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Tutorial The beginner's guide to Soartexturing

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by Floppygunk, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

    If you are new to texturing, but want to help out, this is the place to go! This guide will walk you through the entire stage of texture-making, from deciding on the texture to successful submission, and will give many useful tips along the way. It's kind of like a let's play, but for Photoshop and in text! It's best to get yourself familiar with the standard Photoshop tools before beginning this guide.

    This is how I do things. This is not how everyone does things. Everyone has their own style, but I recommend following the tips in this guide.

    Note: This tutorial does not show the time I spend trying different things out to see if they work. I don't do it as much anymore now that I have more experience, but I still do it. Experimenting is one of the best things you can do to learn how to do good graphic designing, so I greatly encourage you to experiment as much as possible!

    All Tips (open)

    1. Make sure you check that somebody hasn't already made the texture in the forums before making one. If you want to make your own anyway, go right ahead!
    2. You can toggle the grid by pressing ctrl/cmd-‘.
    3. Label all of your layers. When things get complicated, it can be hard to keep track of what everything is.
    4. It's good to copy off of the original texture if you want. It keeps it looking similar, and you don't have to get all creative.
    5. Use ctrl/cmd-+ to zoom in, and ctrl/cmd-- to zoom out.
    6. When pixel editing, zoom in to 200%, 400% or 800%, so that the pixels are aligned with the checkered background. At 800% , one square in the background is equal to one pixel.
    7. The bottom edge of cylinders should be curved a bit (it doesn't always have to be, though. My IC2 capsules have mostly flat edges because the main focus is the liquid inside, there is no reason to show the top).
    8. Keep looking at a texture at normal size, to make sure it looks good.
    9. When gradient editing, click below the gradient to add a node. You can drag the nodes and adjust the color. You can make nodes at the top to make opacity gradients. Dragging the little white diamonds changes how fast the gradient transitions, but it looks weird when you use it (at least in CS3 it does), so I would recommend using more nodes instead.
    10. When selecting or editing gradients, there is a little arrow. If you click on it, there are some useful pre-made gradients you can use (especially in the ‘Metals’ preset).
    11. For items, the light source is always at the top, in the top-left corner, or in the center. Do what looks best.
    12. Always have a lighting/shading gradient in big areas.
    13. Metals have high contrast/high detail gradients
    14. A gradient on a curve must always follow the direction of the curve, and the parts that are facing more towards the light must always be lighter overall. Spheres have a radial (circular) gradient.
    15. When using any tool, hold shift while dragging to make a straight line.
    16. You can copy layer effects instead of redoing them on another layer. To do this, right click on the layer and select 'Copy Layer Style'. Then right click on the second layer and select 'Paste layer style'.
    17. Whenever you are making small edits like the opacity of a gradient, look very closely at your texture. You want it to be as perfect as you can make it. Users will see the details, even if they don't consciously notice them.
    18. Always place and size images how they would look in real life.
    19. You don't need to edit everything pixel-by-pixel when making a shape.
    20. You can use any of the selection tools (right click on the rectangular selection tool) if needed.
    21. To add one selection to another, hold down shift and select. To subtract a selection from another, hold down alt/option and select. To only select the overlap of two selections, hold down both shift and alt/option and select.
    22. After editing a texture, always look closely at it and see if the change looks good enough, or if it could be improved.
    23. Always reset your tool options after changing them, or else you get confused later when the tool doesn’t work how it should.
    24. Standards are great, but always pay attention to what looks good. Aesthetics before standards.
    25. Use the arrow keys to make small position adjustments. To move something quickly while getting pixel-perfect accuracy, use shift + arrow keys.
    26. 15% seems to be the perfect opacity for borders, but remember, aesthetics above standards.
    27. All objects inside another should have some shadow or bevel, unless it's meant to be painted on.
    28. When an area looks a bit blank, you can improve it by adding colour, texture, detail (adding objects to it), or even by reducing the size of the area. Anything that works, works. For example, when I made the IC2 30k and 60k coolant cells, the background looked a bit bare. So I added lighting on the top and shading on the bottom. The normal cells have enough going on within the space it has, so the lighting/shading wasn’t needed.
    29. Never delete your textures. They can be useful sometimes, and it's nice to have a record of your progress as you improve.
    30. Don't expect your texture to be submitted the first time you post it. It usually takes several edits to get your texture submitted. And it's even harder for vanilla textures.

    Getting the default textures
    If the texture is not already in Soartex:
    If you are getting a texture that is not in Soartex already, you can extract the minecraft.jar (or if you are texturing a mod, the mod's jar) and look around for the texture. Because Soartex is a 64x texture pack, textures are 4 times the size of default Then you open the texture in Photoshop, then select Image > Image size... Then, change 'pixels' to 'percent', set the width and height to 400. At the drop-down box at the bottom, choose 'Nearest Neighbor'. This turns pixels into squares, instead of making the image blurry. Now click 'OK'.
    [​IMG]
    If the texture is already in Soartex:
    If the texture is part of a texture sheet that is already in Soartex, just find it in the pack.

    In this case, I'll be getting the IndustrialCraft item textures.
    [​IMG]
    Hmm... It looks like nobody's made the jetpacks yet. Let's make an electric jetpack!

    Tip: Make sure you check that somebody hasn't already made the texture in the forums before making one. If you want to make your own anyway, go right ahead!

    Turning on the grid
    To make selecting textures much easier, you can turn on a grid. To do this, go to Photoshop > Preferences > Guides, Grid, Slices & Count... You can set the gridline to 64 pixels (the size of one texture), but I like to use 32 because it helps with centering.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Tip: when the grid gets in the way, you can toggle it by pressing ctrl/cmd-'

    Copy Pasta
    Now, select the electric jetpack, and copy it into a new 64x64 image.
    It's good to keep things organised, so call the layer 'Original' (In the layers tab, double-click on the text 'layer 0' and enter in 'Original').
    [​IMG]
    Tip: Try not to be lazy, label all of your layers. When things get complicated, it can be hard to keep track of what everything is.

    Making the Texture
    First thing we want to use is make the basic shape. In a simpler texture, we would just outline the entire thing. But here, there are several segments, so we want to do them all individually. Let's start with the fuel tank on the left. Zoom in and, in a new layer called 'Left tank', make an outline of the tank.
    Tip 1: Use ctrl/cmd-+ to zoom in, and ctrl/cmd-- to zoom out.
    Tip 2: Zoom in to 200%, 400% or 800%, so that the pixels are aligned with the checkered background. At 800% , one square in the background is equal to one pixel.
    Tip 3: Because the tank is cylindrical on the bottom, the bottom edge should be curved a bit (it doesn't always have to be, though. My IC2 capsules have mostly flat edges because the main focus is the liquid inside, there is no reason to show the top).
    Tip 4: Keep looking at the outline at normal size, and without the original, to make sure it looks good. In this case, I thought the tank looks better thinner.

    Once you've done that, fill it in.
    [​IMG]

    So far, so good. Now where do we go from here?

    First, we want to get it right general color. Fill the tank with a grey of about 60% brightness.
    [​IMG]

    Now, we'll add a gradient. Every texture needs some sort of gradient, whether it's generated or hand-made. In this case, for a big gradient we can just let Photoshop make it for us. In the layers tab, click on the 'fx' button and select 'Gradient Overlay'. Set the angle to 0°.
    [​IMG]
    Click on the gradient to open up the gradient editor.

    There are three different light source positions you can use for items: Top, top-left and centre. Top lighting is good for simple cylindrical or square objects. If the texture is a bit more complex, you might want to use top-left lighting. Centre lighting is for simple flat items, like the reinforced stone in IC2. Really, it all depends on what looks best for the texture, Here, I think we should go with top lighting. Because the light source is directly above the object, all gradients are symmetrical. So make a gradient like this:
    [​IMG]
    And click OK.
    Tip 1: Click below the gradient to add a node. You can drag the nodes and adjust the color. You can make nodes at the top to make opacity gradients, but we won't be using that. Dragging the little white diamonds changes how fast the gradient transitions, but it looks weird when you use it (at least in CS3 it does), so I would recommend using more nodes instead.
    Tip 2: If you click the arrow next to 'Presets', there are some useful pre-made gradients you can use in the 'Metals' preset.

    Now, still in the Layer Style window, set the blend mode of the gradient to 'overlay' (overlay is used for adding texture or lighting to an object) and adjust the opacity to something that looks good (about 25%).

    The reflection doesn't quite look right. The light part in the middle needs to be bigger. Adjust the gradient to make the lighting better. Remember that it has to be symmetrical.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Much better!
    Tip: You don't have to make the gradient symmetrical, if you want a different type of lighting. But the gradient must always follow the direction of the curve, and the parts that are facing more towards the light must always be lighter overall.

    That's not all the gradients, though. Parts of the texture closer to (not just facing) the light source are also a bit lighter. So let's make a slight vertical gradient. Make a new texture and call it 'Left tank gradient'. Right click on the fill tool, and select the gradient tool. Set the foreground color to white and background to black. At the top of the screen, click the gradient drop-down and select the foreground to background gradient. Also make sure the gradient type is set to linear (a straight line).
    [​IMG]
    Now drag down along the tank.
    [​IMG] --> [​IMG]
    Tip: When using any tool, hold shift while dragging to make a straight line.

    Now, we want to restrict the gradient area to the tank. We do this by moving the mouse in between the gradient layer and the tank layer in the layers tab, and alt/option clicking.
    [​IMG]
    The gradient will look a bit weird, because the layer effects on the tank will apply to the gradient. That won't matter, though. Set the blending mode of the gradient to overlay, and the opacity to about 10%.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    There's not much of a difference, but it's the details that count.

    Now for the engine! Make a new layer called 'Left engine', and make it like before (but without the gradient layer).
    [​IMG] --> [​IMG] --> [​IMG]
    Tip: You can copy layer effects from the tank to the engine. To do this, right click on the tank and select 'Copy Layer Style'. Then right click on the engine and select 'Paste layer style'.
    If I could, I would have the gradient get wider the lower down it goes. I might if I weren't doing this tutorial. But as you will see, it won't end up mattering.

    Whenever you have one object under or behind another one (relative to the light source), you need a shadow. Shadows are darker under the region most covered from the light. So let's make a gradient layer on the engine, but going from dark to light instead of light to dark. I set the opacity of the gradient to 23% here.
    [​IMG]
    Note: We don't want to add a light to dark gradient on, because then you wouldn't be able to see the dark to light one.
    Tip: Whenever you are making small edits like the opacity of a gradient, look very closely at your texture. You want it to be as perfect as you can make it. Users will see the details, even if they don't consciously notice them.

    The uniform colour looks a bit boring. Let's make things more interesting by making the engine a darker colour. Which, of course, you do by filling the engine with a darker colour. I went with 44% brightness.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    That looks pretty good. and the gradients give a nice effect. (The gradient isn't vertical anymore, which is why making the gradient get wider doesn't really matter.)

    Now, let's put the layers into a folder for convenience, named 'Left'.
    We're 60% of the way there! Wait, 60%? We've only done one side! Cue copy/paste.
    [​IMG]
    Move around the Left/Right layers so that they look like they're in the right place.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Now we need the thing connecting the tanks. I don't know what to call it, so I'll just call it the connector.
    Make a new layer called 'connector'. Make the shape an gradient effect like the tanks, but make the angle 90° instead.
    [​IMG]
    Tip 1: The connector rectangle is wider than the gap, to add a bit of depth to the image. Always place and size images how they would look in real life. Also, we will need the extra space later.
    Tip 2: You don't need to edit everything pixel-by-pixel when making the shape. You can use any of the selection tools (right click on the rectangular selection tool) if needed.
    Tip 3: To add one selection to another, hold down shift and select. To subtract a selection from another, hold down alt/option and select. To only select the overlap of two selections, hold down both shift and alt/option and select.

    That gradient is too complex for a small rectangle. Also, the light source has to come from the top. Let's make it more like this:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Much better!

    However, the connector still looks a bit odd there. We want it to look like it's part of the whole thing. We can do this by fading away the sides.

    Select the eraser tool, then at the top of the screen set the opacity to 30% and the mode to 'Pencil'. Erase the second-to-last column of pixels on either side of the connector. Then set the opacity to 60%, and erase the last columns.
    [​IMG] --> [​IMG] [​IMG]
    It's looking pretty good.
    Tip 1: After editing the texture, always look closely at it and see if the change looks good enough, or if it could be improved.
    Tip 2: Don't forget to set the eraser tool opacity back to 100%. Always reset your tool options, or else you get confused (It's happened to me so many times...).

    Let's add the redstone thing. Actually, I should have added it before I duplicated the tank, but it doesn't matter.
    In the 'Left' folder, make a new layer called 'redstone'. Make a rectangle and fill it with dark red.
    [​IMG]
    Tip: I made the rectangle farther down because... I dunno, because it looks good! Standards are great, but always pay attention to what looks good.

    The redstone thing is inside the tank, so it needs an inner shadow to show it. Click the 'fx' button in the layers tab and select 'Inner Shadow...'. Set the distance to 0 and the size to 3. The redstone would be glowing slightly, so drop the opacity to about 65.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Tip: You might think I should shift the shadow downwards, because it would make more sense given the lighting, but I think it looks better this way. Remember, aesthetics above standards.

    It looks a bit plain, though. If you look at the default texture, the redstone has a stripy pattern. Let's make that!
    Create a new gradient effect. Set it to something like this:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Very nice!

    Now, I'll just make some minor adjustments. I'll shift the redstone thing up and put it behind the gradient layer:
    [​IMG] --> [​IMG]
    Tip: Use the arrow keys to make small position adjustments. To move something quickly while getting pixel-perfect accuracy, use shift + arrow keys.

    And now we copy it over to the over side.
    [​IMG]

    Are we done? Nope, not quite yet. I always add a border around my textures, unless it already has a shadow or bevel. Making a border is very easy. Create a new layer called 'Border', and set the foreground color to black. now select a layer by ctrl/cmd clicking on the layer thumbnail. Select the other layers by holding shift, and ctrl/cmd clicking on all the other layer thumbnails.
    [​IMG]

    Now select Edit > Stroke... Set the location to 'Inside', the width to 1px, and the color to black. Click OK. Add by hand a border around the bottom of the tank. Set the opacity of the layer to 15%.
    [​IMG] -> [​IMG]
    Really adds a finishing touch!
    Tip 1: 15% seems to be the perfect opacity for borders, but remember, aesthetics above standards.
    Tip 2: I don't add a border around the redstone because it already has a shadow. All objects inside another should have some shadow or bevel, unless it's meant to be painted on.

    Now we're done!
    ... Wait. the top looks a bit plain, don't you think? Let's add some color by making it a bit lighter.
    I can't be bothered making two textures for both sides, so I'll just make one. Select both tanks, and then, using the rectangle select tool, hold down alt/option and remove the selection of the lower part of the tanks. Add a little bit of selection on the bottom (by holding shift) to add curvature.
    [​IMG]

    Make a new layer Called 'Cone lighting'. If white is the background color, press ctrl/cmd-delete to fill the selection with white. Set the opacity to about 20%. The edge looked a bit pixely, so I ran over it with the blur tool (the water drop symbol) at strength 50%. The redstone looked off-centre, so I shifted it down one pixel.
    [​IMG]
    Tip 1: When an area looks a bit blank, you can improve it by adding colour, texture, detail (adding objects to it), or even by reducing the size of the area. Anything that works, works.

    Tip 2: Things don't always have to be completely centered, they only have to look centered.

    I'm not really sure about the cone, but it should be fine.
    Hmm, now what? Now for some small changes. I gave the connector a slight dark-to-light-to-dark horizontal gradient, and shortened the redstone by one pixel (so it is truly centred).
    [​IMG]

    Aand now were done! ... sort of.

    After finished a texture, you should go through my guide to texture review. I'll go through the steps.

    1. Is the lighting right? Indeed it is.
    2. Does the overall texture look right?
      [​IMG] [​IMG]
      Indeed it does (In my opinion, anyway).
    3. Does the texture look like what it's mean to be? That sure looks like a jetpack to me.
    4. Does the texture look tangible? I wouldn't just touch it, I'd pay a thousand dollars to have that jetpack (as long as it worked, of course ;)).
    5. Check with a good reviewer. I'll be submitting it to the forums now.
    Submitting a texture to the forums
    First, save the texture (ALWAYS save, in fact I should have done it ages ago)
    Tip: Never delete your textures. They can be useful sometimes, and it's nice to have a record of your progress as you improve.

    First, you have to save the texture as a png. You could select File > Save as... and set the format to 'PNG', but I have a nifty little conversion tool in my Finder toolbar.
    [​IMG]
    And here is the result:
    [​IMG]
    Next, you post it on the forums, in the right thread.
    [​IMG]
    And that concludes my tutorial! If my texture gets rejected, then I'll wright a section on the iterative design process ;)
    If it's accepted, well good for me! :p
    Tip: Don't expect your texture to be submitted the first time you post it. It usually takes several edits to get your texture submitted. And it's even harder for vanilla textures.

    Whew... That took half a day and an imgur page full of images, so you'd better like it!

    Edit: Now I'll give another short example of making a texture, by showing how I made my pot.
    Anatomy of a pot
    [​IMG] --> [​IMG]

    This pot was made like the jetpack. I made the shapes, gave them a gradient, gave them more gradients or shadows if needed, put in the outline, then adjusted it for anything else that was needed (like the texture overlay).
    1. The first part is the side. Pretty simple, just a solid shape with a gradient.
    2. Then I put in the rim. It's just like the side, a solid shape with a gradient.
      Tip: When you are making a hollow container, it works to use an ellipse as the rim and a smaller ellipse for the hole.
    3. Then there's the hole. None of the gradient effects worked for the lighting the hole needed, So I used another layer for it.
    4. The gradient layer is just a radial blur, squashed thinner and constrained to the pot.
    5. I added some shadow the pot by hand.
      Tip: When hand-drawing shadows, use the brush tool, set it to a large blurry brush, and turn down the opacity.
    6. The pot looks a bit bare, so I took a clay texture off the internet, resized and desaturated it, and used it as an overlay.
    7. Then, of course, the border. It was hard getting the outline of the rim right, but in the end I only bordered the outside of the rim.
  2. Ninten_Droid

    Ninten_Droid Super Omega Ultra Member

    Lets all sing the "I wish I had Photoshop" song!!!
  3. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

  4. Ninten_Droid

    Ninten_Droid Super Omega Ultra Member

  5. JusDietrich

    JusDietrich New Member

    I'm gettin Photoshop CS6 cracked installed, I hope i can get any texture done for tomorrow :)
  6. DrumMaster4

    DrumMaster4 Texture Reviewer / Moderator Staff Member

    Lol, you got it cracked xD

    Anyway, Floppy, thanks a ton for this! I've been at this for a little bit, but the shading/gradient part was really helpful. I even bookmarked this just in case. :)
  7. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

    Do you mean you hope you can get a texture done by tomorrow, or that you can start on a texture tomorrow? Because you should spend a lot of time learning how to use Photoshop first.

    Getting it cracked, shame on you :p
  8. JusDietrich

    JusDietrich New Member

    Hey, not everybody can pay for software, im under age and I still don't have "my own money".

    And btw, i spent damn 7 hours downloading and i cant get it cracked because I downloaded a pack idk how to crack it :(

    EDIT: Nevermind, I got it. What version of Ps are you using?
  9. DrumMaster4

    DrumMaster4 Texture Reviewer / Moderator Staff Member

    I got a student discount. It's a lot less expensive that way. I also had a job though, so that helped with the money. I'm using CS5, and maybe saving money to upgrade to 6, but I'm content with 5.
  10. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

    I just borrowed somebody else's copy :p One day I'll have enough money to buy the latest PS myself... *Stares into the distance*
    Right now I'm using CS3.
  11. Harry

    Harry Well-Known Member

    I'm using CS5 like Drum, yeah mine may be cracked too, but really I have more important things to use my money on :O like a new car, moving out, all that other stuff to get a normal life started :p
  12. Shoeboxam

    Shoeboxam Administrator/ Invictus Staff Member

    Gimp is free...
  13. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

    And Photoshop kicks GIMP's butt :p
  14. justin_a_

    justin_a_ Well-Known Member

    @Floppy you must not be on ML haven't seen those lines on the backgrounds in what seems like forever ;)
  15. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

    @justin_a_ I think there's some sort of UI glitch on my computer. Either that, or Lion still had the lines.
  16. Harry

    Harry Well-Known Member

    Yeah GIMP may be free and so is Paint.net, and I've used all 3 of them but I prefer PS
  17. DrumMaster4

    DrumMaster4 Texture Reviewer / Moderator Staff Member

    That is true. However, I had bought Adobe CS5 (the whole thing) before I got into Soartexturing. So I just decided to keep using it for texturing.
    I don't have to worry about that until I graduate High School So it's 2 years away. And then it's probably more because of college...So it makes sense that you got it cracked
  18. JusDietrich

    JusDietrich New Member

    I got the CS6 but I don't understand anything :/. I just can't find any aproppiate tutorials for my crappy Ps knowledge :( Guess I'll have to wait a bit until I have Ps classes in my school (this year)
  19. MC9272

    MC9272 Member

    Can u or Shoeboxam show how to make textures like plants and flowers? Making stems and other stuff can be hard since they're more curved. I've been trouble making those things.
  20. Valsis

    Valsis Lead Fanver Developer Staff Member

    There's really good tutorials on Youtube on how to pixel art with Photoshop.

    Youtube is the easiest guide on how to become a pro with Photoshop. Most of what I know I not only learned by myself by making experiments but also searching videos on Youtube about what I was looking for to do with Photoshop ;)
  21. Sheynx

    Sheynx Well-Known Member Retired Staff

    Also, Shoeboxam streams when he's making textures. Look him up!
    DrumMaster4 and Valsis like this.
  22. MC9272

    MC9272 Member

    Where does he stream? Twitch or youtube?
  23. Valsis

    Valsis Lead Fanver Developer Staff Member

  24. Tallah

    Tallah New Member

    Hello everyone. Having been a fan of Soartex textures since my girlfriend introduced me to the texture pack a couple of years ago it seems. I was wondering, about contributing. Of course I know to look on the forums for mods that have been textured etc, but what about the mods that haven't been textured, which is what this tutorial is geared towards. If I follow these steps, for the mods want to texture, will it add the soartext styled pattern/art. smooth and simple, or is that something of a talent, cause I lack that in some places.
  25. Valsis

    Valsis Lead Fanver Developer Staff Member

    Hello there!
    Following these steps is a way to start texturing for any type of pixel type texture pack, not just Fanver.

    Like everything in life, it takes time efford and dedication to aquire such skills however, there's people who get the hand of it faster than others... maybe you can be one of those lucky ones? ;)

    We're always looking for new texturers and those who want to contribute with their talent and ideas for the pack, meaning, it would be fantastic to have you with us in helping in what you can. :)

    Make yourself at home and if you want a cup of tea, let me know! :p
    Sheynx likes this.
  26. Floppygunk

    Floppygunk Cereal Killer

    Here's what it was like getting to the texturing ability I have now:
    1. I have no idea where to start, so I take my best guess.
    2. I identify something that could be useful (e.g. how to make a certain type of texture), and look up a tutorial. If that doesn't work, I try to figure out how to do it myself.
    3. The result does not look good, so I restart.
    4. Repeat steps 1-3 until I strike lucky
    5. The people on the forums have some gripes! I better make some changes to it.
    6. Repeat steps 2-5 a couple times
    7. Finally it's accepted!
    Repeat ad infinitum.

    It's like banging your head against a brick wall, over and over at different angles until a few bricks start to loosen.
    (Tip: This works for getting good at almost anything, not just texturing)
    Disclaimer: This does not get you good at breaking brick walls. It just makes your head hurt.

    Right now, with the granite I'm making, I'm somewhere around steps 3 and 5 (probably 3). But Imma keep banging my head until it's done! ;)
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
    DrumMaster4, Valsis and redflex1235 like this.

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