.org, or a tutorial by Shuft that seems to have been zeroed out. What I did find out is that having an ancient and still working copy of Animation Shop Pro is a boon in my favor. And indeed, my initial experiments editing one of the FLC files was somewhat successful - it produced an FLC which did rotate through images in game and did not crash; however, the palette was all wrong.

 Finally, though, I went to the Internet Archive and plugged in networknode.org, and they apparently still at least have CAPTURES of the Network Node, and learned that using Fast Movie Processor (now VideoMach) I could extract PCX files from the faction FLC files, and from that derive a working palette. VideoMach unfortunately stamps a watermark on images, but it did not, I don't think, destroy the integrity of the palette, which was consistent between two frames from the Believers FLC. I'm going to do a couple more tests, but if I'm right we finally might have the key to FLC editing.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2016, 06:58:42 PM
 ;b; ;excite; ;b;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on October 09, 2016, 07:37:16 PM
Unfortunately, still hitting some roadblocks. While initially the palette for exported PCX files was consistent between frames of each export dump, it was not consistent between the dumps; i.e. the University palette differed from Believers which differed from Fungboy, the only common denominator between them being a coda portion on the palette of five same shades of white at the very end, and the general colors used, just not the same order. Loading a copy of these palettes into Animation Shop yielded an FLC file which was slightly more legible than my previous attempts, but with the colors still incorrect. So I think it comes down to this: that each frame began life as a single PCX file with a specific palette, which was ordered in a very specific way, and the game expects each FLC file to use that same palette. That order is, unfortunately, lost as part of the file conversion to FLC.

My Hail Mary was going back to the internet archive copy of NN, and from there trying to track down a working copy of Fast Movie Processor, the exact program he used, and seeing if that might make a difference. I eventually did manage to find one, however it did not make a difference; unlike VideoMach it doesn't leave a watermark, and did export FLCs, but with the same garbled palette issue as Animation Shop. So I'm going to have to try and experiment with palettes a while yet.

EDIT: Further experimentation with the palettes yielded from the exported PCX frames revealed the exact same set of color was not created by each palette, when reordering them by luminance. However, copying a frame where a modified palette is reordered by luminance, seems to have shifted how the image is discolored in SMAC, which would seem to indicate that palette order remains the smoking gun here. I will attempt reordering by hue sometime later.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 09, 2016, 08:46:38 PM
It's definitely a palette issue; I remember that much.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on October 10, 2016, 02:04:19 AM
I have an idea. I will make an FLC which is a screen capture of one of the scrambled palettes I get from the extant FLCs, and import that into the game. Once in game, I will capture the appearance of the results. That way, I might be able to discern which colors are getting switched where and build a palette from scratch.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on October 10, 2016, 10:31:43 PM
Very weird. Here's the results of the experiment:

This is the palette that was outputted by the Fungboy FLC file:

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/1.png)

This is how it displayed ingame:

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/2.png)

Now, that palette looks awfully familiar. Almost like...

(http://i1182.photobucket.com/albums/x445/terzaerian/default.png)

The default faction palette.

So I'm thinking what's going on is that FLCs are still using the default palette, somehow, but is locked to the palette index rather than the palette color, which is a problem as most graphics editors, when you force a palette, are going to pick the closest color on the palette instead of the index.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ComradeCrimson on October 14, 2016, 02:08:54 AM
Glad you like the voiceovers overall. While I know its not related to graphics, if any of you want voice acting for your quoted blurbs hit me up. I can do that a lot quicker than making new graphics and editing faction files; so its not a biggie.

Right now I'm also contemplating rehauling the basic concepts of some of my factions yet again, still want to do a city state faction but I think I'll be shifting focus of it quite a bit and modifying it to make it a bit more feasible and balanced.

Looking at this graphic set here:

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=730)

I'm really liking these. Thinking of using row 2 or 3 for the Planet Pioneers, and row 6 for the Pathos Bastion.

Between row 2 and 3, which would you think would suit a sort of frontier expansionist green-wealth society? As the planet pioneers preferred is wealth, but they do so in an environmentally friendly way typically.



I'm also thinking of using the last row and row 8 for something, will have to see. I've been contemplating an air focused faction. I'll contemplate it more in my own thread.



Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on October 14, 2016, 03:01:10 AM
-I think I'd do a certain amount of re-coloring if I was going to use several bases from Bases19 in a custom faction set, to avoid any sameness of look - SMACX just added prominent stripes in the faction flag color, and that might be enough.  -Just an awful lot of grey-tan in that bases set ...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ComradeCrimson on October 14, 2016, 07:44:47 AM
-I think I'd do a certain amount of re-coloring if I was going to use several bases from Bases19 in a custom faction set, to avoid any sameness of look - SMACX just added prominent stripes in the faction flag color, and that might be enough.  -Just an awful lot of grey-tan in that bases set ...

Yeah, was likely going to recolour a lot of these in GIMP, edit them a tad as well.

Will post my results soon enough I reckon.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on October 17, 2016, 09:41:21 PM
So I was out this weekend and on my laptop, and was looking at a "Custom Faction Creation.zip" file that I had downloaded to it a few weeks back. Inside the file, are copies of samples as well as a palette that purports to be for FLCs! I'm going to try and make a test file with it and see if this is actually it. The readme inside also referenced Shuft's guide (but didn't include it, unfortunately) and Paint Shop Pro, so I'm hoping it will work.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Misanthrope on November 15, 2016, 12:50:19 AM
How old of a copy of PSP and Animation Shop do I need to have to get it to produce FLC files? I HAVE an old copy, (JASC) but dunno where it stands in terms of compatibility there.  :/


Edit: Is PS ver. 5.01 and Animation Shop 1.02

I looked around for options on the file formats it can work with, and while there were a bunch that it (at least CLAIMED) could work with, .FLC was not on that list.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: terzaerian on November 15, 2016, 02:40:02 PM
How old of a copy of PSP and Animation Shop do I need to have to get it to produce FLC files? I HAVE an old copy, (JASC) but dunno where it stands in terms of compatibility there.  :/


Edit: Is PS ver. 5.01 and Animation Shop 1.02

I looked around for options on the file formats it can work with, and while there were a bunch that it (at least CLAIMED) could work with, .FLC was not on that list.

My old copy of PSP 8 came bundled with Animation Shop 3, the latter of which allegedly can save to FLC.

Unfortunately that latest lead was a dead end as well.  :-\ My only other guess is that I need to make gif with the palette and then convert it to an FLC.
Title: DiplomacyLandscapes5
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 10, 2017, 02:35:29 AM
DiplomacyLandscapes5 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=353)

(http://alphacentauri2.info/MGalleryItem.php?id=1882)
23 diplomacy landscapes, size/croped and scanlined to copy/paste as-is into the .pcx of your next custom faction.

Diplomacy landscapes are one of the easier aspects of a SMACX faction graphic to create -provided one hasn't anything terribly specific in mind- but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up - given a logo appropriate to the faction, all the elements of a faction graphic are available in AC2's Download section for anyone with elementary copy/paste skills and a graphics program that can handle .pcx files - a good eye/taste helps, too.  (See also the Bases and Portraits series.)

For info on art techniques and/or to communicate with BU and ask any questions, see the Graphics thread: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=1237.0)  These are a lot of work to put together, so please be sure to credit me in the empty space of the .pcx.  Posting to let me know you found it useful would be okay, too.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Kilkakon on May 12, 2017, 04:29:37 PM
I did this sketch of a woman for my C&C project today, what do you guys think? :)

I'm not very used to drawing girls  ;deidre;
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 12, 2017, 04:43:46 PM
Hmmm.  Her head-shoulders proportions might call for a slightly bigger head or narrower shoulders...

A lot's going to depend on the detailing as you go, of course.
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Misanthrope on May 12, 2017, 11:21:58 PM
Diplomacy landscapes are one of the easier aspects of a SMACX faction graphic to create -provided one hasn't anything terribly specific in mind- but it is hoped that these graphic goodie files will give beginners at faction modding a leg up - given a logo appropriate to the faction, all the elements of a faction graphic are available in AC2's Download section for anyone with elementary copy/paste skills and a graphics program that can handle .pcx files - a good eye/taste helps, too.  (See also the Bases and Portraits series.)

Absolutely GORGEOUS! <3
Thanks for sharing! :D
Question though... what if one DOES have something incredible specific in mind?  The in-game factions have art specific to their bases, so I was wondering what it would take to create something like that around a custom-made base?

Still working on the forever-ago promised faction(s) and the bases are the holdup, sorry.

Speaking of, I feel like I've just about hammered all the bug out of the text for the faction with one minor exception.... wasn't there an option to have numbers in the faction bonuses and penalties in the Social Engineering screen, or am I just imagining that there was?
Faction I'm (still) working on has a +3 growth, -2 research and -2 morale... that's a lot of individual icons and they're spaced weird.


Back to work!
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 12, 2017, 11:31:07 PM
...Someone at the old Network Node site seemed to have access to 3D models of a lot of the custom bases - if you can generate a shot of a base from an odd, non-game but recognizable angle, it's merely hard work to blend it into a landscape and make an impressive DL...

Not sure I understand about the #s in the SE screen...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Misanthrope on May 13, 2017, 02:39:30 AM
...Someone at the old Network Node site seemed to have access to 3D models of a lot of the custom bases - if you can generate a shot of a base from an odd, non-game but recognizable angle, it's merely hard work to blend it into a landscape and make an impressive DL...
Not sure I understand about the #s in the SE screen...

Hey BUncle! :D

Sadly, looks like both are no-go's.  :(
The bases I'm making would be custom pixel-by-pixel and done by hand... I'd have to build a digital model for rendering to work, so changing the angle and adding a background wouldn't be possible.  I -COULD- do it, but I'd have to get (and learn) new software, and that'd probably take longer since I'm only doing ONE faction for now; other factions maybe later, but if that happens, it'll be... later.



The "icons" thing in the SE screen is the social bonuses and/or penalties inherent to each faction.
For instance:
Peacekeepers have -1 Effic, so the bar has a single red arrow.  Caretakers get +1 Planet, so there's only a single green tree there.  Both are just there in the middle with their neat, centered, lonely icon.

The Hive has four icons: two red economy, one green growth, one green industry. They're centered and still look good.
Gaians and Consciousness each have FIVE icons and they start to get a little snug on that bar.

Believers have SIX and they start to scroll a bit, cutting the edges of the two on the outside.



The faction I'm building has SEVEN and only five of them fit on the bar, the first and last not being displayed.

My question was, is there a way to make number appear next to an icon in the faction-inherent bar, like they do in the buttons, to declare a multiple value instead of merely repeating the same color icon?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on May 13, 2017, 02:44:30 AM
The art part would be easy enough - but I imagine it would take alterations of the actual game code to make it work - and Yitzi often says there's not a lot of room in the code to insert changes...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Xen on July 20, 2017, 03:05:10 PM
Yeeehaaa! Thanks to you I've just completed (more or less) my first faction graphics plate; most of it from the files you provided. Thank you so much.  :)

I have but one big problem. I've never used Photoshop before and find it hard to wrap my head around. For this reason I've used Caretaker base icons rather than any of yours because I don't know how to apply the shield icons to the bases in such a way as to occlude the bits that must be occluded and not occlude those that don't. Is there some simple way to do this or is it a painstaking process?

Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 20, 2017, 03:22:51 PM
In the versions of PS I've worked with, it's a simple matter of copy/pasting the row of bases over top what's there.  You've found the Shields file, of course.

You ARE going to post your faction to Downloads and link it here?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Xen on July 20, 2017, 03:48:22 PM
Oh yes I found the shields file alright. Are you saying you just have to Copy/Paste the bases over the shields?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on July 20, 2017, 04:10:25 PM
Yah.  I talk about this extensively on page two...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: hyperdriveJ on December 29, 2017, 10:05:07 AM
Does anyone have any alternative graphics for terrain improvements like the bunker?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 29, 2017, 01:27:03 PM
I don't know of any.  Not a bad idea, though...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ars_belli on March 09, 2019, 01:22:23 PM
I'm having a glance at my collected tutorials to see what I said about custom landscape colors -changing the look of the fungus, especially, which I've done a few times and is not tough- I'm guessing someone who finds the faction colors garish would love to fool around with that...

Would you mind pointing me in the direction of any landscape alteration tutorials?  I find the pink fungus on the dark-pink dirt difficult to see, so I'd love to make the dirt more brown. 

So I see a few possibilities:
Which do you think might work?
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 09, 2019, 02:54:38 PM
As well as being posted in this thread, all my tutorials are also in one place here: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=articles;cat=6)

-but while all the Photoshop/GIMP skills you'll need are gone into, there isn't a specific tutorial about landscape textures.  Hold on; I need to do some poking through old folders...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 09, 2019, 04:29:01 PM
Okay; it's been a few years, and I had to refresh my memory.  The file you want is texture.pcx - I'm attaching a version I did seven years ago, with the fungus recolored as grass.  A lot of the screenie below is forested; you can tell the fungus apart by the light green specks.

There's also a version with it turned to frost/snow, if you're interested, that I'd have to dig around to find...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 09, 2019, 04:38:51 PM
Well, the snow texture's included in this scenario... http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=250 (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=250)
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: ars_belli on March 10, 2019, 12:43:02 PM
As a quick fix, copying texture.pcx from the "Color Blind Palette" subfolder in SMAX works on vanilla SMAC too (as well as SMAX, obviously).  I'll have a look at the standard textures with the "snow" fungus too.

When you open the textures file in GIMP, do the colours look significantly different to in-game?  The original file (and the snow file) looks much less saturated than in-game, but it might be the purple background playing tricks on me.  Whereas the CBP one looks much more saturated, oddly...
Title: Re: Graphics
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 10, 2019, 02:06:09 PM
I never noticed a difference - but ISTR that the pallet is slightly different than for faction files.  No idea why.