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RA2 Missions Argentina -English-

Wireframe SHPing
Submitted by ArgCmdr

Wireframe SHPing is kind of a new SHPing method, introduced by your informer, ArgCmdr. Its directed towards those who cannot do 3D design ( in case you cannot run any 3D design programs like me, or in case you simply cant get the rid of the design progs). All you need is Paint Shop Pro. Or Photoshop, though i recommend PSP because its simplier to use for this purpose (everything needed is more "at hand".

This guide will tell step by step how the Observation Tower (available at several resource sites: YrArg, Savage War, PixelOps...) was made, pics included.

First off, lets explain what this is all about. A wireframe SHP is a 3D simulation of a model. Wireframe name comes from the initial constitution method, based onto simple unfilled lines, which conform fake "polygons". Cubes, for example. Its like drawing in perspective, except its on your computer.

As we all know, Command & Conquer Series from TS until YR use a 120 perspective angle, making X Y and Z axis to be all at their same distance, thus you can consider one of them a straight vertical line and the other two to face an exact division by 3, coordinate directon. Too complex? Nah, it isnt. The image below shows perfectly the meaning.

So, basically, what we are gonna do is create polygons on a 2D background in 120 perspective, so called isometric perspective (Iso-metric, greek composed which means equal-measure).

First you get a paper and design what you are gonna do. There isnt much to explain on this step. Then you will dump it to your computer. I dont think instructions are needed to tell how to make a cube on PSP. Use the pencil tool or the line tool (unless you are used to working with layers, i recommend using the pencil. Even i find it way more simple. Before continuing, you may have doubts pointing to the size of your drawing and how complicated it is to draw it. Well, for the first, size is not a problem unless you plan complex polygonal work. In that case, id recommend using the grids made by BobingAbout so you start your work already on scale. In this example, i made the model 300% bigger than output SHP. Simply made for better texturing. And for the second well...part of making models here is trying to make perspective drawing. If you cannot understand perspective, dont try, its a waste of time. Practice on paper instead.

So, a result can be this (notice, in this case perspective is not 100% correct because its worked out from a finished version of the design, -i erased the early ones from this HDD-. The point is clear though)

Next step is coloring the current model. Now this part has two sections. First is lighting. Second is textures.

For lighting, youll notice the light direction in the game points from isometric south to north -Yes, its weird enough.- So the right side of the model will have to be darker than the left. You can do the lighting changes abrupt or gradual. Both look ok, and in fact gradual is much more complicated and not worth for the difference. So here we will just go for abrupt. As you can see anyway, the main body of this SHP has only four fully visible directions (two more are very narrow due to angles). So whenever you have textured each facing, you should go selecting each facing and setting its own lighting value. In this case, the top and the left are same light, middle is a little bit darker and right is darker considerably ( i cannot recall exact values as the SHP was made more than two months ago ).

For texturing, is where the cut and paste job starts. Most of you will know what a texture is but you may be confused on how to apply it to the facing of a polygon. Well, its simple. Get or make the textures you will like for the walls, roof and floor of your structures. The internet is actually a big resource for them, or even SHPs already in the game, like for example, the bricks used in soviet structures. You get a file. resize it as you see it fit so according to the 100% size of your model neither the texture will be unnoticeable or become pixelated. Then you simply copy and paste inside the facing, including the wire frame line. Its always better to alter between lighting and texturing, so even if you erase guidelines, you can still see the polygons because of the lighting mismatches. You may have spotted some non-usual facings. Oblique to say it clearly. Procedure is easy enough though. You simply grab the texture (make sure you are working on 16-24 bit colour first) and you rotate it as you see it fit, according to the angle of the facing. Then you sharpen it to eliminate the blur it gives as result because of average calculations of the program to cover nearby "empty" pixels. There you have it!

So, by now, your structure should be sort of this.

Next step is pasting in the rest of the design, as you can see, thats a base, yep, but theres nothing above! You simply repeat the above steps to add something else to the structure. In this case, its better added with symetry, but for more complex stuff, you are free to exploit you art capabilities!.

Now, after adding the top part and all that work, this is what it should be.

You will notice theres already a glass effect there, its basically a polygon, black in this case, with different lighting values with make it closer to white depending on facing. Not hard at all. Now you need to resize and center, and on final version, add minor details (for example, a small wall which will actually contain those glasses, something i missed in the design part)

After resizing, and those final touches above, the result is this:

Simple design, yet not a lot of work! Shadows are easily made if you can draw on paper on perspective with ease, and damaged and snow frames are as easy to do as in a copy paste building. The good thing is, you can plan buildups in an easier way due to the fact that you have all or almost all the images you need for it in the development of the main SHP itself.

So there you have it, in summary, how to make a wireframe building. Its short yes, but it also represents how easy it is to do it.


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