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volume 1, issue 11

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

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DRAW Partner!: Chris Buecheler's article on games and 2D art.


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By Christopher "shaithis" Buecheler

  wasn't going to do a two-part article for this, but when I realized I was up to eleven screen shots, and at least two pages worth of information, I realized it was kinda necessary. So, I'm afraid you're not going to see a finished texture at the end of this article.

Now, before we start, let me explain a few things: I work in 1280x1024x32bpp. Thus, when you click on the thumbnails in this article, you're going to get nailed with a rather large jpg. This isn't a problem for LPB assholes with cablemodems like me, but you modem users will probably hate me for it. ;)

Additionally, I want to get my philosophy out of the way right now: When I pick up a piece of charcoal, and apply it to paper, it's fine art. When I pick up Fractal Design Painter, and select "oil brush", and paint away, it's fine art (well, in both of these instances, it's as close to fine art as my skills allow). When I open up Photoshop, and work on a texture, it's very rarely fine art. It's usually design. Not that there's anything wrong with design, mind you, but it's a very different art than fine art is.

I do not treat Photoshop like an innocent child, or like a young woman I'm trying to court. I don't love Photoshop. I love working with Photoshop, but I do not love Photoshop. It's a tool, the same way DeluxePaint is a tool, a CAD program is a tool, and a hammer is a tool. I use it to construct things. And when it doesn't do what I want, I get angry, and I make it do what I want. :)

I'm stating all of this up front because it offends some Photoshop users. There are people out there who are appalled by how I use Photoshop. I don't follow any pre-conceived ideas about channels, or layers, or paths. I use any tool I can to accomplish the effect I want. I'm not afraid of filters, and I use them liberally. I'm not afraid of using photo-bases for my textures. Hand-drawing photorealism is a wonderful achievement, but this is the gaming world, and the gaming world is full of deadlines. Anything I can do to speed the production of my textures is a good thing.

Now then, still with me? Cool. :) Hopefully you're not too offended. I'm certainly not insulting anyone who treats Photoshop differently than I do. I'm just explaining how I do things up front to avoid getting any "OH MY GOD HOW CAN YOU DO IT THAT WAY?!?" emails. Every Photoshop user has different methods, and they're all valid. In texture design, the end usually justifies the means.

Okay...Let's make a texture.

Rather than show you how I made a texture that already exists, I figured I'd make one specifically this article. That way I can document my progress from start to finish, instead of trying to remember ever single step I took in the creating of one of my other tex's. First things first, I found an interesting photo base. This one happened to be donated to me by Cliff Blezinski, of Epic Megagames. He's cool and owns a digital camera, unlike us peons who can't afford one. ;)

This is a very nice metal texture, full of interesting scrapes, scratches and dents. I didn't do any pre-sketching for this particular texture (when I'm not on a specific project, I tend to just do whatever the texture inspires in me), and for this one I'm seeing a set of heavy, industrial doors, wider than they are tall. So now that I have my idea, I move onto the next step: tiling.

First things first, I take a 512x256 selection, and paste it into a new window. This will be the section of the texture I'm actually working on. Sometimes I just resize what's there, but in this case I wanted to get rid of that ugly black crease. It's just too dominating. Another alternative would've been to blend over it (described in a minute), but that's more time consuming, and not really necessary in this instance.

Next up? Offsetting. By offsetting the picture 256 to the left, and 128 down (with pixels set to wrap around), we've now moved all of the edges into the center. This way, it's much easier to ensure the texture tiles. Using a combination of cutting and pasting, and the rubber stamp, I start getting rid of the vertical seam. The rubber stamp tool is used for cloning. You define an area of the picture as your source, and then start drawing. Wherever you begin drawing, the rubber stamp "lifts" from the source area, and places it on the area you're adjusting. It's hard to explain, but relatively easy to get if you fool around with it for a bit. Cutting and pasting is basically just another way of cloning, but it puts the image on a new layer, which gives you a little more precision when adjusting it.

Now that I've finished getting rid of the vertical line, we're left with a solid horizontal line. While I was working, I also looked around for any particular dents/scratches that I thought would be really obvious when repeated. It takes time to learn what will and what won't, and even the most professional eye misses things (sometimes these easily identified areas, also known as "artifacts" make it into a final game texture). I kept the horizontal line, because I don't intend for this texture to tile vertically. In my experience, you should avoid tiling whenever it's not necessary, as the cloning effect of the rubber stamp inherently adds repetition to your texture.

(Continued on next page)



Credits: Graphic Content is © 1998 Christopher Buecheler. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, or we'll paint you white against a white background.