Re-Skinning / Texturing Models in Microsoft Train Simulator
|By M. Peddlesden, Copyright ©2001|
Hand Drawn Texturing
I've always found that, except for the few times photo texturing hits the jackpot, hand drawing them
is generally going to give you a better look overall. On the downside, it's obviously a lot harder since
you're in control of the individual pixels and you have to get them right! :-)
If you're repainting an existing skin then I'd strongly recommend starting out by spending a good amount
of time on getting it down to a base white that you can work on. Get rid of all the existing logo's and
striping etc so that your new design isn't going to be affected by it. The other benefit to this approach
is that you can then use the white-base texture you create many times over in order to do multiple liveries
There are a number of things to take in to account when doing the textures manually so let's cover some of
them now before we launch into a worked example.
Anti Aliasing can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Always use it on diagonals, on circles/ellipses
and on text but do not use it for straight lines (vertical or horizontal) as it could very well blur
their edges slightly. PSP allows you to use Anti Aliasing on any 16 bit or above image - though for
lines/circles etc you have to specifically switch Anti Aliasing on in the Tool Options as shown here:
Don't make everything one flat single colour! If you look at a photograph of the loco you're hand drawing
you'll see that it's all kinds of shades of the same colour and if you can manage to repeat that effect
(perhaps cut/paste a small section repeatedly from the photo) in your hand drawn loco you'll see the
difference immediately. Part of realism is non-perfection and the trick is to know where the perfection
problem is with the real world or with what you've created. Make sure that you perfectly copy the
non-perfect world and don't end up with a loco that looks like it would if the world was perfect :)
(if you follow me hehe).
The final thing to watch and be careful of is what I call the grid-work. This includes paneling, bolts,
engine vents, engine access panels, doors, windows, whatever - all the slightly darker lines that run around
the loco, here's an example of some gridwork:
The above is a magnified view of my Acela HHP-8 Virgin Trains fictional repaint, focused on where the engine
gridwork is on the side. As you can see, a great deal of effort was put into making sure that this grid work
remained even through having to re-colour it to the black and red diagonal split. This was quite tricky but I'll
get to how the effect was achieved in the Paintshop Pro 6 Tips and Tricks
section of this tutorial. For now, I hope you can atleast see what it is i'm referring to.
If you are reskinning an existing unit then be very careful to ensure that all the existing detail
is kept, you may want to add more if you think the unit is lacking, or fix it if you think it's wrong,
but don't just delete it because it's too hard - the end result will look noticeably poor.
Ok with those few things to keep an eye on let's get on with a simple example. Once again, we're going to
repaint the Acela HHP into a new livery - of course this is a fictional repaint since the Acela is not a British
locomotive - and hopefully learn a few tricks along the way! That, of course, is one of the key benefits of
Hand Drawn repaints over the photograph based ones - it doesn't actually have to exist in real life for you
to make a fictional version!
Network Southeast is the chosen livery, I personally like it because it's bright and colourful - and
compared to the classic BR Blue livery the difference is like night and day :)
Let's remind ourselves where we are starting from:
Next, let's see what we're trying to end up with - for those unfamiliar with the Network Southeast Livery, or
those that need a reminder!
The above photos are courtesy of The NSE Class 47 Homepage
There were two variations of the Network Southeast Livery as shown above by a couple of Class 47's.
We'll be modeling the older one - mostly because I just like it better :)
First step, let's get it back to being plain white - this is also quite easy with this
loco because it's a mostly white livery to start with.
Notice how all the gridwork is still there - as a general rule of thumb, use a darker colour for the
gridwork than whatever the gridwork is over. For example, if you're on white, then use a darker white
where the gridwork is over that colour. The real trick is when you have multiple colours that the gridwork
goes over and PSP can make finding the colours a bit easier for us. Use the colour-dropper tool
to get the exact colour you're going over and then click on it in the
colour bar on the right so that you get the colour selector as shown below:
Look down the bottom at the right set of values and you see 'Light' - to get a darker colour of whatever
you've got just knock 20 or so off this value - whatever you knock off the value at the beginning,
keep doing so all the way along the gridwork lines and you'll end up with some pretty neat looking
First thing we need to do is sit and plan out how we're going to apply the Network Southeast Livery on to
our loco. It's not a style of Loco that this livery was ever applied to (the equivalent in the UK would be
something like a Class 92 - and 92's weren't around when this Livery was) so we're going to have to be creative.
It shouldn't be too hard....
I'm thinking that the diagonal stripes will come up to the window, so this means that the white on the front
needs to become yellow, as does everything beneath roughly where the stripes will be on the side nose. Let's
make that change and see what we've got. Remember, keep the grid work there.
To do this, i'm going to introduce you to the first of many tools at your disposal - colour modification. This
makes life excessively easy, provided you can get the colours right!
Block mark an area of the front nose that is going to all be modified (don't include any lights, anything that's
blue etc). You can include gridwork and indeed you should. You're going to be applying the same 'change' to
many blocks on here to work around the various non-yellow things so don't worry if you mark a small block of just
white to start with. Once you're confident, you'll get the hang of where to mark.
Click on the Colours menu and select Adjust Red/Green/Blue. Now set Red to 50, Green to 50 and Blue to -50. Click OK.
Not looking bad but too bright. That's easy, click on Colours and Adjust Brightness/Contrast. Set that to -50 and
click OK - now it's looking much more like how we need. If you included any gridwork in your selection you'll
notice that all the anti aliasing for that has changed as well!
The basic procedure here is to block mark big areas, as big as you can, and once you're down to single pixel
blocks around curves etc you can either then zoom right in and apply this change each time to each one or you
can just use the dropper to get hold of a nearby pixel and fill in the blanks.
|Note: You can use Shift-U to bring up the Red/Green/Blue
dialog, and Shift-B to bring up the Brightness Dialog. PSP will retain the settings you used last, so re-applying
to a new block is just a matter of 'Shift-U<ENTER>Shift-B<ENTER>' for each block.
Also available at your disposal are the HSV Map, and the Hue/Saturation/Value sliders - you may need one, another
or combinations of any of these effects to turn one colour into the colour you want. If you can do it this way
though (and it might not always be possible) you get a lot of the gridwork problems sorted for you, for nothing!
|Note: One point to be careful of, don't overlap your
blocks - these operations are ofcourse additive, brighten once but if you brighten the same area again you are
going to get something brighter still. Be careful what you select!|
How do you know what to put in the sliders for the various modifiers that are available? For the RGB one you should
work out what you're on (colour dropper over a sample of the start texture), work out where you're going to
(colour dropper over the end texture) and then work out what you need to do to the first in order to get to
the second. ie. add lots of red, a little green and take away some blue - then its a matter of tweaking the
sliders until you get kinda the right effect - remember you can always lighten or darken it to finish it up
later as well.
One final point about using these colour modifications is that the order you apply them can be all-important.
If you apply a colour modification that gets rounded out somehow (eg. goes over the boundaries) then it is
crucial you apply them in the right order. While doing the texturing for this tutorial I've found exactly this,
by doing the RGB mod first, and then the Brightness reduction you get a much worse look than the other way around.
This is because the RGB mod makes the texture too bright - so much so that you lose detail. Darkening it first,
and then using the RGB mod means that you don't lose anywhere as much detail in this particular instance. Try it
out both ways when you do your own and see how you get on.
Incidentally, while the colour-swapping tool can be very useful you should never use it anywhere there is a
stippling effect or anti-aliasing or you will lose that effect. If you don't lose it, it won't do much and you're
going to spend who knows how long trying to change it that way.
Let's see where we're at currently...
One thing that you might see, or might not due to the size of the image, is that i've added the first grey line,
or atleast a marker for its start. I've done this using the Draw tool with Anti Aliasing switched on. Drawing
the line this way puts it into its own layer - this has the added benefit that as we change the pixel on the
background, the anti aliased version takes on that change - it's maintaining the anti-aliasing effect live and
on the fly as you go around editing. This makes life very easy!
After a bit more editing we can now see the stripes on the side of the nose texture:
The curved bit at the top of the texture was done using a Bezier Curve.
I always like to keep loading the texture into Train Sim to see how it's looking. At this point it's especially
important because the next step is to do the sides - and the nose sides must be right, since we'll be lining up
with them. Ok, so here's how she looks at the moment:
Let's be critical and make some observations. Firstly, the grey window just doesn't work, so we'll have to
get rid of that and make it white like the rest of the nose. Next, the grey lines that go between the yellow
and the white on the nose, they look kinda silly, almost like we're painting by numbers - so we'll have to do
something with those. Other than that, I don't think we're in too bad shape, so let's press on...
Here's the first cut at measuring where the lines will go on the side...
As you can see, not quite there yet but close. I got this by copying the right hand side of the nose side texture,
(the one on the bottom right of the texture image), pasting it to a new file and halving its size. I could then
paste it as a new layer on to the side of the loco and from there work out where the lines went. This is
because the side of the loco is almost (but apparently not quite) half the size of the nose side. I pasted it
in as its own layer so that it was dead easy to remove later.
We have to remove those bits now, which I can do with my handy-dandy CTRL-Z (Edit/Undo to you point-clicky folk)
key and put them back using a colour modification and this time we'll go the whole way.....
Using colour modification, I put the grey stripe in on the bottom and then the red stripe in above it. One of
my techniques for positioning accurately is simply to use a checkerboard pattern 2 pixels wide, and then count
inside Train Sim where things should go. That enabled me to position the red stripe. I've used colour modification
for both stripes, and indeed will do so for the blue shortly. The Red stripe was done with a -70 bright
adjustment followed by a 70, -70, -70 RGB adjustment. The Grey stripe was simply a negative bright adjustment of
Here's what she looks like now:
Starting to look a bit closer now!
I think the red could use being a bit darker so I applied a -10 brightness adjust to the whole line and then it
was time for the main blue section which comprises the majority of the paintwork. Using the same procedure I
first applied a -85 bright adjust (remember that we had a -70 previously, and we did a -10 to the red later
on so I'm just pre-empting things and then adding a little more for luck :) ). After the brightness adjustment
I applied essentially the same RGB as before, only this time focusing it towards the blue, so it was a
-70, -70, 70 adjustment. This was applied in one go to the area that's in blue.
Not looking too bad at all, it's not perfect but it's close enough for the purposes of this tutorial. Let's
take a look at the current state of the texture so you can catch up with how that's looking:
Next up it's time for the Network Southeast logo to go on there - it's just some text so it's nothing we need
to cut and paste. For this version of the livery we need a white BR logo (the two arrows) followed by the
word 'Network' in solid white, and 'Southeast' in outlined white.
Sadly, Paintshop Pro 6 doesn't (as far as I can see) allow outlined white text so I'll have to leave a better job
on the text to someone else, for now I'm just going to slap this bit on. Using various layer merging
hasn't improved its appearence at all either so it's going on raw, which looks a little odd.
The BR Logo i've done by hand using the line drawing tool with anti aliasing switched on for the diagonals and
switched off for the horizontal lines.
As you can see, once in the sim she isn't looking bad at all. The name plate is done by using a light grey
foreground and a reddish background, drawing a rounded rectangle (stroked and filled) and then putting the
text in there. Finally size the two together so that it looks ok.
For those that are interested, my fictional Class 99 series (The Acela's) are named after lost continents.
99001 was the Virgin Trains repaint and was named, of course, Atlantis and this new one, 99002 is
Before moving on, let's see what that body-side looks like in the texture file:
Now, looking back at the loco it's time to think about the windows and the top of the loco. Most loco's seem
to have a darker top to them and this isn't reflected in our Acela so let's see how that looks.
Note: Because i'm making a more fundamental change to the scheme now,
i'm going to take a quick back up. You should be doing this regularly because
you never know when something will go wrong and you decide to back track
to an earlier moment...
Ok, so here's the white windows, see if you think the same thing I did....
"Bleugh" was something along the lines I had.... So i'm reverting back to the grey windows that it defaults
to, it actually doesn't look too bad like that.
Something else you'll spot on this one is that I now have the dark roof colour - I did this by copying the top section
of the other side (the next section down in the texture file) back over the blue bit at the top of this
side. It's far easier and better quality to do that and then simply darken it than try to turn the blue
back in to white and then darken that. Both sides are identical so this is a perfectly legitimate thing to
do. Still, we'll get back to the grey windows and carry on cleaning and tidying. We're also about ready to
finally duplicate that texture and put it on the other side. Let's get all that done and take stock of where
we are, there shouldn't be much left to do now....
One thing I found while doing a few tweaks (including properly anti aliasing some of the lines again for example)
was that there was no white stripe between the blue and the dark grey at the top, check the two 47's shown above
and you'll see it should be there.
Whenever i'm going to do something that must line up between textures I just do the joining bits first, there's
no point doing the whole line only to find that it doesn't quite line up. Here's what I got after putting a
couple of pixels white in the appropriate place on the nose side and body side textures:
Not quite there is it? The reason is resolution.... Look at how many pixels are used to give the depth of
the nose side and now look at the body side. It's about half as many.... So we either need four pixels on the
nose side, or one pixel on the body side. I'm going to go with four on the nose side to make the stripe a little
Hint: When you're doing large amounts of editing like this,
remember to take your finger off the mouse button regularly. The UNDO feature
only works on single blocks and all the time you're painting with the mouse down that's
one block. Do a little bit and release, regularly, that way if you make a mistake you
can use undo without losing ten minutes work.... So says the voice of experience,
trust me on this one :-)
Here's what she looks like now:
And for reference, here's what the texture file is looking like:
That's as far as I'm going to go in this tutorial. Where could you take this model from here though?
First up, the doors could use recolouring, if the textures are available in the samples directory to do this
then it's probably well worth doing. Fine tuning all of the alignments between the two sides and the nose
sides is worth checking up on though it's mostly right now. Finally, maybe a decision on whether or not just
to go for broke and paint the white part of the nose in yellow as well...
For your downloading pleasure and enjoyment, I present the following files!
1. Acela HHP-8 Network SouthEast BMP Source Texture (218k)
2. Acela HHP-8 Plain White BMP Source Texture (254k)
3. Acela-HHP-8 MS Usable Train Sim Loco (1.7 Meg)
In the next tutorial we consider how you might mix these two techniques to produce better looking loco's