Cutlass Isle Tutorial: Modifying Flags and Sail Emblems
(Tutorial by Wolfwood)
This is a short tutorial for the modification/creation of sail emblems
and flags. The emblems will be handled first, since they will introduce the
concept of Alpha channels. Flags are easier to make and will be discussed
at the end of this document.This tutorial will be modified and added to if
and when new information and tricks are discovered.
First, you'll need an image editor. I use Paint Shop Pro, but Photoshop
and Gimp should work just as well. All you need to be able to do with it
is to save in .bmp format. Second, you'll need a program called DXTbmp, which you can download from
Sail Emblems : Step 1 - The image editor
Part 1 - A suitable image
1. You need to pick an image that you want to use as an emblem. Simple
images are of course the best, and I'd prefer not to have photographs as emblems
(as they will stand out from the other game graphics). Here, I've picked
a picture of a howling wolf:
2. In case your image has some background, you'll need to erase it. In
this case, the wolfhead is already on a pure white background.
3. The image has to be either 128x128 pixels in size, or some other
multiplier of number 2, like 64x128 or 256x256 pixels. The larger it is, the less
you will see pixelation in the final emblem in the game. The size of the emblems
already in Pirates! is 512x512 pixels and flags' dimensions are 256x256.
4. Save the image in .bmp format.
Part 2 - Create the alpha channel
5. Now, we need a second image to be used as the alpha channel. We'll
use the original image here, so we need to make a copy of it (don't save
over the original file).
6. First, you select the background (most programs come with an option
of selecting an area based on its colour, so that's why a single colour
background is handy here). With the colour selector of the paint program
set on black, you turn the entire background into pure black.
7. Now, you INVERT the selection (in PSP you'd select Selections -
Invert), which effectively selects everything BUT the background (i.e.
the emblem image). Now, with your background colour selector set on
white (or some light shade of grey), you delete whis part of the image,
leaving only a white space. You should end up with a following kind of
8. Save this image also in .bmp format. You're finished in the image editor now. Close it, and start the DXTbmp program you downloaded earlier.
Sail Emblems : Step 2 - DXTbmp
9. Open the first image (the one we made first) normally by selecting
File - Load.
10. Then select Alpha - Import. The program asks you to confirm that
you really want to load a new Alpha channel. Choose Yes and we'll come
to this phase:
11. Save the final emblem by selecting File - Save as - DDS
texture. Select either DXT1 or DXT3 as the Save type. This is important,
because the program defaults to NOT saving the Alpha channel. Try out which
format (DXT1 or DXT3) one works best for your particular image.
Attn!: You want to save this image under My Documents\My games\Sid Meier's Pirates!\Custom\ .
Make this Custom directory if it does not already exist. Give the image
an appropriate name, so that the game recognises it as an emblem, starting with
"ship_sail_emblem_lrg_XXX.dds", where the XXX is the name that you want to give
the emblem. You need to have the start of the name exactly as typed here
for the game to recognise it.
Sail Emblems : Tricks for two colour images
Since the above wolfhead is a greyscale image and the purpose of the Alpha
channel is to let through colour depending on the darkness of the
various pixels on the Alpha channel, the following trick will produce
nice effects, as it lets more of the sail's original texture show through:
1. Take a black and white image, like the wolfhead above in the first
post. Open it in your pain program.
2. Now, turn the image into its own negative (In PSP, you simply select
Colors - Negative Image). Note that you may have to make your
original image slightly darker to achieve the best result and you need
to make sure that the white background in the original image is true
white (RGB: 255, 255, 255), so that the Alpha channel's black is also true
black. You'll have something like this:
3. Make another image in plain single colour, like this:
4. Save them both in .bmp format
5. Open DXTbmp program.
6. Load the plain image as the main picture and the negative
image as the alpha channel.
7. Save in DXT3 format, giving the appropriate name.
8. The final result could be something like this:
Unfortunately, unlike with the sails, the flags don't have any
background texture, so instead of using the black Alpha channel to show
this texture, you must have it in the picture of the flag itself.
1. The simplest way to get a ready texture is by opening one of the existing
flags, like the French one, since their lily is conveniently small and can
be covered with your own image. You find these in the Pirates! subdirectories.
Open the flag of your choice in the DTXbmp program and save it as
a .bmp image.
2. Then open the image in Paint Shop Pro and paste your own art work
over the original French Lily. If you want to, you can modify the colour of the
background with the normal PSP tools. Then save this image.
3. Open the .bmp in DTXbmp and save it in DTX format. Give it the appropriate
name, "flag_xxx.dtx", so that the game recognises it as a flag and place it under
the same subdirectory as the sail emblems.
And here's the final result:
If you encounter any problems making your own emblems and flags, please post a
question about it, and a description of your problem, on Cutlass Isle's
Customization & Modding section.