Chief Biscuit Monitor
Making Gloss Maps with Paintshop Pro
Tutorials for PSP are often sparse compared to those for Photoshop, presumably Photoshop is therefore the software pirate's choice graphics app, but here's my guide to making gloss maps for your units in PSP. For all the six people who apparently use it.
By the way: I use the antiquated version 7. The series is up to number 10 I believe, but I'm sure it's not too dissimilar to the later versions. The latest versions may have better ways to do this, but if you're using an older (genuine version) take note!
Open PSP obviously, then open the unit you want to make gloss maps for. I'm using a Late Legionary Cohort for this demonstration. It's not a bad choice for your first Gloss-map unit as there's lot of shiny things to gloss up.
Using the lasso tool, diligently select the parts of the unit you want to be glossy and shiny. Obviously metal helmets, armour plating etc is worth selecting, whereas old worn leather boots should remain dull. Select one area at a time, then if there is another area to be selected, hold down the SHIFT key so that you keep the last selection and your new one.
Here's my Roman Legionary, with the selected areas to be turned into glossy surfaces.
Save your selection. It's a good idea to save your selections if you edit units a lot. I've called this selection: Roman legionary ii gloss
If ever you need to start over, it's best to have something to fall back on, instead of having to reselect everything again.
Invert your selection. CTRL+ALT+I by default. Have black selected as your background colour, then press delete. All non-gloss areas will now be black.
Now greyscale the image. In PSP7, you do this by selecting the Colours (Colors) menu and selecting Greyscale. Your image should look a bit like this:
Now unselect everything. If the lasso tool is still selected, just right click somewhere on the picture. Now it's time to use an adjustment layer. I never knew what these were before I started editing for RTW, now they're my new best friend. They're great at making changes to an image, but they can't hold a decent conversation, although you can't have everything in a friend.
Go to the Layers menu, then select New Adjustment Layer, then Brightness/Contrast. This may have changed a bit since PSP7, but the basics should be the same.
There should be at least two slider bars: one for contrast, one for brightness. What we're going to do is adjust the tint of our glossy areas. The brighter the gloss map area, the greater the gloss effect will be in the game. Too bright and you get horrible molten-liquid-esque metal that looks rubbish. Too dark and you don't get much of an effect at all. I personally find it's best to use a fairly dark overall setting, then touch up individual areas I want glossier.
For now, set the Brightness to -60, and Contrast to -45. Lo and behold, the result is a darker matt image all round.
Optional step this, adjusting certain areas of the image. I want the helmet to be a bit shinier. Just a tad. I load up a previously saved Roman Legionary Helmet selection file, but if you haven't got such a saved selection yourself, you'll have to select the helmet with the lasso tool. Again. With the helmet selected, create a new Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer. Add a bit of brightness, and a bit of contrast. I've used +15 Brightness, +19 contrast. More contrast in relation to brightness tends to make things look a little less flat. You can play around for Brightness/Contrast settings for ages and never be satisfied, so just make minor changes until you're happy.
Personally, that's enough editing individual areas, so my legionary currently looks like this:
If your's looks nothing like this, WHY NOT? :P
Masks and Alpha Layers fun.
I've never understood the concept of masks, but I somehow fluked this one when I discovered a very important step in the creation of the gloss file that I never could find in tutorials for Photoshop Gloss map creations.
First flattern your image. Go to the Layers menu, select Merge, then Merge All (Flattern), or whatever it's called in PSP 10 or whatever version you're using.
Now go to the MASKS menu. This is largely unknown territory for me, but that's because I never read instruction manuals. Select New> then 'From Image'. It might be a different process with your fancy new version of PSP, but with mine, this window pops up:
Where it says: 'Source window:', select 'This window'. Where it says: 'Create Mask from' highlight the 'Source luminance' option. I've no idea what the others do, but they won't work for this gloss map shenanigans so ignore them. Select ok.
Suddenly, everything should go GHOSTLY WHITE-ISH! Fret not, for this means everything is going according to plan. Go back to the devilish MASKS menu, then select 'Save to Alpha Channel'. Press ok when the Alpha channel menu pops up, then a window bar pops up asking for a name for your new alpha channel. Just press ok. Then press ok again to leave this menu.
Create a new image the same size as your original unit file you've been editing. Eg 256x256. Fill this empty picture with a white background. Now go to the SELECTIONS menu (or whichever menu lets you edit alpha channels in your flash newer versions of PSP you rich gits) and select 'Load From Alpha Channel'.
There should be a pull down box with 'Available Documents' above it. Select the unit file you were editing earlier. Eg your legionary that has the gloss maps. Now you need to select the alpha channel you made earlier. It's probably called 'Selection #2' if you didn't give it a name. Press ok. Your new white image now has some selection lines in it, the shape of your glossy areas. Now go back to the SELECTION menu, and select 'Save to Alpha Channel'. Press ok, and when it prompts you for a name for your alpha channel, type anything, or just press ok. Leave the menu and hurrah, you're just about done!
Time to save your gloss maps. With your new image, you need to save this file in tga format, and the dds format.
First, you must call the gloss map the same as your original unit file name, but add _gloss to the end.
Eg: roman_legionary_cohort_ii_julii.tga.dds becomes roman_legionary_cohort_ii_gloss.tga.dds
But wait... what about the Julii part? Not needed. The gloss map will work for legionary_cohort_ii_julii , or legionary_cohort_ii_scipii this way. It will also work for legionary_cohort_ii_julii2, or anything as long as you don't use another underscore after the faction name part. Confused? Ignore that for now then.
Anyway, save the file as a tga.dds file as you would normally save a unit you've edited, but also save it in the plain tga format. Click yes if it prompts you to merge the image into one layer.
You should therefore have these files:
your_unitname_factionname.tga.dds (Original Unit skin)
your_unitname_gloss.tga.dds (Gloss File)
your_unitname_gloss.tga (Gloss File)
Load up RTW, create a custom battle with your unit with the gloss maps in it and play. If all has gone well, and GLOSS MAPS ARE ENABLED IN THE VIDEO OPTIONS MENU!! your unit should have shiny gloss maps! Hurrah! If your unit hasn't got any shiny surfaces, it's gone Pete Tong (wrong) somewhere and you need to go back and make sure you followed my instructions.
Here's my legionary with gloss maps:
If anything, the gloss maps are a bit overdone in places, but not too bad. If you find the gloss maps need modifying, go back to your original unit file and undo changes you made until you get back to editing the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers and follow my steps again. With perservance you'll find a good range of settings to get the best gloss maps for you.
(Note: In snow, gloss maps turn your units bright white, so that's why I prefer darker, less glossy settings).
I hope that's a help to all the 6 PSP users still struggling to edit gloss maps. That took much longer than I expected to type, so I think that's my last tutorial for a while!
Improving the TW Series one step at a time:
BI Extra Hordes & Unlocked Factions Mod: Available here.