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Getting higher quality titlepics

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I'm talking about keeping with the original color and 320x200 restrictions here.

Usually wads with custom titlepics end up looking kinda grainy and low quality due to being converted to the game's palette restrictions. But the original Doom and Doom 2 titlepics look way cleaner. So I figure there has to be techniques out there to work with the restrictions rather than against them. What most people do is just import a bitmap in XWE and have it handle the conversion, right?

What I tried doing was making an image out of the entire Doom palette in XWE, and then saving the color index from that as a palette file in Photoshop, and then you can make any image conform to that palette using Indexed Color. You can also customize between different dithering algorithms (or none at all) using that feature. Not sure if that's the optimal way of handling palette conversions though.

Just applying color reduction on a whole single image doesn't really differ much from XWE's approach AFAIK. Maybe isolating individual elements (like title text, background, any character art or objects, etc) and color reducing each element individually and reassembling them later would be a more efficient approach?

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GeckoYamori said:

What most people do is just import a bitmap in XWE and have it handle the conversion, right?

What people do nowadays is to make the graphic in PNG format (indexed or truecolor), import the PNG into the wad using SLADE3, and use "Graphic -> Convert to -> Doom Gfx (Paletted)". They might or might not make the TITLEPIC from scratch in "indexed" mode (using the Doom palette, which can be imported as a custom palette into usual graphic editors), or tint/recolor a "truecolor" image until it can be converted to the Doom palette as cleanly as possible, or a combination of the two methods.

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One thing I find useful for working with paletted images in general is an intermediate step of converting to some kind of palette that suits the image, and then remapping colours manually to fit the Doom palette. It's pretty tedious but it can produce much better results than just automatic conversions. You can also adjust hues/levels/etc. before converting to a paletted image.

Another option is to separate the image into colour sections, then put color layers over them that closer match the Doom palette.

If you're making a titlepic from scratch, it really helps to keep in mind the Doom colours as you make it, i.e. avoid really dark reds, keep blues to the single blue shade, etc.

The guy who did the Extreme Weapons Pack mod (e: Doggo120) had a video or two about making paletted sprites but a lot of the ideas apply to any paletted image. I'll see if I can find it later.

Lastly SLADE has a ton of colourimetry options that affect how colours are matched when converting to a palette, under Preferences->Graphics->Colorimetry. CIEDE2000 can produce much better results sometimes, at a cost of much slower conversions. I've also used a program called mtPaint a lot that has a ton of options for converting images to indexed mode. But maybe Photoshop can do all this too, I use GIMP which is good for a lot of things but has terrible color matching.

One thing I would find really useful is a palette preview filter, so you can have an image displayed as it would be after converting to the Doom palette but actually still work with the image in 24-bit colour. So you could then apply different effects on the image and see how it would affect the indexed result without converting back and forth all the time. I'm not sure how to make something like this or if something exists already.


Doggo120's video on spriting: https://www.doomworld.com/vb/post/1240338
You can skip the first 5 minutes without missing too much, it's a bit slow to get started.

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