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XyZspineZyX
09-30-2003, 10:38 PM
Hi m8,

Tried to e-mail you a reply but it kept getting bounced back by hotmail so here's the contents of the e-mails that I sent you:

Hi Goat,

Okay, I'll try and help if I can, it's a long e-mail but I've tried to keep it as simple to follow as possible.

First the regimental emblem. There are two file formats supported by IL2/FB. The first (and simplest to make) is BMP which is only displayed when flying "dogfight" missions thus the need for IL2-MAT and the second (and more interesting) format TGA.

If you create a TGA file with your graphic and use IL2-MAT to "substitute" it for all or any in-game regiments using IL2-MAT's "squadrons" configuration feature then this is very versatile as the emblem graphic will appear throughout the game in place of the substituted one(s) in coop missions,dogfight missions, quick missions and campaign missions etc. Note "none" is also an option so you could substitute your graphic when "no regiment" is selected as an option, handy in coops where someone hasn't enetered a specific regiment but you wan't your graphic displayed.

The file conversion part of IL2-MAT is really designed to convert from BMP to TGA rather than create TGAs from scratch.. To create a suitable TGA you will need some graphics software such as Paintshop Pro (my favourite) or Photoshop. The tutorial on my website contains a stage-by-stage example of creating a number "6" graphic using PSP but all of the methodology is relevant for any TGA graphic. The key things are size = 128x128 pixel (better resolution than 64x64 pixel) 24 bit colour and most importantly the alpha-channel.

To explain alpha channel it refers to the transparency in the image eg. in my example "6" graphic the area surrounding the number 6 needs to be transparent so the "6" itself is selected and written to the alpha-channel which will then be displayed solid. With BMP files they do not have an alpha channel and the transparency is dealt with another way by ensuring that the bottom left pixel contains the desired transparency colour eg. if the image contains the colour black (255 255 255 RGB) and you wish all of the black areas in the image to be transparent then you must ensure that the bottom left pixel is also black and the BMP file is saved at 256 colour depth (note TGA's are higher quality 24 bit colour).

MAT files are just simply text files that can be edited with say "notepad" and saved with .MAT file extensions. MAT files load TGA files and contain vaious "parameters" which govern how these graphics can be scaled, positioned, coloured etc. Normally MAT files are automatically created by FB in the PaintSchemes/Cache folder when a particular plane, plane number, nationality etc. is selected and they each point to a particular in-game graphic but, with suitable editing, they can be told to display another "substitute" graphic. All my pre-edited MAT files live in a new folder called "CoopRegt" and this is where IL2-MAT copies them from when it launches into the "Cache" folder. When FB requires a graphic (TGA) it checks the "Cache" folder and there it find a correctly named MAT file which now points to a substitute TGA file located in the Regiments folder. MATs are also required to load emblem graphic TGA files and operate in exactly the same way. Therefore each TGA needs a MAT file to load it. When FB quits all of the contents of the cache folder are purged and therefore IL2-MAT needs to copy them over every time it detects either one of FB's 2 EXE files launching.

Regarding pilot skins I usually start by finding suitable pics. The image "template" for say Luftwaffe that I work from is TWICE the final size eg 512x512 pixels but I prefer to re-size this down to 256x256 pixels the correct size before I start and work at this size as I don't like the softening effect that happens when you design at one resolution and then re-size down. I prefer to see exactly what it is going to look like whilst working on it. The template (a photoshop multi-layered PSD file that can be loaded into PSP or Photoshop) contains several usefull layers. The first of which is an overlay layer a sort of 2-D wireframe showing where to position various part of the pilot's uniform, flying helmet, goggles, boots etc. It's a bit tricky at first but when you know where they are it gets easier. For instance the flying helmet is top left, the goggles below it to the left, the uniform back and then front etc. Another usefull layer is the "guide" layer which you can enable to check the alignment of the pilot's face, it will allow you to check the position of the eyes, nose and mouth ":-)". When I have a pilots picture I usually have to re-size, rotate (sepia tone) etc. and when it is the correct size fit it into the correct layer of the template (Pilot's Face layer) and I use the guide layer for this purpose to check alignment. Once I'm happy with everything I turn off all non-wanted layer such as guide and overlay and merge all layers into one and then copy and paste this to a new image. This image needs to be reduced in colour depth to 256 colours and saved as a BMP file to your PaintSchemes/Pilots folder.

If you'd like I could dig out my LW and VVS PSD stock pilot's templates and send them to you if you don't have them. Remember to make sure the final BMP file is 256x256 pixels 256 colours.

I hope this is a help, please get back to me if I can help clarify anything

Best Regards

Leigh (Aces)

------------------------------------
Aces High JG123 (123_Aces_JG123 on Hyperlobby)
IL2-MAT and Artwork Downloads
E-mail aces@acesartwork.co.uk
http://www.acesartwork.co.uk
------------------------------------

XyZspineZyX
09-30-2003, 10:38 PM
Hi m8,

Tried to e-mail you a reply but it kept getting bounced back by hotmail so here's the contents of the e-mails that I sent you:

Hi Goat,

Okay, I'll try and help if I can, it's a long e-mail but I've tried to keep it as simple to follow as possible.

First the regimental emblem. There are two file formats supported by IL2/FB. The first (and simplest to make) is BMP which is only displayed when flying "dogfight" missions thus the need for IL2-MAT and the second (and more interesting) format TGA.

If you create a TGA file with your graphic and use IL2-MAT to "substitute" it for all or any in-game regiments using IL2-MAT's "squadrons" configuration feature then this is very versatile as the emblem graphic will appear throughout the game in place of the substituted one(s) in coop missions,dogfight missions, quick missions and campaign missions etc. Note "none" is also an option so you could substitute your graphic when "no regiment" is selected as an option, handy in coops where someone hasn't enetered a specific regiment but you wan't your graphic displayed.

The file conversion part of IL2-MAT is really designed to convert from BMP to TGA rather than create TGAs from scratch.. To create a suitable TGA you will need some graphics software such as Paintshop Pro (my favourite) or Photoshop. The tutorial on my website contains a stage-by-stage example of creating a number "6" graphic using PSP but all of the methodology is relevant for any TGA graphic. The key things are size = 128x128 pixel (better resolution than 64x64 pixel) 24 bit colour and most importantly the alpha-channel.

To explain alpha channel it refers to the transparency in the image eg. in my example "6" graphic the area surrounding the number 6 needs to be transparent so the "6" itself is selected and written to the alpha-channel which will then be displayed solid. With BMP files they do not have an alpha channel and the transparency is dealt with another way by ensuring that the bottom left pixel contains the desired transparency colour eg. if the image contains the colour black (255 255 255 RGB) and you wish all of the black areas in the image to be transparent then you must ensure that the bottom left pixel is also black and the BMP file is saved at 256 colour depth (note TGA's are higher quality 24 bit colour).

MAT files are just simply text files that can be edited with say "notepad" and saved with .MAT file extensions. MAT files load TGA files and contain vaious "parameters" which govern how these graphics can be scaled, positioned, coloured etc. Normally MAT files are automatically created by FB in the PaintSchemes/Cache folder when a particular plane, plane number, nationality etc. is selected and they each point to a particular in-game graphic but, with suitable editing, they can be told to display another "substitute" graphic. All my pre-edited MAT files live in a new folder called "CoopRegt" and this is where IL2-MAT copies them from when it launches into the "Cache" folder. When FB requires a graphic (TGA) it checks the "Cache" folder and there it find a correctly named MAT file which now points to a substitute TGA file located in the Regiments folder. MATs are also required to load emblem graphic TGA files and operate in exactly the same way. Therefore each TGA needs a MAT file to load it. When FB quits all of the contents of the cache folder are purged and therefore IL2-MAT needs to copy them over every time it detects either one of FB's 2 EXE files launching.

Regarding pilot skins I usually start by finding suitable pics. The image "template" for say Luftwaffe that I work from is TWICE the final size eg 512x512 pixels but I prefer to re-size this down to 256x256 pixels the correct size before I start and work at this size as I don't like the softening effect that happens when you design at one resolution and then re-size down. I prefer to see exactly what it is going to look like whilst working on it. The template (a photoshop multi-layered PSD file that can be loaded into PSP or Photoshop) contains several usefull layers. The first of which is an overlay layer a sort of 2-D wireframe showing where to position various part of the pilot's uniform, flying helmet, goggles, boots etc. It's a bit tricky at first but when you know where they are it gets easier. For instance the flying helmet is top left, the goggles below it to the left, the uniform back and then front etc. Another usefull layer is the "guide" layer which you can enable to check the alignment of the pilot's face, it will allow you to check the position of the eyes, nose and mouth ":-)". When I have a pilots picture I usually have to re-size, rotate (sepia tone) etc. and when it is the correct size fit it into the correct layer of the template (Pilot's Face layer) and I use the guide layer for this purpose to check alignment. Once I'm happy with everything I turn off all non-wanted layer such as guide and overlay and merge all layers into one and then copy and paste this to a new image. This image needs to be reduced in colour depth to 256 colours and saved as a BMP file to your PaintSchemes/Pilots folder.

If you'd like I could dig out my LW and VVS PSD stock pilot's templates and send them to you if you don't have them. Remember to make sure the final BMP file is 256x256 pixels 256 colours.

I hope this is a help, please get back to me if I can help clarify anything

Best Regards

Leigh (Aces)

------------------------------------
Aces High JG123 (123_Aces_JG123 on Hyperlobby)
IL2-MAT and Artwork Downloads
E-mail aces@acesartwork.co.uk
http://www.acesartwork.co.uk
------------------------------------

XyZspineZyX
09-30-2003, 11:50 PM
WTE Bump

XyZspineZyX
10-01-2003, 08:35 AM
Thanks Dunhill,

I tried sending him a personal message on this board and SimHQ board but neither recognise his handle and hotmail just bounced it back yet again.

Regards

Aces

------------------------------------
Aces High JG123 (123_Aces_JG123 on Hyperlobby)
IL2-MAT and Artwork Downloads
E-mail aces@acesartwork.co.uk
http://www.acesartwork.co.uk
------------------------------------

XyZspineZyX
10-01-2003, 10:14 AM
Your help is greatly appreciated mate! not sure why the email would bounce *shrug* msn and hotmail can be very tempermental i guess.

Once again thanks for your help!!
S!
Regards
Goat

XyZspineZyX
10-01-2003, 11:08 PM
My pleasure,

Good luck and drop me a line if I can assist.

Best Regards

Aces

------------------------------------
Aces High JG123 (123_Aces_JG123 on Hyperlobby)
IL2-MAT and Artwork Downloads
E-mail aces@acesartwork.co.uk
http://www.acesartwork.co.uk
------------------------------------