Are you new to BATing? great, this is for you! are you not? also great, it's for you too, you may learn and give to learn on the process!
So, first of all, this tutotial or shall I say, set of topics, are not design to teach you how to model, how to apply texture on models, set UWV maps or any kind of modeling done in Gmax/MAX!
For that matter, you can find excellent tutorials
or you can find more information on the BAT essentials too.
Other useful tips on modelling and applying texture on models can be found
So, what is exactly the point of this topics? To introduce you to Photoshop/GIMP techniques to create good textures for your models. Why create? why not use textures found on texture databases such CGtextures? Because only in very rare circumstances already made textures fits good the game grand scheme! most of them are taken from real places, and they fit those places nicely, but they are not your BAT. also, the game has it own criteria regarding saturation, hue and luminosity, on which most textures need to be worked upon. And on my usual work, I rarely use them, and only as patterns overlay and other stuff, not as base textures!
But, lets say that you have a particular texture you want to use and it does not look ok, maybe you may want to take a look at these steps in how to fix textures.
Nevertheless , that is why it is commonly said that good textures are not found, are made! And also remember! This are just simple stepped basic demonstrations, Further experimentation and personalization are not recommended, are mandatory!
So, what you need?
º Photoshop/GIMP to start with. this will be the main tool on usage.
º Some tools like brushes and patterns found here. you can however find more and use more!
º Some texture/image databases such as http://www.cgtextures.com/, http://www.imageafter.com/ and http://grungetextures.com/
1.1- Noise Effect
1.4- Overall Variance
1.6 -Colour correction
2-Tile Roof Basics
4-Using a Texture as base texture
5-Wealth Basic Specs
6-Grungy and Decaying Paradise
7-High Wealth Details
1- Wall Basics
Some of the most important items on your bat are walls! they, together with roofs compose much part of your bat, and the larger and most visible items on a BAT. Therefore, more than other items, textures play a huge role in how a BAT looks, good or bad. In my opinion Walls and roofs are where you are more likely to spend more time making and tuning textures right.
So, let's say we want to make a plaster wall texture. First step, is to get a base colour/tone for the texture. We should find one that meets the overall game's colour pallet (will upload mine as soon as I can).
So, make a new file and size it so, for each meter on bat, it has 20 pixels (i.e. if the wall is 10m long, the file shall be 200 pixels wide). This is the ratio mts/pxl I use, and it works fine, but you can use others, try it out. it is important, though, you use a consistent ratio there after.
Fill it with the colour you have choose.
if you apply this texture and look in game, it does not look good does it?
no, it looks rather bare, cartoonish and stands out to much!
1.1- Noise Effect
Lets get rid of the bare look. we gonna make that colour looking better by adding some variation on the colour. one simple way to archive this is to go to Filter, Noise, Add Noise. Set it to monochromatic, Gaussian and 10%. Then, go again to Filter, Noise, Dust & Scratches, set both paramethers to 10 and OK.
Save it, and apply it to gmax and see on game.
subtle, but is improves the texture largely.
One of the most dramatic effect you must include in any texture is a gradient! It came back to the time of simple sprites for early games and it a major improvement on any texture!
So, the easiest way to archive this is to create a new layer (Ctr+$%&^!+N), Select the gradient tool, select the white to black gradient, apply it on the layer. Change the layer setting to Multiply and change the opacity to about 20%
And in game looks something like this:
again, a large improvement!
Now, the texture is still detailess, and we want a plaster looking texture. For that matter we are going to use some filters and layers.
First, create a new layer, Go to Edit, Fill, select grey 50%. Select the Layer and make it Clipping Mask (alt+crtl+G)
Then, go to Filter, Texture, Texturize. Select Sandstone and fill in the following parameters. Set the layer to Overlay.
In game shall look like so.
Why make this on a separated layer? and not apply it already on the base layer? well, because this way you have more liberty to change the texture/base colour, without having to remake all over again
1.4- Overall Variance
The noise effect is good for having some variation on the colour tone, but you may also want some variation on the luminosity, and on all building sometimes. To do so, do as follow:
start by resetting the colours to white and black. Create a new layer set it to Overlay, 25% opacity, go to Filter, Render, Clouds. repeat this (or just press ctrl+F) as many times you wish to archive the result you want.
The whole mighty weather takes its toll on any exposed surface. And so it shall not be forgotten when making a texture for a BAT.
there are two major events on weathering we should consider:
1- when it rains, ground particles are pick up by falling rain drops and as these splash and scatter, they scatter the particles with them. If the water hits a wall, most likely the ground particles will be attached to the wall. Also, as the bottom part of walls are more likely to be moisten, moss and other stuff may grow on that area. like the following example:
2- water leaking from the top of surfaces. a bit like the above, but this time due to water poring down the walls, from the top. like the following picture shows:
In the end usually both take part of any wall. in any wealth set, there should be some weathering visible. more on low wealth, less in the high wealth though. In both pictures you can see that time, and careless have taken it's toll and have changed the appearance of the walls. remember this!
So, how to mimic these?
Create a new layer. with white color on, load the brushes SS_Driping, that you can find in the site mentioned on the top. now, choose a brush, and apply on the top, once or twice, try not to be repetitive. change brushes a lot, size of them too. then load the SS_Scratchout and apply on the same way, on the bottom.
you shall end with something like you find bellow. Select the smudge tool and smooth and personalize out the top drippings
Now lets give it some colour and texture. Double click on the layer, to open the layer style window. select overlay pattern, with a grunge overlay (you can find many on the net and on the sites said above) and set texture too, as seen on the pic bellow.
in game preview:
doesn't it look better?
1.6 -Colour correction
Here is where more people fail, IMHO, they just forget to correct their colour settings to match up with the game. It is very common to find oversaturate textures, bright colors, standing out textures, that gives the look of cartoonist BATs.
Luckily, there are several tools to help us out. From them, we will use: Curves layer, Brightness/Contrast Layer and Hue/Saturation/Luminosity Layer.
First of all, you need to calibrate your Photoshop for gmax, i.e, create a .acv file for your textures. More details can be found on the link, READ IT, DO IT
Now, you can apply those curves at the end of the line, when the texture is done, but I find it easier to add it as a Layer on the texture .psd file. For this, and before you create the layer, you have to load the .acv so open the curves map window (crtl+M) and load the file you created. then press cancel. now the file is on the memory and can be loaded at the layer. Click on the circle under the layers, and from the list select Curves...
Now double click on it, and you will find a drop menu on the top, open it and select your file from the drop list.
REMEMBER, this layer shall be on top of everything, most of the times.
To create the other two layer, go back (select layer) and in the adjustment layers (the circle) select the other 2 I talked about.
With this two, you can tune (usually) down or up the saturation levels, brightness etc etc, without having to change a thing on the bitmaps.
At this point, you should test and test. not just go with the first result you get! This is probably the step I spend more time on, when texturing.
open both, PS/GIMP and Gmax/MAX, and keep tuning the texture, saving it, testing it on the gmax and in some screenshots you have from the game. over and over until you are pleased with the result.
Here is a picture how the final texture looks like. Notice the 4 top layer, the three adjustment layers I spoke about and a colour one. Some say, the game is pinkish/pearish in colour. truth is, some textures do look better when I: Create a new layer, select a pinksh colour, fill the layer and set it's opacity to 10%. This is not imperative, but it may help, and is easy to test.
and, to see the end result, facing the first texture I started with, let me scale up the boxes and put them side to side.
2-Tile Roof Basics
In this part of the tutorial we will look opon the tiled ceramic and slated roofs, usualy tilted. for that we will use a simple model, like this one.
What most people do is to get a tiling texture and apply it to the roof, ending up like something like this
although it does not look very bad, it is bland, it stands out and could use some colour and luminosity life.
2.1- From the scratch
so, lets start by viewing the model from the top, with all the details it has, and take a screenshot of it. open your image software, create a new file, and paste the shot in it. go to Filters>Stylize>Find Edges (this is for Photoshop, other softwares may have different menu configurations).
Then crop the image to fit just the roof and relevant details of the roof and resize it according to your ratio (As stated, I use 20px per meter). Also, select the white and erase it, leaving just the outlines of the model.
Select from a game's color pallet a roof color of your like. apply it to the background layer. Then apply the same method described in 1.1
lets see in game
Not big thing yet, off course, but again, this adds some variety to the texture and make it a bit less monotonous. and gives us a starting point.
On the next step, we are making more for that purpose. First, if you look at some maxis buildings, and even to some real life textures, you see that not all tiles look the same. In fact, most of the times, Maxis didn't define well the outlines of the individual tiles, leaving to the differences in hue and albedo to make the job. That's what we are making here today.
(Still on the making!)
"Behold, a curious place,
where evil BATs come alive
and devour your mind!"
Original post reserved for project updates,
announcements, and tutorials when appropriate.
Finnbhennach's Crypt. Fri, Oct 20, 2017.
New York City:
Blocks of Midtown, Manhattan
I. "Ongoing Projects w/ Status Updates"
New York City:
Blocks of Midtown, Manhattan
II. "Future Projects"
A SimCity 4 Tutorial
Cloud Oriented Region Import Method Adding Painted Streams
In this guide I present a method to create a grayscale image from which to render a random rolling hills terrain map that has water streams and rivers added.
Here's a random sample of a map I created using this method:
Note: The following is merely an alternative method to create a semi-realistic, fictional region map for SC4. Before you waste any time reading this please be aware that the defacto standards for map making are: SC4 Mapper, SC4 Terraformer, and Landscape Designer. Use them if you want something better. Also, as mentioned by @RobertLM78 in a reply in this thread there is another one by Ordio called Simcity 4 Region and Config Creator.
However, many peeps have said they cannot run those programs on later versions of Windoze or other OS's so what I'm presenting here is simply another method by which one can make a decent map with minimal time and effort. I'm using GIMP for this guide because it's free to anyone. Any good image editing program will have the same tools I use in this guide.
The method is quick and easy.
1. Load your SimCity 4 Rush Hour or Deluxe game and create a new region. Name it whatever you want. For this tutorial I'll use Cloud Map. Exit the game, or at a minimum, exit the new region by opening a different region. This is so the existing config.bmp file is not in use.
2. Create a new config.bmp file. For this tutorial mine will be 12x12 pixels. See Config.bmp: How to Make it Yours if you are not already familiar with it.
3. Save that config.bmp into the new region folder you just made. (Overwrite the existing one.)
4. You should now have region.ini and your config.bmp in your new region folder.
Making the Grayscale Image
1. Go outside and take a picture of some clouds.
2. Load the picture into a decent imaging program.
3. [Optional] Crop it if there are cloudless parts you don't want in the image. In Gimp it's the Rectangle Select Tool over in the upper left of the tools box. Or you can press R. Draw a box around the part you want to keep.
Then go to the Image Menu and select Crop to Selection...
4. Scale the image to the appropriate size based on the config.bmp you will be using. As we learned in @Birdin's config.bmp guide we multiply the dimensions of config.bmp by 64 and add 1. So 12 * 64 = 768 + 1 = 769. The height and width are the same since my config.bmp is 12 x 12.
Go to the Image Menu and select Scale Image...
That brings up this Scale Image dialog box. First click the little linked chain to the right of the Width and Height boxes to break the chain. This tells the program that we are not concerned about keeping the cropped selection proportional to the original image. Type in the Width and Height dimensions that you calculated in the beginning of this step. For this tutorial I entered 769 in both boxes. Then click the Scale button.
5. Convert to grayscale. Go to the Image Menu and select Mode --> Grayscale.
6. Export the image as a .Bmp file. Go to the File Menu and select Export As ...
When the export dialog box comes up, look in the lower left for the little bitty plus sign in a box by the Select File Type (By Extension) and click it. That will open up the File Type selection box. Scroll down and click Windows BMP image.
In the upper left in the name box, type in Gray 1 in front of the .bmp. Note only the name portion is pre-highlighted in blue indicating what part to type over. (Brilliant programming imo.) Remember which folder you export (save) the file to. That's indicated by my arrow in this next pic. Mine is going into My Documents. Click the Export Button.
The next dialog box has some options. I simply click the Export Button. (I believe one could select the Run-Length Encoded to reduce the file size. I haven't tested that, so I leave it unchecked.)
And here's what I created:
8. Close all files. I personally do not let it save my original clouds with the cropping and changes so that way I still have my unaltered original.
9. Close your imaging program. (Or if your comp has plenty of memory, just minimize it.)
(These interim steps are what I did when learning. I skip them now I know what I'm doing.)
1. In SimCity 4, open the new region you created. Mine is called Cloud Map.
2. Press the magic key combination of Shift+Ctrl+Alt+r. This brings up the file selection box.
3. Drill down to where you saved your grayscale image file and select Gray 1.bmp then click Ok.
4. Now wait while the map is rendered. You will see Creating New City like this:
And here's our first draft render. Note that it's way too choppy. We will fix that soon. The reason I did this preliminary render is to see what part is water.
Tweaking the Grayscale Image
1. Reopen Gray 1.bmp in your image editor. We will paint in our rivers and streams before we smooth out the rough, choppy bumps. Select the Paintbrush tool and set it to Acrylic 05. Leave the size at 20 point for now. I selected Acrylic cause it adds a random pattern to the edges of what you paint.
2. Click the foreground color selection box. It's right under all the tools on the left. That brings up the Change Foreground Color choices. Type 40 in Red, Green, and Blue. Yes, I already hear peeps saying: Wait, that's too dark. Stay with me on this.
3. Now paint in streams / rivers. A twitchy hand actually improves the realism.
4. Now to smooth out the choppiness of the hills. From the Filters menu select Blur --> Gaussian Blur... This also blends the rivers and streams so that's why I picked color level 40 (which equates to 120 meters height after rendering but doesn't count the blur merging). This'll be an area to experiment on your own based on your original cloud picture.
5. In the next dialog box change the Blur Radius to 10.0. Or pick your own number. Higher numbers means more smoothing and lower ones give less.
6. Export the image as Gray 2.bmp. Here's my new grayscale:
7. And here it is rendered:
The map is now ready to paint trees in game or load your favorite terrain and tree and other landscape related mods. Or, tweak it some more.
1. Let's say I want everything to be a little lower elevation to get a bit more water. From the Colors menu select Levels...
2. Then I adjust the Gamma Level to 0.85. (I derived this number thru trial and error for this particular cloud image.)
3. Here's the new Grayscale image I exported as Gray 3.Bmp:
4. Here it is rendered:
5. And then I painted Maxis trees in every tile:
I've discovered a couple new things. I started with this cloud picture:
Then in GIMP I did the normal stuff outlined above and then I used the Burn Tool to lighten the banks of the rivers:
And I blurred it after that. Here's the grayscale I created:
Another new thing I noticed is having mods for terrain, rocks, water, and beaches already installed means the import rendering colors the region view with them so I don't have to go into each tile to do that. Here it is rendered:
Then I did go in and paint Maxis trees as thick as the program would allow:
^ What I really like is the banks of the rivers seem more realistic to me inasmuch as they show the effect of previous flooding. Also my heavier use of Gaussian Blur means the map is much more friendly when using a slope mod to lay out the transportation network.
Where to go from here
1. You can alter the gray shade of your paintbrush to a lighter one and paint along the sides of the streams to create gentler slopes if you like. It's best to do that before adding the blur cause the blur does a bunch of evening out. (See my edit above. Using the Burn Tool works even better for this.)
2. If your cloud picture has a much lighter blue sky you might want to play with brightness, contrast, or color levels to darken it before for you start any other part of the editing. Use the Color Picker Eyedropper to see what shade any given area in your grayscale is. Providing you have not installed a Height Mod with an alteration to the scale factor and/or sea level, grayscale 83 is slightly below sea level. Lower values are farther under water. Grayscale 84 is slightly above water. Higher values are then higher elevations up to a max of 255 (white).
3. Experiment with various options in the imaging program. Render and see what you get. Learning by doing is loads of fun.
4. Experiment with altering the moisture content as discussed here to change the ground texture appearance.
5. Extract the Terrain Properties exemplar from Simcity_1.dat and play around with the variables there like ImageImportScaleFactor and SeaLevel or the Erosion settings.
Feel free to post your map creations in this thread. Ideally, post both the final grayscale image and then a region screenshot. Reply with what you've discovered that might be useful to other peeps.
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