How to modify graphics in your own mod?

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Alopex
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How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Alopex »

As the title says: I started to edit some enemy with MS Paint, but this is often a very hard, stressful and disappointing thing to do, especially if you are a bad designer like me. Now I wonder: is there any other way to edit graphics in order to create your own personalized mod? Can you create new graphics without the classic pixeling with MS Paint?

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Fleexy
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Fleexy »

(Thread moved from Theory.)

If you're using ModKeen, there are three parts to an exported sprite: the image itself, the mask, and the clipping rectangle. The mask must line up with the image so that the whole black background doesn't show up in-game. Of course, this can be rather finicky to do by hand. That's why I prefer using KeenGraph instead - it condenses the image and mask into one part of the sprite bitmap, where transparency is indicated by a special color. For example, here's the KG version of 5SPR0311:

Image

Other people might chime in with tips for making ModKeen sprite work easier.

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Nisaba
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Nisaba »

another solution could be to tryout a more "up-to-date" graphics editor. for eg. Gimp (which is free and is open source btw) or Photoshop.
when spriting, I'm using layers, manipulation tools plus some little automated/macro scripts which can be setup.

but I wouldn't recommend to start your modding carrier with sprites, cause they might be the hardest part. maybe begin with the worldmap or some simple tiles before moving on with more challenging tasks.
and also please don't hesitate to post your results. this way we can continue the discussion and give hints and tipps along the way.

happy modding!

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Ceilick
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Ceilick »

When I first started modding my "art technique" was to modify existing graphics into something new. You can see that in Crash on Gobo III: the yorps are now blue with two eyes and a pointy head, the Garg has his colors changed, his head is a little more dome like. Sure, these won't be the most unique new creatures, but it's a start to learning how to manipulate the pixels.

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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by XkyRauh »

You can always try hand-sketching things, too, and then once you decide on a design you like, try replicating it at the appropriate resolution. That's how the Optiquats for XkyKeen3 came to be!

Also, while Nisaba has some good advice about starting with map tiles or level tiles instead, don't let those hang you up too much either. I strongly prefer doing sprite art, while level tiles have always been much more difficult for me--in fact, XkyKeen4 was effectively canceled because I struggled to find a way to make the level tiles work for over a year. :\

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Alopex
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Alopex »

Thanks everyone for your precious tips! I will continue to work on my mod and let you know about any update or progress I will do.

Happy Keening and modding!

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Nisaba
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Nisaba »

(off topic: @Xky,
thanks that you've made the latest state of XkyKeen4 available to the community. as a matter of fact I'm about to integrate parts of it in my newest modding attempt. here is a sneak preview (ProYrop is working with me on a little redesign to make it fit into the theme):
Image Image
you don't have by any chance one or another unused Galaxy sprite, tiles or candies that you are willing to share?! cause I really adore your art work. your mods and level-designs are really impressive!)


@Alopex:
as seen above, there are many abandoned mods out there. you can also rip stuff and mash them together. but beware: normally it's not a big deal stealing graphics from other peoples mods. at least not around here. but there is at least one denizen of the pckf, who is really peaky when it comes to lending graphics or ideas. so it might be a good idea to ask first and than thief things anyway...

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CommanderSpleen
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by CommanderSpleen »

Could always try creating the sprites as scalable vector graphics in Inkscape and then exporting them at the required resolution for the Keen engine.

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Nisaba
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Nisaba »

CommanderSpleen wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:23 am
Could always try creating the sprites as scalable vector graphics in Inkscape and then exporting them at the required resolution for the Keen engine.
oh, I haven't thought about that... interesting. is this actually the way you're "spriting" enemies and other creatures? I was always wondering how you pixeled them, cause they all look marvelous to me! impressed your by modding skills and unique mod ideas.
talking about sprites: you don't have by any chance an unused sprite laying around somewhere, which you might be willing to share... just asking...
btw. how is your mod Retrosis - The Universe's Toes coming along? I'm very excited about this one and I'd love to see an updated version of this sometime.

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CommanderSpleen
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by CommanderSpleen »

Nisaba wrote:is this actually the way you're "spriting" enemies and other creatures?
Actually most of mine have been done directly in a regular paint program (mostly Kolourpaint since switching to Linux 10 years ago, probably leaning a lot more toward grafx2 in the future) with some being developed through concept sketches on paper beforehand.

But having explored a lot more advanced Inkscape techniques in the past couple of years, this will definitely be part of future sprite development. I'm using it for some modern high-res game development using directly exported PNGs, but will probably only use it for outlines at low resolution projects such as Keen due to the shading tricks and general artistic licence that can be required at that scale.

Another approach can be to use Xky's suggestion of hand-sketching the sprites, scan them in and then use Inkscape to trace them or run a direct bitmap-to-vector conversion.

Working with vectors requires a whole different way of thinking, but it can make it easier to build up a character using traditional animation/cartooning techniques. It can also make animation and shading much easier if the character is segmented into smaller shapes and lines that can be rotated, adjusted and coloured individually.
Nisaba wrote:you don't have by any chance an unused sprite laying around somewhere, which you might be willing to share...
Not on hand, but I most likely have some obsolete sprite designs floating around in old project directories that can be donated to the public domain when I next reorganise everything. I certainly have nothing against ripping or redesigning sprites from my previous mods. In fact I'd be quite intrigued to see them put to use in new environments.
Nisaba wrote:btw. how is your mod Retrosis - The Universe's Toes coming along? I'm very excited about this one and I'd love to see an updated version of this sometime.
Retrosis and OrbKeen are projects I really need to be in a very specific creative zone to work on, which has been difficult for the past few years. There'll probably be another couple of smaller projects to come before either of them see much more serious work.

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Nisaba
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Nisaba »

@CommanderSpleen
is there somewhere a tutorial for the inkscape techniques you were mentioning?! sounds like an interesting way to create pixel creatures and stuff.
talking about Linux: do you have any recommendation on MIDI program to manipulate or even create tracks from scratch.
CommanderSpleen wrote:[...] I most likely have some obsolete sprite designs floating around in old project directories that can be donated to the public domain when I next reorganise everything.
looking forward to that! and of course for any updates regarding Retrosis and OrbKeen. both projects look VERY promising!

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CommanderSpleen
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by CommanderSpleen »

Mostly I've just learned from trial and error, but I just started watching some YouTube tutorials lately and they cover a lot of useful techniques. I don't think there's much inbuilt for automating animation, but being able to move and modify and clone segments can definitely eliminate some obstacles.

As for MIDI, I'm still working on that. MIDI in general on Linux can still be tricky. I've been using Adlib Tracker II to make tracks for Bounce Quest, and then recording them to DRO through DOSBox and converting to IMF. This has had mixed results so I'm trying to find some good MIDI options. So far these are what I've come across:

Rosegarden: Would have to be the most comprehensive editor. I've found it to be highly unstable bloatware so far.
LMMS: Supposedly has a means of exporting MIDI. Yet to try that feature, but for music production in general it seems a lot easier than a tracker.
MidiEditor: Seems pretty tidy and minimalistic. The precompiled binary linked an old version of a library so I'll have to build from source to try it out.

The backup plan is to fire up Win95 on the Thinkpad and use an old version of Cakewalk Home Studio that I used to use on my Pentium I.

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Nisaba
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Re: How to modify graphics in your own mod?

Post by Nisaba »

thanks for all these MIDI related hints.
since it seems not to be the easiest part in Keen modding, I'm still shying away from testing things out. at some point I'll have to and I'll let you know which tool might work best for me.

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