A beginners guide to ship set making by a beginner...
This is a blog about what I've learned about making ship sets...I say that, because I only started about 3 weeks ago...and I still have a lot to learn.
EDIT: I've changed some things here as I've learnt how to do them better
This by the way, is all the fault of SysOp, he convinced me to do it...so blame him!
So with out further delay lets get you started:
Tools...I'll list here the tools that I've used up to now...they are not the only tools you can use but they are FREE and easy to download...and they're the ones I'll be talking about.
IrFanView (use for resizing and changeing graphics files) http://www.irfanview.com/
Anim8or (to make your model) http://www.anim8or.com
UVMapper (to make a UV map of your model...thats like a 2D plan) http://www.uvmapper.com
LithUnwrap (to texture and convert your finished model to .X format...the files used by SEV for its models) http://files.seriouszone.com/download.php?fileid=198 )
The Gimp (a photoshop clone that seems very good, but I've only used it once up to now) http://www.gimp.org/
Slot modder by Suicide Junkie (for making the slot layout for SEV ships) http://www.spaceempires.net/home/downloads-cat-37.html
The first thing I did was read a tutorial by Fyron at http://www.spaceempires.net/home/ftopict-641.html ...and followed his instructions...I then did it again...and again,and again...until I could do it without reading it...Its very good but I did have problems finding out about how to texture. The main things I learnt there were about anim8or and how to use it.
I'm not going to repeat Fyron's tutorial, but I will give you a very quick summary of the points of it and explain how "I" textured my models.
(I say "I", because maybe its done in a botched way but I don't know any better...but it works)
I) Create your model in anim8or. Export as an .OBJ file. eg Ship.obj
II) Open UVmapper and create a UNMap of your model. Save it in .BMP format eg ShipUVmap.BMP The size of this image is probably going to bigger than 256X256...you'll need to resize it(See step III). Resave the model as well...you can just resave over you original ship.obj file.
So you should now have two files...Ship.obj & ShipUVmap.BMP
III) Resizing use IrFanView. Open up your ShipUVmap.BMP file and click Image...look for the resize option and select it. This window should open. Some important things that you'll need to check or uncheck.
Keep aspect ratio unchecked.
Sharpen image checked
Resize and save...I'll save the file as shipUVmap256.BMP.
Close and exit.
IV) Now that you have the shipUVmap256.BMP you can apply that to your model. Open Anim8or again and open you model.Export your model from anim8or as a .3ds file. eg Ship.3ds Now close anim8or or simply open your new Ship.3ds file in anim8or.
Apply the shipUVmap256.BMP. Hit ctrl+M and load up your shipUVmap256.BMP file and apply it to the model...this is covered in Fyron's tutorial. ...the model should now change colour...maybe white with black lines...this is normal.
Export again...save over the first 3ds export. close anim8or...we are finished with in now.
So you should now be working with two files Ship.3ds & shipUVmap256.BMP
V) Open up the shipuvmap256.bmp file. Place any textures you want to apply to your ship in it. Save it as shipUVmap256.BMP...but before you exit make a copy of it can called it shiptexturemap.BMP...the copy is just in case something goes wrong.
VII) Go to lithUnwrap and open your model you should now see your UV map of your model with the texture map below it...this is where the fun starts. Reposition the model segments as needed...you'll need to expand, shrink rotate etc...till you have your model textured just the way you like it. Now save the file as an .X file eg ship.X
This is important...when you save the .X file sae it as TEXT and uncheck compression!...if you don't you'll have problems later.
One thing I forgot...is that once you have finished textureing your model...take two screen shots(use print screen and paste in Infranview) of it from the preview model option of lithunwrap...one will be used for the small and large portrates of the ship in game and the other will be used for the slot layout of the ship. Name them as you wish...I'll name them shipport.bmp and shipslot.bmp
So our current files should now be Ship.X, shipuvmap256.bmp, shiptexturemap.bmp, shipport.bmp and shipslot.bmp
All you have to do now is rename your files...ship.X to say Terran_frigate.X and remane shipuvmap256.bmp to say Terran_friagte.bmp
Now open the ship.X(terran_frigate.X) with notepad and scroll down to the end of the text. Find the old texture name... shipuvmap256.bmp and change it to the new texture name you've put...in our case Terran_frigate.bmp. Save and close.
Model finished! you can now set it up in SEV...
1) So that you don't mess up any empires...make a copy of the BM or any other mod you have. Rename it to say Shipset Mod. Copy it into the Gametypes folder.
Now go into your new mod folder and change the mod description to "shipset tester".
2)Choose an empire...I use the terrans but thats just me! Make sure all the ship empire files are there...if they are not, go to the stock empire folder and copy all the terran files in to the shipset mod empire folder...terrans
3) Now get you ship.X and your texture.bmp file and rename them to the ship you want to replace. Lets say our ship is a frigate class and you are using the terran empire. You'd rename your ship.X file to Terran_frigate.x and your texture map to Terran_friate.bmp.
4) almost finished...open up your Terran_Ships_XFileClasses file and you need to find the frigate which should be the first ship on the list. Find the line force texture use and put in the name of your texture map. In our case terran_frigate.bmp...save but leave it open.
5) Start up SEV and select your mod...you know, the ship set mod. Start a game and make sure your empire is the terrans...you don't really need AI players in this game...its just to test.
6) Create your frigate (unless you've changed the portrates and slot layout it will seem like its the old terran frigate) and open up the space combat simulator. You should see your ship...but it might be either very very small or very very big. Exit to windows but dont quit the game. Go to the Terran_Ships_XFileClasses file which we've left open and find the size lines there are three.
Starting Scale X := 0.019
Starting Scale Y := 0.019
Starting Scale Z := 0.019
Change them depending on your problem...more = bigger...less= smaller...but keep them all the same. Save, but dont close.
7) Go back to SEV and exit the space combat sim now re-enter...this applies any changes that have been made to the Terran_Ships_XFileClasses. Repeat 6 and 7 until the model is just the right size.
Model rotation...it is very possible that your model will not be rotated as it should. Go back to the Terran_Ships_XFileClasses and alter the rotaion...use numbers of 25, as this is taken as a 90ºs
Starting Rotate X := 100
Starting Rotate Y := 0
Starting Rotate Z := 25
Do this until your model is rotated as you want it to be...
God that was a long write...hope it helps...there will be more on other stuff later...my brain and fingers ache now! there is more to come on the other things that are left to do... such as firing points, engine glow, doing a slot lay out...err and anything else I've forgotten