Sunday, February 27, 2005

On Making Some Nice Textures

I have very
little technical know-how when it comes to how to present the ideas in my head visually. I do very well with word editors, but something like a map editor, or a photo editing suite, or a paint program, or really any kind of visual style editor, end up confounding my efforts.

What I'd like is a texture editing program. It would ask some basic setup questions: Size, resolution, color depth, per-pixel lighting, the general characteristics of what you'd like (complete with mouseover help explanations of each term).

Once that is set up, you can choose from either Materials types (like Half-Life 2 has: woods, bricks, gravel, metal, etc.) or Colors or Fractal-generated.

From there you are presented with descriptive sliders on the left hand side. These sliders contain the characteristics of the texture and give you options of how to adjust.

A wood texture might have types of woods to the side: birch, oak, cherry. Below that you would see finishings: glossy, dull, sanded. Choosing one of those options, let's say glossy, opens up a sub-window that controls the glossiness based upon descriptions: two buttons, less glossy and more glossy, and button controls beneath that controlling the scope of the buttons (increments - tiny, small, medium, high, very high). Click the tiny button, then less glossy, and the texture will have its glossiness reduced by a very small amount.

There will be a host of general controller buttons you can drag to the left side window: Perlin noise, bump-mapping, color mixture. Adding them to your texture would open up a work window with tweakable options.

Concerning a simple color texture. I don't necessarily know that I'm looking for an RGB value of 155, 148, 255. And I don't necessarily want to look at a huge chart of colors or spend time trying to adjust a slider just right. But I can pick light brown, and then decide that I want it slightly darker, okay, no, just a little darker . . . okay, perfect. I can decide that I want to mix it together. No, not swirled. More marbled. Less marbled than that. Now on a diagonal. Great.

Is anyone aware of a program even close to this description?

Or interested in programming one?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like something that definitely needs to be made, if it doesn't exist already.
I could imagine a sort of procedural logic to it - with plugin-extensible modules with outputs, modules with inputs and outputs, and suchlike; also some sensible presets so people can get a feel for it. Plug-ins could be combined into more complex plugins with adjustable parameters, just the way you said - heck, the underlying plugin structure doesn't even have to be visible in the final product!

I don't think I'm going to do it, being much too lazy and -- oh, something shiny! :runs-off: :)

PS: But yeah, this definitely needs done. Textures are one of the most important areas of the visual make-up of games, and one of the hardest to get right. This has the potential to be really useful.