Decals in Photoshop

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Overview

This tutorial describes one process for making a decal in Photoshop. Photoshop CS2 was used for these steps and images. Minor details may vary with other versions.

Step 1: Creating a file

Create a new file, with the following settings:

Settings used in this tutorial

You may wish to create a preset with these options. The size can be varied but, since a decal is a material, it must conform to the size requirements for materials. In particular, each dimension must be a power of two.

The size can be smaller (512x512, for example), but better results are often acquired by creating textures at their maximum resolution and later scaling them down as required for their in-game use.

If you select 16 bit, you will not be able to save as a .tga file, the image needed to create a material. If you don't select "Transparent", then the background will be white, which is not good, because it will lighten your decal.

Step 2: Drawing

This step is completely up to you. Good results can be acquired from using various techniques, including:

  • custom Photoshop brushes
  • photographic source material
  • scanned real-world materials (for example, flicking ink onto blotting paper can produce a good starting point for a blood splatter decal).

In this example, a simple blood splatter has been drawn by hand.

Sample decal

Step 3: Opacity

Hold down Ctrl and click on the thumbnail of your layer. This should select everything you have drawn. Now, in the channels tab, click on "Create new channel". Your screen should look something like this:

This is what your screen should look like now.

Press X then D to reset fill colors to default, then hold SHIFT and press F5. Accept the default settings in the pop up box. This will set the opacity of the selected part to what it corresponds to on your image. Click on the Layers Tab to see what the image will look like in game.

Step 4: Saving

Save it as a Targa file. The file must be saved in 32-bit format for the alpha channel to work.

How to save your decal

That's all! Now you can make a material out of it.

Next step

Now proceed to Creating Decals to complete the process.