Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Custom Framing!

So, I showed off in the earlier screenshot dump some new picture/painting frames I'd been working on; but welched on actually releasing them to mess with normalmaps.

Normally (heh, get it? puns) when I do that sort of thing, you never hear about it again. I'm kind of unreliable, I know.

This time, I really have been working on it; and am nearly done. Only one frame remains in the unsure pile.

Here's what I've got so far:

You can see the black marble frame here. I set it up to look solid, but have just a bit of sheen; as cut and polished marble tends to. Depending on lighting, it's a little too shiny sometimes; so it may need to be dulled it in the future, but for the lighting in the Estate, I like it fine.

This is the rosewood frame, which is the "unsure" culprit.

I like the bit of shine; varnished or oiled wood tends to have it. Very nice. The problem is that second screenshot. When viewed from an angle, you can clearly see raised woodgrain; which you will not find in a finely finished, hand-oiled piece of wood.

The problem is I can't decide whether to leave the wood grain (which looks neat in its own right); or knock the normal down to make it appear smooth and all.

This is the silver portrait frame. Both portrait frames (silver and gold) use the same normal. As you can see, it's got a bit of sheen; but not so much that it looks mirror-polished. Also I successfully got rid of that damned engraving reflection on the name plate.

This one is the white marble, which I think turned out the best. Not only does it match the walls of the Ultralux tileset, but you can see where under the right lighting the normals show up as gaps and indents where the pieces of marble are fitted together. I like the way that looks, I have to say.

As for the release: I'm leaning towards a mediafire upload or something similar; so anyone can grab it and use it.

However. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this sort of thing, this one won't be a complete plug 'n play setup. Creating these paintings and pictures -- even with templates and normals supplied -- is going to require basic-to-moderate knowledge of image-editing software (either GIMP or PS), a .dds exporting plugin or third-party utility for conversion, and basic knowledge of Nifscope to create new copies of the meshes with the proper texture path(s) set. It's really not that hard... but an alarming percentage of the "mod community" these days seems incapable of anything more complex than clicking a single button -- which you ain't gonna get when editing textures.

I'm still open at this point to comments on the frames, and suggestions on what might look better. Also open to other styles if there's one you'd really like to see -- provided you can point me to a tile-friendly sample of the material or pattern that I can import into GIMP as a fill pattern.


  1. I'll say again that I like what you're doing with these, but suddenly I have to wonder how long it will take before someone releases a mod that replaces all the in-game portraits with internet porn...

    1. Can't speak for portraits, but there's been poster/banner/billboard replacers since... a couple months after FO3 went gold, I think? There are a couple for FNV, too; but I don't have any links to illustrate since they weren't really my bag. One of the larger ones got pulled a year or two ago (I remember 'cause some random guy PM'd me out of the blue asking if I had a copy saved to send him -- no idea why anyone thought I would have one since I don't recall ever expressing an affinity for them).

  2. Given the resources, I believe creating an in-game framed portrait is something within my skill level. Creating a normal map (or a glow map for that matter) is still something I need to work on, but that is neither here nor there for this discussion.

    As far as the frames go, I am quite happy with what I see you have done so far.

    1. Glow maps aren't bad (black where you want opaque; white where you want glow); but normals are a bit annoying.

      They're not hard to make; the problem is that each game engine handles them differently, and they don't render at all in nifscope, so every revision of the normals has to be tested by loading the full game up and just seeing how it looks. Along about the tenth adjustment it gets wearying.

    2. I can understand how after so many adjustments things get a wee bit frustrating. Despite how simple the glow maps are, my first attempt with that ended up with my modern-style vending machines looking like they had an unshielded nuclear core or something (read: bloody bright!) *shrugs* I'll get it figured out eventually.