Category: Software

Introduction to blending modes

Layer based workflow in graphics software started out as a special feature and grew to be a standard in most applications today, even in freeware. The idea of working on layers really isn’t new, light tables and cell animation have been around for a long time, they’re a material for a different story, though. ;)

Lowering opacity and blending modes are a part of the layers functionality – while transparency/opacity is pretty self-explanatory, the blending modes are a special way, you can choose, the layer is displayed and how it interacts with the artwork placed below it. You can use transparency with blending modes together, for even more possible results.

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From modern to low tech – getting the light info out of normal maps

When you’re working on low-tech game art, you might need, or want to, adapt an modern, shader based material as a texture. In the old days, an artist had to paint in all the details from the texture, as lit from a light source he chose. Nowadays, the artist supplies only the raw color and height data, and the texture is lit by the game engine, based on the light sources placed by the level creators, dynamic lights, etc. The technology of bump and normal mapping gives only an illusion of depth – while the object appears to have three dimensional detail, the surface is still flat.

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Downscaling and resampling filters

If you’re doing low resolution art, sooner or later, you’ll encounter something you’ll need to scale down – high resolution photo or generated textures, renders, etc. Which filtering method works best?

For my example, I’ve used a texture from Let’s take a look at Photoshop’s resize dialog (image → image size)

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Conversion to 8-bit palette

If you ever worked on a mod for an old-game, or made your own, old-school styled one, I’m sure you’ve had to convert your artwork to an 8-bit, 256 colors max, palette – either because of the supported file format, or you just had to fit the artwork into already established palette. In Photoshop you do this through the image mode indexed color dialog. Let’s have a closer look at it, with all options explained.

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Colorizing and remapping with gradient maps

As you might know from my other tutorial, I create ny textures for my old school mods in grayscale most of the time. To add some color to them I use gradient maps, they’re also really great for adjusting the colors of your image to prepare it for 8-bit.

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