Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher
f you follow this column even somewhat regularly, youíll notice that Iíve been quite late (a month -- yikes!) with getting a new tutorial out. Iíve been quite busy lately working with a new company developing Nintendo Gameboy Color games (out of all things!). I never thought Iíd be working on pure 2-D games again, but boy, it brings back memories of the oldení days of 2-D low-palette sprite-based game making. I love it! So, needless to say, I wasnít able to devote the time I wanted to this part of the space tutorial. Since my explanations havenít been nearly as detailed as Iíd hoped for, you can e-mail me if you have a particular question about something in here.
Before I get started on the third (and final) part of this tutorial, I need to back up a few steps. At the end of part two I talked about how it was necessary to delete the alpha channel in order to save you image as a JPG. Well, thanks to a couple of readers Iíve been turned on to something new. Actually, itís not new at all, just something I never bothered to learn -- and perhaps maybe you too.
There is an interesting little (not talked about very much) option in the File menu in Photoshop. It is called Save a Copy...
The beef with this option over the regular Save As is that Save a Copy has some extended parameters that can be checked, such as Exclude Alpha Channels.
Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.
Basically, you can take care of a lot of overhead by checking the boxes you deem necessary, and save yourself a few steps. I did a couple of tests and found out that you donít even need to check the Exclude Alpha Channel box if you are saving as a JPG -- it does that automatically for you. After looking at the Save a Copy box, I started to wonder why they even made it in the first place! I mean they should have incorporated all that bullshit into the Save As box. Ahhhhh...... <sigh>
Thanks again to V Andre Lowe and Scott Roberts for bringing this to my attention.
Now on with the tutorial...
The planet was finished up in tutorial parts one and two. Now itís time to create a space background with stars. Obviously, the first thing you need to do is create a brand new document with a plain black background. Good. Now letís add stars.
Here is tip number one. When making stars, donít just plot a single white pixel for each star -- it looks fake, and bad. Itís better to have them blend with somewhat of a glow (or at least a simulated one). So, to do this, they need to be subtle with some slight color variances to them. Some stars will be very bright. Some will be dimmer. And some will be so dim that they are barley noticeable. The majority of the stars (more likely than not) will have more than one pixel in either height or width, or both. The brightest part of the star might be one pixel, but the edge around it giving it the glow is key.
Take a look at these zoomed up stars to see what Iím talking about in action.
You may need to bring this into Photoshop if it is difficult to see. Notice how random the make up of each star is, and how they are varied in brightness. Also notice that some are somewhat vertical and some are horizontal. At first this might seem dumb (zoomed in so closely), but it looks very nice if done correctly from a zoomed-out view.
You will probably also want some much larger stars too. Here is a zoomed up version of one way to create a larger star.
Notice that I put some subtle light rays coming from the star. If they arenít subtle enough, the star will look too fake, and the rays will be distracting. So, take caution there.
Credits: Painting on Polygons is © 1999 Rick Grossenbacher. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, or we'll paint you white against a white background.