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dog1

how to create an alpha file ?

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How do you create an alpha file for or  from bare metal and painted template files  ?

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In short, you can convert the Template to Grayscale and manipulate it from that. 

For instance, the Aluminium on a Mustang Colourfile (in MY case) is (RGB)152 153 154 and the Alpha of that surface is (RGB) 118 118 118. This, in the case of the Alpha, makes the surface reflective because it's ABOVE 50% Grey.

As a comparison my Tyre Alpha on a Bf109 is (RGB) 14 14 14. This is LOWER than 50% Grey and is in fact nearer to Black which consequently makes it pretty much non-reflective.

NOTE Pure Black on an Alpha renders the resulting surface transparent/invisible!!

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It had to be from the original , thanks tip . i will start working on what you mentioned . One more thing while we are on the subject , i have a skin with its alpha as usual and its born already shiny even though its a fully painted surface " FW190 " . I want to eliminate the shine or reduce it , if i remove the alpha all together there is no shine left at all , full flat . But if i want to keep a little shine trying to manipulate levels and curves it is only rendering it darker or brighter , its not reducing or increasing the shine , in this case what is the solution or how do you go about increasing or decreasing the shine only .  

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That's basically all that the Alpha templates are, just a few selected layers from the original template but all in grey scale.

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if i succeed in making my own that would  render me totally independant both for BM and painted surfaces ..

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most templates (certainly ICDPs) already come with their own alpha templates as a separate thing and should be a good starting point. 

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so far only the NM templates i have have the alpha , i am seeking to develop my own alpha for the painted templates that require an increase or decrease of brilliance . As i mentioned above to go flat is easy but sometimes its a bit too flat .

Edited by dog1

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The easiest way I find is just to open the alpha template that comes with ICDP's 4K templates, and disable the base layer. Then I create 2 base layers, one 100% white and one 100% black.

 

I play with the opacity of the black layer to determine the sheen I want. Usually 60-75% opacity of the black layer gives me a reasonably flat sheen, depending on what I want. I disable all the marking layers when I do painted skins. NM skins obviously you will have to play with the marking layers so your markings don't become reflective, and you'll bring your black base layer down below 50% opacity.

 

Things I turn off in the Alpha templates are all the weathering, all the panel lines, and any shadow layers.

 

I will turn on the weathering layers one by one and either bring them to the white or black side of gray scale to highlight certain things. For instance, oil and fuel leak layers I will want shinier, so I bring them into the lighter side. Any weathering or anything that affects the paint I will bring on the darker side, to flatten those areas.

 

For instance here, you can see my two base layers and I have my black set to 40% opacity. I have the shadow layers on just to have a better sense of that is what on the skin file:

zeYOGlM.jpg

Edited by Megalax

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@dog1 All these suggestions are pretty much good for using. You'll find that different people get to the same point but in slightly different ways. The best way to go about it is to have a mess around and see what you are happy with. There isn't any quick way to do it, it's a case of 'practice makes perfect(ish!)'. A lot of people just use the flat Alpha but personally I can't really see the point. If you're making a skin for yourself then just as well have it as good as you can get it?

I'd be interested to see what you come up with. If you share it on here then maybe people can give you a few pointers as to where it could be better/easier/more accurate etc. etc...

Here's a couple of images to give you an idea of what goes where/does what...

The top one is obviously a painted one whilst the bottom one is pretty much bare aluminium. Colours to the left and alphas to the right (obviously... again...).

1405883757_P40E1_112SharkSq_RAF.thumb.jpg.4f060ca7eb3222ca8fc3e961d0a6e721.jpg

857615535_P40E1_RapAluminium.thumb.jpg.0d539cf9545a949ab08968923c907243.jpg

 

I hope this gives you a bit more of an idea?

Rap

:popcorm:

Edited by Raptorattacker

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MEGALEX

you prefer to work with levels to adjust the shine for painted surfaces . I will try that . With NM i used curves to tone down the given alpha file and it works very well .

 working on it very slowly and then testing and testing . thank you all for tips , appreciated 

Edited by dog1

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I use opacity. I don't touch the tools from the drop down menu, assuming you are using GIMP. So no, I don't use Levels or Curves. 

 

I work with the opacity of either black or white layers over my base black and white layers to get what I want. I just have to be careful of how I superimpose the opacity of each layer so I don't end up with pure black or pure white. Here is my latest spitfire Alpha to illustrate:

 

e3jv6VP.jpg

 

The main painted surface is set to a matte sheen by having my black base layer set to 67%. Everything else is either set to white or black and the opacity is adjusted to get more or less gloss. The leaks are set to be glossy, and the worn areas in the weathering layers are set to be more matte. So fluids will be shiny and dirt will be flat.

The skin will look like this
aIcgtXH.jpg

 

The overall sheen is a semi-gloss/semi-flat. Just a nice middle ground. All the dirty surfaces are flatter (darker on the alpha) and reflect less light than the surrounding overall skin. All the fluids and other shiny surfaces like lights were set lighter than the base to ensure they reflected more light.

I do the same with NMF skins, but I start with a lighter base coat:

7wBFRe1.jpg

 

Now the dirt is also darker, to reflect less light, and the fluids are lighter to reflect more, while still maintaining that less than pure black or pure white balance. And the resulting skin:

BntPqFv.jpg

 

I do it this way because I'm lazy. Some would prefer to call it efficient, but no, its pure laziness. I have no patience to learn all the tools in GIMP or photoshop or Paint.net or any other program, so I find the simplest way to do it. I'm sure that if I took the time to learn all the tools my skinning would be completely amazing, but I just keep it as simple and as enjoyable as I can make it for me.

Edited by Megalax

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after converting a file copy to greyscale following your method of using only the opacity bar where are the 2  black and white layers ? did you add them ? i still have for example RLM 74 as one camo layer and RLM 75 below and Rlm 76 lower surface . I tried using the level tool and it worked fine on a color layer in this case reducing the shine , i will use the level tool for the oil streaks you mentioned and render them more gloss .  

alpha.jpg

Edited by dog1

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Yes I create the 2 base layers I need to set the base sheen. You'll want to get rid of all the color layers, so no need for the RLM layers you have,  as you will be working on the sheen of the whole aircraft and not it's color sections.

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so it becomes an alpha with just black and white to cover all the surface  a bit like NM alphas . For the oil streaks texture layer how do you add its own set of black and white to render it glossy ? In my experiment i adjusted the level tool for each layer of paint and that works fine if thats your goal , deleting all the alpha color and texturing layers and adding the black and white for general cover is what i will test for the first time .     

1.jpg

2.jpg

Edited by dog1

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Take your layer and lock the opacity. That's the square next to the word 'Lock' in your layer window. Go to the foreground/background color selector and reset it so it has pure black and pure white. Bucket fill with white or black. It should turn everything in your layer to what you bucket filled with.

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what causes this in manipulating the alpha ? the spinner colors are merged into the camo layer i adjusted . 

1.jpg

2.jpg

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here is a pic using your method 65 % black , i am still having that issue of the black getting transparent , how do i fix that ?

1.jpg

Edited by dog1

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While your layer on it's own may not be 100% black, the fact that you are playing with opacity means that the compounding or adding of the layers above and below it may end up being 100% black. Pure black causes transparency.

 

Remember that the point is to have no pure colors in the overall alpha layer.

 

So basically your layer for your spinner and your artwork is not 100% black, but due to working it's opacity, if you superimpose a 60% black on a 40% black layer you will end up with 100% black in that area.

The end goal is to have your other layers be either more or less black/white than the base layers. Your base is a starting point.

  • Thanks 1

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so i must delete anything that is colored from the alpha layer to stop the super imposing of colors of the same tint to avoid reaching the 100% danger point  ?

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If you have 100% black you will have transparency.

If you have 100% white you will have full matte sheen.

 

Anything between those 2 limits is where you want elements of your alpha layer to be. So yes, if you want something to be more matte than your base, you go darker. If you want something to be shinier, you make it lighter.

If in the superimposing game you play with your layers you achieve either 100% black or 100% white you will have have either transparency or complete matte.

  • Upvote 1

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glad i now have have more than one method in manipulating alphas with PS . appreciate your detailed  support .

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