Recently I've become involved in modding again after a brief absence from the scene. I used to mod my buildings like most everyone did, with cut and paste AoK
graphics or imports from other games. And while those graphics can look great, there are 3 major drawbacks:
1. They take absolutely forever to make
2. The variety of architecture, color, and texture is very limited.
3. It's about impossible to get the perspectives, shading, and, shadows perfect, and the more complicated the building, the more impossible it is.
So upon my return in interest to modding, I've been doing 3d modelling instead. Jorgito and I are using predominantly 3ds Max to do the buildings for the Tales of Middle Earth mod. It's a great powerful program used by a lot of professionals. Of course, there's a couple issues with it... Like the facts it isn't user friendly and it costs about one small fortune. So if you don't have access to it already, going out and buying it is not a real option. If you do have access, it may have too steep a learning curve for you to bother with.
This is where Google Sketchup comes in. It's free, unless you are determined to get the Pro version, in which case get that small fortune ready again. It's extremely user friendly, and pretty powerful as well. I've been using it alongside 3ds Max to make a lot of shapes or structural pieces quickly and easily. Jorgito told me he did as well, and suggested I should write up a tutorial. So here's a really basic intro to a basic program that will have you making high quality building graphics faster than before, and it's pretty fun to use along the way.
Adobe Photoshop or another image editing program (Paint will work for most things).
Install google Sketchup (duh). Your program will look something like
I've cutomized mine, so there are some toolbars you won't see, and the baclground is neon pink in mine so the model stands out more. You can fool with your options to find what suits you. Also ignore the circled stuff for the moment.
First you will need to add a few toolbars and setting I have though. Go to Windows->
Next you will want to add some toolbars. Go to view->
Some of those are probably already up. You will add others later probably, but that's fine for now. One last thing. You need to set the camera. Click Camera->
Right, back to the circles in the first screenshot. The green circle is the basic drawing tools. Your circles, squares, and polygons are here. If you need a shape not exactly present, you'll be making that with the line and arc tools. Standard stuff, let's try it out...
Start with a square in the x-y plane. It's the same idea for any shape. Click that square button in the draw toolbar, and make a square or rectangle like
Simple yes? Remember it's the same idea for any of the drawing tools in the drawing toolbar. Click once to start a shape, line, or arc, drag to chosen size, click to stop. For the arc we will need to drag and click a third time to specify the arc radius.
Now, notice the two little red circles in that first screenshot? That's the seclect and erase tools. They do exactly what you think they do. Copy, paste, drag selection, they all work as you would imagine. It's all very intuitive.
The yellow circle shows the camera changing tools, you can zoom, orbit, pan, etc. You will need these as you mod to view your model from different angles, to zoom in for details, you get the idea. More simple stuff.
Now we'll get to the actual 3d stuff
The last toolbar circled in that photo is circled in blue, nd these are the tools you will do the cool stuff with. There's move, rotate, and scale tools; again the names tell you all there is to know. The three other tools is what we will use to turn our square we made into a building.
The second tool in that bar is the push/pull tool, and it might be your most used tool. click on any surface, then move your mouse to push that surface in or pull it out, then click to finish. Lets pull the square we made to make it into a box like this:
Now we have a 3d shape which can be modelled with. We can use the drawing tools to draw on all faces of our box.
Above is a montage of six screens because I got tired of taking screenshots. I'll be referring to it from now on. Notice how I've gone ahead and drawn on two different faces in the first image. Also, I've added a half circle along the edge at the bas of the box. All I have used for this step is the line and arc tools discussed above.
In the second screen of that image, I used the push/pull tool to raise the semicircle to form a balcony and to push away the triangle to make a roof. Done the same way as making the box was.
The third part of the storyboard shows the Offset tool, which is the last tool in the modification toolbox. I used it to make a larger semicircle on top of the balcony, and a smaller doorway within the door I drew on the other side of the building. Same click to start, move the mouse, click to finish method for this tool as well. Step four shows how I pulled the larger semicircle up to make a ledge and pushed the door in and the frame out. Again, same Push/Pull tool.
The only other modification tool we haven't used is the 'Follow Me' tool. This is just like the push/pull tool, but it can follow any drawn path instead of just going straight. In step four I drew another smaller smeicircle on the floor of my balcony and drew an arch along the wall that starts at the center of my little semicircle.
Using the Follow Me tool, I click on the semicircle, then follow the arch to make the round arch seen in step 5.
And that's about it, those are all the major tools. Much like how the AoK editor is a few simple triggers combined in countless ways, Sketchup has just a few tools conbined for countless shapes. The more fluent you get with it the more shapes you will learn to make.
In the last segment of that storyboard I've gone ahead and added some textures to the faces of the model. Click the little bucket icon on the getting started toolbar to access Sketchup's textures. There's quite a few, but you can add your own or ones you download. Just choose to create a new texture and import your texture map in jpg format. You can adjust how your texure is used by choosing to edit a texture, then adjusting brightness, color, and sizing.
Now the simple stuff-well, it's all been simple so far. Zoom in or out until your model is the desired size. You can just use window's snipping tool if you are really lazy to grab the image, or you can save as a few different 2d image file formats.
One last hurdle remains. Your image is not in 256 color format, which AoK requires. You can convert it with any image editing program. If using paint, just copy and paste your building into an AoK bitmap. Be warned paint is garbage for palette conversion and will probably ruin your image.
If you use Photoshop, here's a quick method:
1. Load an aok bitmap such as one exported from MPS
2. Go to Image ->
3. Save the palette as 50500.act or name of your choice
4. Load your new building into photoshop
5. Go to Image ->
6. For palette select custom and then load your saved .act file.
7. Set the diffusion % to the one that looks best. Often this is 100% but not always.
Now you have your building in 256. Try not to cry that it doesn't look as awesome as it did in 24 bit color. Only thing you will need to do is recolor the whole shadow to black. Paint works just fine for this.
[This message has been edited by Felix36 (edited 03-06-2013 @ 12:44 PM).]