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Height- / Texturemaps with image editing tools

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PrefaceEdit

This tutorial will help you put a map together for Supreme Commander using image editing tools and HazardX's Supreme Scenario Editor (beta).

Note: You can edit both height- and texturemaps with the Supreme Scenario Editor (thanks for making all this possible!). This approach shown here gives you more control and reusability.

Needed for thisEdit

  • Supreme Commander
  • HazardX's Supreme Scenario Editor
  • Photoshop (or anything in that range)
  • Nvidia DDS-Plugin

Assumptions to do this yourselfEdit

  • you are experienced in image editing
  • you are able to handle layers and channels as well as levels and image modes
  • you having a pretty clear picture of your future map in your head or on paper
  • you can keep organized :)

Used abbreviationsEdit

  • SSE = HazardX's Supreme Scenario Editor
  • PS = Photoshop
  • SupCom = Supreme Commander

PreparationEdit

Prepare files in SSEEdit

As both SSE (beta) and PS are demanding on the memory, refrain on working in both at the same time.

If you keep SSE open, minimize it, it will stop the drain on the resources.

  • open SSE
  • make a new level in desired size
  • export heightmap (name it "heightmap_export.raw")
  • export texturemap (name it "texturemap_export.dds")
  • export preview (name it "preview_export.dds")
  • close SSE

Prepare files in PSEdit

  • open PS
  • open "heightmap_export.raw" (1 Channel, 16 bit, IBM PC)
  • new file, RGB Grayscale, same dimensions, save as "heightmap_master.psd"
  • open "texturemap_export.dds" (RGBA, default sizes, mipmap off)
  • new file, RGB Grayscale, same dimensions, save as "texturemap_master.psd"

The preview will not need an master, so we leave that

Check if "texturemap_export.dds" really has an "alpha1"-channel, if not, add it by hand

You have now 4 files open, 2 exports, 2 masters - good for start working

HeightmapEdit

Editing heightmapEdit

Normally we work on just a fraction of the available levels.

That the heightinformation is readable to us, we will blow that fraction (see picture).

We use an action to crush the levels for export (described later).

Supcom tut heightmap 09

This is how we keep the heightinformation readable to us while editing.

Manage your mountains, fjords etc in folders, that you can move or copy them if needed.

This example shows a setup with just 5 height-layers, for simplicity.

Now we start our way up from the lowest level, one by one. Remember to start this with a clear plan in head or paper.

Supcom tut heightmap 00

This level will be just below the water level - for nicer beaches.

  • layer in example is rgb:31
  • done by lasso tool, then work on the egdes with a blurry erasor (large size, low flow)
  • if you have islands, here they become their basic shapes

Supcom tut heightmap 01

This level is just over the water level.

  • layer in example is rgb:47
  • fill the hole map for land maps, and do holes in it for lakes
  • test the levels (with proper export to SSE, see below) in SSE, adjust levels if needed

Supcom tut heightmap 02

This is the first higher level, containing some cliffs.

  • layer in example is rgb:60
  • do cliffs with an erasor (art-brush, 17px), high opacity and flow

Supcom tut heightmap 03

Starting to define mountains here, also have some cliffs, or joining other levels cliffs.

  • layer in example is rgb:66

Supcom tut heightmap 04

Working on mountain here.

  • layer in example is rgb:91
  • to get some features here, use artbrush 17px to do some noise on the mountain (low flow)

Supcom tut heightmap 06

Top of mountains added and added the bottom of the sea.

  • layer in example is rgb:135 (mountain top), rgb:12/25 (seafloor)
  • bottom of the sea done by render clouds with two low level colors

Now you have defined you basic layers and worked on their egdes. Their color reflects their altitude. Be sure to test your edits, adjust with brightness on the layer in question.

Export HeightmapEdit

  • select all and copy merged on master, paste in to export and save
  • for proper heightmap export, an action is needed (for same output every time):
    • Flatten Image
    • Brightness -10 & Contrast -80 (my values)
    • Save as "heightmap_export.raw" (1 Channel, 16 bit, IBM PC)

Ensure proper settings in your export-action early.

Supcom tut heightmap 08

This is how the export looks with adjusted levels.

Supcom tut heightmap 07

This is how the import in SSE will look like, water level still needs to be set.

Keep height- / texturemap in syncEdit

After each greater edit on the heightmap, do following:

  • select all and copy merged on "heightmap_master.psd"
  • new image, paste contents
  • resize to new size -> (size-1)/2 (ie. 1025 (heightmap) -> 512 (texturemap) etc.)
  • copy contents to "texturemap_master.psd", call the layer "heightmap matching"
  • close the temporary image to free memory

Use it for correct placement of your textures.

TexturemapEdit

Edit texturemapEdit

Be sure to have all major features set in the heightmap, before starting with the texture map.

First we have to decide on how those 5 textures on the map shall be used. Basic textures as grass, sand, stone are mostly needed.

Supcom tut concept 00


In SSE RGBA-channels are distributed like this (Layer1: default, L2: R, L3: G, L4: B, L5: A). RGBA: R lowest proi -> A: highest texture prio

The layer 1 cannot be edited and paints everthing lacking any other texture.

In PS, start doing folders for each of the definable 4 (RGBA) layers on the "texturemap_master.psd". Name them "Grass", "Stone" etc for easy access, you can switch the visibility off on the folder you are not working on.

If you have a layer you like to paint over others, you have to copy it on a later of the RGBA-channels of the export. Switching channels in PS also means picking new textures in SSE.

Work just with white and opacity for simplicity (not like on heightmap).

Levels below 50% opacity will fail to been shown at all

Only paint those areas with more then one texture at a time where its really needed

Supcom tut texture 02

With the heightmap matching and the edited channel on 20% visibility, helps working on it.

Use of artistic brushes helps to get a natural effect.

Supcom tut texture 03

Grass channel on full view, notice the heightmap matching is still visible in the back.

Supcom tut texture 04

Working on the cliffs and the mountains, has to be checked in SC for best placing.

  • now work on each of the texture channels until you have you desired results.

Export TexturemapEdit

Supcom tut texture 00

"texturemap_master.psd" Grass folder visible, black background (note: textures organized in folders)

  • you have to hide the heightmap matching and have a black background
  • just make of one of your four texture-folders (ie. Grass, see above picture) visible
  • copy merged and paste into the target channel (ie. Red, see below picture) of "texturemap_export.dds"
  • repeat this three times for the remaining channels

Supcom tut texture 01

"texturemap_export.dds" Red channel selected (note: textures organized in channels)

  • now save "texturemap_export.dds" (CTRL+S) without changing the DDS-settings (8:8:8:8 ARGB (32 bit)).

SetupEdit

Finish the mapEdit

  • export, save masters and close PS (recommended)
  • open SSE and open the map
  • import height- / texturemap
  • set textures and waterlevel, test in SupCom with proper conditions
  • if not satisfied repeat steps 3 thru 5 until satisfaction is clearly present
  • set markers, props, decals
  • edit infotext
  • save map
  • close SSE
  • test in SupCom and dont forget the screenshot for the preview (all zomed out)

Supcom tut finish 00

SSE - markers set on the map.

Supcom tut texture 05

SupCom - this is how it may turn out 8)

  • open "preview_export.dds" and paste screenshot, fit map into picture and save
  • import "preview_export.dds" into SSE, check in SupCom if OK

Quality managementEdit

Consider the following prior to release

  • no mechanical problems (ie. stuck units etc)?
  • even layout for every player?
  • mex / energy distribution ok?
  • AI markers set and tested?
  • no bigger texture glitches and texture aligned to heightmap?
  • normal maps for textures properly set?
  • map-description and preview ok?
  • some screenshots to post with release taken and uploaded?
  • all intended routes accessable for the biggest unit (ie. fat boy)?
  • does preview match the start positions in the game lobby?
  • readme done with credit to all sources & testers?

Good luck with your own map!

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