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Soldier re-skinning (Image heavy), A method for retaining better details
kysterama
post Aug 9 2008, 10:42 PM
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Tools required:
- Photoshop or equivalent
- Crazybump

Hi all, for the first time i started messing with soldier skinning the other day and the very first thing i noticed about the process and about a lot of the work out there already, is that without the detail overlays from the original dice texture sheets, its really hard to retain all the seams, cloth folds and fabric material texture etc when painting new schemes over the original textures. My first thought was to grab the normal map and try and convert it to a color/diffuse map and use it as a base for a new texture as most of the little details can be used from there. I'm sure a lot of people do the same thing, however its hard to make the bf2 soldier normal maps look flat as they have some pretty significant highlights in them as shown below. You can see i just have one channel on in the RGB and the result is no where near flat enough to use as a texture base.



Now you could mess with the shadow/highlight filters in photoshop to tone out these uneven highlights, but Crazy bump can do it in one click. So download and install Crazybump

- Once in the main interface for crazybump, click open and then click on the "open normal map from file" button.



- Browse to where you unzipped your textures and open the normal map file. This ends in a "_b_os.dds" usually for the soldier skins. In this case I'm opening eu_light_b_os.dds
- Once the image has loaded, click the "Diffuse" button and then move the "Remove highlights" slider all the way to the right.



- As you can see crazy bump gives a pretty good result in a few seconds.
- Now click the "Save" button and then "Save diffuse to file" and choose a lossless image format such as png, bmp etc.
- Open the saved image file in photoshop and now you have a good base with details to start painting a new texture.
- The last thing you will have to do is Invert the image (ctrl+I) and then play with the levels/brightness/contrast to get it looking good as the shadows and highlights bump details will actually be reversed when you bring it in from crazy bump.

PHOTOSHOP TIPS
For my particular skin I wanted to retain some of the original details from the dice texture so quickly using the point to point lassoo tool, i cut out and pasted the boots, straps, vest, buttons, zipper, gloves and knee guard onto new layers.



Then I set my newly created detail diffuse map beneath these layers



Colours tip
- A great way to test out your colours over the the detail diffuse map in photoshop is to use the rectangle tool and draw a rectangle over a section of your texture.
- Set the layer to multiply
- now double click the little colour icon in the layer thumbnail and a colour selector will appear
- Simply keep clicking in the colour selector until you find a hue that you like and it will update the rectangles colour in real time. This is a great way to quickly test out what colours look best
- Remember you can change the brightness/contrast or levels of the grey detail diffuse map we made to make it lighter or darker depending on the type of skin you want to achieve. (Mine is dark because i was going for a nightops style skin.



Overlaying patterns
If you don't want to recolour it yourself, then pick a nice camo pattern (preferably tiling)
- I used the "Filter -> other -> Offset" tool to make my camo pattern tileable. (There are tutes for making tileable textures online)
- Set it to a nice size and put it on a layer set to "overlay"
- Now play with the layers levels (Ctrl L) to brighten up the camo texture to your liking
- In this example i also lightened up the detail diffuse map we made to suit the desert skin better



Highlights and shadows - Dodge and burn are your friend
At this point we have a pretty nice result, but it is still a very flat texture as all we really have are the bump details and no highlighting or shadows present. The illusion of the folds in the cloth is usually done with dodge and burn.
Now the general rule of thumb with texturing is to follow the path of least destruction, that is...try not to paint directly on existing layers or you forever lose the original layer as soon as your undo levels run out. Here's a little trick i learned recently about dodge and burning on a separate layer

- Click "layer" -> "New" -> "Layer" or (shift+ctrl+N)
- In the new layer dialogue box, set the mode to "overlay" and checkmark the "Fill with overlay-neutral color (50% gray)" box
- Name the new layer "burn"
- Repeat the above steps and this time call the 2nd layer "dodge"
Now we have two separate layers where we can control shadows and highlights wink.gif



- The cool thing about this method is that the new layer is basically 100% transparent, but you can dodge and burn on it to your hearts content wink.gif If you feel your dodge and burn results don't look good, simply sample that plain grey colour on that layer and paint your bad bits out and do it again much like using the brush as a sort of eraser.
- For reference you can throw the original dice texture on a separate layer above this so you can continually refer to where the folds in the cloth appear, although it is relatively easy to see where they should go by following the bump details in our detail diffuse map.
- For those who don't know, The dodge tool lightens the image while the burn tool simply darkens it. These 2 tools used in concert will give you great shadow/highlight details to give the illusion of 3d depth on a flat texture sheet.

Useful photoshop shortcuts to speed up things:

F - cycles between full screen modes - VERY handy when you're zoomed right in
Space - holding down space turns your cursor to the move hand. click and drag while space is held to move your texture around while zoomed in.
Alt+mousewheel - Zooms in and out
[ - decrease brush size
] - increase brush size
right click - Brings up the parameters of the current tool
Ctrl+L - Levels tool
Ctrl+U - Colour saturation tool
Ctrl + Click on a layer thumbnail - gives you a marquee selection of whats on that layer
Ctrl+z - go back one undo level
ctrl+alt+z - go back multiple undo levels


At this point, I feel our detail diffuse map we made in crazy bump is a little too strong and still a little too dark. I created a new layer beneath it with a 50% grey fill. Then i reduced the opacity slider on the detail diffuse map so that my new plain grey layer started showing through it. This softened up the detail layer to stop is looking so harsh. Then i put the levels up slightly on my plain grey layer so the overall brightness increases.

Make sure the the camo texture is above our dodge and burn layers. We want to retain the colour information in the camo pattern and actually only dodge and burn the grey layers below it.

Lets start with the shadows. Select the burn tool and set the brush size to an appropriate size for the task at hand. Set the hardness to 0 so we have a nice soft edged brush and the opacity to around 15-20%. Also set the Range to Midtones for burning.



Now start painting on the "dodge / burn" layer we created, where the shadows would naturally appear below the folds of cloth first starting with a thick stroke and then reducing the brush size as you go to really define the darkest part of the shadow. Its important to to start large and continually refine the shadow by reducing the brush size for each consequent stroke for the most natural effect. So I would start with a brush size of say 10 in this instance, make a stroke or two, press
the "[" key twice, make another couple of strokes, press the [ key twice again and so on.

Now that I have a few shadow details in one area, i select my dodge layer, switch to the dodge tool and do the same process above to create the highlights above the shadows. For dodge, set the range to : Highlights.



As you can see this creates a very nice depth effect to the texture. As usual, continually tweak levels and opacity's to get the right look. Right now, my highlights look too strong to look like cloth, so from here, i might reduce the opacity slightly on the dodge layer so the highlight effect reduces and smooths out more. I would also reduce the saturation level (ctrl+u) on that camo pattern to give it a more washed out and used look.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to reskinning and texturing, nor the only way to achieve the above results. I started this thread to share some of my knowledge and hopefully start a discussion on what you guys use in your texturing workflow. Hopefully with all our knowledge combined we can come up with some great results.

So what techniques do you guys use for texturing? smile.gif


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Bubbles
post Aug 9 2008, 10:53 PM
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Excellent post. bigthumb.gif

I've always wanted to skin, but my biggest problem was trying to figure out "how to" isolate the existing templates so that I could experiment.

I read this post regarding the skinning of vehicles by a FH2 Mod member, and with your post now I'll be able to try my hand at reskinning.
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kysterama
post Aug 9 2008, 11:03 PM
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Some great info on Jame's site, thanks for sharing smile.gif I use ambient occlusion rendering for my models too for faked radiosity and ambient lighting in Max. It really is an excellent method for great results.

Check out the result of an AO pass on this combat boat I made. This is just a print screen of the max viewport. The foreground boat has an AO pass applied to it while the one at the back does not. It makes a big diference to the end result. From this point I would bring that Ambient Occlusion pass into photoshop and use it as a base for my texture. (when i get around to texturing that thing, heh)



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FFOLKES
post Aug 9 2008, 11:43 PM
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This is great info. Thanks for sharing. I, too, have always wanted to learn how to do this.
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DerRelienT
post Aug 10 2008, 12:16 AM
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Nice tutorial!
Maybe you could also add how you make the camo swatches more usable so it's not so repetitive? Or do you just copy/paste it around?


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kysterama
post Aug 10 2008, 12:43 AM
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Once the texture is tileable I basically just clone it around. In game, half of the soldier is covered in kit bags and gear which makes any repetition in the camo pattern quite hard to notice. Especially when a players main focus is on staying alive and killing the enemy, heh. It also depends on the texture I suppose. Always try to get the largest pattern you can find (or make your own and overlay it over a neutral cloth pattern if you like.) Try to find pattterns that aren't zoomed in too much so you get plenty of unique patterning in the one tile.


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DerRelienT
post Aug 10 2008, 01:19 AM
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Ah, ok. I was just wondering if you had any special tricks you used to do it.

I was thinking about writing a soldier skinning tutorial... but I guess now I don't have to biggrin.gif


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a-10FreAK
post Aug 11 2008, 03:52 AM
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hI,

I Have a question!
Where are my soldier textures??, CANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! find them!!
PLEASE HELP MY!!!!!!!!!!! AR15firing.gif


This post has been edited by a-10FreAK: Aug 11 2008, 04:56 AM


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Bubbles
post Aug 11 2008, 08:06 PM
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Look in the object_clients.zip file under soldiers and kits.
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Bubbles
post Aug 13 2008, 07:08 PM
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On the US kit where is the Spec Op's ball cap located? I see the bill of the cap but I'm not sure where the top is.

This post has been edited by Bubbles: Aug 13 2008, 07:10 PM
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imtheheadhunter
post Aug 13 2008, 08:49 PM
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because Kyst was too lazy to convert all the bump maps, and post em so that we wouldn't have to do em ourselves( tongue.gif ), I'll post em all then...

here's (what should be) all the bump maps converted into detail maps(or whatever the heck you want to call em), for the soldiers, kits, and vehicles.

now i just need to figure out how to use these things.... ph34r.gif


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gomimin
post Aug 13 2008, 10:00 PM
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Thanx! GJ Ky - something i wanted to learn too, and like ithh suggested (did he?), i recommend a further part of your very understandable tutorial...

This post has been edited by gomimin: Aug 21 2008, 04:42 AM
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kysterama
post Aug 14 2008, 04:43 AM
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QUOTE(imtheheadhunter @ Aug 14 2008, 12:49 PM) *
because Kyst was too lazy


Oi! The purpose of a tute is to teach YOU how to do it tongue.gif

You know, once proper templates are done with all shadows and highlights and details seperated, it would be a great community resource as skinning would then be a simple matter of adding the camo or pattern designs.


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andy
post Aug 18 2008, 08:13 PM
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QUOTE(kysterama @ Aug 14 2008, 06:43 AM) *
QUOTE(imtheheadhunter @ Aug 14 2008, 12:49 PM) *
because Kyst was too lazy


Oi! The purpose of a tute is to teach YOU how to do it tongue.gif

You know, once proper templates are done with all shadows and highlights and details seperated, it would be a great community resource as skinning would then be a simple matter of adding the camo or pattern designs.


nice tutorial, one question, that boat model?, is it for aix?

very good tutorial bigthumb.gif


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wurzelsepp
post Aug 20 2008, 06:42 AM
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QUOTE(andy @ Aug 19 2008, 04:13 AM) *
nice tutorial, one question, that boat model?, is it for aix?


Hm, I think so biggrin.gif That would be very nice!

Very well done tutorial kysterama. Thank you. happy.gif


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