Author Topic: Nameplate Tutorial  (Read 1557 times)

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Offline Black Wolf

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Rheyah asked for a quick tut on how to do these. This was meant to go on the wiki, but cloudflare has locked me out of the wiki (extremely frustrating!  :mad: ), so in the meantime, here it is.

Many, perhaps even most Terran Media VP ships now have a space for a nameplate, to give each ship a touch more character. These are very quick and simple to make, and can be done with freely available software.

Note – if you're after a way to make a nameplate for an Orion, the technique is slightly different – Goober's Tutorial on the wiki is fine for that.

Step 1. Obtain The Software.

We're not using very much – you'll just need:
Paint.net
The Alpha Mask Plugin (place the .dll file in the “Effects” subdirectory of the Paint.net folder).
The Stop Font

Step 2. Draw Your Nameplate.
Start with a new image, 256x64 pixels, and use the flood-fill tool to give it a pure black background.



Next, add a new layer, and write the name of your ship in pure white, using the stop font. Use a reasonable amount of the space – no need to be conservative. Once you've accepted your text, select it all with the rectangle select tool and position it roughly in the centre of the canvas.



Step 3. Make It Dirty
In the “Effects” menu, select “Add Noise”. Drop the colour saturation to zero, and pick an intensity setting that looks good – it should be noticeable without being overwhelming. I've gone with 60.



Next, select the eraser tool. Drop your Hardness to zero, and your brush width to 1. Now, carefully remove a few select spots to give the impression of chipped paint. The effect often works best at the edges of the letters. Paint.net doesn't have a “Step” setting, so just click rather than click-and-hold until you get a feel for how the tool works. Remember, despite the over-exaggerated example I have used here, in general the effect should be subtle. Less is more.



Finally, you may wish to drop the opacity of your new layer to give the impression of faded paint. You can do this by double clicking on the top layer in the “Layers” window, and tweaking the opacity. If you can't see your layers window, make sure the toolbar is turned on (at the top-right of the screen).

Once you're happy with your nameplate, save it somewhere as a GIF image.

Step 4. Generate the Nameplate

Create a new image, the same 256 x 64 pixels, and this time, leave it as the default white background. Go to the “Effects” menu and select “Alpha Mask” from the “Object” submenu. Select the image you just saved as the Mask File, and press OK (Leave both checkboxes unchecked). Your image should now look like this:



Save this image in your maps folder as a DDS, remembering to add “-trans” to the end of the filename (eg “goat-trans.dds”) and to select DXT5.



Finally, select the image in texture replacement in FRED and test ingame.



Notes:
 - If you want a higher res nameplate, that's fine, just maintain the 4:1 ratio and the power of two sides, e.g. 512x128, 1024X256 etc.
 - If you have access to more sophisticated software, there are other things you can do to make nameplates look even better, but within the limitations of paint.net I think this method is a good mix of quick and reasonably high quality.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 09:20:04 pm by Black Wolf »
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Offline procdrone

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Thank you Black Wolf!

Will surely come in handy.

But one question.

Quote
Save this image in your maps folder as a DDS, remembering to add “-trans” to the end of the filename (eg “goat-trans.dds”) and to select DXT5.

why the "-trans"? Game somehow detects those files, or it's just your naming convention?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 06:32:52 am by TheHound »
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Offline Nyctaeus

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We actually don't need Alpha Map plugin for that. We can just select white background and delete it to have blank background with alpha channel and than do rest of the work. At the other hand, Alpha Mask is very useful for other things.

Hound: Yes, game render -trans textures in a specyfic way.
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Offline Black Wolf

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We actually don't need Alpha Map plugin for that. We can just select white background and delete it to have blank background with alpha channel and than do rest of the work. At the other hand, Alpha Mask is very useful for other things.

Actually, you'll get subtly different results if you do that, and it's related to TheHound's question:

why the "-trans"? Game somehow detects those files, or it's just your naming convention?

By doing it your way, Betrayal, you'd get a transparent background, and then various shades of white and grey on the text. By doing it my way (and using -trans on the end of the filename) what you're actually doing is telling the game to use the luminance for each individual pixel as its opacity. So where you have a dark grey or black pixel on your GIF, it becomes a translucent or near-transparent pixel on your DDS, which looks more like chipped or faded paint. The difference is subtle, especially on grey ships, but IMO better enough that the extra couple of minutes to use the alpha map method is worth it.

[EDIT]Oh, wait, I misunderstood what you were talking about. You're more right than I thought, but the noise modifier would still produce grey instead of translucent pixels. So I'd still suggest alpha mapping it, but things done with the eraser tool (like my scratch) would indeed work with your method. My bad.
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Offline Nyctaeus

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Black and gray pixels remain when You make a ship name first and than delete your black background. That's caused by too low Tolerance factor. Even if You incrase it, your inscription will cook like crap after all. I always delete tke background first and than make proper inscription with ship name.

Sometimes I'm using Transparency to have partialy transparent nameplate, some Feather also have good effects. All the scrathes for abandoned, old ships for example I'm doing via Clouds render. It's different story and a little bit complicated..
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Offline Rheyah

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Thank you very much :)