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Up Topic Development / Art Workshop / Texture style
- - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-13 18:27 Edited 2013-09-13 19:39
I skimmed through screenshots of games today to look for things we might want to adapt and things me might want to avoid. I'll present my findings, feel free to give further examples or conclusions of your own.


The first game to go to was World of Warcraft. Not the youngest anymore and, back then, struggling with limited tech, they didn't have hi-res textures.

Notice how the texture details level reflect both the importance of the individual objects, as also the overall proportion style. Those wooden planks are all ridiculously big, so are the ropes on the hammer texture. The tree is just distinct enough that you can make out some bark texture, while the heroes clothes - even though low level gear - feature bolts and seams and a variety of colors.

Their newer content features bigger texture sizes, and I'd actually go so far and notice a change in style. But still the same concept applies: Big objects that have to be "readable" from a distance feature more simplistic textures.
We can also spot that they actually consider the surroundings when painting an object: their lantern texture takes up the grass color near the bottom.
Also visible on the lantern is a neat example of how edge highlighting can support the form and depict wear.
Transitions in value are painted into the textures and always change the hue of the color as well. Notice how the tips of the grass blades are actually blue.


Having started in the MMO sector, I took a look at GW2 textures, a more recent game with a different style.

What I notice is that they restrict themselves in colors for designing an area. Their proportions are more realistic compared to WoW, also their texture proportions are more uniform overall. A rather good rendering engine and - from what I can tell - LOD versions of the textures do the rest to accomplish these landscapes that look like painted.
I couldn't find any diffuse maps, but this file shows off that there's lots of painted light information on the smaller parts, not made with normal maps. They also use edge highlighting, albeit more subtle than WoW.

Path of Exile

(I haven't actually played this one, so keep in mind that I'm only commenting on still screenshots of the game. Probably even alpha material, but it serves the point.)

For me, this is acutally a negative example. I'm picking it, because for me, they suffer from similar problems that openclonk has or might have in the future.
Looking at those screenshots, it just feels like nothing belongs together. where the wooden fences touch the ground, they are just cut off. The spiky tips of the wood emit some weird glow, almost as bright as that magic symbol on the right. The ropes look okay, but then again, they only got a shadow on the fences, not on the barrels. The barrel-ropes seem to have an entirely different, unreadable texture. Color-Wise, there's just about EVERYTHING going on in this picture, and every texture is clamouring for the same amount of attention. Even the ground.
Second screenshot's even worse, for a lot of the same reasons, but add some ridiculous gaps in texture quality to the mix. Are these even painted? A lot of stuff looks like there's just some photo slapped on there wirth some generic, far-too-strong bump mapping.
Let's not do that.

Torchlight 2

Also from the genre of action rpgs.

Notice how (in comparsion to path of exile) the colors are much, much more subdued in the overall composition. Bright colors go to important and juicy stuff only - HUD and magic effects, making them all the more stand out. Since ARPGs mainly consist of firing abilities into oversized enemies, it's important to make that game mechanic visually rewarding. Also, the surfaces themselves have little to no details painted on them, except what's necessary to describe the objects' forms.

Wind Waker HD

Further down the road of simplistic textures we find the remake of the GCN Wind Waker.

Paired with their cell-shading style, the surfaces in these textures contain almost no color variations. Hard, big edges denote changes in form and shape, and saturated colors give the overall impression of a comic book style.

What about AAA-Games?

To make photorealistic textures that just sit right in color, scale and readability, a great amount of experience is necessary. Also a good rendering engine which doesn't sample those textures to mush when seen zoomed out. The changing areas of light and interesting shadows give that color-wise dull environment the needed juicyness. We don't have any of that, so no thanks, no photorealism for me.
Still there's a takeaway here: Notice how this scene acutally uses colors cleverly to point the players attention to the barrels. Red seems to be a overall reserved color for the warnings of the HUD. But amidst all those green grasses, which are clearly unimportant, the red-ish colored barrels pop right into the eye, even more so than the enemies.
Parent - - By Dragonclonk Date 2013-09-13 19:52

Fable 3

Please have also a look at other screenshots. Fable 3 has beautiful models and textures.

Trine 1+2

Great atmospherics!

These textures could be simplified a bit without loosing their flair.
Parent - - By Fungiform Date 2013-09-13 20:08
I like the color perspective in the background.
We could try to have that in some way. I have a picture where that is used on small scale buildings too.

Don't know where I got that from. Credit goes to that guy on Polycount or wherever:

Parent - By Dragonclonk Date 2013-09-13 20:32
Yes I like this style. The Settlers's houses (the newer ones) approximately look also someting like that.

Btw, you can see what I was talking about here. The shadow in the middle is bluish, because of the warm light. Using this principe is important to create such vibrant graphics.
Parent - - By Pyrit Date 2013-09-15 12:59
In case someone missed it, I just wanted to reference to this little thread in our forum. :)
Parent - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-15 13:42
Actually totally forgot about that thread. The link in there is dead, but I happen to have stumbled upon the referenced author and his works yesterday. Here are the new links, the author seems so have renamed his account or something:
Parent - By Dragonclonk Date 2013-10-02 21:58


I've forgotten this piece. I like the colors and ecpecially how the dynamic lightning is solved.
- - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-13 18:59
There's also a few non-game-references I'd like to mention. These are rather random in nature and should just serve to broaden your mind on this matter.

-- First off, I recommed browsing the Polycount Forum for Game Art. Especially this post(also the whole thread) show impressively how well some hand-painted textures can make a composition come together. Look at the cow! :>

-- This texture pack features some interesting, hand painted textures with a fair amount of detail. I could imagine similar approaches for the landscape textures.

-- Some portfolio of some very colorful handpainted assets.

-- Some Tutorial for the TF2 Texturing style. While game related, a lot of this stuff is actually univeral.

-- Some Forum thead by someone trying his hand at WoW-Style textures.

-- Some russian wood tutorial.

-- Ah, yes. This. Download it! It's a huge PDF, best viewed dual-paged, containing a ton of interesting articles and another ton of... uninteresting ones. I especially recommend the article starting on page 47 and the one on 118. Lots of insights on painting textures there. Other articles also cover realistic textures. (Just don't read that "Color Theory" article by Ben Mathis. You'll get eye cancer and I fear you'd also be mislead by believing him.)
Parent - - By Fungiform Date 2013-09-13 19:48
We could create one standard object on which we try out different texturing styles.
Lets say some stone block with a wooden plank in it and some metal fastened to the end.

With that we could experiment. It shouldn't be too big so one can finish a texture iteration in reasonable time.
Parent - - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-13 21:08
I made some stone-wood-metal thingie as a dummy. Not sure if it suffices, though. Might have too little surface? Feel free to make adjustments. I included an introductory text in the blendfile, detailing the usage for those not proficient with blender. Feel free to ask otherwise.

I hereby license the file under the CC-BY license
Attachment: (218k)
Parent - - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-13 21:44
Also, if you want to change the UV layout, so that you can paint and use tileable textures easier, go ahead! There is no need for the different versions to have the same layout. I just provided a simple non-overlapping one to get started.
Parent - - By Fungiform Date 2013-09-13 22:37
Perfect, this was exactly what I was thinking about.

Unfortunately I can't get the texture to show up. I added it as an png but the model is still white in the viewport and I cant render without camera (can't add one, too). Sorry, I don't know my way around blender.

Other comments:
- It would probably nice to rotate the pole a little bit so there is a plan surface where I can paint in a nail or something to connect to the wooden beam to the pole.
- We could also think about conventions how to prepare a model for texture painters. I think its very nice to have the uv map supplied. Maybe we could even include some more orientation, like the pictures I attached. That way its easier to talk about the parts (we could also number them) and to identify them in the uv map. (I know its not necessary but its nice if you can just start drawing)

Parent - - By Dragonclonk Date 2013-09-13 22:42
So Blender has not a direct texture painting mode (painting directly on the model)?
Parent - By Fungiform Date 2013-09-13 22:56
Probably it has but I'd rather use the software I am used to. Makes me way faster and I can focus on drawing.
Parent - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-14 00:34
It has - mine (see below) is actually made entirely with that. Great to lay down base colors and sketch details. Small Brushstrokes often produce jagged egdes, projection paint fails to get in the corners of intersecting mesh parts. No layers.
I know there's some GSOC project to improve the painting tools. Maybe in some future version..? :)
Parent - By Fungiform Date 2013-09-13 23:12 Edited 2013-09-13 23:26
Ok, texture shows up in the view port when I add it in the uv editor view.

Edit: Also, in edit mode in the 'N-menu' there are the options to hide the normals, seams and edges.
Parent - - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-14 00:30
Ah! Blunder on my part, sorry. I've made a screenshot of my settings.

- Be sure that you are in texture mode in the viewport! (Checkerboard sphere icon on the bottom)
- Checking "Only Render" displays exactly that - only what would be rendered as well.
- GSGL Shading and the transparency settings are only important to preview the alpha from the texture correctly.
- I included a camera in mine, but you dont have to!

Concerning UV guidelines - yes, that would be smart. Since we're hopefully making models from sketches, I could then also export a base texture file with some base colors picked from the sketch.
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2013-09-14 00:32
Very nice!

I hereby license the file DummyRender.png under the CC-BY license
Attachment: DummyRender.png - DummyRender.png pfpfbrbrbrlll (139k)
Parent - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-14 00:36
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2013-09-14 00:36
PS, if you are still improving the model/UV map I would suggest disconnecting the pole base (which is still stone/metal) from the actual pole (wood) in the UV map so that it is more clear if you do not check out the actual mesh before drawing :<
Parent - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-14 00:38
This is clearly your own fault. :D But, yes - see Fungiforms suggestions above and my response regarding base colors.
Parent - By boni [at] Date 2013-09-15 12:48
Definitively my best work so far.

I hereby license the file render.png under the CC-BY license
- By Matthias [de] Date 2013-09-15 00:28 has lots of hand painted textures for materials. They cost money and the lincence sure won't allow any repackaging, but looking is for free. Have a look at that guy's work! Really inspiring, especially his trees. Or Buildings. Or weapons.
- By Andriel Date 2013-10-26 10:13
Not really related, but I just had to share this, I love some of the pictures in this thread.
- - By J. J. [py] Date 2013-10-26 18:06
So what look is it that we want for openclonk? Are we going for a cartoonish  look or are we looking for realistic well colored atmosphere?
Parent - - By Nachtfalter Date 2013-10-27 13:02
A bit of both! We want a nice and friendly atmosphere.
Parent - - By J. J. [py] Date 2013-10-27 21:24
So well textured, yet not excessive, and having the friendly look to it? This may be a bit off-topic, but if we are trying to make the game look better shouldn't the buildings have some similarity in them so as not to look "random?"
Parent - - By Matthias [de] Date 2013-10-27 22:32
Certainly. We're also discussing similar forms in the other thread.
Parent - By J. J. [py] Date 2013-10-28 22:17
Thanks! I was wondering if that was part of what you guys were doing with the new building concept art and models. :o
Up Topic Development / Art Workshop / Texture style

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