In lieu of the damage underlays that Cliff used, I’ve mashed my own up from the one file he did post. It is completely a result of his damage_overlay.pds file buried somewhere in the forums, and I have done some work with it to create a true underlay. I’m simply posting it to help other modders. Tutorial at bottom for those GIMP/Photoshop disabled, like me!
Anyways, here is the underlay:
I’m also posting a girder underlay that I created from a stock photo. I figure that ships should have internal structures, not just flames, shown on damaged sprites:
First I created the ship, the Bladewing. We are going to pretend its a frigate today, because its slightly easier to get ingame compared to a fighter. Note its glamorous purple color scheme and shiny, bright blade like wings! Ooooooh, ahhhhhhh.
Step 2 is to DECOMPOSE the image; in the dialog box select Alpha. This is crucial as it will later allow our cutout-style use of the underlays.
GIMP generated my alpha in a new window; if yours doesn’t, open a new 512x512 (transparent background!) and paste it in there. We’re gonna use this quite a bit. Also, INVERT the color selection! Convert the image to RGB; greyscale won’t work when we add the damage and structure underlays to the file. It won’t work otherwise, at least the way I’m going to do it here.
I moved the alpha window to the left, where I do my work. Make a new layer, with a transparent background, underneath of the alpha layer. Paste the damage underlay into that layer. The key here is selecting the ALPHA layer, and then going to SCREEN as seen above. This will produce a “cutout” of the ship with the damage. Go to “Make New Layer From Visible”; in GIMP its under Layers.
Create a new transparent layer on top of the damage layer; this will be our structural layer. Copy the structure underlay over to the new layer. Don’t worry about being messy; the cutout process will remove that. In fact, feel free to invert, twist, turn, and generally rotate the underlay any way you want. Its the effect that counts, and you won’t see the majority of this layer in the end anyways.
Step 6 is really close to step 4, except that we don’t make the same mistake I did in 4. Reorder the layers so that the alpha layer is on top of the structure layer, and make sure it is still on screen. Make New Layer from Visible, like before. Now go to the Fuzzy Select Tool and select the white blocky areas and hit delete. Don’t skip any, or it will look weird later. If you noticed, we forgot to do that with the damage underlay; go back and do it now.
Here I went back to the original Bladewing.dds and created two new transparent layers, damageunderlay and structureunderlay. Pay attention to the order in the picture.
Here I’ve done quite a bit. I copied the structure underlay from the alpha window and pasted it into the structure underlay layer of the Bladewing. I then went to LAYER TO BOUNDARY SIZE.
Put the layer to 510x510. Make sure you hit the CENTER button. This causes any funny outlines to mostly vanish when the main ship layer is on top, though inside edges are more susceptible as a result. “Go with your feelings Luke” on this one.
Simply do steps 8 and 9, except with the damage underlay instead. Simple step.
Here’s where we have fun trashing the glorious Bladewing! May its everlasting beauty never be forgotten! But seriously, this is the fun part. Note I’ve saved the file now as BladewingDamaged.dds. I have access to a tablet computer, allowing me to literally carve out damage sections of the image, and thats just what we’ll do. A mouse and a bit of carefulness should suffice as well. Make sure you are on the ship layer, and select the eraser tool. Begin erasing. Its that simple. If you feel like it, you can try different brush settings and sizes to make whatever shapes you want. This is art.
This step is simple too. Just make sure you select the structure underlay, and begin erasing to see the damage underlay. Cool, huh? It works best if the layer arrangement stays the same however, to give you a guide of what to carve out.
This is the step where we outline the damage areas on the SHIP LAYER. I used a black pen and traced the outline of the structure “hole”. Next step was the smudge effect I used. I added some jitter and fadeout I believe, and made the pen size much smaller. Then I swirled the area to get a general “burn” effect around and kind of merge the black into the armor of the ship. Solid lines are the enemy here I think. You can do that for the insides around the damage underlay, but I was never satisfied myself. Also, I’ve had fun using the galaxy brush and burning the majority of the ship in random scorch patterns, though I did not do it here. This is only effective if you do it around target areas in the hull editor otherwise the effect won’t show up ingame. MERGE DOWN the layers and save. The BladewingDamaged.dds is done!
Now we begin working on the hulk for the Bladewing frigate. First, copy the damaged Bladewing image from step 13. Just like steps 7-10, add the damage and structure underlays to the hulk image. What I also did was take the eraser tool, and select the GALAXY, LARGE brush to use, cutting two lines across the ship. The hull will eventually break along those lines. Like before, erasing on the ship layer should expose the structure underneath.
Don’t worry, I simply made the damage layer invisible right here. I then used a calligraphy brush (anything will work if its slanted like this or so), and applied a bit of jitter, and then cut out of the structure underlay. This makes the girders actually look like broken girders instead of a silly picture. The effect really looks nice when it works. Note that the smaller the brush, the straighter the line has to be. The hulk boxes will screw it up otherwise.
I did step 16 like step 15 except that I used a smaller brush size and traced the path in the damage underlay. Theoretically, this will leave a firery trail of death along the hulk lines, like in the picture above.
Gratuitous Space Battles demands gratuitous ship damage! I added two more spots or so, and sometimes I add other blotches and damage spots. MERGE DOWN like before and save. The ship image files are saved and ready to be taken to the hull designer or whatever you poor mac folk use instead.