May 2015 Mini Challenges!

    WarSong

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    Welcome to May. We have 4 sets of challenges divided by every week. Feel free to post results here but also make sure the size of the images you link isn't over sized. Image that are too large might be removed.

    Week 1: Screenshots!
    Fri 1st:
    [F5 vs F6 vs Print Scr] - And the magic that is Tab-G. We need to find the best possible way to make the rest of your challenge shots before going further.
    - Pick a subject and take three to six screen shots. F5 will screenshot everything in game. F6 will do the same only with HUD data removed. Some folks have reported crashes when taking screenshots but they seem pretty rare. Now use your Print Scr key on the keyboard. This gets a shot of everything including other monitor's output if your use a multi screen setup. Just open up an image program and Paste the screenshot the Print Scr key left in your clipboard. When in doubt there's always MSPaint's latest incarnation. It should work fine.
    You can repeat all three screenshot methods using Tab-G to disable the HUD manually and your results may vary a bit. If you don't like how any of the screenshots are coming out you can try third party screenshot software. But option is unsupported for this challenge.


    Sat 2nd: [The -possibly to be unsupported soon- Build Mode camera] - How to get those really cool angles and dynamic shots.
    - Spawn in your ship. Using build mod get your angles right on the background/subject relation. I recommend doing this away from planets as rotation of the sector will make or break your shots. Get into a second shipcore or build block of another entity. Depending on how you oriented the subject. Sometimes you need the subject at a specific angle and the camera level. Sometimes you need to reverse that. Other times the most dynamic shots are a mix of both. Take your time and experiment.

    Sun 3rd: [Enhancements] - Using in-game settings and shader mods to really make those screenshots give off that cinematic feel.
    - Say goodbye to your performance. A lot of the mods for shaders have a pretty nasty performance hit. Be ready to work at or below 15fps. If the community content locate and use as many shader mods as you'd like. Mix and match until you strike a balance you like.

    Mon 4th: [Let's examine the subject] - To achieve the best effect sometimes you're going to have to get dirty with your model. The angles of the shot, the lighting and the shaders look great but there's still something missing..
    - Sometimes switching of modifying your texture pack can make a huge difference. Higher res and complex textures do make a performance hit. I'd suggest using pre-made texture pacls. A few textures might be missing so you might have to modify the subject to fix the place holder textures. Even then sometimes the subject you chose might need radical alterations just to make the shot. This includes adding wedges, replacing wedges with blocks or using copy-past to graft whole panels to other locations.

    Tues 5th: [Dynamic vs Static shots Day 1] - Most shots up to this point have been static. Even the hint of motion requires honing your skills while developing a few new skills simultaneously. The process of staging a dynamic shot in Star-Made has three major components: Setup, capture and post.
    - Starting out you need to decide on the conditions of the shot. The when, where and how. The process is time consuming so you need to give yourself ample time. You'll need to know what's nearby and what's in your background as these can effect your shots dramatically. Because of stutter caused by graphical effects it might be necessary to tone those down just to get the shot. You sacrifice eye candy for action. Now you need to decide whether taking screen shots is good enough or if it's time to try using video capture. There are tools out there for taking multiple screenshots is quick succession. I don't use these myself so I'll focus on video capture. The main issue with video capture is LOSS as compression and encoding can introduce unwanted artifacts. Issues arising from video capture can be tedious and are not for the faint of heart. For near lossless capture I've used OBS. Details on how to achieve this are on their forum and reddit. FRAPS is also a popular choice. And to confuse matters there other options as well. Even VLC could be used. This is where you need to dedicate some time and choose a method then study it well.

    Wed 6th: [Dynamic vs Static shots Day 2] - Time to test some capture with your chosen method. Setup your scene and get the capture. Cut out the bits you know for sure would make bad shots and go through the good footage frame by frame.
    - My only suggestion here is to either open the capture in a video editor oe use a player that has an Advance Frame feature. Out of 20min to 2hours of capture you might only find a dozen usable images. This is why lossless formats are so important. The files are huge so be ready for slowdowns.

    Thurs 7th: [Editing your shots for best effect] - Hope you know some photoshop skills. Unless you don't have photoshop. There are alternatives to Adobe. Most require a basic mastery of some level to use effectively and each is different with it's own pros and cons. Paint .Net and GIMP come to mind right away but there are others like Krita that are gaining traction.
    - GIMP's site has several tutorials on achieving specific effects. There are also numerous well made guides on deviantArt. If you find your shots lack a certain something try browsing those guides. Don't be afraid to branch out and experiment.

    Week 2: Skin Editing Primer.
    Fri 8th: [Tools of the skinning trade] - This is more a list of resources and tips. There are much better and more complete guide out there.
    - StarMade Skin Generator: Still considered an alpha but an excellent starting point.
    - Image editor: Anything you're comfortable with really. GIMP, Paint .Net and Photoshop are highly recommended.
    - Tutorials: Bobo-Fett's Tutorial | Mushroom Fleet's Tutorial Video
    - Download and look at existing skins. You can glean a lot of info by just examining how things change form 2D to 3D. The posts in the Community Content section often have screen shots of the skin in game as a preview. They are also useful for comparison. You can use a skin yourself and get a better look at it too.

    Sat 9th: [Ye olde Palette Swap] - There's nothing wrong with a little reverse engineering. Unless the creator specifically requests no reverse engineering. That said; I have yet to see anyone put that restriction on a skin.
    - Use you favorite image editor and find some skins to open. You can use tools like the Magic Wand select and the Select by Color to change the colors of areas at the pixel level. This is fine to make a personalized skin on the quick. Just don't try posting it to the Community Content without authorization of the original's maker.To qualify as 'yours' it has to be a tranformative work.

    Sun 10th: [Swapping parts] - You can easily move parts from one skin to another using the clipboard. Using color swapping techniques you can get the new parts to match one another better. Another quick and dirty personalization of a skin.
    - Let's say the skin you're using has arms and legs you think are too plain. Open up some other skins and see if you find something you like in them. Copying and pasting the new parts over the old ones is step one. Sometimes you need to readjust the palette of one part to match the others. You can do this easily with the color picker tool. Select the color you need to match using any method you like. Then select the color you want to replace and paint over it. Once all the parts match to your liking load them up and see how they look in game. Tweak it until you feel satisfied with the end result.

    Mon 11th: [Build your own. Day 1: Templates] - There are a few of those out there and the can be very useful if you need a blank slate.
    - There are times you just need a piece of blank paper to get your ideas out. The trick is knowing where to put stuff so it looks right when applied to the model. The Star Made Skin Generator can be rather powerful in allowing you to swap colors and parts from one skin or another. You can also blank it out and start from nothing. There's a comfortable middle ground in templates. A lot have markings that allow you to figure out where hands start and boot textures get wrapped. It's a bit like a papercraft with nothing but the dotted lines on it. Of course it might be a good idea to develop your own template to have consistent ratios between your skins. This is especially true of skins for anything non or trans human. Aliens, cyborgs and the like.

    Tues 12th: [Build your own. Day 2: From Scratch] - So you think you can skin now? Well If you've gone step by step through this guide then you might be right!
    - You are kinda on your own here. From day one of this week to here you've gained a lot of resources, some skills and reference materials. If nothing else you can take a piece of copy paper, plot out a design and transfer it to your skin when you get back to a computer. Working from pen and ink to digital is a great exercise for things to come. So give it a try.

    Wed 13th: [Build your own. Day 3: Glowy bits] - The one thing paper can't do. Glow. Also known as emissions. Adding those to your skin manually is easier than you might think.
    - You can open up most skins and see how emissions are really just a layer that's transparent overlaying the skin itself. With some trial and error you should be able to get the desired affect. The most complete guide on glowy bits is Boba-Fett's but you notice he credits AnnaShade. Using almost any of Anna's skins to reverse engineer and implement your emissions is a quick short cut. Other wise it is trial and error until you're satisfied with the end result.

    Thurs 14th: [Home is where you hang your helmet] - Getting experimental with head gear. (It doesn't HAVE to be a helmet.)
    -You can make the helmet look like something else. You can make it playful and whimsical or super menacing. From an over turne fishbowl to a Space Ghost cowl down to a simple bandana that alleges infinite ammo.

    At this point the challenge may go on hiatus. I have something more pressing going on. I'll not go into detail. You'll see the results soon enough.
    Week 3: Albums and Slide shows.

    Week 4: Adding Music and Making Video.
     
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    Nauvran

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    butbut but most of us arent even done with the april challenges!
     

    WarSong

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    X3 they are just challenges you don't have to finish or even start them!