• 2eao5tj

    Whenever I evaluate a skin, one of the first things I key-in on, is how well the paint is aligned wherever it spans the seams of the 3D model. And this is especially so, when it comes to skins with elaborate cammo patterns.

    I've seen many skins over the years, where it appeared that no effort was made toward maintaining any semblance of alignment.. just throw on a paintscheme and let the pieces fall where they may. Or at best, the author 'cheated' and avoided the seams completely.

    And who's to blame them? ..for the novice, aligning a cammo pattern can be an overwhelming challenge. Their decison might be to continue skinning despite the faults; or give up on the hobby completely. Personally, I'd rather see them continue; I can't think of any skinner on the planet who would claim to know everything from the very minute they picked up a brush.. we've all had a good share of 'learning events' in the beginning. And last time I checked, most of us old-timers are still learning some new tricks.

    So if you happen to be one of those folks who cringes at the thought of attempting a fancy cammo scheme, or even a simple one for that matter; what follows might be just the thing to help you hurdle that obstacle...


    The picture above illustrates why these types of schemes can be such a pain sometimes.

    Looking along the centerline of the fuselage, we can see that every little piece of cammo that spans a seam, has to be adjusted in order to achieve a seamless alignment. Otherwise we're left with what you see in the pic... sort of like painting the cammo on a model airplane before we glue the fuselage halves together; not a good idea.

    Of course we could simply avoid all the seams, as I mentioned previously, but what fun would that be eh? If we never attempt the hard stuff, we'll never be able to skin our way out of a wet paper bag, right? wink


    The above pic illustrates a little technique I used to ensure the cammo halves remained aligned while adjusting across the seam of the Avia's 3D model. And it's something that could be adapted to other models as well.. simply adjust to meet your needs.

    First, we will need to create two new layers in our template, somewhere above any existing base-color layers.

    Next, selecting the lower of the two layers (layer #1) we will establish our cammo pattern along the centerline seam of the lower fuselage half as seen in the above illustration.

    Then, (and this is what you don't see in the illustration, because we erased it immediately afterward)... draw a single-pixel width reference-line, vertically, all the way across the fuselage, being careful to select a portion that is free of cammo patterns.

    Now, 'select all' and copy the lot, then paste it into layer #2. Then position so the duplicate cammo pattern is along the opposite half of the fuselage centerline, ensuring that the reference-line is aligned with it's mate on layer #1. Once the selection is positioned, we can erase the reference-line. Note; this is the cammo 'set' that you see in the upper half of the fuselage illustration.

    So now we have two layers, each with an identical set of cammo, aligned on either side of the fuselage centerline. The patterns on layer #1 will remain fixed, while the patterns on layer #2 are intended to be 'adjustable'... meaning, we can grab them with our selection tool, and move them about. But if we can move them about, how can we keep them accurately aligned during the process?

    Okay, here's the trick...

    First, to avoid any confusion, lets 'turn off' the adjustable layer #2 so you can't see the blotches.. we really don't need it right now anyway.

    Then, on the 'fixed' layer, or layer #1; place a single-pixel width horizontal line, on the opposite side of the fuselage from the set of cammo blotches. This temporary line will later be used as a reference to GAUGE our vertical ADJUSTMENTS of cammo patterns on layer #2.

    Next on the same layer, layer #1, we want to apply a similar technique, by placing vertical lines along the length of the fuselage (refer to pic), roughly centered and opposite each piece of cammo that requires alignment. These temporary lines will later be used as a reference to MAINTAIN our horizontal ALIGNMENT of cammo patterns on layer #2.

    Speaking of layer #2, we can now turn it back 'on' so we can see it's blotches again. This leads us to 'phase two' of our little trick...

    After selecting layer #2, we will now place a set of vertical lines, directly over the lines seen in layer #1... in fact, you could even copy-paste layer #1's vertical lines into layer #2.

    Next, we calibrate layer #2's vertical lines into 1-pixel increments.

    Using the selection tool, we can now grab both the calibrated vertical lines and their corresponding blotch, and adjust them up and down until we achieve a seamless merge when viewing the model's seam 'in-sim'.

    Keeping the calibrated lines from layer#2's 'blotch set' directly over the vertical lines on layer #1, enables us to easily maintain horizontal alignment throughout the vertical adjustment process. Whilst the calibrations enable us to gauge our vertical adjustments against the horizontal line established in layer #1. We can even take accurate notes of our adjustments between trips from template to sim; up 8 and screentest,.. down 4 and screentest,.. up 2, etc, until we have achieved the 'perfect merge' in-sim.

    So, here's the end result... can you tell where the seam is? ..and note, these are not simple solid blotches; they actually vary in opacity and have feathered edges, which is what makes this technique so useful. Try to 'eyeball' the alignment on patterns like these, and you'll see what I mean. Believe me, this method can save a lot of hair-pulling.


    Note that this technique will only work in areas where no warping occurs. If one side of the model has warping and the other does not, then obviously there's no way to maintain proper alignment across the seams, and the alignment must be done the old fashioned free-style way... meaning: align cammo on the template, check in-sim, re-align on the template, check in-sim, repeating this process forever and a day until the cammo is properly aligned. This is where mass quantities of beer are required.. or coffee, depending on your metabolism smile


    Lastly; you might be curious about the cammo textures used in my example-shots.. so here's a bonus tip:

    I wanted to depict something different.. something that couldn't be readily achieved with standard paintshop filters. Something that looks like a ground crewman armed with a mop and a bucket of whitewash might apply. So I decided to put my older scanner to use, and drew everything by hand with a No.2 pencil. Once I imported my scanned 'artwork' into PSP7, I used 'remove white' to get rid of the paper's background, then maximized the 'apply brightness' settings to turn the remaining dark blotches to white.

    Of course, the 'scanner technique' could be used for all sorts of skinning uses.. custom script, noseart, markings, weathering, you name it.

    So, that concludes this installment, I hope it's been helpful. There were quite a few steps involved, so if ever any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Have fun!

  • Hey Rudi,
    thx for the tipp! Well explained.


  • Thanks Rudi, great tutorial mate.

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