pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!)

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pick6
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pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!)

Postby pick6 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:06 pm

This is a short guide designed to help newbies get into graphics modding just a little bit quicker. As I've said before, I'm by no means a graphics artist and had virtually no experience of graphics programs a year ago. But I honestly feel people will find it easier than they think, once they know where to start!

I'm going to divide this into different sections, and may add more tips 'n' tricks in the future ;)


SECTION 1: pick6's toolbag

SECTION 2: TexMod-specific info

SECTION 3: Paint.NET tips and tricks



====================================================================================

SECTION 1: pick6's toolbag

I'm going to start by listing all the programs I used to make my TrueTurf, Logo Mod, mouse icons, and field art. The programs are all free, and easy-to-use! However, you WILL need to spend some time playing around with these programs yourself to get used to them, as the best way of learning is by doing it yourself!! :-D


BASIC TOOLS:
1) I use Paint.NET, which you can download here: http://www.dotpdn.com/downloads/pdn.html
It's simple but powerful, and I find it way easier than Photoshop! (I think it was elguapo who first put me on to this, so many thanks to him! :D )

2) Next, there are 2 plugin packs for Paint.NET that I consider essential, as they give you a variety of additional features. Both are free to download and use fully; donation is optional.

Vandermotten Paint.NET Effects: contains 9 plugins, including “Object Align” and “Drop Shadow”.
http://users.telenet.be/krisvandermotte ... fects.html
(When installing, you can uncheck “Duotones” and “Monotones”.)

BoltBaitPack: contains 21 plugins, including “Outline Object”.
http://forums.getpaint.net/index.php?/t ... r-12-2011/
(Unzip the files and place in your C:/Program Files/Paint.NET/Effects folder.)

3) Finally, Nvidia's .dds thumbnail viewer allows you to view .dds files in Windows Explorer which comes in very handy!
Download link is on the left-hand-side here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/dds_thumbnail_viewer.html

Those are what I consider to be the bare bones, so if you're desperate to get started, download just those and skip ahead to Section 2! :-)

ADDITIONAL TOOLS: (in order of importance)
FastStone Image Viewer:
http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm
This program can be used as an “Explorer”-type viewer, but I don't bother with that. Just double-click on an image to make it full-screen. Then move your mouse to the left edge of screen for various options.
I ALWAYS use FastStone for re-sizing images up (i.e. enlarging), as Paint.NET doesn't do as good a job, and I use either the “Lanczos3 (default)” or “Lanczos2 (Sharper)” re-sizing filters.
I also use FastStone for comparison work. Mouse up to top edge of screen to see images in current folder. Hold down CTRL and click on 2 different images. Release CTRL and press P to view both images at same time. There's also an icon at this point to compare both images in full screen one at a time. Press ESC to exit at any time.

There are 2 other plugins for Paint.NET that I also use, but aren't as essential:
AverageSelectionColor plugin by MJW: http://paint.net.amihotornot.com.au/fea ... Selection/
Great for selecting a large area and finding the average RGB value present. (Thanks to thumstyx for this idea!)

PSD (Photoshop) plugin: http://psdplugin.codeplex.com/
Allows you to open and save .psd files for Photoshop. (Thanks to Bagel for pointing this one out!)

FontList:
http://www.bitstorm.org/fontlist/
This tiny program that allows you to enter in your own sample text and then display it in all the fonts currently installed on your PC. If you need new fonts, http://www.dafont.com is a good place to start for free fonts. I've never yet had to pay for any from font websites.

Fraps:
http://www.fraps.com
The paid version allows me to capture Madden screenshots more easily, but Madden also allows you to save screenshots at any time by pressing F1. Those images are saved in your “My Documents\Madden NFL 08\Scrnshots” folder.

Logos:
If you want to get started on your own field or stadium art, then I recommend you download my Hi-Resolution team logos, which I used to make my Logo Mod (the same logos currently in the FF XIV mod).

Download it here: pick6's Hi-Resolution team logo's v5.zip

Image

====================================================================================

SECTION 2: TexMod-specific info

If you're not familiar with TexMod, please refer to the TexMod tutorial HERE first. You can download TexMod itself HERE.

I use TexMod a lot as it's very easy to make really high-quality textures and then get them in-game quickly with TexMod.
When using it in Logging Mode, I recommend adjusting the settings to the following:

Image

I check ALL the boxes except “Translucent”, but the most important part here is the “Output” format used. Even though .png's can contain transparency, for some reason it's not preserved when logging to that format in TexMod. Therefore, I ALWAYS log as .dds files (which does preserve the transparency).

However, while Paint.NET can open those file types, FastStone can't. Therefore, I always save them in Paint.NET as .png (which now correctly preserves the transparency!). I can then open THAT .png later in FastStone (which is a better program for comparison work and re-sizing UP). So, if I want to enlarge a .dds, I save it in Paint.NET as .png first, and then open THAT .png in FastStone.

Don't forget the best way to log a texture in-game is to wait til your texture is on-screen, and then press the * key on the numpad. This significantly reduces the amount of textures you have to cycle through to those just currently in use. (Thanks to Bagel for that tip!)


====================================================================================

SECTION 3: Paint.NET tips and tricks

If you've never used Paint.NET before, and don't have a clue about graphics programs, I suggest you download my TrueTurf templates from the first post HERE.

Once downloaded and unzipped, click on the file called "TrueTurf NFL.pdn" and it will open in Paint.NET. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the idea of "layers". Check and un-check the different layers on the right-hand side to see what happens. Click on the blue up or down arrows at the bottom of the layers window and see what happens as the layers are stacked differently.

Image

Press F5, F6, F7, & F8 to show or hide the 4 main windows.
In the "Colors" window, click in the color circle to select any random color.
In the "Tools" window, click on the "Color Picker" tool and then click in different places on the field. The color you "pick" will depend on what layer is currently selected (highlighted in blue).
In the "Tools" window, click on the "Paint Bucket" tool, and then click somewhere on the field. Locate the "Undo" button (underneath the word "Layers" at the very top of the screen) and click that. Now select a different layer and click on the field again. Getting the hang of it? ;)

Now create a new project by clicking on the white icon under the word "File" in the top-left hand corner.
In the "Layers" window, find the "Add New Layer" button at the bottom of it, and click on that.
Notice that the new layer has a checked pattern, which means it's transparent.
Find the "Paintbrush" tool and make some marks in the new layer.
Now click on the "Move Selected Pixels" tool, grab the canvas and drag it. Notice how you're only moving that layer.

Just go crazy and play about with it; you can't break it! When you're finished, just don't save your changes and the TrueTurf template will remain intact. ;)

With your own creations, ALWAYS save it first as a Paint.Net (*.pdn) file (which preserves the layers), and then save it as a PNG (*.png) file, which flattens it all down.
Don't bother saving as bitmap (*.bmp) as that format can't handle transparency.
(And you can completely forget about using Madden's 255,0,255 "pink" transparency ever again; that's only either all or nothing, with no in-between degrees of transparency!)

There's great documentation HERE that explains everything you want to know, so bookmark that page for later!



OK, some more advanced tips now, which will come in handy later!

CREATING A NEW PROJECT
Click on the "New" icon (top-left), or press CTRL and N. Click OK.
You'll notice that when Paint.NET creates a new project, the default background is always white (not transparent).
If you look in the Layers window, you'll see the word Background is in italics. I'm not sure if this is a bug or intentional, but when it's in italics, the layer sometimes behaves differently.
What I do is then click on the "Add New Layer" button in the Layers window, which will then create an empty transparent layer above it.
I then delete the Background layer, and start working on the new transparent layer.


HOW DO I CHANGE A COLOR FROM ONE SHADE TO ANOTHER BUT STILL PRESERVE THE FADING AT THE EDGES?
The simplest way is by going to "Adjustments" and then "Hue / Saturation". You can drag the Hue slider to alter the color, and drag the Saturation slider to alter the intensity.
If you want to go from a SPECIFIC shade of one color to a SPECIFIC shade of another, first write down your red, green, & blue (RGB) values for the 2 shades you're going to use.
Then go to Adjustments / Levels.
Double-click on the "Input Black Point" color box, click on "Define Custom Colors", enter in the RGB values, and click OK.
Repeat for the "Output Black Point" color box, and voila! :)


WHAT'S THE BEST METHOD FOR RE-SIZING SOMETHING DOWN?
OK, start by downloading and unzipping my Hi-Resolution team logo's above. Let's say you want to use the NFL shield for part of an endzone; you don't know how small it needs to be, but you want it to be the same height as text that is already there.

Start off by selecting the whole image by clicking Edit and then "Select All", or just press CTRL and A.
Click the "Move Selected Pixels" tool (top-right in the Toolbar window). You'll now see circles in the 4 corners of the image.
Grab the top-right corner and drag it around. You'll see that the size changes, but the image can be stretched or squashed.
Click Undo to make the image good again. (Find it under Edit, or just press CTRL and Z)
This time, hold down SHIFT while grabbing the top-right corner and again drag it around. This time, the proportions will be preserved!
Drag down and left until it's pretty small, and notice the numbers changing at the very bottom of the screen. Imagine we're lining it up with something that's already there.
Let go and look at the "Bounding rectangle size:" numbers to see what size you're currently at.
Let's say they are at 75 x 75.
If you zoom in on that portion of the image, you'll notice that there is no smoothing of the contents; it's all pretty jagged, so it's not a great way to reduce an image. But it is a great way of finding the exact dimensions that you need!
So now click undo to make your NFL shield full size again, and this time click on Image, then Resize.
Enter in your dimensions of 75 x 75 and click OK.
NOW the contents will be smoother with no jagged lines.

So therefore, when I need to re-size down I usually do it in 2 stages. First, I resize "on-the-fly" to find out the exact dimensions I need, then I undo, and resize it down properly.


MISC TIPS
Instead of using the Paste function, I usually prefer to "Paste into New Layer" (find under "Edit"). Alternatively, just press CTRL SHIFT and V all at the same time.

If you want to select a weird-shaped object, use the "Magic Wand" Tool to select the blank space around it instead. Then invert it by going to to "Edit" / "Invert Selection" (or press CTRL and I). If too much or too little is being selected, adjust the "Tolerance" slider at the top of the screen accordingly.


HOW TO MAKE A DROP SHADOW LIKE IN MY LOGO MOD:
If you want to make a drop shadow for your own team logo's in the same style as mine, here's what to do:
You'll need the Vandermotten Paint.NET Effects (see Section 1 at the top of this post)
1) Install, and then start Paint.NET
2) Madden's default main logo dimensions are 128x128, but I use 256x256, so for best results make your logo to these larger dimensions.
3) When your logo is complete, duplicate that layer.
4) Go to Effects, Object, Drop Shadow, and use these settings:

Image
N.B. Make sure the "Keep original image" box is UNCHECKED!

5) When you click OK, the upper layer will become the shadow so move that layer down.
6) For a logo with my larger 256x256 dimensions, I then move the shadow down 5 pixels, and then either left or right 2 pixels. (For a symetrical logo like Green Bay or San Fran, I don't move it horizontally.)
7) Save as 32-bit .png, preserving the transparency.


This guide currently has enough tips to get newbies up-and-running quickly, but I may add some more in the future...

NOW GO MAKE SOMETHING! :D

pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!)

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pick6
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby pick6 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:09 pm

Since I can't get more than 5 links into my signature, here's individual links to all my stuff:

MODS:
NCAA 17 FieldBuilder [LAST WORK & BEST GRAPHICS]

GRAPHICS:
TrueTurf (hi-quality field texture & template) [very useful]
"wide hash" demo game (no "ghost lines")
Logo Mod
"mini-camp & practice" mini-mod
"controller-style" mouse icons
World Cup mod: Ireland and England

FIELD ART:
CenturyLink Field (pick6 favorite)
CIN midfield and endzone (.dat-form)

TUTORIALS:
FieldBuilder framework (pick6 favorite)
Better logos (EXTREMELY hi-quality template, by rezland)
Better Midfields (tutorial & template)
Better Goalpost padding (tutorial & template)
Endzones should be created 1400x256 [very important!]
Use of endzone2 = bug!(TEZ2) [important!]
pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!) (at the top of this thread)
display settings & aspect ratio guide
How to make any roster work with FF uniforms

RESOURCES:
Hi-Resolution team logos (35 textures, including alternate CIN & NO logo's, and NFL shield)
Official NFL Logo Slicks (logo, uni, number, color info) (all 32 teams)

MOTIVATIONAL:
UNDEFEATED (official trailer of the Oscar-winning movie)

UTILITIES (not mine):
TexMod
Madden DB Editor v3.0


Please note, I do not post under the name "pick6" anywhere else on the internet, nor do I post under any other name claiming to be pick6. I do not use my Seahawks avatar anywhere else either.

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bengalmike
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby bengalmike » Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:22 pm

Thanks for this. I'm very excited to sit down this weekend and just go play around with this stuff. Looks interesting.
Go Browns!

A New Era: My Browns Franchise http://www.footballidiot.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=16048

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Doovid184
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby Doovid184 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:28 pm

Thanks for posting this! I'll give it a look when I get a free weekend.

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isten
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby isten » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:07 am

pick6 wrote:Don't forget the best way to log a texture in-game is to wait til your texture is on-screen, and then press the * key on the numpad. This significantly reduces the amount of textures you have to cycle through to those just currently in use. (Thanks to Bagel for that tip!)


Oh this is new for me, this is a very good tip. :)

Is the * key the multiply sign? On a German keyboard i don't have a * sign on the num pad :roll:

Greetings isten
Go Broncos

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pick6
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby pick6 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:35 am

Thanks guys, I hope you find it helpful! :)

isten wrote:Is the * key the multiply sign? On a German keyboard i don't have a * sign on the num pad :roll:
Yes, it is the multiply symbol, and for some reason TexMod only accepts the one on the numpad, not the one elsewhere on the keyboard. Not sure if it helps you here, but

from a different thread:
pick6 wrote:Often a laptop that doesn't have a separate numpad will have that facility via the "Fn" key (function). Check out this screenshot and see if you can find anything similar on your laptop (layouts may differ).

Image


Failing that, it would be well worthwhile to buy an external USB numpad since they're so cheap, as TexMod also needs the numpad versions of the + and - keys for cycling through textures.

num pad.jpg
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isten
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby isten » Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:25 am

pick6 wrote:Yes, it is the multiply symbol, and for some reason TexMod only accepts the one on the numpad, not the one elsewhere on the keyboard.


thank you, okay this is like a "x" on my keyboard


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/German-T2-Keyboard-Prototype-May-2012.jpg

Greetings isten
Go Broncos

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pick6
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!

Postby pick6 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:33 pm

OK, I've updated Section 1 to include my "Hi-Resolution team logo's", and Section 3 to include some more Paint.NET tips.

I think this guide is finished for the time being; it currently has everything in it that I wanted to put in, although I may add some more stuff in the future... ;)

Should be enough to get newbies started anyway!

NOW GO MAKE SOMETHING! :D

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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!)

Postby fedegb93 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:12 am

One question can be put guides lines in Paint.NET?

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pick6
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Re: pick6's toolbag & methods (a graphics guide for newbies!)

Postby pick6 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:16 am

fedegb93 wrote:One question can be put guides lines in Paint.NET?

I'm sorry, but I don't understand. Please read my reply to your post about your Packers midfield to see if that helps.


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