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Author Topic: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?  (Read 18955 times)

Obsidian Soul

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Hello all. I'm a recent convert to Dorf Fortress and a total goblin-fodder noob. I've been hearing about it from my friends for ages, but got put off by descriptions of it being a "tower defense game" (a genre I'm not too fond of) and the ASCII graphics. I'm a 3d artist by trade and how a game looks is kind of a big deal to me. Anyway, I was recently playing another roguelike, the most excellent space-themed FTL: Faster Than Light, and while searching for similar games I came across DF again. And having just enjoyed my experience with FTL immensely, I decided to give it a try after seeing screenshots of DF with graphics mods and reading about someone strangling a sasquatch with a turban after gouging his eyes out. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be exactly the kind of world-building game I've been dreaming of for years. The controls were hideous, admittedly, but seeing the potential of the game, it was an obstacle I had to surmount.

Anyway, I currently use Phoebus' tileset, and while they are awesome (as are the others), I still would like something more... personalized. While I'm not really a 2d artist, I am an experienced texture artist and know my way around GIMP and PS. 16x16 pixel art should be relatively easy enough for me to translate my aesthetics into. I'm particularly drawn with how Stonesense rendered the maps beautifully (the vegetation for example) and I'm aiming for something that looks similar but with a front-back perspective and some sense of scale (e.g. shrubs being smaller than trees). Once done, I'm also planning to share it, of course.

However, upon trying to search for even the smallest instructions on where to start, I've come up empty-handed. I've noticed that there are actually lot of graphics mods for DF, so I thought there would be at least instructions for how to do it somewhere. I could do trial and error, but I'd rather not. So is there one? I see hints of it here and there but I may just be too inexperienced to recognize one staring at me in the face. I'm not expecting to be spoonfed, but if someone could at least point me in the right direction, or explain the basics I'd appreciate it. :)

Meph

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 03:07:25 am »

Try this: http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/Tileset

Then download phoebus, ironhand and mayday (the three bigger, more graphical tilesets that do use their own raws) and have a good look at them.
Magic happens in the Raws, there is a tilenumber assigned to some creatures, tools, inorganics, plants... these you can change. The init in data/init also has some settings, like inverted tiles.

I cant be of much more help, since I never made a tileset, but you might want to ask Phoebus, NW_Kohaku or other more graphic-versed people in the forum. Mind that making creature sprites works differently, have a look at raw/graphics for that :)
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Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 04:19:34 am »

That's actually the first thing I did. And I'm actually of a mind to just use Phoebus' graphic set as a base and just replace everything one by one as the wiki suggested. But the instructions in the wiki are really nothing more than a general treatment of the subject. Unless I'm severely misunderstanding what is written. It talks about editing tilesets for example, but doesn't actually say what should be edited. It can't be as simple as just plonking a new pic, is it? There are arcane bits here and there about raw data files, but nothing that truly explains the relationship between the graphic sets and the code behind them.

Colors for example, are rather mysterious. Some of the pictures used by the others seem to be in black and white. Others colored. And in a nifty example I read in Ironhands' thread, he uses (I think) the color option to display multiple images using a single tile (how did he do that? :P). And I still don't know why some tiles are reused (is it really necessary to use one tile for very different things like a well, a millstone, a quern, a vermin colony, an axle, fortresses, and the sun?). With the advent of the use of truetype fonts (which I gather wasn't available before), there isn't anymore a constraint on having to retain characters, so why?

Comparing the modified tilesets and the table in the wiki though, I can see now what tiles are used for what, so that's a start.

Anyway, I'm just brimming with questions, aren't I? Heh. Thank you very much for the reply. I think in the meantime I'll try to clobber up a few replacements and see what they do to my game then come back with moar questions.  :D

Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 04:27:40 am »

P.S. I think this is the part where I admit that I'm in a fey mood. lulz.

Meph

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 05:44:13 am »

Ok, it is as easy as replacing the pic. You just need to keep a transparent background so that status effects still work (lets say bloody, or covered in pukes, or whatever)

You cant change most of the stuff though, because you have no access to the code behind it. Ammo will always use the same tile, only thing you can do is change the tile, not the tilenumber arrows use.

TTF is used for most texts, but not all. The embark message, or all ingame descriptions (this is a iron sword) will be in tiles. So YES, you still need the characters in the tileset.

The actual colors are applied by the game, these are in the raws. you can change them there, but the tileset should be rather white/grayish. If you awnt something to always look the same color, give it a color in the tileset. Good example is the phoebus switch. ON is always green, OFF is always red, with the actual switch being gray. Ingame, the switch will be the color the material it's made of, and the text on it (the ON/OFF) is always green or red, with a slight hue towards the materials color.

I did make a tileset a while ago, but never got the transparancy to work in my favour, so I scrapped it.
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Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 06:05:24 am »

Awesome. That cleared up my most pressing brow-wrinkling questions. I don't get the using switches part yet, but with a little reading I can try. I'm already realizing that some tiles are drawn with the colors meant to be consistent regardless of the color change due to status/material ingame. I guess it's time to start churning out the art then. Thanks again. :)

EDIT: OH.  :o You meant the switches as in levers. lol. I was thinking of a switch as in code. Well, that's perfect then. Got it. Ta.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 06:10:44 am by Obsidian Soul »
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Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2012, 04:57:06 pm »

Update. I sorely underestimated the sheer difficulty of anticipating how a multiple-use tileset will look like, and all restricted on a 16x16 image at that! But I've been making headway, though I still have problems understanding how colors and transparencies work. I found Ironhand's thread in which he explains it somewhat, so I may experiment further. If anyone can link me to similar discussions regarding color and tiles, you'll be helping me out immensely.

Anyway here's a preview of the dorfs I've finished (military), My ultimate goal is harmony, rather than ease of differentiation, so it might be difficult to tell them apart compared to other tilesets. Especially since I won't also be using anachronistic profession indicators (e.g. no red cross signs on the medical dorfs, etc.) I've also done most of the main tileset but I'll show that later, I'm just replacing Phoebus' compiled tileset for now until I learn more on tileset science. I kept the heads as proportional as I can, and have colorful beards, but I'm no pixel artist, so pardon the noobishness. :D From left to right, first row: recruit, wrestler, speardorf, sworddorf, axedorf, hammerdorf, marksdorf, macedorf, lasher, pikedorf, blowgunner, bowdorf. Second row: champion, executioner, militia commander, militia captain, peasant, baby, child, drunk dorf, ghost, slave, master thief, miner.

« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 07:53:27 pm by Obsidian Soul »
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Lomax

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2012, 06:32:51 pm »

Wow, that looks very promising indeed - I really like the realism and level of detail you've got going, as well as the earthy colours! I for one don't mind the similar look of the dwarves, it seems to me my dwarves quite often end up wearing the wrong "uniform" anyway...
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Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 07:45:01 pm »

Thank you.  :) I've got the routine down pat now. I'm halfway through the civ dwarfs. :) And yep I'm aiming for a balance between realism (inasmuch realism as can be done with 16x16 sprites, lol) and recognizability. Hopefully the similarity between the dwarfs can be offset by the variety I'm adding to the beard styles/colors, facing direction, etc. I'm following Phoebus' template closely, retaining some of his visual cues for the professions. Certain lines of work still have "uniforms" somewhat, but with minor variations. I'm still lamenting the 16x16 limitation though. So many things I have to forego, because they're unrecognizable at higher zooms. I've now gained a very healthy respect for pixel artists.

And I forgot to say earlier, suggestions and corrections are highly welcome. Treat me like a noob, for I am one. :P

Meph

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2012, 08:43:06 pm »

I do like them as well, especially the red cloaked... thief ?

You might want to check the brown background Phoebus uses for his creature sprites. Ingame the creature sprite will always replace the entire tile, it will not be transparent. Your transparent background will be black. That means if your dwarf stands on a green grass tile, it will be black. if he stands on a grey floor tile, it will be black. So give them this neutral, brownish background to make it blend in easier.

Apart from that all looks good. I personally post these 16x16 sprites with 2 times zoom when I want to show them in the forum, simply because you can see more ^^
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Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 09:26:24 pm »

Bummer. :( I was hoping transparency was possible. I understand now why some tiles of the other sets are set to different backgrounds (some in stone floors, some in ground, etc.) depending on where they are most commonly found/built.

And noted on the thumb size. WIll do in the future. On a related note, I just realized that the forward facing version of the heads was a bad idea (those with bare faces visible), lol. They look alright here, but ingame they make some dwarves look like bald old men wearing sunglasses, lol. I'll eliminate it and change the heads of the dwarfs to be all in profile, somewhat except for those fully helmed.

As for the thief, thanks :) There's also a brown-hooded version, with no cloak. I don't even know if it's implemented ingame (lots of things I haven't seen ingame yet), but it was in the tileset and Phoebus had nifty dorfs for them, so I used it. The sprite for it was originally for statues, but I changed my mind and used the sprite for a modified fully armored dwarf for statues instead. I might still give it for some other profession if something fits.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 09:28:36 pm by Obsidian Soul »
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sackhead

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2012, 05:04:13 am »

those are absolutely beautiful. i also like the thief. if you release this i will definitely use it. i cant wait to see how you do goblins.
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Obsidian Soul

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2012, 10:19:32 am »

Thank you. :)

Anyway some more examples of stuff I've finished. (Note, shown at 2x, which makes it look fuzzier than the actual)
First row are skeleton warriors and possible ghost replacement.
Second row are zombie warriors and mechanisms.
Third row: captain of the guard and sheriff. Fungiwood and towercaps (shows as yellow and as is ingame, which matches the color of the woodpile derived from them). I cheated on the latter, actually rendering them from 3d models. ^_^
Part of third and all of fourth row: walls, based largely on Phoebus' rounded walls, but entirely made from scratch and chamfered on the corners rather than rounded (quite happy with how it turned out)
Fifth row: chief medic, doctor, diagnoser, surgeon, bone doctor, suturer, ranger, animal caretaker, animal trainer, hunter, trapper, animal dissector.
Sixth row: metalsmith, furnace operator, weaponsmith, armorsmith, blacksmith, metalcrafteer, woodworker, carpenter, bowyer, woodcutter, loot, weapon/slash.
Seventh row: coins, master versions of the military dorfs
Eight row: tree 1, tree 2, tree 3, stone, bag, amulet, bush, small towercap/random fungi, statue, palm, and restraint/chain.



There are more, but that's enough for now. I'm still not fully satisfied with the civ dorfs. I've also been playing with floor and ground patterns. Most of my problems however are in anticipating what colors things are actually ingame. Particularly the trees which become washed out completely and monochromatic ingame. I've figured out the wall engravings bit; by adding the transparency for the engravings then a black background I could predict how gray the transparent areas are going to be (and thus prevent the engravings from showing up).

« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 10:48:52 am by Obsidian Soul »
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Meph

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2012, 11:57:23 am »

A little note/request/idea: Make engraved walls and floor tiles significantly brighter/darker, so that people can make visible patterns. I always loved that about old ironhand.

Apart from that, looks good. I am curious about the inorganic mats, and floor, because in the end, the biggest part ingame will be walls, floor, grass and stone.
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Cool Guy

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Re: I want to make my own graphics tileset, but where do I even start?
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2012, 06:41:19 pm »

That's actually the first thing I did. And I'm actually of a mind to just use Phoebus' graphic set as a base and just replace everything one by one as the wiki suggested. But the instructions in the wiki are really nothing more than a general treatment of the subject. Unless I'm severely misunderstanding what is written. It talks about editing tilesets for example, but doesn't actually say what should be edited. It can't be as simple as just plonking a new pic, is it? There are arcane bits here and there about raw data files, but nothing that truly explains the relationship between the graphic sets and the code behind them.

Colors for example, are rather mysterious. Some of the pictures used by the others seem to be in black and white. Others colored. And in a nifty example I read in Ironhands' thread, he uses (I think) the color option to display multiple images using a single tile (how did he do that? :P). And I still don't know why some tiles are reused (is it really necessary to use one tile for very different things like a well, a millstone, a quern, a vermin colony, an axle, fortresses, and the sun?). With the advent of the use of truetype fonts (which I gather wasn't available before), there isn't anymore a constraint on having to retain characters, so why?

Comparing the modified tilesets and the table in the wiki though, I can see now what tiles are used for what, so that's a start.

Anyway, I'm just brimming with questions, aren't I? Heh. Thank you very much for the reply. I think in the meantime I'll try to clobber up a few replacements and see what they do to my game then come back with moar questions.  :D
It is as easy as replacing the pic, those numbers in the raws mentioned correspond to a certain place in the picture file, for example if tree in the raws says 30 it will go to the 30th tile in the picture and pull that picture for the tree (The coordinates for each tile are specified in the game files, so actually if it says 30 the game looks in the game files for what cordinates the 30th tile would be in the picture and then can pull the picture at those coordinates without taking any of the other pics) So just make sure you keep your sprites in the general square that their meant to be in and you'll be fine. Hope this helped.

EDIT: I see that you've already got it down, I guess I was a bit late to the party. I saw your sprites and they look awesome. Keep up the good work.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 06:51:02 pm by Cool Guy »
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