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Tutorial for creating Banners or Poster placeables.

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This tutorial was created by Tarot Redhand, and copy/pasted here by his suggestion and permission.

Any omissions, mis-spellings, or errors are likely mine. -- BB

Creating Wanted Posters/Banners for NWN 1:

Materials used:

Tarot Redhand wrote...

Just because I wanted to make teasers, I didn't include any documentation. This means that I wasn't able to give credit to the people who's resources I used. I'll rectify that now in this reply.

First the paper that the poster's are "printed" on:-

hibbary's Torn-edge paper packet Part1 and hibbary's Torn-edge paper packet Part 2

Then there are the 3 fonts that I used:-

Bleeding Cowboys Font, Panhead Font and Shotgun Wedding Font

Finally there are the grunge brushes that I used to make the posters look weather-beaten:-

obsidian dawn grunge brushes

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Tarot Redhand wrote...

Poster Making

OK Here is how I did it, just in case you would like to create your own Posters. I'll warn you now, however, that I am quite idiosyncratic in the way that I work. As I've already given you a list of the materials that I've used, I'll just list the tools (Apps/progs/utils/whatever) that I've used.

nwhak.exe - found in your NeverwinterNightsNWNutils directory - image editor - Get the latest version here.
The Gimp - image editor - Get the latest version here.
Notepad++ - tabbed plain text editor - Get the latest version here.
XnView - image viewer - Get the latest version here.

And finally, a really ancient version of ps - Photoshop CS (i.e. the first of the CS versions).

The really bright among you will have noticed that I have used 3.5 (XnView is limited in this respect) image-editing programs and are asking yourselves why? It's just my personal preference. For the way that I work, I have found that each has it's strengths and weaknesses. In some cases only one of the 3 does something (and not necessarily ps either), in others it is just that I prefer the interface of one of them for a particular task.

How I did it

Before we go any further, I just want to make it plain that all measurements that I give in what follows are in pixels. Throughout the process of making the texture for our poster we will work with images that are larger than the texture that we are aiming to make. This has a number of advantages. The first of which is that it makes it easier to work with and your resultant texture should have more detail to it.

The basic process in a nutshell is

Select, process and resize the graphic representing paper
Select, resize and process the graphic of the image you wish to place on the paper.
Merge these 2 graphics
Process and resize the resulting image to finish creating your texture
Edit the .mdl file
Edit the placeables.2da file
Create a new hak file using nwhak.exe

Now in more detail.

The first thing to do is to choose your paper. Now while there are a number of tutorials on making different types of paper on deviantArt, I would suggest just downloading the 2 zips I gave you links to earlier in this thread for your first poster. Once you have got your paper chosen you will probably find that it is of the wrong shape. That's OK, we can easily fix that in any of the image editing programs. What I did was to use for this. Having loaded the paper into it, I selected Resize from the Image menu. At this point I also took the opportunity to shrink the original image down to its working size. I decided that an aspect ratio of 3:4 would produce a poster that looked right and set the size to 675(width) x 900(height). Once resized, the last thing to do, prior to saving it, with the paper at this point is to make the outer edge transparent. So using the magic wand (fuzzy select tool) I selected the white area surrounding the paper. Next, I selected Erase Selection (or just press the DEL key) from the edit menu. As we need to preserve the transparency we need to choose an image format that will do so. As, at this point it is a wip, I chose to save in png format.

We now move on to the image. As you should be well aware, I used the avatars of a number of the people who post on these boards. You may well not be so restricted in your choice. However, there are a few things to consider. Is the image large enough to work with? Yes smaller images can be enlarged, but I wouldn't recommend anything more than doubling the size if at all possible as it can introduce distortions and other imperfections. Is the image suitable, and I am not talking about matters of censorship etc. The thing to remember is that we will be reducing this image firstly to a black and white one and thence to a black on transparency. For a number of reasons (not discussed here) not all images are suitable for this.

For making posters, I prefer square images. Even though not all suitable images are square, this again is not a problem. Using again, load your unsquare image. This time we're going to change the canvas size. So first select Canvas Size... from the Image menu. Before you set the new canvas size, select the centre square of nine that are used to select how the canvas will be resized. Now onto the canvas size. Make the smaller dimension the same as the larger. This will give you 2 white areas on either side of your image. Now use the Rectangle Select tool (it should be the top-left one in the toolbox) to carefully lasso one of these white areas. Pressing the DEL key will change it to transparent. Do the same for the other white area.

Finally, for now, we will resize our image so that it is 300 square. Save it in png format, just as we did for the paper, and close for now. Next we'll edit it in The Gimp. So using that program open your image. The first step in changing our image to a purely black and white one is to open the image menu, select the mode sub-menu and choose greyscale. This removes the colour information from so that it resembles a (so called) black and white photo. Using the same menu choices select RGB. This retains the greyscale information while enabling things that we need later in this process.

At least as far as I'm concerned, the next step is not an exact science but requires a bit of experimentation and judgement. What we'll be doing is using one or more of the commands to be found on the colours menu in order to convert our image initially into a black and white one. The first control to try is labelled 'Threshold...'. By moving the slider left and right we can adjust the amount of black and white in our image. If this does not produce quite the image that you want, you may wish to try adjusting the brightness and contrast first. Alternatively you try using the curves control. Anyway, experimentation is the key. Finally, at least for the use of The Gimp (for now), when you are satisfied with your now black and white image, we'll use one last control from the colours menu. That is Colour to Alpha so that we end up with an image that is composed of black and transparent areas. Again save in png format and close The Gimp.

Now re-open the image in Select Canvas Size... from the Image menu and set the dimensions to 675(width) x 900(height). The original image should now be surrounded by a large white area. Select this white area with the magic wand tool and press the DEL key. We now have our original image surrounded by a large transparent region. Save the image and exit

We now add text to our paper (e.g. Wanted, Beware etc.) in the font of your choice. The thing to remember here is to keep both the word and character counts low. For a poster our wording needs to be at the top of the poster and these instructions require that you use just slightly less than the top third of the paper. Any of the three image editors I have mentioned are quite capable of this, although I used PS (I habitually do this because text goes on its own layer in ps) it does add an extra step so you may wish to use The Gimp instead as that is the editor we'll be using next.

Open both the paper and the image in The Gimp. Select the image and Select All using the Selection menu. From the edit menu select copy. Now change to the paper and from the "edit/paste as" sub-menu select New Layer. Now on the image menu select Merge Visible. We finally have our Poster but there are 2 more steps before we have the actual texture for our placeable.

If you look closely our texture is much too pristine, like the day it was printed. So what we need to do is make it look more weather beaten, scuffed, crushed and more generally slightly more aged. We can do this relatively easily by making use of the set of brushes that I have provided a link to earlier in this thread. Now while I would use ps for this, it is also possible to do it in The Gimp as that program can use ps brushes. As the steps needed are the same whichever program you use, I will only tell you what to do and not how to do it. With your image loaded, select the brush tool and then select the brush you want to use. Now resize the brush so that it is about the same as the height of the poster. Go to the layers menu and create a new layer. This way when you screw up (it most definitely happens to all of us) it is easier to fix. Now simply use the brush until you are satisfied. If you overdo it, don't panic just edit/undo. Save the image and close the program you are using. The final step in creating the actual texture is to resize it to the size that will be used in nwn. Load it into and resize it to so that it is now 128 high. Now we have our texture.

On to the .mdl file. To save yourself time use one of my models from my TR's_Suspects.hak. So open it in nwhak.exe and select one of the .mdl files. While you are here you might as well select the placeables.2da file as well. From the Resources menu select Export and select the directory where you have saved your poster's texture. You can now close nwhak.exe for now.

Open the .mdl file in your chosen text editor. We need to do just 2 things here. First use find to locate the text 'bitmap' and change the text that follows to the name of your texture (without .tga). Now we are going to change the internal name of the model. Using find and replace, replace all occurrences of plc_trsuspctXX (where XX is the number in the filename) with your own model name. Finally for the .mdl file use Save As to save it with the same name as used internally and use .mdl for your extension.

Now we edit placeables.2da. Open it in your chosen text editor and use find to locate the text '6490'. This is actually the entry number in the file. You will see that it is in the first column. In the second column next to this number, replace the text '****' with whatever text you wish to use to identify your poster (In NwN's Toolset this will be the text you see for your poster in the Appearance Type entry). To the right of this, in the fourth column, you will see the text 'USER'. Replace this text with your poster's model name (the one you just created in the previous paragraph) without its .mdl extension. Save the 2da file and exit your text editor.

Finally we are going to create our hak file. So run nwhak.exe and open the Resource menu. There will be only one option available here 'ADD' so use that. Navigate to where your .tga, .mdl and placeables.2da are to be found and select them. The very last thing you have to do is to save your new hak file so go ahead and do it. TaDah! We're done (OK except for the stuff to do in the toolset, testing etc.).

So there you have. Ley me know if you have any problems, otherwise enjoy.

Tarot Redhand wrote...

It occurs to me that while I mentioned an image viewer in the instructions above, I didn't actually say what use it was. Well when deciding which image to use with which particular words and which paper to use, I personally found it useful to be able to see them all at a glance and to generally review them all without having to wait for the amount of time that a full blown editor takes to load.


Tarot Redhand wrote...

OK, I've just this minute updated it so that there are now 32 posters. The link is still the same (here). The reason for the update is quite simply that it proved more popular than I was expecting. Also I got the distinct impression that at least a couple of people were disappointed not to be included. So have they been? The only way they will know is if they download the new version.

As usual my ego is in need of massaging, so if you like let me know, etc.

CTP Team Lead

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