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Graphics Programs for Skinning and Object Making

 
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:18 am    Post subject: Graphics Programs for Skinning and Object Making Reply with quote

Object makers and skinners need a graphics program to work with, and here's the "big three" that are most often used:

Photoshop http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/
Paint Shop Pro (also known as PSP) http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Corel3/Products/Display&pid=1047025487586
The Gimp (free, similar to PSP) http://www.gimp.org/

There are loads of tutorials available, and many are written using one specific graphics program. Some find it daunting to try to follow one that uses a different program from the one they have, especially when they're new at things. Authors often use shortcuts to do certain things, which can cause confusion when the shortcut used doesn't work in a different program.

But it isn't as difficult to work around as you might think. You really can use any tutorial, no matter what program the author uses. When you find that a shortcut doesn't work in your program, or that a tool doesn't seem to exist by that name, try going to the main text bar across the top and checking the menus there. If all else fails, try the Help that came with the program - most things are very easy to figure out that way.

Gimp users can feel a bit left out, since there's so little by way of Simming tutorials written with that program, versus the ones for PSP and Photoshop. But the good news is that Gimp is very similar to PSP, although some of the shortcuts and tool names are different.

Some differences of note for Gimp users:

Magic Wand - in Gimp it's called the Fuzzy Selection tool and its icon looks like a wand
Invert Selection - in PSP the shortcut is ctrl-shift-i, in Gimp it's ctrl-i
Skewing tool - in Gimp it's called the Shearing tool
The format for saving with layers in Gimp is the .xcf file.

Converting from RGB to Indexed -

(Editted to note that this is -rarely- an issue, since in the vast majority of cases, we're using far more than 16 colors on a P sprite.)

When using less than 16 colors in an object, converting from RGB to Indexed can pose a problem, because Gimp will automatically save in a smaller palette, making it 4-bit, which T-Mog can't deal with. PSP gives the option to save in 8-bit instead, but Gimp users aren't given that choice. In most cases, this isn't an issue - using so few colors is rarely done. But it did happen to me when I was trying to make a tiny sparkling lights object that only required the use of a few shades of white.

The workaround for this (probably not the only way to go about it, but it's the one I use) is to place a small section of gradient on that P sprite, located in a spot above and to the right of the object, so it won't interfere with positioning. That will add enough colors that Gimp won't reduce it to the smaller palette, and T-Mog will be happy. Don't put anything in the corresponding A sprite where the gradient would be, so it won't show up in the game.

One note on that method - if you export the sprites after that, T-Mog will automatically include that gradient section when it generates the A and Z, so you'll have to go back and remove it at least from the A to make it invisible in the game again.

My thanks to Raeven, who prevented me from pulling my hair out by figuring out what the problem was and how to work around it!

A note on downloading The Gimp -

Such a great program, but they made downloading it seem so complicated! There are three parts that need to be downloaded and installed, and you need to install them in the right order, or the program won't work properly. First, install the Installer. Then install the program itself. And lastly, install the help files. Unfortunately, if you're on dialup like I am, this will all take awhile, but it's all worth it in the end!


Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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mtaman
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for telling what the GIMP equivalents are. I was always confused in trying to figure them out. goodjob

Once you reduce your colors and have your palette set in GIMP, could you then paint over the extra section with the yellow? I know with PSP you can paint with the yellow color since it's part of the palette without having to raise the # of colors back up.
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I never thought to try that, but yes, that should work just fine. The problem only occurs when converting from RGB to Indexed. So once we've used that gradient in order to force Gimp to save it in 8-bit while converting, we should then be able to cover the gradient with the background yellow, since it's already in the saved palette, without having to convert back to RGB to do so.

That's an excellent idea, because it would make things easier for anyone else who later wants to clone our object, since having that little spot of gradient could confuse them a bit.

I've done a little preliminary testing just to be on the safe side. It does save properly after doing that additional step, and shows up just fine in T-Mog. Great idea, Mtaman!
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Raeven
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a rare problem since it's a rare situations you'll end up with less than 16 colors being used in your object. Annette's object was a string of tiny white lights - it used white a some light greys (plus the yellow background, of course) and the whole thing only used 12 colors all together.
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mtaman
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad that worked. :grin:
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cybele
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm intrigued that people are really using The Gimp. I downloaded it, read through its documentation, but never actually installed it. Since I'm still happy using PSP there was no need to, but I'm glad to read positive remarks on The Gimp. Corel seems be turning PSP into a photography-only tool, so it's a relief to know there'll be an affordable alternative for doing graphics.
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Corel seems be turning PSP into a photography-only tool

Well that's disappointing! I'm surprised, they're such a big name, and Photoshop already seems to have the photo manipulation department covered pretty well. Gimp does have its drawbacks (the skewing tool isn't the best, for instance, but it's usable). I wouldn't recommend it for someone who already has PSP, but it is definitely a good alternative.
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bruja
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Painst Shop Pro moved from largely an artist's tool to a more digital photo orintation between PSP6 and PSP8, although the artist's tools in PSP8 were better than those in PSP6. PSPX seems to be totally slanted toward photography.

From a commercial point of view, that makes perfect sense. Millions of people suddenly acquired digital cameras, so a huge non-artistic market developed. PhotoShop is much more expensive than PSP, and PSP has almost exactly the same features.
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:54 pm    Post subject: Installing Gimp Reply with quote

Due to the fact that so many people find downloading and installing the Gimp to be confusing, I'm posting instructions here. It really is a simple process - it only seems complicated because of the way things are set up at the download site.

Gimp is available for Windows, Unix, and MacOSX.
There are three components that must be downloaded separately - and the MUST be installed in order, or the program won't work properly.

The following is for Windows users. If you use a different OS, the procedure will be the same - just follow the appropriate links for your OS.

Starting from the Main Page of the Gimp site, follow these links:

Gimp for Windows (top left panel)
Automated Installer (top of page body)
Stable Version (top left panel under 'Download')

Note that clicking on each of these links will take you to pages where you'll choose your download mirror. Once you've downloaded a component, you'll need to backtrack back to the links page in order to get the others.

INSTALL THIS FIRST -
GTK + 2 Runtime Environment (choose option for the specific Windows version that you have) - click 'Select download mirror' (Zip name will start with gtk+-)

INSTALL THIS SECOND -
Gimp for Windows - click 'Select download mirror' (Zip name will be something like gimp-2.2.13-i586-setup-1.zip)

INSTALL THIS LAST -
Gimp Help 2 - click 'Select download mirror' (Zip name will start with gimp-help-)

One additional note - sometimes it's difficult to download if the host is overly busy. If you have difficulty, just try again at another time of day when traffic will be lower.
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bruja
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I stumbled across this site with 'irreverent' and extremely useful PSP information: http://www.campratty.com/index.html

I think I could spend a few days learning a lot at CampRatty!

Users of other graphics programs might find some interesting bits there, too!

I notice that the author shares my opinion of PSP X laugh
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Yersinia
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Pack Rat knows I'm spatially and graphically retarded, but he passed this info on to me anyway saying I could mention it to Sims creators as an interesting possibility...and there's one creator we know of who uses 3D rendering and does animations (though not with this program).

So if any of you creators out there are interested in this kind of thing, you might want to give this program Blender a look-see and find out if it's useful for Sims creating:

http://www.blender.org/

It's free/open source, and there are versions for Windoze, Linux, Mac OS X (Panther minimum; both PPC and Intel) and other OS's.

The download page:

http://www.blender.org/download/get-blender/

~Yersinia.

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Madoria
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruja !!!!!!!!!!!!! notworthy notworthy notworthy

Thank you sooo much for the link to campratty !!!!!!!!!!


I found a solution for my PSP 7 layer pallette problem !


jump dance clap thanks1

I can now go back to use my beloved PSP7 again !

It was problem 50 - way down the list and my Nvidiva card that got confused when I installed a newer Directx....

Creating here I come !!!!!

Susanne

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bruja
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Madoria wrote:


Thank you sooo much for the link to campratty !!!!!!!!!!

I found a solution for my PSP 7 layer pallette problem !

I can now go back to use my beloved PSP7 again !

It was problem 50 - way down the list and my Nvidiva card that got confused when I installed a newer Directx....

Creating here I come !!!!!

Susanne


Oh, that is good news, Susanne. I know how unhappy you were when you were having that problem. I didn't notice that fix - I jumped from PSP6 to PSP8.

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Madoria
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

laugh Yeah- I am so happy to go back to a program I love and can
handle when it comes to Sims creating anyway.
Nothing major wrong with PSP8 but I was so frustrated and was thinking

"I will never do a bed again if every z buffer is gonna take twice the time to make..."

In my sleep tonight I got a new Maxis Matching idea... so I gotta go and scribble that down cus there is a few projects before I can do anything with that....

Ton DO list

* Fridge for Yellow theme, Maxis one , C & C one , Apt hacked one.
* My headboard idea
* Dark Elegance Kitchen

I am also working on a bed - I started over when Ruth made her 2
rotation base available so I now have the front sprites ready , just need the back ones aswell.
That base is the best thing ... I have recently made the boxy bed onto that in Gingham ( PINK and white) look in a non apt hacked version. But that will be next week cus this weekend is Real Life
all of it.

Hugs Susanne

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