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nbryant

Photoshop question

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I am tinkering with a few of the textures and trying to create a layerd template that will be easy to manipulate. Some of the aircraft have a grayed set of textures available that make this easier, others don't. I am looking for any insight into how to go about taking the structures and nuetralizing the colors in such a way as to make them easy to recolor in any format I wish. In addition I would like to extract the weathering, if possible, and create a separate layer for it but am not sure how or if its possible. Like this community itself I enjoy the details, historical accuracy, and love the work already accomplished but hope to add some clarity and fine details to some of the crates. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!

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I am tinkering with a few of the textures and trying to create a layerd template that will be easy to manipulate. Some of the aircraft have a grayed set of textures available that make this easier, others don't.

 

The grayed texture has the suffix "_s", which stands for "specular". It's used by some planes to change the relative amount of shininess between different parts, such as bare metal cowlings compared to drab OD wings. As such, only a few planes in OFF use it. The "_s" suffix tells the game to apply the specular skin in addition to the regular "_t" texture skin.

 

While the "_s" file might be useful to make a template from, I don't think we can exploit this feature ourselves. I think only those planes set up originally with the "_s" file will use it, and it will be used on our skins for those planes whether we want it or not.

 

I am looking for any insight into how to go about taking the structures and nuetralizing the colors in such a way as to make them easy to recolor in any format I wish. In addition I would like to extract the weathering, if possible, and create a separate layer for it but am not sure how or if its possible.

 

I think your best bet really is to start from scratch if you're going for true realism. While the OFF skins are very good, most of them don't have the ribs line up on the upper and lower wing surfaces, nor have ribs at the inboard corners of the ailerons like all planes really had. Also, panel lines don't always meet up around the fuselage from bottom to side to top. So I find it best to ignore all ribs and most panel lines and position them all myself. All I ever use from an original skin are some detail parts like the wood grain of the prop.

 

When positioning the structural stuff like this, I have a blank white background, then the original skin as the next layer up. Then I make a bunch of layers for different parts of the plane and trace the appropriate original ribs and panel lines on them in some bright color (usually blue). These blue lines are just templates for later use. Then I make a new blank white later between these templates and the original skin, and cut holes in it so things like the prop show through. I save this and see what it looks like in the game. The result is an all-white airplane with my easily-seen template lines all over it. Then I spend the rest of the week tweaking my template lines to where I think they should be. The result is a multi-layered template for drawing the real ribs and panel lines for my actual skin.

 

The way I do ribs (see attached pic), I actually fill in the spaces between my template lines (on a separate layer) with any solid color, leaving the spaces under the template blank. Then I use one of several types of 3D shadow effects on the solid areas to turn them into the ripples in the canvas. These shadows are all slightly darker than before, so the blank areas under the template lines (which are where the ribs really are) are brightest, because they're the highest points.

 

Once you've got the rib shadows made like this, they're useful on all subsequent skins so I consider them part of the template. Depending on the color of the paint, you can move the rib shadows above or below the paint layer, and vary the opacity of both paint and shadows, to get the desired effect.

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Excellent bullethead, and much appreciated. Love the detail you have built in and thats exactly where I need to go. Now its a matter of finding time between flights and real life work (US government aviation acquisitions).

 

Another question if I may. Where or what examples have you used to configure airframe panels and/or overlays?

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Another question if I may. Where or what examples have you used to configure airframe panels and/or overlays?

 

Hmmm. Well, I start with the original skin because the OBD guys put a lot of effort into putting the panel lines in the right place. The fuselage especially usually has all the lines laid out just fine, although sometimes you do have to tweak them where pieces of the same line appear on 2 different pieces of skin, such as the side and top of the fuselage. In some cases, the 2 parts of the line don't quite meet up so you have to move 1 or the other a few pixels. The main thing I have to do on the fuselage is that different production batches of the same plane sometimes had different arrangements of inspection panels and louvers around the engine. So if I'm working from a photo of the plane I'm skinning and see it's got different engine hatches, I have to draw them in from scratch and ignore what's on the original skin.

 

The weakest point of the original skins are usually the outlines of the ailerons, which often don't coincide with where the physical airleron polies are on the model. See attached pic. And the inboard corners of the ailerons are critical to get in the right place, because the wing ribs depend on them. So before I can start on the wing rib template, I first have to determine where the aileron outline goes by drawing lines, looking at them in the game (usually with full aileron applied), tweaking the lines, repeat many times. Only once I have the ailerons' inboard corners marked can I start drawing rib lines.

 

Now here is where you need some external reference material, because now you usually can't use the original rib lines as a guide, due to having moved the aileron to fit the model. So you'll need to find a 3-view drawing of the plane that shows how many ribs it had and their spacing. Even better are photos of a taken while building a full-size reconstruction that show the structure. Next best are photos people have posted while building exact-scale wooden models of the plane, then photos of plastic kit construction. For instance, I came across some a large photo gallery of the building of a reconstruction Fee. This showed that it had only 1 short rib beween the long ribs, instead of 2 as on the original skin.

 

It's pretty easy to find this stuff online. Just google "plane name 3-view" or "plane name reconstruction" or "plane name model".

 

So, you draw rib lines on the upper surface and lower surfaces based on the aileron corners, then tweak 1 or both sides until the rib lines meet up at the leading and trailing edges, are of the correct number, and are spaced out accurately.

 

One thing to note, however, is that a few of the 3D model planes in OFF have the wing ribs built into their upper surfaces. The only ones I know of so far are the DFW and DH5. Most planes instead have flat wing surfaces. On the planes with 3D ribs built in, you have to go with where they are, regardless of aileron corners, at least on the upper surfaces. You also still need to draw rib lines on them so you know where to put the ribs on the lower surfaces, and where to put the rib tapes on the upper surfaces. However, you don't have to make rib shadows on the upper surfaces because the game's lighting effects does that for you.

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