There is no limits to the image size, the only thing u need to be aware is that the image size must be multiple of 2 , well this is not estrictly necessary but its good to make squared images for some reasons: once u get the sprite in-game is more easily by far to add/remove turrets and calculate the right space and dimensions in the ship. And u dont get messed up with the ship dimensions. Second, if u want to compress images when u save the dds, u need to pick a size multiple of 2 (256x256 / 512x512 / 1024x1024) etc.
The only thing u need to do is to save the image as DDS with transparent background. In your example, u need to replace the black color with transparent one. Dont bother about the layers on the image, u only need the main image and the transparent background.
U will need the sprite image, the damaged sprite (myship damaged.dds) and the hulk sprite (myship hulk.dds). The hulk sprite is limited in the sense u can only make squared hulk parts, so here u will need some skillz to “cut” the parts of the ships and make em not to appear too much squared when the ship xplodes.
The original fighters creating method was using separate damage sprites, but since its a waste to have multiple files for a tiny fighter, u will only need the main sprite and the mysprite_sprite.dds file, where u put the damage spots. Of course in the hulls.dds file (the place where u put all the fighter sprites that will be used when the fall in battle) u need to put 4 damaged sprites of the ship (just see examples).
The in-game editor is easy to use, but it is a bit lacky in possibilities. I recommend u to save your work everytime u make a step (explosions, hulks, damage, etc).
In the upper part of the editor u have the basic 3 parts of the ship (normal sprite, damaged and hulk) and the purpose is only visually informative.
In the lower zone u have the things u can add/modify on the ships, explosions, hulks, damage spots, modules, etc.
Explosions- > u just place explosions one by one in the place u want on the ship. For more realistic work and detail, u should “activate” the damage part of the sprite (clicking in the upper zone of the editor) and place the explosions in consequence. Be aware, for example, some explosions like blastglare or angledebris will always appear in the center of the sprite, so dont bother on placing em in specific locations.
Damage -> first, u place the damage areas where the ship will take damage, if u dont place any area in the ship, for example, the ship will take damage in the center of the sprite everytime any ship fires at it. It is not necessary to fill the entire sprite with damage squares, only a few, so the damage spot will appear realistic. Again, u should place the damage spots in specific locations, where u have for example placed the explosions. But this is just an idea.
Hulks -> Just make squares around the “free” parts of the ships. Those are the parts of the ships that will blow when the ship is destroyed. U can place smoke particles and debris as well (like in the damage part).
Modules -> well, nothing complex hiere, u can create, swith the module type or changing the mode of the hardpoint. I recommend u to use the hardpoint mode, cuz sometimes there are no space in the ship for many modules and u can see the things clearly using hardpoints mode. Besides, u can make interesting convergence weapons using hardpoints mode. Remember , in the hardpoint mode, the turrets will be placed in the end of the hardpoint-line, dont bother on where u place the physical slot.
But after all of this, i recommend u this link: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5220#p34368
About the txt files… uff, there are some tutorials on the forum, u should find em (i dunno where are they right now -.-), but u will need the myship.txt hull file and nothing more, where u tell the game wat sprites the ship will need (at the beginning of the file). But this is more complex than the sprite ripping itself, so i recommend u to find some tutorials. (still the process is veryyy easy).
One more thing, i recommend u to change your race’s name, cuz there are almost some “collective” mods out there (for example the unity vs union, and my borg collective mod). Thats an idea to be your mod more original, instead of “collective” u could find another word. But if u dont, its ok, just an idea.
P.D.: Sorry for my cute english, i only hope u understand most of my words xD.