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Topics - Ursca

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Discussion / Shader and Graphical effects Discussion
« on: October 23, 2007, 04:43:24 PM »
Mtarini has been doing some very impressive things with TLD, and I know Scion has dabbled in shaders, so I thought the time was right to devote a topic to the uh, topic.

I think a few of us are rather intrigued about how far the new shaders can go. Is it possible to write a dynamic normal map shader for instance? Can shaders be made that affect everything on the screen, for some post-production style effects? I certainly didn't think the banner waving shader was possible, so I don't know what to expect.

So, anyway, to start off, what's the procedure for making normal maps now? I've got a bump map that I need making into a normal map, but I don't know how to got about it.

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Personally, I think that texturing is the most important part of modding graphics in M&B. A bad model can look amazing with a good texture, but an amazing model will look rubbish with a bad texture. This is just a big list of tips and a short tutorial for making metal textures.

Textures from photographs choose a photo at a funny angle. If it's a bit skewed, you'll get some funky pixelated effects when you stretch the texture over your object.
 

Don't
choose a photo with lots of reflections. The iron shader in M&B will do these for you; you just need a nice clean base.

 

Do pick a photo with neutral lighting. It may look alright in the picture, but in-game, it'll be coloured yellow, or orange, which just looks weird. (this can be fixed by turning down the saturation)
 

Doing it yourself


Another way to get textures is to make them yourself. If you're serious about this, I would definitely recommend getting a graphics tablet. It doesn't have to be big (in fact, I prefer a smaller one), but it beats the hell out of getting angry at your mouse.

This tutorial requires that you have a fair knowledge of photoshop, but it could be used with other graphics packages. Paint shop pro has most of the functions, I know. I'm not sure about others.
First, get a UV map of your model. Make sure it's out nice and flat with no warping. Export it and bring it into photoshop. I generally make it a new layer, then up the contrast until it's just black and white. Then I use the magic wand (with contiguous off) to select the white and delete it. You can then turn the opacity of the layer down to better see what you're doing underneath.
 
Then I get a greyish texture and put it on the layer underneath. If you're using photoshop, use filter>render>clouds to give it some nice variation.
 
Next, I get the paintbrush, pick a sharp brush, and change the opacity down to quite low. I pick white as my main colour and go around the edges. On this one, I thought it was a bit too hard, so I duplicated the layer, and blurred it with filters>blur>Gaussian blur.
 
Then I added a bit of detail (fluting) the same way. I used black instead of white for shading.
 
It's all looking a bit clean, so I added some scratches. These are super easy. All I did was draw a quick line across using the same brush as before. Then you can duplicate the layer, and adjust the lightness too -100. After that, I moved the layer up a couple of pixels.
I did this a couple of times all over the helmet at different angles and different lengths. Remember that the light is coming from the top, so keep the light side down and the dark side up.

 
To make the studs I made a new layer and created a circle with the circular marquee tool. To make sure it's perfectly round, hold the shift key.
I then selected the circle (ctrl + click on the layer), made a new layer and used the paintbrush (same settings) to add a bit of white to the top left of the circle. I did the same with black on the bottom right edge, then used the smudge tool to blend it all nicely. For the drop-shadow, I duplicated the bottom layer, turned the lightness to -100, and used Gaussian blur to fade the edges. It wasn't quite dark enough, So I duplicated it and turned the opacity of the second layer down until it looked right.
 
I merged all the layers together, duplicated them and arranged them where I wanted, Make sure that the light bit is facing up for each stud.
 
And there's your finished texture!


Cloth

The same principles can be used to do cloth textures. Start off with your basic colour, draw in folds with a darker colour, and highlights with a lighter one. Remember to use the smudge tool to blend the odd bit, but you can mostly do without it. And always try to do drop-shadows. They make everything look a lot better.
 

Colours

One thing that can help the look of a mod immensely is the colours. I doubt anything in the middle ages was this colour;

 

First you need to decide on the look of your mod. The late dark ages of Calradia had a really nice dark look, which was mainly because of the high contrast and saturation of the textures. The colours were neutral browns and greys, with some faded primary colours for heraldry.
 

The Elves in TLD on the other hand are clean and bright.
 
The colours are mainly gold, blue and white. Note the lack of bright colours. They're quite muted.

Now for warhammer mod, I'm using a desaturated, fairly contrasted, very neutral palette.
 

This gives them all different moods. DaoC is dark and violent, the elves are good and pure, and Warhammer mod is dismal. Neutral colours are more medieval and realistic, primary or secondary colours give a feeling of fantasy.

When picking colours, try to pick dark saturated colours or light desaturated colours.
With a dark desaturated colour, you cannot see the colour well. With light saturated colours, it's too strong. When shading or highlighting a texture,  go along this arrow;

 

Here's an example. I want a nice red colour. Number 1 is too bright red. Neon almost. It's light and highly saturated.  Number 2 is dark and desaturated. It looks kind of purply. 3 is about right. A little darker and quite saturated to retain the colour.

 

Texture

The human brain is quite interesting in that it picks up a lot of detail that you don't actually see. Everything around you has lots of detail, woodgrain, dust, dirt, scratches. You don't necessarily pick up on this when you look at something, but your brain knows it's there. When playing a computer game, things sometimes don't feel right. They don't look realistic. That's because the detail isn't there, your brain misses it.

If you want your textures to look realistic, you need to add this detail. Now your brain doesn't actually pick up on what the detail actually is, so any detail will do. Take a picture of some woodgrain, set the blending options to multiply and turn the opacity right down. There, instant detail. Try it with fabric textures for clothes and play around with mud splatters.

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Discussion / Problems exporting SMDs using 3dsmax
« on: March 22, 2007, 02:33:27 PM »
I would have posted this in the Q&A thread, but it appears that it's only for scripting.  :-\

Anyway, I'm rigging armours in 3ds max 8 and using the plugins listed in Yoshiboy's rigging tutorial. Apparently they work for version 8 as well.
Now, for some reason, when I export my rigged model, the file loses all the rigging coordinates, and causes BRF Edit to crash when I attempt to import the file.

Does anyone know how to fix this? Is it the Exporter? Or am I simply missing out a crucial step? (probably the answer)

I've managed to export the file successfully before, but apparently not anymore.

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