Author Topic: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)  (Read 3928 times)

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Offline Nuclear1

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The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
While the Wiki has a short tutorial on how to do this, it isn't detailed enough for idiots like me who are unfamiliar with GIMP.  Here's something that I hope will be useful.

NOTE:  This tutorial is good for most Terran ships, but not necessarily the GTD Orion.  For the Orion, Goober5000 has a wonderful tutorial on the Wiki just for that.

With that in mind, let's get started!

What You'll Need
  • GIMP -- Latest version available for download here.
  • DDS Plugin for GIMP -- Available here. Extract the ZIP file and copy/paste the .exe file to the GIMP-2.0\lib\gimp\2.0\plug-ins directory.
  • STOP Font -- Available from the FSPort Extras site, direct download link.  Goes into your Windows\Fonts folder.

Creating the Nameplate
First, we need to open GIMP.  Once the program has finished loading, select File --> New.  A screen like this should pop up:



Change your width and height to 512 and 64, respectively.  Remember to have this in Pixels.
Under Advanced Options, open the Fill With dropdown menu and select Transparency.
Click OK.

Your screen should now look like this:



That checkered background is called an Alpha Channel.  When you finish your nameplate, that checkered pattern won't appear on your ship.
Our next step will be to select the Text Tool (in your Toolbox as the giant letter A, or shortcut T)
Make a text box that takes up most of the image.  A small pop-up window will appear called the GIMP Text Editor.  Here is where you'll enter the ship's name. 



Well, that looks stupid, doesn't it?  While leaving the GIMP Text Editor open (I'm not sure if this is required, but I do it and have no problems), go back over to your Toolbox.  Beneath all of the buttons, there should be a work panel called Text.  In the Font area, type in STOP.  If you installed the font, it should pop up automatically.
Increase the size of the font until the text takes up most of the height of the background.  Usually, a good font size is between 51 and 54 px. 
Once you have it to size, center the text box as necessary.



Next, select Color.



This is the Text Color box.   On this screen, set your color to pure white.  (Or, set the RGB to 255, 255, 255, or copy/paste ffffff into the HTML notation).
Now, unless your ship just came out of the shipyards or got a fresh paintjob, you'll want it to look a little duller.  You can do this from the Text Color box as well.
Above the color map to the left, you'll see five tabs.  Select the one furthest to the right (with the dog tab being the furthest left).



See that bottom row of colors going from gray to white?  Select a color not too light, but not too dark.  The choice is yours here.

There!  That looks more like a nameplate now, doesn't it?  Well, you're pretty much done with the steps in GIMP.
Your last real step before saving will be to select your text box, and then click the Layer menu at the top.  Select Merge Down.  DDS doesn't like having more than one layer, and GIMP will yell at you if you try to save without merging down.

Now we just have to save it.
CTRL+S or File-->Save As, whichever you prefer, Save Image will pop up.  Name it whatever you'd like, and select whatever directory you'd like to save it to.  To be used in FRED, it will eventually have to make it to your mod/data/maps folder, so go ahead and save it there to save time.
Under Select File Type (by extension), scroll down until you find DDS Image.
Click Save.
Only thing you really need to do here is click "Generate mipmaps".  I haven't played around with any of the other options, mostly because I haven't felt the need to.
Click OK.

Getting Your Nameplate on a Ship
Congratulations!  You just created a nameplate.  But how do we actually get that nameplate on the ship?  Well, for that, we need to open FRED.
If you have FRED open, save your work and close it, make sure your nameplate texture is in your mod/data/maps folder, and then reopen FRED.
Open whatever mission file contains the ship you'd like to use the nameplate with.
Select the ship in question and open up the Ship Editor.  Click on Texture Replacement.



On most Terran ships, there's a texture specifically for nameplates, often conveniently called "nameplate".  Select this.
Under New Texture, type in whatever you called your nameplate, WITHOUT the file extension (.dds).


 
Click OK.  Save the mission.
Your nameplate should appear where it's supposed to.
If, instead of your nameplate, you see a black texture or something odd, don't panic.  Simply save your work, close FRED, reopen it, and reopen the same mission.  Now look at your ship.



Success!  You just made a nameplate!

---------------

People more experienced with this, please chip in if you think I did something wrong or if you know different ways to do it.  I've just done it this way successfully several times.
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
The only additional step I'd suggest would be to add some texture to the nameplate, scratch the paint etc. but I make mine in PSP by a different metho (usng masks and alpha channel transparent tgas) so I'm not sure quite how you'd do it in Gimp.
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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
Is there any tuto usable for "how to setup usage of nameplate when you build your ship from scratch " ?
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Offline Nuclear1

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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
The only additional step I'd suggest would be to add some texture to the nameplate, scratch the paint etc. but I make mine in PSP by a different metho (usng masks and alpha channel transparent tgas) so I'm not sure quite how you'd do it in Gimp.
Not sure either.  I'm certain one of the other HLP members more skilled in GIMP would know, but admittedly, I'm still fairly new at it myself.

Quote
Is there any tuto usable for "how to setup usage of nameplate when you build your ship from scratch " ?
From what I understand, the nameplate texture is just another texture that goes on the ship during design.  You set aside a spot for the nameplate, and design a texture specifically for that spot. 

But again....not a wizard with this particular field. 
Spoon - I stand in awe by your flawless fredding. Truely, never before have I witnessed such magnificant display of beamz.
Axem -  I don't know what I'll do with my life now. Maybe I'll become a Nun, or take up Macrame. But where ever I go... I will remember you!
Axem - Sorry to post again when I said I was leaving for good, but something was nagging me. I don't want to say it in a way that shames the campaign but I think we can all agree it is actually.. incomplete. It is missing... Voice Acting.
Quanto - I for one would love to lend my beautiful singing voice into this wholesome project.
Nuclear1 - I want a duet.
AndrewofDoom - Make it a trio!

 

Offline Shivan Hunter

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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
The STOP font is a structural weakness. The Geth do not use it.

About weathering: Once you merge down, you have the text as an RGB layer (rather than, well, text) and you can erase bits with a grunge texture. That's how I do mine, anyway. Also, very little of the texture should actually have 100% alpha, since that usually looks bad on top of another texture.

 

Offline Snail

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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
I'll add this to the tutorials.

 

Offline Zacam

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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)

Grunge is good. But having the text at full solid means that it looks less "painted" on to the surface it's on, so I usually make it anywhere from 2%-10% semi-transparent so that the hull details underneath provide the element of it being actually painted on, especially when you have normal-mapped seams/edges/panels it's going over.

If you have a perfectly flat spot for it to go on, then you can pretty much do as you like though.
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Re: The Idiot's Guide to Nameplates (IMAGE-HEAVY)
You can also use my "Ship's Name" style of nameplating.  Create a raised area that will receive a unique texture.  This way you can create a name that is merged with the textures and doesn't look like a freshly applied decal.

Oh and you can add glowmaps, shinemaps and even normal mapping to it.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 11:47:46 pm by Scooby_Doo »
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