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Author Topic: TUTORIAL - How To Repaint Aircraft in FSX  (Read 48925 times)
Justin Rider
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« on: November 13, 2009, 11:55:19 AM »

How to Repaint in FSX (Basic Tutorial)
By Justin Rider

Programs you will need:

• DXTBMP (Install before starting tutorial)
• Photoshop or equivalent.

Sorting files:

To start we need an aircraft to repaint, so I'm going to use the Cessna 172 as an example (I suggest you use the same for this tutorial).

Then we need a texture to repaint. Go to the FSX directory, into the Simobjects/Airplanes folder. Go to the C172 folder. In there you will see a number of folders and files. For repainting we are only interested in the texture folders and the aircraft.cfg (more on that later).

Since we are using the default Cessna, we will use the texture that is white (so we have no colours to change to get a plain aircraft). Before we get the files we need, create a new folder called "texture.tutorial", this is the folder where our repaint will go.

Go to the "Texture" folder (not the one you've just created) and copy "C172_T" to your desktop. This will be the file you'll edit later.

Now copy "texture.cfg" and paste it in "texture.tutorial". This file tells the game where to get the files you won't be editing (virtual cockpit, pilots, etc.) You don't need to do anything to this file.

So, now you should have a folder in your "C172" folder called "texture.tutorial" with one file in it called "texture.cfg".



On your desktop, you should have a file called "C172_T".

Repainting:

Start DXTBMP up, and go to File -> Open. Navigate to your desktop and double click "C172_T". You should see this:



On the right side, you will see an image which says "Alpha Channel" above it (#1 in sceenshot). We want to save this in case our texture looses the alpha during editing. To do this, click the 4th button under the Alpha Channel image (Export Alpha Channel as BMP) (#2 in screenshot). Call it alpha so you remember what it is.

Now you will need to send it to the editor. You can do this by clicking on Image (#3 in screenshot) -> Send to Editor. If you haven't set a program, it may ask for one or start MS Paint. If it starts MS Paint, close it and go to Prefs (#4 in screenshot) -> Select Editor . Find the program you want and double click the exe. Now when you 'send to editor', it will start your program.

Once your graphics program has started and the file is displayed, you will see the same image as in DXTBMP. This is where you will repaint.

I use Photoshop so I can create a new layer to work on. If you can't, don't worry, just save your work in different files (tex1, tex2 etc) to keep backups.

Create a new layer (if you can't create new layers, ignore this), select the brush tool and select a colour. Since the texture is upside down, we'll start on the top fuselage (in the top left of your working area.) The bottom of the fuselage is the darker area at the top. Start there with the brush. You don't have to be neat on the outer edges as the game won't read this.

You only need straight lines inside the area you’re painting (or you could use the polygon lasso tool and select the area you want, right click, fill. It's quick and easy). Smiley



I have got a blue body area, with a red stripe above it (it's below in PS, but above in-game)

You may have a different design to me, but it doesn't matter.

Save your texture so you can open it later (.psd if using Photoshop), and then save it as a BMP. I use BMP, 32 bit, for higher quality. It doesn't matter about the name, as long as you can remember what it is.

Now we are going to get it into the game.  Smiley 

Getting it in-game:



Go back to DXTBMP, and click File (#1 in screenshot) -> Open. Navigate to where you saved the bitmap, and double click it. It will now load your repainted texture.

You'll now notice that the Alpha Channel is blank, so we need to import it. To do this, click the 1st button under the alpha channel (Import Alpha Channel)(#2 in screenshot), and click OK. Navigate to where you saved the alpha channel, and double click it. Your Alpha Channel is now back.  Smiley

To save it for game use, go to File (#1 in screenshot) -> Save As -> DDS Image. Find C172_T (the .dds file on your desktop), and click it, change the file type in the Save As drop-down to DDS DXT5 (this is the highest quality possible). Click Save. When it asks for an overwrite, click Yes. Once it has saved, go to your desktop and find C172_T, copy it and navigate to texture.tutorial (in your C172 folder). Paste the DDS file into texture.tutorial, and overwrite the old one.

Okay, now we have our texture ready to go, so now we need to tell Flight Sim that there is an extra texture we want to use.

Open aircraft.cfg (open it with Notepad). To start this, copy the first item, from [fltsim.0] to the end of the description.

I have included it here for your ease:

Quote
[fltsim.0]
title=Cessna Skyhawk 172SP Paint1
sim=Cessna172SP
model=
panel=
sound=
texture=1
kb_checklists=Cessna172SP_check
kb_reference=Cessna172SP_ref
atc_id=G-BAFM
ui_manufacturer="Cessna"
ui_type="C172SP Skyhawk"
ui_variation=" Blue, Gold"
ui_typerole="Single Engine Prop"
ui_createdby="Microsoft Corporation"
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 decades."


Now scroll down to the last [fltsim] (default Cessna has 5 textures, so the last one will be [fltsim.5]).

Click under the description (next line down) and press enter, and paste what you have just copied.

Now we have to edit some details to get it to work. So first:

Edit [fltsim.0] to [fltsim.6] (or next number if you already have a 6, etc.) (This is the ID of the texture)
Edit title=Cessna Skyhawk 172SP Paint1 to title=Cessna Skyhawk 172SP Tutorial (this is the internal title of the aircraft)
Edit texture=1 to texture=tutorial (This is the folder of the texture)
Edit ui_variation=" Blue, Gold" to ui_variation=" Tutorial" (this is the name you will see in game. Eg: Cessna C172SP Skyhawk Tutorial)

And that's it. It should look like:

Quote
[fltsim.6]
title=Cessna Skyhawk 172sp Tutorial
sim=Cessna172SP
model=
panel=
sound=
texture=tutorial
kb_checklists=Cessna172SP_check
kb_reference=Cessna172SP_ref
atc_id=G-BAFM
ui_manufacturer="Cessna"
ui_type="C172SP Skyhawk"
ui_variation="Tutorial"
ui_typerole="Single Engine Prop"
ui_createdby="Microsoft Corporation"
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 decades."


Save and close aircraft.cfg.

Boot FSX up and change your aircraft to the Cessna 172. You will know which is yours as it will have a gray plane for its picture. The reason for this is that you have no thumbnail for it to call with the picture. I will explain this soon.

Select and click OK. You will notice that you can see your current repaint working before you even fly.

Now exit Flight Sim (as you've seen it in action, or go fly for a closer look) and carry on with your repaint. Smiley

Every time you want to see it in FSX, go back to DXTBMP, and click File -> Open. Navigate to where you saved the bitmap, and double click it. It will now load your repainted texture. To save it for game use, go to File -> Save As -> DDS Texture. Find C172_T (the .dds file on your desktop), and click it, change the file type in the Save as drop-down box to DDS DXT5 (this is the highest quality possible). Click Save. When it asks for an overwrite, click Yes. Once it has saved, go to your desktop and find C172_T, copy it and navigate to texture.tutorial (In your C172 folder). Paste the DDS file into texture.tutorial, and overwrite the old one.

Once you are happy with it, go flying with it and take a screenshot that you would like the game to use on the Aircraft selection page. Change its size to around 256 x 128 (it doesn't have to be exact) and save it as a JPEG with the filename "thumbnail". Put this image in your texture.tutorial folder and next time you use FSX, it will be displayed.

Enjoy! Smiley 

Tips:

There is a different way of saving the files, but the way I've shown is easier to start with.
You can use many styles and techniques to get the results you want, so don't be afraid to experiment.

Just because it’s gone wrong, doesn't mean you have to give up. Just try again or take a break.

Remember, practice makes perfect.

Notes:

This just covers the basics to help you get started.

If you have any techniques or tips to share, please PM me or reply here, and I'll add it. You will be credited for it. Smiley 

If you are having problems, please reply here, don't PM me. Any questions asked will be added to the bottom of this post along with an answer for future reference. Questions will also be answered in a reply.

Credits:

Thanks to samuel150892 for creating the starter repaint thread. Without this, I'd never have started.

Thanks:

Kevin Glover and Adam Johnson from VFR Reviews for editing.

Questions:

Q. Why do I need xxxx?:

A. C172_T: You need the C172_T, as this is the main texture file for the C172. It contains most of the texture data for the C172.

texture.cfg: This links back to the main texture folder to call up textures you haven't edited. Without this, you would have black or blank bits within your paint.

Alpha Channel: The Alpha Channel tells FSX what bit needs to be transparent and also which bits need to have a shine. On the C172, the spinner on the prop is shiny, without the Alpha Channel, it would just be a dull grey.

Change Log:

Version 1: Release.

Copyright:

This Tutorial is ©2009 Justin "Fab208" Rider. All rights reserved.
Do not distribute this elsewhere without prior permission.
Sites with permission:
Vectors Flight Community
FS Water Configurator (Striking Software)
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 12:51:50 PM by Paul Wheeler » Logged

Ro55
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2010, 06:57:38 PM »

Thank you for this tutorial.

But I screwed up my first attempt at following this tutorial. I screwed up my default C172 texture, the white one that we use in this tutorial. I need to restart the tutorial. I need that C172 fresh again.

Is there any way that I could get the original default textures back in FSX so that I can begin again? (should have saved before starting)

Again, thank you for this tutorial. And thanx for your help.
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Justin Rider
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2010, 07:20:32 PM »

I've attached the file to the post Smiley

Tell me when you've got it so I can remove it again Wink

Edit: Attachment removed.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2010, 07:52:45 PM by Fab208 » Logged

Ro55
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2010, 07:39:18 PM »

Thank you soooo much for textures and quick reply. I have them.

While waiting for a reply I used the default 737 (white) aircraft as a stand in for the tutorial...and got it figured out  yes.

I have made submarine skins for my Silent Hunter 4 game. But there I didn't need the DXTBmp program. At least I never used it.
This is wonderful...I'll be working with FSX textures alllllll night.

Thank you all  Smiley.
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Justin Rider
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2010, 07:54:22 PM »

No problem Smiley

Glad you got it figured Smiley
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McCartney95
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 10:27:49 AM »

Thanks for this great Tutorial, but do you know how to create Transparent VC Windows? I've photoshop and now how to handle with dxtbmp (I've made some repaintS9, but I have no idea of Alpha Channel and these things. I want to create some INTERIOR transparent VC Windows for the PMDG 747 & MD11 (like the default 737 has), do you know how I can do this? (I want to make them with reflections)
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 11:54:45 AM by McCartney95 » Logged
havocmwf
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« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2011, 08:29:24 AM »

Hi,

I have just started experimenting with repaints and can now open, paint and save with no problems.

My biggest problem now is getting things to line up in the repaint.  This is especially true when there is a door which is seperate from the fusalage or for lines which run around the whole fusalage and you have to paint it on up to four seperate parts.  The problem is that the parts are all in different places so it's not so easy to get them all lining up.

Any tips on how best to do this?


Cheers

Havocmwf
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Paul Wheeler
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« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2011, 12:16:24 AM »

I'm afraid I've always done it by trial and error.

Justin is our repaint expert - he may have a few other ideas.
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Tony
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2012, 10:21:44 AM »

Hi Justin,
I made a texture (or tried too anyway) and did everything you had put up, my only variable aircraft that I chose was the DC-3. And it wont work, it keeps using the World travel Airlines skin. How do I get around this? Sorry for being a pain
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Justin Rider
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2012, 12:40:23 PM »

Quote
Hi,

I have just started experimenting with repaints and can now open, paint and save with no problems.

My biggest problem now is getting things to line up in the repaint.  This is especially true when there is a door which is seperate from the fusalage or for lines which run around the whole fusalage and you have to paint it on up to four seperate parts.  The problem is that the parts are all in different places so it's not so easy to get them all lining up.

Any tips on how best to do this?


Cheers

Havocmwf

Trail and error mostly.

For fuselage parts, you could cut them out, paste onto a new document and line them up so you have a full side to paint on. Then when you are done, chop it up (using copies of layers) and paste it all back to the original document.

For doors, I sometimes paint lines on to the door and fuselage and keep moving them till they line up (EG: If I've got a stripe running down the aircraft which goes over a door, I'll use 2 lines on the door to find the top and bottom of the stripe. When these lines meet with the stripe, I add the stripe to the door.)

Quote
Hi Justin,
I made a texture (or tried too anyway) and did everything you had put up, my only variable aircraft that I chose was the DC-3. And it wont work, it keeps using the World travel Airlines skin. How do I get around this? Sorry for being a pain

Have you edited the aircraft.cfg file correctly. Sound likes you've forgotten to edit the "texture=" line.

Open aircraft.cfg, scroll down to your new paint and check that "texture=" is pointing to your new paint folder. If it says "texture=1", its still pointing at the WTA paint.

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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012, 12:28:12 PM »

OK this was a great walk through, thank you so much. I am able to edit planes fly them etc; only one problem when you look at the edited pictures they are sharp looking but in the game the aircraft are very dull and lost all their edges. This isnt a great example but I did a P38 and put the Pink Floyd flag w/hammers and other floyd items on the plane and all the colors also are dull and fade into the others. I realize this is a forum and this is not any persons job; but any help would be fantastic in this matter. Thank you so much

Jocko

EDIT, removed pictures so the thread would not get too big
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 09:37:16 PM by guitarest » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2012, 01:01:07 PM »

That sort of looks like the global texture setting in graphics isn't high enough.

If you have the global texture slider at maximum, then the file might not be saved in the correct format.
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2012, 02:41:06 AM »

Quote
That sort of looks like the global texture setting in graphics isn't high enough.
? Ok whats that?

Thank you, below is another example of the P38 I spoke about. Oh yours is a fantastic sticky; its whats got me where I am with this editing. Thank you for taking time in your day to show others how to do this.

EDIT, removed pictures so the thread would not get too big
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 09:37:46 PM by guitarest » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2012, 12:49:08 PM »

For the global texture slider, go to Settings >> Customize. On the right side of that box will be a "Global texture resolution" slider, move it all the way to the right which will be "Very high". Click Ok.

But, looking at the screens you've posted of DXTBmp, it looks like the file format isn't the correct type. When you save the texture, make sure to click the drop down box below the file name and select DDS DXT5.
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guitarest
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« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2012, 09:03:28 PM »

Yes your right the effects are dumbed down allot, due to the PC. I have a older Gateway I purchased for my son and since mine died and he is in the Marines living in Calif. And I'm to lazy currently to build another machine I reloaded his with a new OS and added a few hard drives and this is what the on board video and audio can handle currently. I have a new PciX Video and Soundcard coming and should be here on friday. The video has a gig of ramm and should wake up this machine allot. Then I can really push the software. I have been working on the below plane and yes its ugly but its a expirement to get used to painting the planes in FSX. Again thank you so much for your help.

Jocko


« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 09:38:43 PM by guitarest » Logged

Jocko
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