Texturing in BF2: Skinning the Daimler Dingo[edit | edit source]

by jodonnell

James O'Donnell (jodonnel) was an artist for the Forgotten Hope mod team (www.fhmod.org), a World War II realism mod for Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2.
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Naturally, a mod for a Battlefield game is going to entail the creation of many vehicles. This tutorial will look at how to create textures with the look of worn metal. The example here is the Daimler Dingo scout car used by the British 'Desert Rats' in the North African campaigns. 

Texturing is one of the most important parts of the 3D art process - a poor model can be saved by a great texture, but a bad texture will ruin even the most detailed model. One of the most crucial parts in making a successful texture is weathering - a common problem with textures is that they are too simple and "clean." In the real world, there are hundreds of minute variations on the surface of an object, even if the object is factory-fresh. A military vehicle should have even more visual detail from the weathering and harsh conditions the object is exposed to.

Of course, on the other hand, it is very easy to go too far in this regard. A texture that exhibits too much weathering, or in too bold a manner, will be just as jarring as the object with no weathering at all. Texturing is a constant balancing act between making an object visually interesting with noticeable details, and avoiding making those same details draw so much attention that they damage the overall texture.

For this texture, I will be using Photoshop CS2, a Wacom Graphire3 tablet (6"x8"), and a custom wear brush I have made (the brush pattern image was found online.) While a tablet is not essential for texturing, and there are many skilled texturers out there who can get by without one, a tablet will make your life much easier thanks to pressure sensitivity. It's not necessary to buy the largest and most expensive tablet available, even a small size entry-level tablet is a large step over mouse-painting. A good tablet is one of the best investments you will make in texturing.

Also, when making your Photoshop document, be sure to name all your layers something descriptive; you can also color-code them to make it even more recognizable. I like to use a lot of layers in my textures, and it can be a problem if they are all named Layer 1, Layer 2, and so on. A little preparation can go a long way here.


Here is the finished result of my texture for the Daimler Dingo scout car. This is just the left side of the vehicle, but the techniques are the same for the rest of the vehicle. Because this is the North Africa version of the Dingo, it is exposed to particularly harsh conditions, which makes it a good place to start learning how to weather metal. Now that we've seen the finished result, let's start from the beginning and see one way this can be done. 


This first step is nice and simple. Just fill a layer with the color swatch of your choice - in this case, I am using the standard desert paint the UK used in North Africa. Also here is my UV layout. I will disable it for the rest of the tutorial to not obscure the texture, but it is good to leave it on in Photoshop at a low opacity, so you can see where you are painting. 


Next, we will make a new layer and fill it with 50% gray. When you are in Overlay mode, 50% gray does not affect the image, and anything brighter or darker will be applied to the layers beneath. We will run the Artistic->Sponge filter to provide some basic metal variation. You can tweak the values to whatever you like the most; in this case, all the sliders are at zero. Put this layer on top of your color layer and set it to overlay. 


Now we will make another layer and again fill it with 50% gray. Use dodge and burn to paint some broad strokes of value for visual interest. Set this to overlay as well, and put it above your color layer. 


This is what our texture looks like now, with the color layers and the two metal layers above it. 

Now we will use the custom brush to paint some variations in the paint. Make a new layer that is above the color layer, but below the metal layers. Use the color picker to pick a slightly lighter and slightly darker version of your base color. Also, try varying the saturation and hue subtly, for more interest. Do not use the dodge and burn tools here - dodge and burn is only really useful for grayscale adjustment; when used on colors it will look very lifeless. You can also take this opportunity to add a very slight value/hue jitter to your brush. Now, just paint in some regions of color. As a rule of thumb, edges and corners tend to get darker as they accumulate grime, and wider exposed areas tend to get lighter from sun exposure. This is not an absolute rule however, and sticking to it dogmatically will make your texture look a little stiff. Feel free to add little pockets of dark and light color sporadically across the texture. 


Make another new layer, again above the color layers but below the metal layers. This will be our decal layer - if your vehicle as any painted markings on it (which it almost certainly will), put them here. Unit insignias, warning labels, serial numbers, and so forth are found on almost every vehicle in the world. If you are making a fictional vehicle, take care not to go overboard with labels, but make sure you have some. 


Just like all the other parts of the vehicle, the painted decals will suffer wear. Make a layer mask and mask out some of the details. 


Now we shall add some scratches to our vehicle. Make a new layer, and put it on top of your metal and paint layers. Use a very small round brush (1-3px) set to a dark color and draw some lines all over the place. Make them varied - short, long, curved, etc. Then, we will add a very small Outer Glow layer effect. Set the color to a slightly darker shade of your base paint, and set the Outer Glow to Multiply. Turn the opacity down low on the effect, and turn the layer's Fill property low as well. We are just making small scratches; we don't want to make them look like huge gouges. 


Now we are going to add small highlights to the edges of the vehicle. Edges, being non-flat, reflect more light in more directions. We will simulate this highlight using Inner Glow layer effects. First, you will need at least two layers. Choose every other contiguous section of your mesh, and fill them black. The shapes should not be adjacent to each other - there should be a gap between each where you have skipped a space (much like a chess board.) Now, pick the other sections you skipped earlier, and do the same. Add an identical Inner Glow layer effect to each, with the color set to white and the Source set to Edge. It should be very small and subtle; just enough to subtly highlight the edge. Finally, set both layers to screen mode. Now the black shapes you made are invisible, and only the highlight can be seen. 


This is what our texture looks like with the edge highlight layers set to screen. 


This vehicle has some visible welded joints. We will draw these using a small round brush with a very slight scatter (to simulate the unevenness of welding.) We will draw these lines using 50% gray and set to Overlay mode. The reason for this is that later on, we may want to change the base color of our texture (for example, if I wanted to convert this to European Olive Drab camo.) If we painted these welds with color, that would make changing them later a hassle. By doing them in mid-gray on an Overlay layer, we can potentially save time later. Once you have drawn all the necessary lines, add a Bevel and Emboss layer effect, and add an Outer Glow layer effect. Set the Outer Glow to a dark color and to Multiply mode. I like to use dark Outer Glows instead of Drop Shadows because they are non-directional, and they enhance the visibility of the layer detail more than Drop Shadows. 


Now we add more of the basic vehicle detail - in this case, there are some panels on the Dingo with beveled edges. I simply use the rectangular lasso to draw my shape and cut out the center, and add a Bevel/Emboss and Outer Glow layer effect, just like the previous step. Again, we will do this with 50% gray and an Overlay mode layer. 


Skinning the Daimler Dingo - Part 2

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