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Thread: Creating a 2d panel bmp

  1. #1

    Creating a 2d panel bmp

    G'day all

    I've taken it upon myself to try to create a 2d panel for the Carenado Saratoga. So far I've got a bmp image like such.

    Attachment 64086

    But here I've hit a bit of a wall. As I understand it the image needs to be indexed, and in the case of GIMP the maximum number of colours reduced to 255 so any pure black areas of the original panel image don't become transparent. But I'm at a bit of a loss on how to then make the window area pure black once I've done this. If anyone could give me a push in the right direction or point me towards a tutorial on panel design I would be very thankful.

    Cheers

    Az

  2. #2
    SOH-CM-2014 Mick's Avatar
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    I've never heard that about panels needing low resolution bitmaps, probably because it's not so. The panel backgrounds on all the planes David and I made have 24-bit bitmaps.

    For the transparent window areas, you use true black. For parts of the panel that should be colored black, you use an extremely dark gray, so dark that it's visually indistinguishable from black, but the RGW numbers are anything but 0,0,0. Something like 1,1,1 should be enough to make the color show up as black rather than transparent, though we never bothered to check out the actual codes - we just made sure that it wasn't quite exactly true black, except for the transparent areas.

    You wouldn't be able to do that with a 256-color bitmap, because the color depth isn't sufficient for such subtle distinctions.


    On that image you posted, I'll bet that none of those apparently-black areas are true black. If any of them are, you can change that by simply making the entire image a tiny bit darker or lighter, or redder or bluer, or something, in your photo program - not enough of a change that you can see it - just enough to make sure that there's no true black left, no areas with an RGB code of 0,0,0. Then you would manually put true black above the panel, where you want the transparent window.

  3. #3
    Hello Aztec,
    Mick pretty much has it covered. From what I can see, Take your color swap tool with 000 set to swap to 846 (or anything really dark other than 000) and drag your swap tool across the entire bitmap.
    Then take your fill tool and fill the white areas (your windshield area) with 000.

    That should do ya.

    Dave
    http://www.TheFreeFlightSite.com
    "Laissez les bon temps rouler"

  4. #4
    Thanks guys. I think I was over-complicating it, I lightened the image just a tad as suggested and voila!, no more holes in the panel. It's good enough for now but I'll probably rework it a bit later on, but for the time being a just need a workable 2D panel for some IFR practice. I've just started to do all the instrument placement but it will be a long process; one slight complication is that to get the panel dimensions I wanted I had to take a slightly downward-angled shot of the VC which means the instruments/radios taper slightly toward the bottom.

    One other thing I don't quite understand , and I'm not sure whether this is particular to Carenado models, but in the panel cfg makes reference to some gauges having a toggled version, eg

    gauge00=PA32SARAG4!hsi, 0,0,329
    gauge01=PA32SARAG!Toggle_HSI, 38,30,289,236

    Does anyone know whether these are effectively two different versions of the same thing, and does it matter which one I incorporate in the 2D panel?

    Anyway, thanks for the help so far, stay tuned for more questions to come - 24 hours ago I though this little project might be a bit beyond me, but now I think I might actually have a show at it.

    Cheers

    Az

  5. #5
    SOH-CM-2014 Mick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aztec View Post
    ...the panel cfg makes reference to some gauges having a toggled version, eg

    gauge00=PA32SARAG4!hsi, 0,0,329
    gauge01=PA32SARAG!Toggle_HSI, 38,30,289,236

    Does anyone know whether these are effectively two different versions of the same thing... Az
    I'm guessing here, but my guess is that two different file names, even though similar, means two different gauges. I'm rather confused by the location coordinates of the first one. The 0,0 at the beginning tells us that in the panel you copied those lines from, that gauge is located in the extreme corner of the screen - an unlikely place for a gauge - but the 329 tells us that it's of significant size, and not just something hidden away where it could function but not be seen, as is the case with some items in some panels. Very strange...

    Maybe you're supposed to use both of them...???

    Try installing them both in the cfg file, load the plane and look at the panel, and see what shows up. That'll show you what they are and you should be able to tell whether you want to use one or both of them.

  6. #6
    Those are the larger sized pop up gauge that Carenado includes to increase readability.
    If you never click on them in your usual flying then you can just ignore them in the panel.cfg.

    Cheers
    Stefan

  7. #7
    Atzec,
    I posted the FS2004 Panel and Gauges SDK in my design section

    http://thefreeflightsite.com/Design.htm


    Take a look, good info for you.

    Dave
    http://www.TheFreeFlightSite.com
    "Laissez les bon temps rouler"

  8. #8
    Thanks for the help guys. :ernae: There's some good stuff there Dave, I've taken all that on board and the panel is progressing swimmingly! I'll keep you posted on the progress.

    Az

  9. #9
    Success! (Well, at least I think).......

    Attachment 64554

    I even managed to create pop-ups for the MP & RPM, as well as the ADF. While it's good enough for now, later I might try and create a background for the engine gauges pop-up.
    I think this could get a bit addictive, might have a go at one for the Arrow IV now.

    One last quick question - I saved the bmp as 24 bit and it came in at 5MB; I notice that a lot of the other panels are 8 bit, so does it really make that much of a difference?

    Thanks for the help guys

  10. #10
    SOH-CM-2014 Mick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aztec View Post
    ...I saved the bmp as 24 bit and it came in at 5MB; I notice that a lot of the other panels are 8 bit, so does it really make that much of a difference?...
    Looks great! Congrats on a job well done!

    The difference between 24-bit and 8-bit images is in the color variation that's possible. You have a lot of almost-black sections on that panel background, and 8-bit color depth won't support anywhere near that much variation
    . 256 colors really isn't very many. Instead of gradual shading from one shade into another, you'll get hard-edges areas of colors that are perceptibly different. And some of the darker parts might get rendered as true black, which would make them appear transparent in the sim.

    The way to tell is to make an 8-bit copy of the image and check it out. If it looks OK on direct viewing, try it in the sim. If you like it in the sim, keep it. I'll bet you won't like it, though.

    Out of curiosity, I just made an 8-bit copy of the screenie you posted, and some of those off-black areas turned blue and purple! You won't get such dramatic glitches on the full sized image, but you'll probably get some of that sort of thing.

    A couple of confuters ago, if I had a panel with a 5 MB background image, I would've thought, OMG - 5 megs! But on today's confuters, 5 MB is nothing to worry about. I remember when a whole plane only "weighed" a couple of megs, if that. Now they're ten, twenty or fifty times that size and more, and our systems handle them easily.

  11. #11
    Careful, you will soon find yourself doing more design than flight,
    Looks great,

    Dave
    http://www.TheFreeFlightSite.com
    "Laissez les bon temps rouler"

  12. #12
    Charter Member 2014 falcon409's Avatar
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    A bit OT, but in the same vein. . . .I am an addict when it comes to "upgrading" FS9 aircraft to meet my own specs for FSX. To include a new paint kit at 4096x4096 and interior/VC work with similar resolutions. Typical texture folders can go from 2meg to 30 or 40 meg easily with the high-res textures. My system is old by current standards (dual-core/3.0ghz_4gig ram) and I never see any drop in fps or any degrading of performance because of the increase in texture sizes.

    Mick is correct. . . .computers are much more capable of handling larger texture sizes than they would have been 2 or 3 years ago. Great job, by the way, Aztec. You could easily have utilized your photos for the VC work as well.:salute:

  13. #13
    Thanks guys. I think you're on the money Mick; although 5MB seemed large against all the other panels I looked at there's no reduction in performance and it looks fine so I think I'll leave it as it is. As you inferred, the machine I've got now is eons ahead of the one I had when I first got FS9 so it should be able to keep up OK. Re the odd colours you got when you converted the image, not sure but that could be a product of me taking the orginal bmp and just lightening it a couple of points to get rid of the true black areas.

    Careful, you will soon find yourself doing more design than flight,
    Yep, I learnt that lesson the hard way when I started doing a little repainting. Although, then it was just to make things pretty (don't know why I was so obsessed, I never fly from the external view anyway), but doing the panel upgrades gives me a bit more utility out of FS9, which (in theory) should lead to a bit more flying. Although now I've got this one done, I'll probably pause long enought to work up a VH- rego for the PA32.

    Great job, by the way, Aztec. You could easily have utilized your photos for the VC work as well
    I have to admit there Falcon, I might have cheated a little there and made the panel bmp from a screenshot of the VC, but don't tell anyone.

    Thanks for your interest guys, it's nice to get a little "gold star" every now and then when you're new at these things.

    Az

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