View Full Version : Aircraft Painting

August 19th, 2009, 02:11
I am making loads of aircraft but i get stuck at the painting stage, the technical phrase is "I'm c**p".
Would it be possible for any of you to put together a guide to the initial painting of an aircraft, particuarly the division of the pcx into smaller areas do allow more surfaces to be painted and not worry about the limit of 15 pcx files.
Also can any of you tell me why I get this awful feeling that this has been covered before!

August 19th, 2009, 07:35
Hi Womble55,

Get yourself a copy of AF5Paint. After you try it out and still have questions, we can discuss it further. The software is free and resolves most of the issues you are likely to rin into.

- Ivan.

September 3rd, 2009, 05:09
I've had Af5Paint for a while, the problem with me is how do you utilise one pcx to do several parts. Your very own P47s and Corsairs are an example.

September 5th, 2009, 18:50
Hi Womble55,
Now that I see what you are asking, the reply is likely to be very long winded. The first thing to figure out is what scales (yes! scaleS) to use for the various pieces of the aircraft. It depends heavily on the way various components and assemblies were used. In other words, for the same subject, MY model will likely differ from yours.

I generally use different scales for the following pieces:
1. Wings, Flaps
2. Horizontal Stabilizer
3. Pilot - Different scale for the head and shoulders even.
4. Fuselage & Cowl, Canopy Frame, Wheels
5. Spinner
6. Control Panel

The hardest group to do is the Fuselage pieces. It is gnerally necessary to use the same scale in order for markings and panel lines to match across different assemblies.

I will try to use a Curtiss-Wright CW-21B Demon to illustrate the mapping of textures in future messages.

- Ivan.

September 6th, 2009, 07:50
Here are some screenshots of the untextured victim. You can see by the various colours where the components are on the aircraft. I use the contrasting colours to check for bleeds as well.

The pilot has already been painted here because I use the same standard pilot is just about all my aircraft and just change the offsets without bothering to recalculate. The pilot also uses a much larger scale texture in order to show more detail. It has its own unshared texture file.

The shot of the underside shows that there are at least two other pieces there that will not be textured left-right like the rest of the fuselage. The belly pieces require a top-bottom texture to show wheel well outlines properly.

BTW, notice the yellow wing fillet. It is a very long piece and may be the limiting factor in the fuselage scale. A top-bottom texture doesn't work well for the fillet because top-bottom textures expect the large dimension to be left to right. The fillet components MAY need to be rebuilt as two pieces. This redesign of the model often happens during the texturing stage.

- Ivan.

September 6th, 2009, 07:52
This is a cropped screenshot from AF99 showing what one component (Aft Fuselage) looks like. From the parts screen (which this is not), measure the length and height of each fuselage component. That will determine the scale to use for the fuselage as a whole.

I wanted to do more, but my kids woke up and needed attention.

- Ivan.

September 7th, 2009, 04:51
Hello Womble55,
After looking over the components that should be textured together at the same scale, I found that the longest component is the Aft Fuselage at 7.94 feet and the tallest component is the Rudder at 5.1 feet.

Since we need to keep textures square to make texturing easier, the largest scale we can use would be 5.1 feet * 2 or 10.2 because on a left-right texture the length is twice the height.

Now here is where life gets interesting: In general designers should maximize the scale of the textures to allow more detail. 10.2 feet over 256 pixels is an unusually large scale. (The CW-21B is a tiny aircraft.) Most aircraft of can't use a scale larger than about 15 feet to 256 pixels because their pieces are too big.

I also prefer to have the scale such that each pixel be some even fraction of a foot which means 10.2 == 0.03984375 feet per pixel so 10.24 == 0.04 feet per pixel is a better choice. We will get into why this is a good idea later. If the aircraft has a lot of pieces, you might select 12.8 instead so that more pieces can be fit onto one texture file.

Another issue is that the pieces of the aircraft should have about a 2-4 pixel boundary between them and other pieces so 12.8 might be a better choice than 10.24. I'll decide before the next message.

- Ivan.

September 11th, 2009, 12:37
For this aircraft, the first try will be with 10.24 feet over 256 pixels. Note that this scale leaves nearly ZERO margin for the texture for the rudder. Another issue is that since AF5PAINT only works to 0.1 feet and AF99 works to 0.01 feet, what we see in AF99 will be approximations.

Attached is a screenshot of a painting template for the cowl assemblies. Note that this template is snapped to various reference points on the various cowl components. It is a single part and must follow 8.3 naming format because AF5PAINT can't take other formats.

I call this part ZPCowl.afp. It only works from a side view.

- Ivan.

September 12th, 2009, 18:50
....that really work? Gonna have to try it out. Thanks.

September 12th, 2009, 21:12
Hi Nole,

Glad someone posted a response. I wasn't sure if anyone was really still interested.

Oh well, here goes the next couple installments:
The attached photograph (Yeah Photograph because I couldn't figure out how to get a screenshot!) is very rich in information. It is the default placement of the ZPRudder.afp overlay part onto a AF99 / AF5Paint texture.

I typically put a black bar at the top and bottom of each half of the texture. It shows me where there is a one pixel boundary on the texture. Note on the right side of the screen that the top of the rudder is well within the gray area of the texture but the bottom of the rudder is well within the black one pixel margin. This is why the rudder is the limiting factor.

Note on the black square above Joe's shoulder that the Top of this texture is set at 4.5 and the Bottom is set at -0.6. Since AF5Paint works only to 0.1 foot and is showing a range of 5.1, we should set the actual values in AF99 to 4.50 Top and -0.62 Bottom to increase the range to 5.12 and hopefully provide enough of a margin for the bottom of the texture.

I stated it incorrectly in my earlier post. Note how the locations in AF5Paint are only an approximation. (Don't worry, it gets worse!)

Note the numbers that Joe is pointing to: -19.522 is the location of the cursor on the full texture just above his hand. This is useful information for relocating the texture. The default location set by AF5Paint is -13.1 Fore and -23.4 Aft. We will reset this to -19.54 Aft and -9.3 Fore (or something similar. These numbers are also useful to matching up Panel Lines later.

To Be Continued....

September 12th, 2009, 21:33
I generally prefer to start texturing an aircraft from the front, so the first area I will actually be working on will be the cowl assembly.

The first image shows the default location of the overlay via AF5Paint. Note that the range from Top to Bottom is 5.0 feet.

The second image shows the relocated overlay part to the "Forward" part of the texture.

The third image shows how close the bottom of this assembly is to the edge of the texture. I am not worried here because....

The fourth image shows Joe pointing out that the cowl assembly is made up of several components (notice the colour differences) and that they do not need to be adjacent to each other in the texture files.

I believe this is the part that you are looking for. Hopefully the next installment will show how the various parts can be located appropriately in a texture file.

- Ivan.

September 13th, 2009, 13:52
Hi Nole,

Glad someone posted a response. I wasn't sure if anyone was really still interested......

To Be Continued....

...on the contrary,
this is a great thread and is very interesting.
please continue.
I, for one, am not to this phase yet,
but I am sure I will be looking for it when I get there.

a very cool feature of AD2000 is that it can easily cover with "shaded colors".
that way, one can go into game and have a quick look at progress.
later, when the real texturing starts, BMPs and "texture limits" come into play.

did I say much later?

September 18th, 2009, 17:57
On this message, we will take things slightly out of order. I have already textured most of the cowl but won't be describing the process in this message. Instead, the subject will be smoothing. (Hope I am using the correct terminology.)

In laying out the texture for the Carburetor Scoop on the upper front edge of the Cowl Ring, I had planned for texture to look like the first image. What I actually saw was the second image. (Note the slightly red tinge on the aft part of the scoop.) This is one of the reasons why textures for different parts need to be layed out about 3-4 pixels apart from each other. If you don't, the rendering of the aircraft in CFS will blend each pixel with one directly aft in a Left-Right texture. The way to work around it is to leave at least a 1-2 pixel margin around each piece. Thus we have 3-4 pixels between pieces.

This also works to your advantage on occasion because if you want a very faint shade or dark edge to a piece, this is how to do it.

The way to see these images I am describing are to hit <Escape> to bring up the exit dialog for the first image. The second image is just the regular display. I highly recommend viewing these images full size to see the differences.

We will be revisiting this smoothing / rendering issue again when we hit a Fore-Aft or a Top-Bottom textured part.

The next installment should come shortly and should address Womble55's concerns.
- Ivan.

September 18th, 2009, 22:07
This image shows how the overlay looks in AF5Paint. Note that the background is now a rather bright shade of orange-red. The intent is to have a great contrast between the background and the colour of the aircraft so we can see if the texture covers the appropriate area.

Note the values in the box to the right of Joe's arm. They will be SIMILAR to the ones used in AF99. The actual values used in AF99 are:

Top: 2.31
Bottom: -2.81
Fore: 6.32
Aft: -3.92

so the scale is 10.24 feet for 256 pixels.

Note that the panel line on the cowl doesn't line up with the overlay. This is because AF5Paint only shows 10.2 feet over 256 pixels.

Joe is pointing to a component that I call the CowlBase. It uses slightly different numbers to allow some shading at the edges between the two parts. As it turns out, I really didn't need to do this because the joint between the CowlBase and the Cowl is completely hidden behind the wing fillet..... Oh well.

September 18th, 2009, 22:13
Hi Womble55,

This is the part I believe you are interested in.

Note that this is exactly the same texture, only this time the overlay part is different and the offsets are different. This lets the Carburetor Scoop share the same texture as the other two cowl components. Note also that the Carburetor Scoop's texture has an arbitrary spatial relationship to the Cowl's texture. With the proer offsets, we can put this piece anywhere and scale it to whatever we want. We can even give it its own separate texture file though that would be very wasteful.

September 18th, 2009, 22:16
Remember how we had a reddish tinge to the back side of the Carburetor Scoop in CFS?

The texture used at the time had the yellow section of the Carburetor Scoop's texture the same as the background colour. Looking at the overlay, you would never figure that the texture doesn't cover the part completely. Part of this is due to the difference between the AF99 10.24 feet scale and the AF5Paint 10.2 feet scale. Part is due the rendering / smoothing issue discussed earlier.

September 18th, 2009, 22:19
Here is how the numbers for the Carburetor Scoop texture look in AF99. Compare these numbers with the ones given earlier for the Cowl.

September 20th, 2009, 07:22
First, a very quick recap of the painting process:

1. Create a reference part in AF99 that has the same outline as the part you wish to paint.
2. Use the reference part as an overlay in AF5Paint to show where the part will live on the texture file.
3. Adjust the textures so that there are no issues with coverage of the part by the selected portion of the texture file.
4. Bring the texture file back to AF99, process, and rebuild the model.
5. Bring up CFS with your model to confirm there are no issues
6. If there are issues, go to Step 3 (or further back if needed).

- Ivan.

September 20th, 2009, 07:44
I have mentioned several times how each part needs about a two pixel border beyond the physical edge of the part. The attached images show why this is necessary.

The first image shows how the part of the fuselage has been textured. The longitudinal offset is slightly different from the cowl, but the vertical offsets are the same. (It is the vertical offsets that are important here.)
The coverage of the part by the texture looks to be quite complete and it is.

The next three images show red highlights when viewed at shallow angles. To eliminate this, the parts need about a two pixel border. When combined with adjacent parts, it means that parts' textures should be separated by at least 4 pixels or so.

Sometimes this highlighting can be used to your advantage. You can select the boundary colour to give pieces of the aircraft an appropriate highlight colour. I did this on my Thunderbolts to give a cheap reflective metal effect. I don't know that the effect really looks like polished aluminum, but it does look less of a boring gray.

- Ivan.

September 20th, 2009, 07:54
The slight smoothing offset of Left-Right textured parts does not cause a symmetry issue because both sides are offset in the same direction.

With Fore-Aft textured parts, the offset creating by the smoothing effect causes a nominally centered texture to look as if it is NOT centered. The two shots below illustrate the effect. One shot is with the normal smoothing effect. The other shot was taken after the <Escape> key was pressed to bring up the exit dialog. Note that in the one with the exit dialog, the vertical line is fairly well centered on the ridge of the spinner.

On textures for round objects, I try to center on a pixel rather than between pixels to make drawing circles easier. (On drawing programs I use, you can't pick a circle's center between two pixels.)

To correct this issue, adjust the offsets slightly in AF99 to make the smoothed image look correct. I believe folks generally don't care if the plane looks a little weird when they are about to exit the game.

On my Fokker E.III Eindecker (not released yet) I wanted to animate the engine face to simulate the appearance of a rotary engine. This slight offset on a rotating part shows up much more than on a stationary part. I must have spent at least three evenings trying to adjust the textures slightly to make the make the engine not appear lopsided.
I don't know that I got the effect completely right, but I believe it is as good as I can get it.

- Ivan.

September 22nd, 2009, 12:41
In arranging pieces to be textured, keep in mind that sometimes two parts can share the same locations:
The engine only has the forward facing side textured. The control panel only has the aft facing side textured. As such, there are no issues with putting them in the same location.

- Ivan.

September 29th, 2009, 05:14
I've just managed to get some air time on the local library PC, sometimes the local college overwhelms the system that the council use here. This is absolutly fasinating and will take many moons of study to get right but I shall persevere.
Thanks Ivan and thank Joe as well for me, he's doing a cracking job.

September 29th, 2009, 19:34
Hi Womble55,
Hope what I am demonstrating is making sense to you. I have actually gotten quite a lot further on the Demon than is shown in the screenshots. I just didn't see the point of showing the same basic technique 10 more times when there is nothing new to demonstrate. There will be more. I just haven't gotten to those parts yet.

- Ivan.

October 4th, 2009, 19:44
As stated in the previous message, I have actually gotten much further since the last installment. Tonight there will only be observations of a problem in texturing and not the solution (which is actually a fairly obvious one).

When texturing wings, I typically like to have the texture files be a fairly close mirror of each other. Often the insignia and camouflage will be different, but for the most part the panel lines and general outline should be identical or nearly so.

Such is the case with the CW-21B Demon. I first adjusted the wing part overlay onto the Left Wing Texture file (I like to start with the Left Side when possible) and just mirrored the texture file to the Right Wing's file.

As you can see from the normal CFS external Top view (WingTop1.jpg), the visible colour bands are not the same between the left and right sides. The specifications in AF99 are mirrors as are the textures, but the smoothing algorithm skews the textures almost one full pixel to the right.

As you can see from the exit screen (WingTop2.jpg) the textures are lined up pretty well when the smoothing algorithm isn't being used.

(To be continued....)

October 11th, 2009, 20:00
Folks here probably have already figured out what the next part is, but here goes anyway:

As you can see from the area that Joe is pointing out in AF5Paint in the first photograph, the coloured bars actually start at red bar that is aligned with the edge of the texture. In the earlier screenshots, we can't see that first red bar on either side. That tells us that the texture at the wing root has room to use. At worst, we will encroach into the single pixel red BORDER around the wing texture.

The dimensions from AF5Paint are directly used for the Right Wing as can be seen from the second photograph.

October 11th, 2009, 20:14
The left wing texture was moved outward a little to try to align the same colour bar with the edge of the wing component. The scale used for the wing is 15.00 feet over 256 pixels or 0.05859375 feet per pixel. In general, I have found that an offset somewhere between 1/2 pixel and 1 pixel usually work.

If textures for both sides are being moved, each should be moved about 1/2 pixel's distance. If only one side is being moved, it generally has to be moved 1 full pixel. Round down for fractions. In this case, I would have expected the left wing offset would be 0.05 feet, but that didn't seem to work. 0.06 feet was what I eventually used as you can see in the screenshot.

October 11th, 2009, 20:17
This is the final result from the slight offset put into the texturing of the left wing. I believe that the offset is slightly too much and that the green bar is slightly wider on the left wing, but 0.05 definitely was not enough. With pixels that cover so much area, often it is a matter of best rather than perfect alignment.

- Ivan.

October 11th, 2009, 20:37

I think I will learn (a lot) here.... :applause:

Thanks for the lecture/lesson....

October 12th, 2009, 07:20
while replies and comments may be sparse,
we are paying attention.
many thanks for taking the time
to pass along this information.

October 12th, 2009, 12:32
Hi Folks,
The trick here is trying to pick topics that are not entirely obvious. Glad it's doing some folks some good.

BTW, the Joes all want to get into the show, but my rule is that only custom Joes are allowed screen time. Pity the lighting needs to be dark so the faces really don't show up.

- Ivan.

October 12th, 2009, 18:41
I don't think that individual introductions
would be out of order.
give all the Joes their due.

October 15th, 2009, 16:01
Hi Womble55,

Get yourself a copy of AF5Paint. After you try it out and still have questions, we can discuss it further. The software is free and resolves most of the issues you are likely to rin into.

- Ivan.

Is this all I need to get started on repainting aircraft or I need more.... I have been keeping track of it but I dont know if I need more program...

Sorry if i tend to be off topic... :bump:

October 16th, 2009, 02:48
Hi Chacha,
Actually what we are discussing here is not REpainting aircraft. THAT is much easier though if you run into a problem where the designer goofed, you really can't fix things very well. A case in point is a Black P-38 Lightning I have seen. As long as you keep the general paint job black, you won't notice that the wings or fuselage share textures with the tires. If you paint the aircraft Green, you get green tires.

The topic of discussion is actually the INITIAL painting of an aircraft. THis is for the designer of the aircraft who needs to lay out the textures onto a bare model.

AF5Paint is pretty much useless for a repaint. To do a repaint, you will generally need a utility like CFShow or something else to translate a R8 format file into a BMP or something similar and perhaps MSPaint or GIMP or whatever to actually edit the file.

Repainting has been covered in many places, but I believe initial painting hasn't which is why I am doing it here.

- Ivan.

October 16th, 2009, 03:13
Continue on Man,

Interesting to know how these planes are done from by the designers lay out to painting and to our enjoyment and fun!

Thanks, Ivan :applause:

October 16th, 2009, 18:58
The next item to be textured are the Flaps. Note that when deployed, the flaps are neither horizontal nor vertical. They are somewhere in between with a typical angle around 45 to 60 degrees.

The idea here is to map the texture file in such a way that a symbol drawn on it will appear the same on the surface of the part in a way that doesn't require a stretch to look right.

The same idea applies to control panels: The texture should be layed out in a manner that if someone draws a round gauge, it LOOKS round on the panel in the aircraft.

In this picture, Joe (I really call him Jurgen the Hitler Jugend) is showing the coordinates of the Left Flap. Unfortunately in this case, the flap isn't quite planar. The inside and outside edges don't align with each other. I didn't notice this in building the model, but don't be surprised if I fix it later. At this point, we will just continue since the concept of what we are doing isn't affected.

Remember from the Pythagorean theorem that the hypotenuse (chord of the flap) can be calculated by H^2 = X^2 + Y^2.

The number we need is the ratio of X / H because we are using a top/bottom texture. If we were texturing fore/aft, we would need the ratio Y / H.

Because the angles are not quite the same, we get 0.549 and 0.619 for the two values of Y / H.

October 16th, 2009, 19:08
The flaps will share the same scaling as the wing and the same texture file.

The wing texture file is 15.00 feet over 256 pixels which means each half of the texture covers 7.50 x 15.00 feet. If we multiply by the X / H ratios, we get values of 4.116 or 4.643 x 15.00 feet.

Since we can only use one value, an average of the two 4.379 or 4.4 is good enough.

The first picture shows the flap projected onto the texture file at 7.5 feet.
The second picture shows the flap projected onto the texture file at 4.4 feet.

Note the location of the yellow pixel near where Joe is pointing.

October 16th, 2009, 19:13
On the next picture, Joe is showing the values used for the starboard flap.

On the following picture, Joe is showing the values used for the port flap. Note that the offset used here is the same as the one reached via experimentation with the wing: 0.06 feet. Since the scales are the same, this should work as well here as it did on the wing.

October 16th, 2009, 19:26
These last two pictures show the final result. Note in the first picture that the flap inner edges look very similar but there is a VERY slight light green line on the left flap. That is because as mentioned before, the offsets are close, but don't quite line up. I believe it is as good as we can get though.

On the second picture, various circles are painted on the forward / lower surface of the flap. They look slightly long up/down fore/aft, but I believe that if they were on the outboard part of the flaps they would look slightly short since the scaling ratios are not quite the same.

Good Evening.
- Ivan.

October 28th, 2009, 20:27
Hello All,
This presentation is done slightly out of sequence. The activities were done quite some time ago, but not recorded.

With the untextured aircraft, the different pieces were quite visible because of their contrasting colours and also because the pieces as components were "Sharp" instead of "Smooth".

When a gray texture is applied, all of a sudden the aircraft looks like a two-dimensional gray blob. Two areas where this is very visible are the canopy frame and the underside of the cowl.

In the first picture, Joe points out the canopy frame. In the second picture, Joe points out the underside of the cowl.

October 28th, 2009, 20:37
One way to address this issue is to exaggerate the edges of the parts a bit and create panel lines. A single pixel here is overly large, so as Joe is pointing out, the border of a part is shaded so that a fraction of a pixel shows past the part.

In the first picture, Joe points out the shaded area that is put on the edge of the texture of the Cowl Bottom.

In the second picture, Joe points out the shaded area that is on the fuselage under the Canopy Frame. Note that the canopy part is used as an overlay to figure out how much of the shaded area is visible.

In the third picture, Joe points out where the Canopy Frame covers the aft part of the fuselage. Note that the Canopy Frame is used again as an overlay part.

October 28th, 2009, 20:39
On this photograph, Joe is showing what the final result of the manual shading looks like.

- Ivan.

November 9th, 2009, 09:55
In the process of a repair cycle for this aircraft.

- Ivan.

May 15th, 2011, 09:24
found it...

this is the one, isn't it?
it would appear that
the attachments are gone.
must have cleaned out that folder, aye?

May 15th, 2011, 14:39
Hi Smilo,

You found the thread I mentioned.

The method of attachments changed I believe with software changes to the board. I think I still have all the attachments handy but there isn't a way to edit the messages.

- Ivan.

sorry, for intruding on your post,
but i figure a picture is worth...
oh, a few words of explanation.

if you send me the pictures
and the posts # each goes with,
i'll take care of it for you.

May 16th, 2011, 10:52
look up, Ivan