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Buildpics for Newbies

Firstly, the programs you will need: 

  • PaintShopPro or a similar image editing program (a trial version of PSP is available form Not MSPaint!

  • 3do Builder or Unit Viewer

  • Gaffer (available form Planet Annihilation and TADesigners, however you can use 3dobuilder)

  1. Right, open up your unit in 3do builder, or Unitviewer. Zoom right in and get a nice angle in the 3d view, and press the Print Screen button (if you don't know where this is, it should be above the insert button with the letters Prt Scr on it).

  2. Now open up your image editing program, and paste in that image. Select a box around the unit, copy, and paste. You can now close the first picture. With the second (unit only) picture, resize it to 90 x 90 to allow some space at either side of the unit. Open up a pre downloaded background picture (many available from TADesigners). Use the magic wand select tool on the unit picture, in the background colour (not on the unit itself) now invert the selection (usually an option in the 'selections' menu of your image editor) This should leave you with just the image of your unit selected, if you get some background colour around it, try increasing the tolerance (I find 25% works well).

  3. Now copy, and paste into the background picture. one you have that nicely arranged, its best to add some merging effects, experiment with a shadow filter until it looks good (the shadow should generally be to the right and behind the unit, also you may have to increase the colour depth to 16bit before being able to apply filters).

  4. The next stage is to convert the picture to the TA Palette (download for PSP Here for Photoshop Here) If given the choice, use 'error diffusion' as the method. If you are not given this option you may wish to first convert the image to 256 colours using error diffusion, and then convert to the TA palette.  Save the image as a .BMP, and as a .pcx into the 'unitpics' directory of your unit.

  5. If you are using Gaffer go to step 6, if you are using 3dobuilder, go to step 8.

  6. Resize the image to 64 x 64 pixels, and save as 'name'1.bmp. Increase the brightness of the picture, and save as a 'name'2.bmp. Next is a  third picture, for when the unit is 'greyed out', change the picture to 'grayscale' colouring, and reload the TA palette. Now close your image editing program.

  7. Open up Gaffer. Click browse, and find the file of the first BMP, if everything is correct, it will show u a preview of it, and not popup with any errors. Now do this for the second and then third pictures. Enter the UnitName at the top, and press make gaf. Walla! You have a buildpic!

  8. Open 3doBuilder, go to 'Special>Create Unit Picture'. Use the 'Import Image' button and find your 96x96 .bmp image. enter the UnitName in the box, and click 'Save gaf'. Save the .gaf to the 'anims' folder of your unit. Walla! You have a buildpic!

Notes on Gaffer vs. 3doBuilder: 

  • 3doB uses the unitpic 96x96 bmp image and automatically creates the three frames needed for the buildpic .gaf. The image must be in the Ta Palette.

  • Gaffer requires the user to make the three frames themselves, allowing more freedom for creating custom effects, images do not have to be in the TA palette, but Gaffer does not convert them, so they may turn out wrong.

All in all, it is a matter of personal choice, experiment with both to see what meets your needs best.

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