Working with texture files in CFS2 and FS9 for newbies
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Thread: Working with texture files in CFS2 and FS9 for newbies

  1. #1

    Working with texture files in CFS2 and FS9 for newbies

    This is a small tutorial on not necessarily how to paint, but what to do with getting the texture files into your paint program and what to do with them after you have painted them. We will work on actual painting later. Since CFS2 and FS9 are very similar in file structuring, this tutorial will cover both simulators. The only main difference between the two are the alpha channels, which I will touch on later in this tutorial.

    First rule of painting, HAVE FUN!! This is for your enjoyment more so than anyone else's. A very hard lesson to learn, even for myself. There is no better feeling that showing off your first paint job and reading the comments praising your work. Always remember that feeling. Don't let the critics get to you. Most times the comments are not meant to be harsh, but meant to be constructive. You could actually learn a lot from peoples comments, after all it's easy to miss something when painting, and there are many people here that have a keen eye for detail. All these are hard lessons I had to learn myself.

    Everything listed will work for both sims unless otherwise stated.


    Tools you will need:

    CFS2 or FS9
    Paint shop Pro, Photshop, Gimp, or whatever paint program you use, preferably one that uses layers.
    Martin wrights DXTbmp, used to convert and save texture files. You can get it here: http://www.mnwright.btinternet.co.uk/index.htm The download button for the program is on the
    front page. Be sure to download the latest dll files there as well.

    Thats all you need for now, pretty simple so far.

    This is how I do it, which is not necessarily the only way and may not be the best. As you do this more, you may find a way that suits your needs better.

    ALWAYS MAKE BACK UPS OF ANYTHING YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE, BEFORE YOU MODIFY ANYTHING!!

    First thing you need to do is edit the aircrafts cfg file so that the sim will recognize your new paint. Open the aircrafts folder and open the aircrafts cfg file with notepad or word. Notepad works the best. You will see a lot of entires that may or may not make sense to you at first, but eventually you will understand what the entries mean. You want to look for a heading named [fltsim.0], which is usually at the top. If the aircraft has more than one paint scheme, you will headings that look like this [fltsim.1], [fltsim.2], etc. Each paint will be listed in numerical order.

    This example is from the stock F4F Wildcat from CFS2.

    [fltsim.0]
    title=F4F-4 Wildcat
    sim=F4F4_Wildcat
    model=
    panel=
    sound=
    texture=
    KB_checklists=f4f4_wildcat_check

    To add a new paint, you will make the following changes. Just copy and paste the first entry, then paste it right below the last entry, like this:

    ORIGINAL:

    [fltsim.0]
    title=F4F-4 Wildcat
    sim=F4F4_Wildcat
    model=
    panel=
    sound=
    texture=
    KB_checklists=f4f4_wildcat_check

    NEW ONE WITH YOUR PAINT

    [fltsim.1]
    title=F4F-4 Wildcat my new paint
    sim=F4F4_Wildcat
    model=
    panel=
    sound=
    texture=my new paint
    KB_checklists=f4f4_wildcat_check

    Always change the next [fltsim.X] to the next ascending number. After you have made your changes, then click, on file, save as, save, allow to overwright, then your done.

    The same applies for FS9, here is an example of the stock Cessna

    [fltsim.0]
    title=Cessna Skyhawk 172SP
    sim=Cessna172SP
    model=
    panel=
    sound=
    texture=
    kb_checklists=Cessna172SP_check
    kb_reference=Cessna172SP_ref
    atc_id=N176CM
    ui_manufacturer=Cessna
    ui_type="C172SP Skyhawk"
    ui_variation="White with blue and gray"
    description="A stable and trustworthy plane, most pilots have logged at least a few hours in a Cessna 172, since it's the most widely available aircraft in the rental fleet, and is used by most flight schools. Since the first prototype was completed in 1955, more than 35,000 C172s have been produced, making it the world's most popular single-engine plane. One of Cessna's first tricycle-gear airplanes, the 172 quickly became the favorite of a growing class of business pilots. Its reliability and easy handling (along with thoughtful engineering and structural updates) have ensured its continued popularity for more than 35 years."

    And here is an example of what to change:

    [fltsim.1]
    title=Cessna Skyhawk 172SP My new paint
    sim=Cessna172SP
    model=
    panel=
    sound=
    texture=my new paint
    kb_checklists=Cessna172SP_check
    kb_reference=Cessna172SP_ref
    atc_id=N176CM
    ui_manufacturer=Cessna
    ui_type="C172SP Skyhawk"
    ui_variation="my new paint "
    description="A stable and trustworthy plane, most pilots have logged at least a few hours in a Cessna 172, since it's the most widely available aircraft in the rental fleet, and is used by most flight schools. Since the first prototype was completed in 1955, more than 35,000 C172s have been produced, making it the world's most popular single-engine plane. One of Cessna's first tricycle-gear airplanes, the 172 quickly became the favorite of a growing class of business pilots. Its reliability and easy handling (along with thoughtful engineering and structural updates) have ensured its continued popularity for more than 35 years."

    Of course you will use more creative naming than what I did as "my new paint".

    Next, you need to create a texture folder, that will hold your new textures. Just right click and copy the original texture folder, usually named Texture, and paste in inside the aircraft folder. It should be named texture-copy. Just rename the folder texture.my new paint, just like the name you used in the aircrafts cfg line that reads texture=. The names have to match or your new texture will not show up.

    Ok, now that you have the aircraft ready to take your new paint, you are ready for the fun part!While you are inside your aircrafts folder, take a look inside your new texture folder. You will need to look through all the texture files and see which ones you will need to paint. For the most part, you will only need to paint the exterior parts of the plane, unless you want to make changes to the interior. You will need to see what format the texture were originally saved in. You will need to open the textures with Martin Wrights program DXtbmp. After the texture is opened in dxtbmp, look at the top and you will see listed what format it is. In CFS2, the most common are DXT1, DXT3, DXT5, and 565 bit. In FS9, the most common are DXT1, DXT5, and Extended 32 bit 888-8. For a better explanation of the formats, in DXTbmp click on help, and it will take you to a website with detailed explanations.

    You will need to change the format of the texture file so that your paint program will open it up, if its any other format than Extended 32 bit 888-8. Since you have the texture opened in DXTbmp, just click on file, save, in the pop up window, change the drop down box 'save as type' to extended 32 bit 888-8, then save it to a folder that you need to create outside of the aircrafts folder. I have a folder on my computer that has nothing but my paint files on it. (I will touch on this more in a later painting tutorial).

    The texture file is now saved as a bmp file and should be easily opened by your paint program. Now you can paint your new texture.( I hope to write up a tutorial on that part in the near future, if you need help painting). Be sure to save your paint first in the format that will save your work with the layers intact, such as a PSD, PSP, or whatever other paint programs save in. Next, you will save your paint as a bmp file. Once again, make sure you are saving your paints in a new, seperate folder away from your aircrafts main folder. You will now open your new bmp with DXTbmp. At this point you may need to add a alpha channel to your texture.

    Now to touch on Alpha channels briefly. In CFS2, alphas are used to create invisible parts on the plane, and in FS9 they are used to add shine. Once again, I will touch more on the alphas in a later tutorial. This tutorial is just to help you with handeling the files. If your texture requires a alpha, now is the time to add it. In dxtbmp, click on alpha, then either import the new alpha channel for FS9, or as in CFS2, create alpha channel, and you will choose either black or green. Again, I will get more into that later.

    Now that you have added your alpha channel, it's time to save your new texture into the sim. You will click on save, then in the pop up window, choose the format you want to save the new texture in with the lower drop down arrow. Then navigate to the location where your new texture folder was created in the aircrafts main folder, click on the texture in the aircrafts texture folder, (that way your new texture will be saved as the correct name), then click on save, allow overwrite. You will need to repeat these steps for all the textures that you painted.

    That's it! Now fire up your sim, and check your work out, hopefully it looks exactly like how you wanted it to look. But, unfortunately it probably wont. But thats ok, it may take several attempts to get the look you wanted, but once you get the hang of this, it wont be that big of a deal. Chances are, you will go back and forth many times, checking, fixing, checking, fixing, etc.. But hey, that's what painting is all about! Congratulations on your new paint and also your new addiction, lol! Now that you have found out how much fun it is painting a plane and knowing that you did it, you will more than likely be hooked like the rest of us, LOL! Just remember to keep it fun!

    If you plan on uploading your finished project, be sure to ask the original creator if it's ok for you to do so. More than likely they will say yes, but once in a while you will come across a developer that says no. That's ok though, it's their project and they have every right to say no. But it doesn't mean you can't paint it for yourself.

    I hope this tutorial will be of some help to you, and I hope I was able to write this so it made sense. If you have any questions or don't understand something, just let me know. If I don't have an answer, I am sure we can find someone who does. Don't be afraid to ask questions, we were all newbies at painting, and if it wasnt for asking tons of questions, I know I wouldn't have made it where I am today.

  2. #2
    Also, if anyone has anything to add, please feel free to do so! There may be things I am doing wrong or someone may know a better way. This is how we all learn to get the most out of painting:salute:

    Thanks!

  3. #3

    One step saver...

    As to the quoted step below:

    "You will need to change the format of the texture file so that your paint program will open it up, if its any other format than Extended 32 bit 888-8. Since you have the texture opened in DXTbmp, just click on file, save, in the pop up window, change the drop down box 'save as type' to extended 32 bit 888-8, then save it to a folder that you need to create outside of the aircrafts folder. I have a folder on my computer that has nothing but my paint files on it. (I will touch on this more in a later painting tutorial).
    The texture file is now saved as a bmp file and should be easily opened by your paint program."

    To obviate this step... ONE CAN SIMPLY SELECT , LIKE PSP for example, as your editing program in Wright's DXTBMP program.... [under Prefs]
    Then, when you open the file in Wright's program... SELECT Send to Editor... which will open PSP as a file automaticaly named NORM.bmp...
    when you get finished... close it... and select SAVE... diminish PSP... and you will see Wright's program with the file as you started.... SELECT Image... and RELOAD AFTER EDIT in the menus...
    This will replace it with the edited NORM.bmp... and you simply elect SAVE AS Extended bitmap... on the model (IF THE ORIGINAL WAS A DDS format.. you have to export it as a DDS - which is a little different procedure... because you opened it as a DDS... but the program is self explanatory... or you can read its HELP file for instructions)
    If you cannot do all your painting in one sitting... you can save the file as PSP with layers and all your work... close both programs... THE NEXT TIME YOU CAN CONTINUE TO WORK YOUR SAVED FILE (in your special Directory used normally to store stuff in)... WHEN YOU GET READY TO FINISH... you reopen the original file in Wright's DXTBMP... send it to the editor... and once in PSP, make a single layer of your finished PSP file... copy and paste into the original (really, replace it so to speak... ) Close the finalized NORM.bmp and follow the save procedure as explained above...
    The advantage... especially if you are working with several aircraft... is that PSP files are a lot smaller than bmp... and furthermore, ALSO VERY IMPORTANT... the PSP can be saved with layers whereas a bmp file does not admit saving in layers... If you keep the PSP file for further use... you can change the background file for the a paint scheme.. and use the layers for shine, details like rivets, etc. and VOILA' you can turn out different paint schemes like sausages...
    I can do same-aircraft-different-schemes in single sittings... Just open the new originals... open the old PSP file.. work on the new scheme... and add the layers...
    Hope this tip helps even some of the old hands who might be still starting by converting the original file to bmp... save it... work on it in layers... close all the layers and save as bmp... and have to start from scratch to do another paint job on the same type of aircraft...
    To quote the old motto of the US Army Medical Corps..."To Preserve the Fighting Strength"... Enjoy!

  4. #4
    Excellent post gaucho_59! Thank you!:salute:

    I had completely forgotten about that method.

    See what happens when we get set in our own ways we forget about easy options like the one you posted.:redf:

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    Excellent post gaucho_59! Thank you!:salute:

    I had completely forgotten about that method.

    See what happens when we get set in our own ways we forget about easy options like the one you posted.:redf:
    Hey! There is always more than one way to skin a cat! I kind of stumble on better ways... usually more serendippity than actual "know how"...
    Merry Xmas!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    Excellent post gaucho_59! Thank you!:salute:

    I had completely forgotten about that method.

    See what happens when we get set in our own ways we forget about easy options like the one you posted.:redf:
    By the way, are you savvy about contact points? I mean an easy cure for aircraft that sit like a foot above the tarmac... I read some of the stuff on it on forums... but am not up to snuff in a lot of the terminology... I am basically a good artist but an big ZERO on tech stuff...

  7. #7
    SOH-CM-2013
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    Easy DEal

    Quote Originally Posted by gaucho_59 View Post
    ...By the way, are you savvy about contact points? I mean an easy cure for aircraft that sit like a foot above the tarmac...

    Allow Me, Gaucho - In the Aircraft.cfg file [open it with Notepad or your favorite TXT editor AFTER making a backup copy !] you'll find the following entry:

    [contact_points]
    static_pitch = 5.993
    static_cg_height = 8
    tailwheel_lock = 0
    gear_system_type = 0
    max_number_of_points = 7

    point.0 = 1, -32.517, 0.000, -4.850, 1575, 0, 0.862, 53.400, 0.062, 2.500, 2.416, 5.000, 5.000, 0
    point.1 = 1, 3, -10.5, -9.183, 1575, 1, 1.75, 0, 0.949, 2.501, 0.344, 5, 5, 2, 0, 0
    point.2 = 1, 3, 10.5, -9.183, 1575, 2, 1.75, 0, 0.949, 2.501, 0.344, 5, 5, 3, 0, 0
    point.3 = 2, -3, -50, 2, 1575, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 5, 0, 0
    point.4 = 2, -3, 50, 2, 1575, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 6, 0, 0
    point.5 = 2, -25, 0, -4, 1575, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 9, 0, 0
    point.6 = 2, 7.500, 0.000, -4.167, 1575, 0, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 4

    Point Zero is the TAIL WHEEL; One and Two are Port and Starboard Wheels

    The Entries in RED are the Vertical adjustment for contact points - a MINUS number raises the plane UP, lowering the number closer to zero [or into the POSITIVE range, in extreme respects] will get it closer to the ground. TINY increments - like +/- .050 at a time - will be good for starters.

    It's a Trial and Error process, but once you do a few, you'll see just how small an adjustment can change the whole "attitude" of your aircraft !

    Happy Holidays !
    SC
    "...And, When I died, They washed me out of the turret with a hose..."

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sc7500 View Post
    Allow Me, Gaucho - In the Aircraft.cfg file [open it with Notepad or your favorite TXT editor AFTER making a backup copy !] you'll find the following entry:

    [contact_points]
    static_pitch = 5.993
    static_cg_height = 8
    tailwheel_lock = 0
    gear_system_type = 0
    max_number_of_points = 7

    point.0 = 1, -32.517, 0.000, -4.850, 1575, 0, 0.862, 53.400, 0.062, 2.500, 2.416, 5.000, 5.000, 0
    point.1 = 1, 3, -10.5, -9.183, 1575, 1, 1.75, 0, 0.949, 2.501, 0.344, 5, 5, 2, 0, 0
    point.2 = 1, 3, 10.5, -9.183, 1575, 2, 1.75, 0, 0.949, 2.501, 0.344, 5, 5, 3, 0, 0
    point.3 = 2, -3, -50, 2, 1575, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 5, 0, 0
    point.4 = 2, -3, 50, 2, 1575, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 6, 0, 0
    point.5 = 2, -25, 0, -4, 1575, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 9, 0, 0
    point.6 = 2, 7.500, 0.000, -4.167, 1575, 0, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, 4

    Point Zero is the TAIL WHEEL; One and Two are Port and Starboard Wheels

    The Entries in RED are the Vertical adjustment for contact points - a MINUS number raises the plane UP, lowering the number closer to zero [or into the POSITIVE range, in extreme respects] will get it closer to the ground. TINY increments - like +/- .050 at a time - will be good for starters.

    It's a Trial and Error process, but once you do a few, you'll see just how small an adjustment can change the whole "attitude" of your aircraft !

    Happy Holidays !
    SC
    Hey I can't adequately express my thanks... great to learn something every day!
    Happy Holidays and my hat's off to you...great!
    I you'd like any help with textures...at your grateful service!

  9. #9
    Easily confused. PomBee's Avatar
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    A fine set of instructions. Very useful for the beginners among us (and those, like myself, who could do with all the help that they can get!!).

    Would you believe that when I started skinning, I made up .bmp's of the various camouflage scheme's on the aircraft that I wanted to paint (usually Hurricanes, of course), then added the markings to the .bmp!! It would take forever sometimes, to get the positions right. Painting in layers was a revelation (thanks to Sopwith Chameleon for the timely advice).

    Cheers,

    PomBee.:ernae:

  10. #10

    large textures

    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    Excellent post gaucho_59! Thank you!:salute:

    I had completely forgotten about that method.

    See what happens when we get set in our own ways we forget about easy options like the one you posted.:redf:



    Attachment 31910Attachment 31911Attachment 31912Attachment 31913
    Hi, you helped me before... I have another question... I used the blog this thread... just now.. but I don't see my queery anywhere... I got Bob Cichilo's conversion of the OSPREY for FS9 and decided to work on the textures (amplified 4X) ... I am enclosing them in JPG form for you so you get the idea... CAN THE MODEL BE MADE TO ACCEPT THESE LARGER TEXTURES so as to have a nicer looking flying model? If so... could you please tell me how?
    As stated before, I am at anyone's disposal to do textures for aircraft...

  11. #11
    gaucho_59, not sure what to tell you about the blog. I have never used it before.

    I believe the model will take larger texture files, however the problem is within FS9. It will only allow maximum 1024 X 1024 texture sizes. I have heard of people that resize the texture sheet to 2048 x 2048, when painting, then reduce it back to 1024. They will then 'sharpen' the textures a little, to somewhat compensate for the blurriness that is caused when shrinking the texture down.

    For me personally, I dont like doing it that way. Even after sharpening the textures some, there will still be blurriness. I personally would rather just paint it in the 1024 size, to keep my work sharp and clear.

    Hope that made sense.

  12. #12

    You were right!

    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    gaucho_59, not sure what to tell you about the blog. I have never used it before.

    I believe the model will take larger texture files, however the problem is within FS9. It will only allow maximum 1024 X 1024 texture sizes. I have heard of people that resize the texture sheet to 2048 x 2048, when painting, then reduce it back to 1024. They will then 'sharpen' the textures a little, to somewhat compensate for the blurriness that is caused when shrinking the texture down.

    For me personally, I dont like doing it that way. Even after sharpening the textures some, there will still be blurriness. I personally would rather just paint it in the 1024 size, to keep my work sharp and clear.

    Hope that made sense.
    Hey! It worked fine... I took the PSP 4X enlargement and turned it into a .bmp then reduced the colors to 256 (without any loss in detail at all... looked just like the JPGs I posted) and replaced the small textures... each went to 1 meg.

  13. #13

    Black Skin

    Hello.

    This is my first post. I would like to change some arircraft's textures.
    I have opened the textures directly. I have modified them with Photoshop CS6, I have saved it and put all the files in the rigth places, but when
    I visualise the plane, the modified parts are black. For a moment (1 or 2 seconds) all is OK, but after...alll black.
    I woul apreciate a little help.
    Thanks

  14. #14
    Hello Roberto,

    I think you are almost there.

    Which sim is your repaint used in? Different sims use different "extended" bitmap formats. Most graphics programmes save bitmaps as "plain" 24 bit bitmaps.

    This webpage gives an explanation of the different formats used by the older flight sims
    http://fsplaza.info/texturingparts2.html

    This software will help you to do the final conversion to the correct format.

    http://www.mwgfx.co.uk/programs/dxtbmp.htm

  15. #15

    skining

    hello
    i dont know if this thread is still alive anyway , i opened the texture file with DXTBMP and saved as instructed , then moved to PS and opened . My question is when i did open PS i only get the same texture file , there are no layers for the rivets , lines , insignias and markings , weathering etc etc , just one layer . How do i go about this ?

  16. #16
    Hiya Dog,

    DXTbmp will just allow you to save in bmp formats that cfs2 can use.

    I'm afraid there's no library of layered paintkits, you have to create your own mostly.

    Try downloading some of the aircraft Allen created for CFS2, he often puts a basic paintkit (Photoshop psd files) in with his uploads. It will give you a feel for how these things are put together.

  17. #17

    Picture to Layer

    Hello All,

    My question is, how to transform a picture to an aircraft emblem. I'm looking to place a nose art into a layered paint kit.
    Would an alpha be needed to remove the "squareness" off the image? And that would be another layer? I'm using Psp7.

    Thanks in Advance,
    Dave
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1.jpg   4.jpg  

  18. #18
    Hiya Dave,

    I would use the eraser tool & remove everything but the decal you want to place. Import it in it's own layer & reduce to size. You may find you need to reduce in size, & that means you might want to adjust the brightness & sharpness so the smaller decal still has some definition.

    To be honest I often find I need to experiment, combining several layers of the same image, each with different effects, in order to get something that doesn't just look like a coloured smudge if it's really small...

    Hope this helps.

    PS. btw if using jpgs, you might need to use the "jpg artifact removal tool", IIRC it's in the Add/Remove noise menu list.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by UncleTgt View Post
    Hiya Dave,

    I would use the eraser tool & remove everything but the decal you want to place. Import it in it's own layer & reduce to size. You may find you need to reduce in size, & that means you might want to adjust the brightness & sharpness so the smaller decal still has some definition.

    To be honest I often find I need to experiment, combining several layers of the same image, each with different effects, in order to get something that doesn't just look like a coloured smudge if it's really small...

    Hope this helps.

    PS. btw if using jpgs, you might need to use the "jpg artifact removal tool", IIRC it's in the Add/Remove noise menu list.
    Thanks for the quick reply UnclTgt,

    So then, there's no "magic" tool. It will take some time to get the desired look. Experiment. Think I've got the idea now. Thanks for that info. Experience is the best teacher.

    CheerZ,
    Dave

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