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SF symbol in 2D sprites

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My initial reaction when I first looked at modding the 2D sprites was that it seemed like an awful lot of work for something that no one, myself included, would ever use or even look at.

Sanity will probably set in eventually, but in the meantime I'm playing around with ways to make the Nato symbols set cleaner and crisper looking, and am doing a total repaint.

I've pretty much decided on what most of the symbols will be, and am even playing around with color schemes that will make it easier to distinguish level 1, 2, and 3 units. The symbols for land units will be old-style Nato symbols (e.g. the anti-aircraft symbol is a big 'A'), the symbols for naval and air units are pretty much derived from an old mod that I made several years ago, and the partisan and transportation symbols are borrowed from a mod for another game.

The one unit that I am not sure about is the SF unit. In WW II there are actual commando units, so in that case the crossed spears would be appropriate. But I was under the impression that in the WW I game the SF unit tends to represent armed sailors. The reason I'm wondering about this is that I've whipped up a very nice anchor symbol that would be perfect for armed sailors and even marines, but wouldn't look right if it were associated with a normal land unit. There are no Brandenburgers in this game as far as I know, but that unit would look awful with an anchor symbol.

So my first question is, what units in which scenarios actually show up using the SF symbol in the Nato 2D counter set? I haven't played through the Meuse-Argonne scenario, but I would expect the American Marine units not to use it. Do the French armed sailors use the SF symbol when they show up a few months into the Call to Arms scenario? (They're called marines because the French have been arming their sailors, especially their naval gunners, since before Napoleon's day, and you call them 'troupes de la marine' -- troops from the navy -- when you refer to them in French. The Americans don't own the word, they borrowed it.).

If the only units who use this symbol are naval troops, I'll happily use my anchor. Otherwise, I'll probably stick with the crossed spears.

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Hi Philippe

For the main WWI campaigns like Call to Arms, the anchor symbol will work fine. Good idea. :)

You are right that it is more problematical for the smaller campaigns, but fortunately a fair number of them use their own modified unit sprites.

If they have their own sprites they will be in a Bitmaps folder within that campaign's own main folder.

It might be easiest if you plan your changes for a specific campaign or set of campaigns, e.g. Call to Arms and Ostaufmarsch, as more work will be involved the more campaigns you try to mod the graphics for. Then you could see what is applicable for the other ones after those are done.


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Thanks for the reply. It was a great help.

I've finished the first draft of the large military sprites (aka 2D Nato units) and will put the whole thing aside for a bit while I try to figure out how to convert the larger bitmap into the zoom version without losing too much detail or going insane from fighting with the shadows (still not quite sure how I ended up with two-tone shadows, but I probably like the effect).

The only thing I'm still uncertain about on the first draft is the way I've portrayed detachments. I got too clever for my own good and started using a progression of colors to represent different levels of the units so I wouldn't have to go blind squinting at all the little numbers. I use the same color progression for infantry corps, cavalry corps, tanks, fighters, recon bombers, and heavy bombers. I've also found a way to do it for detachments, but am not sure I like how it looks. Hopefully this will resolve itself while I shrink things.

I still prefer using sprites to the symbols, but am very pleased with how the aeroplanes and ships look, and how easy they are to read.

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Hi Philippe

If you resize the original file to be the size of the zoom file, probably using the PIXEL resize setting rather than BICUBIC option then it should work.

With a little experimentation hopefully you'll settle on the best method for your sprites, which may require a little cleaning up.


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Resizing was easy, trimming the flash off all those counters was a bear. I'm used to Tiller games where when all else fails you can convert the image into a PNG and prevent it from bleeding into the transparent zone. That didn't work here because it would have meant using 8-bit color, so I used simple resizing and then built at template for removing stray marks from the negative space. And even that wasn't good enough, because I had to repair most of the visible left and right edges of the counters. And there are a lot of them.

Anyway, the first two files are finished, and I've added them to the Marsden Hartley Call To Arms Edition for both the yellow-black and red-green Austrians. This is still somewhat in the trial stage, because there are a couple of issues I'm still not entirely comfortable with.

Using the units_sprites_military bitmap as a point of reference, here's what I've done.

The color scheme remains unchanged. In the best of all possible worlds I'd redo the Germans to make them a distinctly greenish shade of feldgrau, and I'd redo the Americans to move them from late WW II green to WW I khaki.

The shape of the blocks that the Nato symbols are mounted on are now seen from a slightly different angle. The perspective is a bit less odd looking (even though it's still slightly off), but in the best of all possible worlds I would have made the blocks one pixel narrower.

I've abolished letters from the unit symbols. The first unit after the HQ sprite on the bitmap is the garrison unit, and it's represented by something that is often seen as the symbol for static infantry (which garrisons essentially are): a rectangle around a blank space. I didn't research this as much as I should have, so I'm open to suggestions on changing this one. But I think it works.

The next three sprites are for three different levels of detachments. The plain vanilla version of the game uses the same symbol for all three. I use the same symbol, but vary the color scheme. If you see a cream colored rectangle it's level on, greyish rectangles are level two, and dark grey-black rectangles are level three. The space inside the rectangle is the natural color of whatever the unit sprite happens to be.

The next three sprites are for larger formations, usually corps. The rectangles are larger than the ones used for detachments, and the space inside the rectangle is either cream colored, greyish, or dark grey depending on whether the unit is level one, two, or three.

The next sprite for armed sailors et al. uses an anchor on a grey background inside a detachment-sized rectangle. The one after that uses the engineer symbol on a grey background inside a detachment-sized rectangle.

The paratroop sprite and its associated air transportation sprite have both been left blank because this is WW I.

The next three sprites are the cavalry sprites in cream, light grey, or dark grey, depending on the level.

After that comes the anti-air sprite, which is a symbol that looks like a giant A on a grey background. The two artillery symbols are also on a grey background, and I'm using a symbol for heavy artillery because rail guns are heavy artillery and I couldn't remember if I liked the Nato symbol for rail gun or not.

Because my convention is to use Nato-style symbols for ground units and profiles for naval and air units, I borrowed and adapted the game's Zeppelin symbol for airships.

There are six symbols for tank units, which seems a bit excessive given that this is WW I. The first level is designated by the armor symbol against the unit's background color. The next levels are cream, light grey, and all subsequent levels after that are dark grey.

My fighter symbol is the profile of three WW I aeroplanes in V-formation seen from above. The color/level scheme is the same as for armor: no color, cream, light grey, and finally dark grey for all the advanced planes.

The recon bomber is a single plane seen from above, using the same color/level scheme as for fighters. The bomber is actually slightly bigger than one of the fighters, but you can tell it's a bomber because there's only one of it.

The heavy bomber is essentially a bigger bomber, but with really long wings so you don't mistake it for a recon bomber. Same color/level scheme as the other aeroplanes (this should be starting to sound familiar).

The ships are all shown in profile on a dull blue background. One very big ship is a battleship, two smaller ships is a cruiser unit, three small ships is a destroyer. I had originally put together a symbol for a WW I aircraft carrier that was very easy to read at a distance, but replaced it this morning with a transport ship modified with a hanger because proper carriers didn't really show up until the end of the war. The submarine looks pretty much like what you would expect a u-boat travelling on the surface to look like.

I didn't want the partisan unit to look like a regular military unit, so I borrowed an attacking infantryman from another game I worked on.

The naval transport symbol is on naval dull blue and looks a bit like the seaplane tender, and the amphibious transport is now three ship's boats being used as landing craft.

The truck transport symbols show trucks in profile on a cream background, though I may eventually decide to change it to grey.

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