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Another guide for skinning with GIMP

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#1 Fabioccio

  • Posts: 228

Posted 07 June 2013 - 21:46

Hi all.
I'm writing this doc to share what I've discovered, mostly by trials and errors since I'm not a graphic designer nor expert of image manipulation of any kind.

1. Download and install GIMP actually ver. 2.8.4
2. Download the GIMP DDS Plugin actually 2.2.1 and extract the dds.exe in the right folder, usually C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\lib\gimp\2.0\plug-ins
3. Open RoF PSD template with GIMP
You will see something like this
4. Click and drag all layers to the root level, otherwise they will not work as intended. Be careful to respect the original order, like this
5. Save the project in xcf GIMP format for future use as template
6. Set the DRAW HERE layer to 100% opacity and unleash your artistic vein :)
7. Once finished, from the image menu click Flatten Image, you will get one layer alone
8. From the Color menu select Brightness-Contrast tool and set a Brightness of -115 , this may vary depending on the template and on the colors you have used for editing the skin, feel free to experiment ;)
Now for the magic part…
9. From the Layer/Mask submenu, select Add Layer Mask tool. Then select Channel Alpha and click Add
You will get something like this
10. Now click File/Export, select file type DDS image. If you don't see this file type for choosing, probably there's a problem with the plug-in installation. Check point 2.
Obviously you have to select the right plane folder for saving the file :geek: for example C:\Games\Rise of Flight\data\graphics\Skins\Spad7
Click Export
Click export again at the warning
11. Select compression BC3/DXT5, mipmaps to be generated, open Advanced Options and select Luminance or Distance as color selection. Be aware! Leaving it to Default may lead to ugly texture artefacts!! :o
Select Box as mipmap filter (actually you can experiment with other mipmap filters as I couldn't see any difference) :?:
12. Admire and be proud of your work :D
13. Go back in GIMP and revert history to the step before Flatten Image to fix things.
14. Repeat steps from 7 to 9, then select File/Export to name.dds to export the image exactly to the SAME file you were using before, without additional prompts, thisway working faster than the DXTBMP's way :twisted:

Hoping to be still useful to someone with these steps, I salute you all.

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#2 J2_Wallenberg

  • Posts: 1600

Posted 08 June 2013 - 11:05

Thank you for sharing your information with others!

EDIT: Nevermind, I asked for something I could have answered by more thoroughly reading. I'm glad to see the .DDS plugin is of use, and will try it again in future projects!
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#3 hq_Jorri

  • Posts: 14143

Posted 07 September 2013 - 18:53

Hi kampf, is this guide up to date? Does everything work? I would like to post it on Steam as a skinning guide for Rise of Flight.
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#4 Marcelongo

  • Posts: 55

Posted 10 September 2013 - 16:42

Hey kampf, thanks for this tut. I just discovered it a couple of days ago as I'm returning to ROF and skinning and I completely forgot how to do it.

hq_Jorri: yes it's up to date and works pretty damn well.
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#5 MungoShuntbox

  • Posts: 180

Posted 17 November 2013 - 20:02


I am sorry to bump this guys but if anyone is looking in I am having real probs getting GIMP to work as per the tutorial. I am probably going to look very stupid but I am a competent skinner with game such as World of Tanks but here - no luck.

Ok very simply, if I open a PSD template, in the Layers tab I don't see any layer called Draw Here although I do have Default paint as my last layer. Your instruction "click and drag all layers to the root level" doesn't mean anything to me.

Additionally I have opened some official skins to see what the layers menu looks like and again I can't see anything that resembles the screenies in the tutorial.

GIMP and the .dds plug in are the latest versions as are the psd files I have downloaded.

I am sure this will be something very obvious if someone would give me a clue?

Cheers guys
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#6 Fabioccio

  • Posts: 228

Posted 17 November 2013 - 23:09

Hi Mungo,
I'll explain with images that are better than my english :?
This is what you find in the PSD template, looking at the layer window (Windows\Dockable Dialogs\Layers)
This is what it should be after you move, by clicking and dragging in the layer window, all the layers to the root level.
Hope this helps.

And if you don't find a layer named "Draw Here" in some of the RoF templates, you can add it by creating a new transparency layer of 2048x2048 pixels, just above the bottom layer "Default Paint"
Have fun!

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#7 ChiefRedCloud

  • Posts: 2850
  • LocationWaleska, Georgia, USA

Posted 18 November 2013 - 14:54

Thank you very, very much for this marvelous tutorial ….
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"Hardcore Through Passion"

#8 MungoShuntbox

  • Posts: 180

Posted 18 November 2013 - 16:27


your English is great and so is your quick response and your desire to help#

I have opened another psd file (SE5a) and the layers look like the one on your demo screenshots so I will start again. I'll post again with the success story so everyone knows this tutorial works with the current versions of GIMP and .dds plug in :-0


yes this seems to be working now but a couple of minor issues which I'll report back on with solutions when I have found them.

kampf - salute sir, and many thanks! :S!:
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#9 MungoShuntbox

  • Posts: 180

Posted 18 November 2013 - 20:00

Hi guys - this is just a slight interpretation of kampf's instructions which I hope will help you. All the credit goes to kampf for working this method out!

STEP 4: ok what we need to do here is changed the washed out looking image we initially get on loading up to something that looks like a normal plane. Load up the SE5a skin to follow this with me.

    1. open the layers tab 2. the layers are represented by the small squares each of which has its own name 3. the squares can be selected by clicking on them then dragged around the tab 4. we only want to move 5 for the SE5a 5. Normal, Overlay and Multiply get dragged to above "Weathering" 6. DRAW HERE and Default Paint need to go above Panel Lines Remember to keep them in their original order

STEP 6: in the SE5a DRAW here doesn't seem to register on the main image although you can see your paint in the thumbnail in the Layers tab. Instead, paint onto the Default Paint layer.

I am guessing that STEP 6 might vary with individual aircraft files; as kampf has noted, some of them do not have a DRAW HERE layer, which you have to create yourself. I guess experimentation is the key.

Don't forget guys, RoF has an inbuilt skin /model viewer at C:\Program Files (x86)\777\Rise of Flight\bin_viewer\release if you want to see what your work looks like.

S! :S!:
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#10 Fabioccio

  • Posts: 228

Posted 18 November 2013 - 22:37

Hi Mungo
thanks for your interpretation… :D
I've just downloaded the SE5a template, which I've never tried before, to look at the same skin you are working on.
-The DRAW HERE layer doesn't have any effect on the image because, when you open the psd file for the first time, its "Opacity" is set on 0%, you have to put it on 100% to see the drawing in there. Beware as this seems to be the same for the other templates that have a DRAW HERE layer.
-The "Panel Lines" layer should be kept above the DRAWHERE and Default Paint layers because it's an Overlay type layer which adds some darkening effects on the wings and on fuselage parts. You can control this by unchecking/checking the eye icon next to the layer itself.
This is how I would arrange the layers of the SE5a.
…and so is your quick response
You were lucky because these times I don't read often the RoF forums… sorry Jorri :oops:
Good skinning!
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#11 5tuka

  • Posts: 17

Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:13

First of all thx for he great guide kampf :S!:

As I'm pretty new to skinning I just wanted gIve it a try making some skin for my Gotha.

The problem I enncountered though is the way the skin is being exported by gimp, without compressing the skin file it looks like this:

When comressing it (as you proposed in your guide) the skn hoever shows up pixelated areas and some ugly textues:

I'd preferr the uncompressed export method but unfortunately the texture file is too big for the game to handle making it crash, so I'd like to ask whether there's a compressing method, that doesn't decrease the quality of the skin as shown in the firt example?

I'm using gimp 2.8 with dds plugin.

Edit2: Upated Gimp to 2.8.4 and the got the same issue again, I am sure it worked fine yesterday. Textures are very pixelated unless I'm not ocmpressign the textures, yet they're getting too big.

I tried several filter methods and compressing settings, all methods failed to increase the quality of compressed textures.
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#12 Fabioccio

  • Posts: 228

Posted 07 April 2014 - 20:35

Hi 5tuk4
sorry for the delay (3 months :shock: !!) hoping to be yet of some help.
I can only say, as stated in the guide, if you get artefacts try another Texture Filter.
You said you have already tried other compression and filter levels? mmmh… 8-)
The compression level have to always be BC3/DXT5 for RoF, so you can't miss it. The DDS file exported should be 5MB in size, otherwise the game wont accept it, as you experienced.
The other two or three options remaining are: texture filter type, Use Dithering (?), or mipmap method. This one seem to be related to mipmaps, that are loaded at farther distances, while the pixelated textures in your screens are near, so no mipmap should concern with it.
The texture filter, you said to have tried all of them. The last one you can try is "Use Dithering", maybe… :?
BTW, I have another theory. :idea:
To be honest I never tried Gotha, HP400 or Felixstowe's templates. If these textures are of the same size (5MB)of the others used on 1 or 2 seat aircrafts, how could them cover the whole 3d model of those BIG FAT planes? Are they scaled to a someway lesser resolution? (thus producing more pixelated monsters?)
Well I invite you to send me your "DRAW HERE" layer, in BMP format, so I can experiment with it in GIMP, or even in a fresh trial copy of photoshop CS6 or CC or whatever, using the Official nVidia DDS Plugin, o see what monsters come out of it.
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#13 Dutch2

  • Posts: 4389

Posted 08 April 2014 - 18:07

Thanks I did miss this, think it is better to understand than the other Gimp instruction, which is rather confusion because of the dicta talk :zzz: and German between it :( .
But better two then no Gimp instructions. :D
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#14 Stumble

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  • LocationAotearoa

Posted 21 October 2017 - 04:55

Thanks. Very helpful :)

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They drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

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