Saturday, December 6, 2014

Part 3: Making The Specular

The specular is what determines how shiny something is in the Sims 3. For Hair, it governs the Highlights and Low-lights If you like your Hair shiny, you'll want the highlights to stand out really well, if you don't like seeing any shine whatsoever, you'll want to make the Specular almost completely black. I'm going to show you how I do my specular and I like shine, so that's what we'll be doing today.
So you should still have the Diffuse Texture that you just made open in Photoshop. You'll want to Select the whole thing with Ctrl+A and then copy it with Ctrl+C. 
Then you'll go up top and Click File > New to make a brand new image.
 Make sure that all the options look the same as in the picture. You'll want the size of the Image to be 1024x1024 and you'll want to make sure the Color mode is set to RGB Color. Click ok then navigate on over to the new Image you just created.
Paste (Ctrl+V) your Diffuse Texture into the new Image. 
Next we're going to Flatten the Image (Ctrl+F) and then make a Duplicate Layer of the Background. I always like to make a Duplicate Layer of what I'm working on, that way if I screw up I can just delete the Duplicate and start over.
The specular needs to be very Dark. White on the specular means that part of your texture will show up shiny in game, Black means it will look matte in game. To do this we'll start by darkening up the image quite a bit. Click on Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or (Ctrl+U). This brings up the Hue/Saturation window.
 Hue will change the tint of the overall image and Saturation will change how "much" color your image has. If you bring the Saturation Bar all the way to the left, it will make your image change to Black&White, completely devoid of any color. If you bring it up to the right, you'll notice your colors will look brighter and more garish. It won't do anything for our current image, though, because it's already Desaturated.
 The Lightness bar will govern how light/dark our image is. We want to darken up our image so we'll bring the arrow to the left. You want the image to be very dark, to where the texture is barely visible. It should look like the picture. (Now if you didn't really want any shine to show up on your hair, you'd stop right here, flatten your image and your specular would be done. Leaving it like this will give your hair a more "soft" look.)
We want to increase the contrast between the highlights and low-lights, so that our hair will have shine on it. So next we'll bring up the Levels window. To do this you can click on Image > Adjustments > Levels or press Ctrl+L on your keyboard
 Now that the Levels window is showing you'll notice a few things. There are 3 arrows and a huge spike, kind of like you'd see on a graph in the area where it says Input Levels. The 3 arrows here will adjust the contrast of your image in certain ways. The arrow on the far left will make dark colors darker when moved to the right. The arrow on the right will make bright colors brighter when moved to the left. The arrow in the middle kind of balances things out, at least that's what I've learned from experience. Moving either the Left or the Right arrow will also cause the arrow in the middle to move if you've moved the left or right arrow far enough. Output Levels govern how light and dark the overall image is, kind of like what we just did with the Lightness bar that was in the Hue/Saturation window. Since we already made the image darker, we're not going to worry about the Output levels.

Now we want to make the dark areas of the texture darker while making the lighter areas of the texture more visible. So we're going to move the left arrow to the right just a tad and we're going to move the right arrow to the left a whole bunch, just like you see in the picture. You can play around with the levels until you get something you like out of it or you can just go ahead and input the numbers 32 into the box on the left and the number 45 into the box on the right to make it look like mine.

I'm not sure this next step is necessary, but I like to do it anyway. Now that we've adjusted everything, you'll notice that the texture looks really grainy. Not all textures will do this, it just really depends on the texture you're using. To combat the graininess, we're gong to use a Filter to reduce the noise. To do that go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise. This will bring up the Reduce Noise Window. You should see a preview box to the left of all the adjustments. This will show you what your texture will look like with all the adjustments applied to it.

We really want a lot of the noise gone, so I go ahead and ramp the strength up to 10. We don't need to worry about preserving details here so we can make that 0. We'll also make Reduce Color Noise and Sharpen Details 0 as well.

Now that we've done that, it looks quite a bit better. I'm still not happy with it though, so I open up the Reduce Noise window again. This time I change some things up. I noticed that our image looked a little too blurry when I'd left everything the way it was before. (With the Strength at 10 and everything else at 0). So I moved the preserve details and sharpen details over to the right a bit until I'm happy with the end result.

I'm a tad bit of a perfectionist, so I go back into levels and play with that a bit until I see most of the artifacts go away, and everything looks a bit cleaner.
Now that I'm happy with what I see, I Flatten my image (Ctrl+F) and Save it.

Your format will most likely default to PSD so you'll need to change that to DDS. This time since the Specular does not have an Alpha channel I'll chose the first option. "DXT1 RGB 4 bpp no alpha"

We're all done with the Specular. Keep it open though, because we're actually going to be using it for the Control.

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