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Understanding some art basics for modding..?

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Hi. I'm very much a beginner with all this, but I can normally catch on quickly if it's explained right. In general(not just with Don't Starve modding), I've messed around with a bit of coding, and I've learned some basic art skills with Gimp and Blender. But every time I think I've got the basic concepts of textures and models and so forth, I try to do something and feel like I have no clue(and probably don't).


I'm in love with Don't Starve, and thought I would attempt actually following through with making my first real mod for a game, instead of just tinkering and giving up. I was able to follow the "Artist's Guide To Character/Item Modding" tutorial and successfully get my art to appear and work in-game(just rough sketches, but now I know how to do it at least, which was a big success for me). But I'm really confused on some of the art concepts, and hoping someone could maybe explain a few things or point me to a guide to explain some of this..


My ultimate question I guess would be.. can I change the size of body parts in the template somehow? If I want a torso larger than the boxes in the template, etc.


But I'd like to understand some basic concepts too if someone was willing to help, and the way Don't Starve's art is done is really confusing me. With a game like Half Life 2(I've messed with the SDK), it's obviously 3D and the models and textures make sense to me. Or something like Terraria is obviously 2D. But Don't Starve is sort of 2D and 3D at the same time and I just don't get it. I assume the template and it's parts are sized to fit properly on a model that is... somewhere in the code. Can I access/change the model? How exactly is it a 3D model when it looks pretty much 2D.. but I know its not.. I'm so confused. Lol.


I'm probably asking dumb questions or just not making sense, but if anyone can help me understand this, much appreciated. Or if you can just tell me if/how I can change the size of body parts, that's great too. Thanks!





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Answering your ultimate question: Yes and no.. It's not possible to change the size of body parts on a code basis or through the methods explored in Dana's guide. However it is possible to it with the Spriter Assets (Link is somewhere in the sticky Guides thread). You can resize the images and then use Spriter to replace pivots of each image (only pivot changes are accounted for when converting)

Now this might very well be confusing to you, but as you said you learn fast it might not be confusing for long. You can download Spriter for free and look at some samples and the Don't Starve assets and then you will pretty much understand the way in which the game handles art/animations.

To make use of Spriter for Don't Starve you'll additionally need the Don't Starve Mod Tools (also linked in that sticky) I haven't kept up with the forums a lot, so the only tutorial I know that explains the process a bit is my own (yes, I can shamelessly self-advertise as well Dana :p) which describes how to create handslot equippables.

EDIT: Of course, if you want to learn Spriter there's Dana's video tutorial ^^' Forgot about that.. Everything is linked in the sticky..

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Thank you VERY much. I was looking into spriter more after I made this thread. I have a trend where I tend to find answers to the questions I ask soon after posting them no matter how long I looked beforehand, and I was suspecting maybe spriter was part of the answer after browsing the creature tutorials. But this helps me confirm it and have a direction to go in with knowing to get the assets and seeing how the art is put together. I still have a long way to go I'm sure, but thank you for pointing me in the right direction. I will mess around with Spriter and your and Dana's tutorials a while and then I will probably come back with more questions than I have now, but it will be progress. Thanks again!

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 the only tutorial I know that explains the process a bit is my own (yes, I can shamelessly self-advertise as well Dana :razz:)

Ohoho, is that a challenge?


I've actually been planning to explore and make a tutorial for the advanced "Spriter Method" of character creation, later.

Thus far, for best results, I have a few theories for how best to approach the creation of Spriter-ready assets, but... it's going to need a lot of tinkering... and I'm unable to attempt that, right now.

My plan was this: take the pivot data from the Spriter-ready source assets, and create a template in Photoshop - recreating the exact position of the pivot on the texture, visually, with a dot. (Leaving the original texture there, for reference, with dropped opacity.)

With this base template, I could load that into Spriter, and have a complete image of the character with pivots shown. I could then screencap that, and bring it into Photoshop, allowing me to do the art as a single coherent piece (separated across layers, of course) with pivots shown. Visible pivots being very helpful if we want to break out of the boundaries of the established template, as while we can move the pivot point on a symbol, we cannot alter the way it animates - we cannot alter the spacing between pivots. They are fixed points, and our art still needs to accommodate that - should your character require a large axe embedded in their head, the base template's head symbol boundaries do not accommodate the extra space needed.

In instances like this, where we must expand the symbol size, we must alter the pivot - and the best way to ensure perfect pivot placement relative to the template would be to use the coordinates of the template's pivot with your expanded symbol.

Use the template's pivot position to work out where the pivot needs to be to stay at the same point on the image.


For example, say the template pivot is something like 0.5, 0.1.

If we expanded the symbol left and up, we could then use the visible pivot we left on our new art to determine that the pivot now needs to be 0.8, 0.05.


I'm hoping this makes sense.

In THEORY it's solid. Tedious as heck, but solid.



And to answer your question about how Don't Starve's "2D but 3D" art works... I believe it is basically like this:

Each part of the character is a 'symbol' - each symbol has a pivot point that persists across all the different parts that will be interchanged. The pivot point of Willow's head symbol matches the pivot point of Wilson's head symbol, thus the appropriate part can be swapped in or out as needed.

Each symbol, when converted to the game's format, is generated rough, flat geometry, to fit around the texture. It's not perfectly neat, but you don't notice it at all, because all you can see is the texture on a flat plane.

The whole bunch of flat planes are grouped together, and animated based on the pivot point. Essentially, each symbol floats around in space, locked to a fixed point that moves as the animation data requires it.

Each symbol is layered on top or underneath (depending on what needs to be in front) with miniscule gaps in 3D space stopping them from just colliding with each other, and fighting with a very confused rendering engine that doesn't quite know which thing to show because there are multiple things occupying the same space.

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