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TUTORIAL: Beginner Object Making with Gimp
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:01 am    Post subject: TUTORIAL: Beginner Object Making with Gimp Reply with quote

Recoloring objects isn't hard at all. You just need to know how. The truth is, there's plenty of perfectly good object making tutorials out there already. The problem is that they're all written using Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop. You could certainly learn from those (that's how I did). But it's easier when the author uses the same program you have, just because some tool names and shortcuts can be different. So this one's for all of us Gimp users out there!

Note: If you'd rather skip all the explanations and just want the quick and dirty instructions, follow the barebones steps in blue.

First things first. Get the programs you need (if you don't have them already), and get your Magic Cookie (yes, you need that before you begin).

What You'll Need:
    * A graphics program such as The Gimp, which is free and similar to Paint Shop Pro
    * The Transmogrifier, also known as T-Mog
    * Your very own registered Magic Cookie - Get it here and register it here.

Ready to get started? Good.

Rule number one is patience. Your first attempts may not turn out exactly the way you wanted them to, but even DaVinci had to learn somewhere! Relax, experiment, and don't expect to make masterpieces from the moment you start. You'll get there with practice!

Rule number two is SAVE FREQUENTLY! Save every time you've done something that you'd rather not lose. Programs sometimes crash, and Gimp is no exception. Save yourself the headache!


Last edited by annettebrks on Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:30 am; edited 12 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:26 am    Post subject: Finding your base object in T-Mog Reply with quote

When we make objects, we're not really making anything new. We're taking a base object and changing it to suit us. That's where T-Mog comes in. With that, you can clone an object to use as your base. You can clone any of the Maxis objects, but if you want to clone one made by someone else, you need to find out what their policy is - some allow cloning, some don't. For this tutorial, we'll be using a Maxis chair as a base.

Unless you've already put your Magic Cookie number into T-Mog, have that ready.

Open T-Mog. On the left hand side, you'll see a scrollable menu of the objects in your game. They're listed in alphabetical order, so it'll be easy to find our base.

Find Diningchairs and click on it. On the right hand side, that will open up a list of all the dining chairs that are inside that file in the game.

Click on Chair - Dining - Moderate.



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Finding your base object in T-Mog
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 6:58 pm; edited 14 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little below that is the View Object button. If you click on that, it'll show you the object selected. It's the Touch of Teak dining chair. That's the chair we're going to clone, so we can use it as our base.


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Last edited by annettebrks on Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:31 am    Post subject: T-Mog - Cloning your base object Reply with quote

Click on the button that says "Clone object file".

If you haven't put your Magic Cookie number in yet, now's the time to do that, BEFORE you clone anything. T-Mog will save that number for you, and with that, it'll generate a new special GUID for every object that you clone.

Now you get to rename your clone. Most object makers put certain initials at the beginning of all their filenames, which helps to identify who made it. Programs like T-Mog list files alphabetically, so putting the same initials at the beginning means they'll all be grouped together and much easier for us to find later. I'm also going to cut all the extra numbers off the end on mine and just call it 'abrks_diningchair_teak'.



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Cloning your base
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:10 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:35 am    Post subject: Exporting the base object from T-Mog Reply with quote

Now that we have our clone, we need to export it so we can change it.

Click on your new clone, and choose "Export object file". Another box of options will come up.

We're not going to change the shape of our object, just recolor it, so we can leave "Just change colors" checked.

Uncheck the "Compress bitmap files" option.

We aren't going to be dealing with A and Z channels for this project, so we can leave "One zoom, one channel" checked.

The picture here shows how your options box should look.

Click "Okay" and make sure you export your file to a place you'll remember so you can find it easily. I always save mine to a special folder I put on my desktop called WIP (short for Work In Progress).

Once that's done, you can close T-Mog.



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Exporting your base
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:16 am; edited 7 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:40 am    Post subject: Opening your object in Gimp Reply with quote

Go to wherever you stored your file and have a look at what's there. You'll see a folder and an XML file.

Inside that XML file is a lot of information about the object.

Inside that folder is another folder called 'sprite0128'. Some other objects might have more than one folder in there, but our chair is a pretty simple one.

Open that sprite folder and you'll see your two graphics sprites - a front and a back. Those are the 'p' sprites, which are the ones we'll need to recolor. Now that you've gotten familiar with what's in there, close out of that.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're almost ready to recolor that chair! But first, we need to prepare our Gimp workspace.


Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:01 pm; edited 8 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:43 am    Post subject: Setting up Gimp With a Comfortable Workspace Reply with quote

Before we even open an image to work on, let's set up Gimp in a way that'll let us work comfortably.

Gimp's default layout is a bit unwieldy and spread out, in my opinion. It gives you three separate windows - the Toolbox, the Image, and a separate one for dialogs such as Layers.



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The default window layout in Gimp - the image window, the dialog window, the toolbox window
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:02 pm; edited 8 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:19 am    Post subject: Convert from RGB to Indexed Reply with quote

Your work area will give you more elbow room if you incorporate that Dialog window into the Toolbox, because you'll only need two windows instead of three.

On your Toolbox window, about halfway down, there's an 'X' and an 'arrow' on the right-hand side.

Click that arrow and then click Add Tab. Choose 'Layers'. Now you'll have two tabs appearing there, one for 'Tool Options' and one for 'Layers'.

Add another tab now, for 'Undo History'. Those are the three you'll use most often in object making, and now they're right at your fingertips so you don't need that silly third window!

So go over to that extra Dialogs window and close out of it.



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Adding dialog tabs to the toolbox window
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Last edited by annettebrks on Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:26 am; edited 8 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To set your current tool options and window layout as the default, click on the floppy disk icon on the bottom left of your Toolbox - save to 'Saved Options'. From now on, Gimp will always open this way. Yay, elbow room!

EXTRA INFO - Every now and then, you might accidentally dislodge one of those tabs and it'll become a separate window. Or you might even accidentally delete the tab altogether. But now that you know how to add tabs into that area, you know how to fix it when that happens!



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The new window layout - streamlined, with two windows now instead of three
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Last edited by annettebrks on Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:31 am; edited 12 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:45 am    Post subject: Saving the Image in XCF format Reply with quote

Open Gimp. Click on File / Open, and find your chair's folder.

The one we want to work on is the front view, so double-click on 'Chair_large_front_p' to open it.

That opens up a second window with just your graphic in it, and up on top of it is another menu bar.

The first thing we want to do this is to save it with a different file format.

That's for two reasons - for one thing, if we need to, we can always use the original to start over again, since we're putting all our changes into a different file. For another thing, we're going to want to save frequently along the way, and since we'll be working with layers, we'll need to save it as a XCF file (a BMP file can't be saved with layers).

So go up to the menu on the top of that window.
Click on File, Save as... and change that .bmp to .xcf - we don't need to change the rest of the name, just the file extension.

EXTRA INFO - When you choose 'Save as...' there's a place below the filename where it says 'Select file type (by extension)'. If you click on the '+' next to it, you can choose from a list of all the different file formats that Gimp can save your file as. Just above that is another line that says 'Browse for other folders' which will let you choose a different place to save your file to - not needed for this project, but good to know just the same.



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Saving the image in XCF format
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:18 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:30 am    Post subject: Convert from RGB to Indexed Reply with quote

The P sprites automatically open in Indexed Mode, which is what the game uses. But we need them to be in RGB Mode in order to recolor them.

Go click on Image / Mode / RGB. That will let us use any color we want. If we'd left it in Indexed Mode, we would only have been able to use the shades that already exist in our picture.

Now, if you changed the default layout the way I described in the beginning, you'll have two windows up - one that has your chair front in it (the image window), and the other is the main tool box with all the little tool icons showing at the top. That tool box is what I want you to look at. The top half contains tool icons. You can also access these by using the menu at the top of your image window, but having the icons all laid out for you is just a quicker, more convenient way of getting at them.

I'm going to introduce you to the selection tools. Their icons are all across the top row of your tool box. Selection tools let you "select" a specific area, and then you can perform an action that will affect only that area, instead of the entire image.

Whenever you use one of these tools to "select" an area, a dashed line will appear around it that looks like ants running around it.

Try them out as I explain them so you'll get a feel for what they do. And don't worry, if you accidentally make something happen that you didn't mean to, you can always undo (go over to the top of your image window, click Edit / Undo).


Last edited by annettebrks on Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:42 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:33 am    Post subject: Overview of Selection Tools Reply with quote

IMPORTANT NOTE -

Each time you want to try another selection tool -
First go over to the menu bar at the top of your image window and click on Select / None to clear your previous selection.
Otherwise, if you click inside an already selected region, Gimp will get confused and do nothing.


The first one is the Rectangle Selection Tool and looks like a dashed line around a gray rectangle. Click on that, then click and drag anywhere on your image, and it'll select a rectangular section.

The next one is the Ellipse Selection Tool, which does the same thing, except it selects an oval area instead of a rectangle.

Then we come to the one that looks like a lasso, and that's the Freehand Selection Tool. You can use that to click and drag to enclose a squiggly area. To use that tool, your end point needs to touch your starting point, to totally enclose it.

Next is the one that looks like a magic wand called the Fuzzy Selection Tool (otherwise known as the Magic Wand in other graphics programs). Hover over that tool and it'll say 'select continguous regions' which is a fancy way of saying 'select all the pixels of this color that are touching'.

Click on the Fuzzy Selection Tool icon, and then click down below on the Tool Options tab. This is one of those tools where it's best to set things up so the 'Antialiasing' option is un-checked. Antialiasing leads to semi-transparent pixels, which isn't helpful if we're trying to select every bit of a color.

So un-check 'antialiasing', then click the 'Save' button at the bottom that looks like a floppy disk, and save to 'Saved Options'.

Another option listed there is 'Threshold', with a slider bar where you can raise or lower it. The threshold position determines how picky that tool will be. The lower it is, the stricter it will be in picking -only- pixels of that exact shade. The higher it is, the more pixels it'll select that are close but not exactly the same.



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Gimp's Toolbox - the Selection tools are on the top row
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Last edited by annettebrks on Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:47 am; edited 9 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's try that one out, because you'll be using it often. Click on that Fuzzy Selection Tool and then click anywhere on that background yellow outside your chair. The running ants appear and select the entire background, but there's still some yellow inside that chair where there's gaps in the trim.

Now, clear your selection (on top of your graphic window, click Selection / None), and we'll try it another way. Click on a yellow pixel that's inside a gap in the trim. This time, it selects all the yellow pixels that are touching inside that gap, and leaves the rest alone.



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Fuzzy Selection tool icon on Gimp's Toolbox
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Selecting the background with the Fuzzy Selection tool
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Selecting the gap with the Fuzzy Selection tool
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:24 am; edited 8 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tool right after that is the Select by Color tool. Click on that and click on the yellow background of your image. This time, all of the pixels that are the same color are selected, even the ones that are inside the gaps in the trim.

That's because this tool doesn't limit the selection to only the ones that are touching - it selects every pixel in the entire image that's the same color.

Let's have a look at the options for this one. Just like the Fuzzy Selection tool, there's antialiasing and threshold options. And again, we're better off shutting off that antialiasing option on this one.

Down on the Tool Options Tab, un-check 'antialiasing'.
Click on the 'Save' icon at the bottom that looks like a floppy disk and save to 'Saved Options'.



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Select By Color tool icon in Gimp's Toolbox
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Selecting all those yellow background pixels at once using the Select By Color tool
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:26 am; edited 6 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:56 am    Post subject: Making your layers Reply with quote

Now we come to one that doesn't have an icon on that main tool box, but it's one of the most important tools you'll use - Invert. When you use a selection tool, you're selecting an area. When you Invert that selection, that changes the selection to the opposite - now everything BUT those pixels are selected.

If you wanted to select the entire object but not the background, that could be tricky with the usual selection tools. There's lots of different shades of brown and blue in this chair, so you couldn't select by color. And trying to use the lasso selection tool on intricate curves and angles would be tricky and awfully time-consuming.

Lucky for us, Invert makes it incredibly easy. With the Select By Color tool, you click in one of those yellow background pixels, and that will select all pixels that are the same color. Now we can Invert that, so only our object is selected. Easy!

To use Invert, you can either go to the menu at the top of your image window and click Selection / Invert, or use the shortcut ctrl-i.

And that's exactly what we're going to do now. We need to separate our object from the background.

So use the Select By Color Tool to click on any yellow background pixel. Those running ants will appear to show us we've selected all the background pixels.

Then Invert that with ctrl-i - now instead of the yellow pixels being selected, everything BUT the yellow pixels is selected.

And we're going to copy that onto a new layer. So click Edit / Copy.

Now, go up to the top of your image window and click Layer / New.

A box will pop up, and there's a field at the top where we can choose what to name it.

Name this layer Frame.

Notice down below that there are options for what we want to use as the background fill. Transparency is the default, and that's what we want. Click okay.



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New Layer option box
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Last edited by annettebrks on Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:28 am; edited 5 times in total
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