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Graphic makers, what editors and methods do you use?

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For example me. Several times I needed to make my own graphics, either from scratch or modified Doom resources where recolorment wasn't enough. At first I thought it'd be a great idea to take a photo of some surface in real life, import it to wad using SLADE3 and then simply convert to Doom graphics. My daring plans were ruined when I realised that the Doom palette is limited and the conversion often pour all large similarly-coloured fields into one colour. From that point, I started to operate different way.

My method of creating graphics from scratch is rather complicated and inelegant. First I open an IWAD and find any graphic/patch/sprite that has similar colours I'd like to use. I export it in PNG format and open in GIMP 2. Then I create another empty PNG. I copy one colour from the original graphic and use it in my new graphic to draw basic outline. Followingly, I copy another colours and draw other parts, shades etc.

The only advantage is that I'm assured the graphic will be properly converted to Doom's palette. The disadvantagee is that, due to the need of using exact particular colours, I'm restricted only to the most basic drawing functions and therefore the work is slow, ineffective and the result quite unsatisfying.

There are probably way better methods than I use, likely even so simple I'll bang my head into a table for not being aware of them. I wouldn't be even surprised if someone acknowledged tells me that SLADE 3 can do it itself. Anyway I'd like to be enlightened or get inspiration, so I wonder - what are your methods of creating graphics?

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Created some sprites for FreeDoom entirely using GIMP in native file format. Make a background plane with the Doom transparent color. Do not draw on it, draw only on overlay planes.
You can draw with doom palette colors, but blends, airbrushing, and many of the brushes will not preserve those colors.
Save it with multiple planes in the GIMP native format, because that allows retouching after testing.

Use a tool to quantize the fade edges so the light overspray does not show up as solid smoke around the sprite. The conversion to doom palette does not understand low alpha, so they have to be removed with a filter.

Then flatten the planes as you save it to a PNG, and use a PNG to ppm converter that does the color quantization using the Doom palette.

To do a texture, need a PNG to doom patch converter.

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wesleyjohnson said:

Make a background plane with the Doom transparent color.

There is no such thing, technically. The engine displays all 256 colors of the palette, transparency is handled by not describing pixels at all in the patch format.

That said, Id's own image conversion tool used palette index 255 for transparency, which led to a few minor bugs, like a couple of transparent pixels in the Doom II city sky.

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The whole Doom texture/sprite creation process is very ad-hoc, depending more on whatever the tool did than anything else.

If you are making sprites, there is a color that the tools will make transparent in the patches. That color can be selected in one of the tools, but it is just easier to use the default color.
The same color appears in patches converted to ppm (deutex, etc..).
If you don't use that color as a solid background, it will be difficult to add it later.

For making textures, I would use the same process.
If you set the background color to something horrible then it is easier to see where you have holes.

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Maybe this isn't optimal, but what about just having an image of the Doom palette open in another tab of GIMP while you're creating your own texture, and then using the eyedropper tool to grab colours from the palette to use in your working texture file?

Alternately, you could also create a list of custom colour swatches (I believe they are called 'palettes' by the GIMP tutorials) from the same file used above.

I'm an art nub, so most of the previous posts have gone over my head. Please forgive me if this has been already mentioned in terms I don't fully understand, or is elsewise impractical.

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Just export the Doom PLAYPAL as a gimp palette (you can do that with SLADE 3's "Palette" menu if you use a development build), and add that file to the Gimp palette folder. Then tada, you can set your image to paletted mode, choose the Doom palette, and don't forget to tell it not to delete unused colors.

It'll work just as well for the Heretic, Hexen, Strife or whatever palettes.

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Draw the thing in Photoshop, as closely "Doom-styled," then put it in Slade, convert it to Doom palette, and have it spit it back out with .png dump and work from there.

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BloodyAcid said:

then put it in Slade, convert it to Doom palette

No need. You can apply the palette in Photoshop itself.

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In making my sprites, I had to start over 3 times.
Problems that come in the later stages trying to convert to ppm and patches, are created in the early stages.
You may not like the method I describe, so I will over-emphasis the following suggestion/warning (in an attempt to save you at least one start-over).

Choose which tools you are going to use (I suggest GIMP, xwadtools, and deutex).
Make a test piece with some colors, transparents, some airbrushing,
some overspray, and some blending.
These will create artifacts that will bother the conversion.
Run it through the entire conversion process and the tools to get a patch, texture, or sprite in a PWAD. This PWAD can be used alone, combined with others, etc.., but for now it is to test the sprite/texture/patch results.
Examine the result (patch or texture) in a test wad (a different PWAD with a room that uses the sprite/texture/patch you made), and decide where you are going to deal with the problems that show up.
-- Change tools?, add a background plane, don't use some kind of airbrush?, quantize away the low-alpha before saving? ...
Probably should write down your rules, and procedure, because it may be hard to remember it exactly right after 3 days of drawing, at four in the morning. Automate your entire conversion from PNG to PWAD with a script. Use separate directories for the source drawings, PNG, ppm, and PWAD, because there is a tendency to delete the sources when debugging this process and cleaning up later.

Do this before you invest hours or days on a drawing, because it
probably cannot be fixed without starting over.

I had overspray show up as a solid cloud around the sprite.
Got rid of this using a filter that removed all pixels with less than 50% alpha (overspray).

I had overspray change the transparent color slightly so that it was not recognized as transparent, so I got slight variations of that color show up in the sprite. The transparent background must be in a protected separate plane so it escapes all color blending.

There is a tool in xwadtools that will give you the palette.
I kept the palette as a reference and color chooser.
But I also used the fade tool to create a range of colors to draw with, which you pickup using the color picker tool.

For each project I first create a drawing of color swatches, which are made from the doom palette. These are the colors that I have selected for parts of my sprite. I also create color blends on my swatch drawing, from light to dark using the fade tool, so I can easily pick up variations of the color that I have been using for some part of the sprite. To darken an area, pick up the darker version of the color an airbrush it in.

Many swatch colors will not be in the doom palette. Also, during brushing the alpha blending will change the colors even more. Attempting to limit intermediate colors to only doom palette colors will cause the those colors to drift (yellows will turn orange among other problems) because you accumulate multiple color errors, with every operation.
Quantize to the palette once during the conversion to a ppm, and there is only one color quantization error.

Brushing with any brush that has an alpha will not stay in the doom palette.

Easier to draw in 32bit color and quantize to palette much later, because then all the GIMP tools work.
Save your work as 32bit color, because otherwise it cannot be adjusted or reworked. Drawing in a palette format is really limiting, and the tools behave strangely.
Later palette conversion is unavoidable (I tried, and it is part of one of the conversion tools (in xwadtools) anyway), and does a better job than any manual intervention that I could devise.

GIMP allows drawing on multiple planes. Use this for everything.
Use 4 to 8 planes per drawing.
I only had two heads per plane (of eight flaming heads), so they could be moved or adjusted later.
This saves considerable rework, as those planes can be copied to other drawings. When things are alone on a plane, they can be moved, resized, stretched, color adjusted, etc. etc., separate from the rest.

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