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    Photoshopping snow scene, plus turning off the shadow



    Some people keep asking the technique of the snow effect done in my CJ - Denairsk. As the new season is still under its early stage, I use my time to write a tutorial on the Snow effect in photoshop.

    I didn't 'create' the technique, it comes from an article by The Big Z:


    I respect and thank the sharing of the original author.


    In addition I also give a tutorial on how to turn of the shadow effect in game here. I think it is better to have no or limited in-game-rendered shadow in the snow scene (particularly a snowy day). Sadly I just discover the method recently thus  I didn't manage to do it in my journal. The method was discovered by GMT, and I acknowledge his effort:



    PS. This tutorial use photoshop to create snow scene for SC4 without snow terrain mod. If you have problems or opposition against heavily photoshopped image you could skip this tutorial.

    PS2. English is not my first language. If the instruction is not clear or there are grammatical error please tell me to improve it.



    This tutorial use Photoshop CS5 to edit in-game screenshot. The basic idea is to replace the 'green' colour into 'white' in order to make a snowy landscape.


    Preliminary work

    It is never a bad thing to plan ahead. There are plenty of materials to be used in snow scene, just AVOID topical elements like palm trees.


    Here is the raw material for the tutorial





    Turning off Shadow

    The game don’t have the option of turning of shadows generated by the buildings in game, yet there is a setting for that. By following the steps below you should be able to turn off the shadows by switching to 'low shadow quality' option in game.


    1. In the game folder (NOT the Plugin folder in my document) find and open a file called 'graphics rules.sgr' by notepad or whatever.

    2. Just some paragraphs under the top, find a group of text with the title optionGroup $Shadows


    3. Change the value of property lightingUpdateDelta under #      option $Off into 1, also change the value of  property lightingUpdateDelta under #   option $Low into 0.2 (ie. replacing one with other) Now the whole paragraph looks like this:


    optionGroup $Shadows

    # Sadly, we have no off

    #      option $Off

          option $Low

          property shadowQuality 0 # off

          property shadowModelThreshold 40

          property lightingUpdateDelta 1


    #   option $Low

    #     property shadowQuality 2

    #      property shadowModelThreshold 40

    #      property lightingUpdateDelta 0.2


       option $Medium

          property shadowQuality 3

          property shadowModelThreshold 22

          property lightingUpdateDelta 0.05


       option $High

          property shadowQuality 5

          property shadowModelThreshold 12

          property lightingUpdateDelta 1e-4



     4. In game, screen setting, set the shadow quality to low, refresh the screen (zoom in and out), the shadows should be gone by now.


    PS. It is good to keep a copy of graphics rules.sgr before changing anything.

    PS2. This method only turn off the shadow generated by game, it is not possible to turn of the shadow on the building itself, which comes with the rendered model of the building.




    This is the result after turning off the shadow





    Snow Effect by Photoshop


    1. Copy the original image on a new layer




    2. On the upper layer, go to Image -> Adjustment -> Replace Colour



    3. This is the dialog box for Replace Colour, and there are two main area for adjustment:

    i. Select the colour (groups) to be replaced. By click the top option the result would be more smooth, but it affects a large portion of the image. The eye-dropper tools allow you to selection the colour you want directly from the image (while +/- mean to add/subtract a colour group). Use the Fuzziness slidebar to adjust the intensity.

    ii. The colour that will replace. You can choose colour from the palette, or by adjusting the values of the desire colour.



    4. Now I want to replace the lush green colour of the lawn to white. (PS. You can also save the setting for colour, so you don't have to adjust the colour and value everytime you do it.)



    5. The outcome of colour replacement.




    6. If you zoom in you would find some area get very blurry, or the snow appears on some place where snow should not accumulate. We will address these problems now.



    7. Apply a layer mask on the upper layer. Layer mask allows you to blend the upper and lower layer selectively. Layer mask in monochromic, 'white' means 1, making the upper layer completely visible and 'black' means 0, making the upper layer invisible.



    Now what we do is to apply black on area (by brush tool or whatever) where should have no snow on the mask, thus making the original, shape image reappear. Area without snow include the vertical surface of buildings and structures, rock cliffs, slope with high inclination, and path of the roads where vehicle travels frequently.


    The snow scene is basically done after clearing the snow. We can have a few enhancement after, but this tutorial will not go details on those as the should have been covered in other tutorials.


    8. Using curve to adjust the contrast and brightness. Tune a bit on vibrance and saturation, and enhance all colours except green.



    9. Overlay a snowing texture, the snow scene is now finished.





    Image for comparison, from unedited to fully edited.



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