Shields concept

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MantisManMike
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Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:00 pm

I've been working on a new shield image, inspired by Splette's excellent Highres Shields. At this stage I'd like to gather feedback before committing to the painstaking task of lining up the image for each ship.

The idea is to make a hexagonal-pattern shield that stays as close in style to the original as possible, but looks better because it's 3D and has cleaner edges. Here is the Engi cruiser with max shields. The first image is my concept, the second is the original, and the third is Splette's:

Image
Image
Image

If you want an easy way to compare the images, open them all in new browser tabs, then break these into a separate browser window. You can then CTRL-TAB between them.

Things that I could change:

  • Thickness of the lines
  • I could add a subtle glow/border around the edge (see Splette's hexagonal shield concept for an example)
  • The transparency gradient (how sharply it fades off towards the centre)
  • The relative intensity or colour of the lines, compared to the shield
  • The overall brightness / contrast / hue / saturation

The image is based on a bevelled icosphere. As a result, I cannot change the size of the hexagons -- or rather, I can only have much bigger or much smaller hexagons. It also means the hexagons will be stretched on longer ships. And technically, there are a few pentagons in there, because it's impossible to make a sphere out of just hexagons -- but good luck spotting them!

I've also tried applying this to the enemy ship shields. It's never going to look perfect, because enemies use a single shield image that gets resized. The enemy shield image is also more saturated/brighter than the player shields, and I think that looks better in-game against the background of the targeting frame.

The first image is my new shield applied to enemies, without adjustments (and against my cleaner enemy frame). The second image is the original shield (and frame), and the third image is my shield with the saturation/lightness boosted.

Image
Image
Image

I feel the first one is too dark, but the third one looks pretty good.

Please let me know what you think, as it will be much easier to try out ideas at this early stage! :)
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Sleeper Service
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Re: Shields concept

Postby Sleeper Service » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:38 pm

As a basis, good job. My only criticism is basically what I commented on High Res Shields back then:
Sleeper Service wrote:Thanks a lot, the graphics look great. My only quarrel with it is that the perspective and depth it creates feels a little like off in relation to the actual ship hull. I also feel like the original graphic did get around this whole problem by displaying more of a cross section of the shields. With the modded image, I wonder a lot if the ship is above or below the graphic. If it is below then why does the graphic not overlap with the actual ship hull. If it is above then I get more the impression that the ship is floating above its own shield bubble. Maybe that is just me though. I wonder if a cross section of the sphere, rendered from top down view on its inside, would look any different.
(...)
Again, this is just my own impression. The premise of the mod is that the shield is actually a three dimensional sphere and should be displayed like that, right? But as ship images are layered right now, the ship is actually displayed on top of that sphere, not inside it. IMO the increased opacity towards the middle of the shield can not hide that, ultimately the modded shield just gives a too good impression of being a sphere. I perceive the vanilla image as a cross-section of the shield, deliberately displayed in a two dimensional manner. While I find that the edges and structure of your shield look much better, I still feel like the modded images give less the impression that the ship is actually inside the shield bubble. IMO vanilla got around the whole depth issue by deliberately displaying a two dimensional cross section of the shield, which does not require the shield to overlap with the hull or anything. But with your image I started to wonder why the true sphere does not overlap with the ship hull (which is technically not possible anyway).
The perspective problem was eventually addressed by adding thicker outlines to the shield, giving it more of an impression of being a cross-section of an ovoid. You can check page 2 and 3 of the High Res Shields thread for examples. :) If I recall correctly, High Res Shields never incorporated that design into the full pack. So if you'd pull this off with a similar level of quality as your main image then you'd have yourself a very solid visual mod. 8-)
MantisManMike
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Re: Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:17 pm

Thanks Sleeper Service! :)

I'm one of those who see the shield as on top / around the ship, rather than as a cross-section. Because the ship image is placed on top, as you say, the effect will never be perfect. Nevertheless, it fits better in my brain than seeing it as a cross-section.

For that reason, I didn't like the strong outline concepts, like this one. They "force" me to see the shield as a cross-section. However, a subtle outline like this may be compatible with both ways of seeing it. I'll give that a go.

If it's not too much work, I might just do both and let people use the one that suits how they see the shield.
MantisManMike
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Re: Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:54 pm

How about this?

Image

Turns out this effect is easy to add/remove in Photoshop, so if desired I can make versions with and without it.

I also tweaked the colours to match the original more (a bit more bright/vivid).
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Sleeper Service
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Re: Shields concept

Postby Sleeper Service » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:56 pm

Awesome! I'd probably prefere a thicker outline version but thats just my taste really. Would be sweet if you could let the user choose.
MantisManMike
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Re: Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:18 pm

Sleeper Service wrote:Awesome! I'd probably prefere a thicker outline version but thats just my taste really. Would be sweet if you could let the user choose.


Easily done. :) Latest version is slightly thicker anyway, but I will also make a heavy-duty version for the cross-section effect. Think I've got my workflow down now, so I'm going to try out the other ships.

The enemy shield effect looks best on ships that are not too long. Zoltan bombers are a bit more stretched than I'd like, but still I think it's okay. The outline seems to help soften the jagged edge that is created when FTL resizes the image to fit the ship.

Do you think I should release separate player / enemy shield mods? And maybe a combined version?
MantisManMike
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Re: Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:38 am

First image is my standard outline, second is thicker. Does this second one give the impression of being a cross-section?

Image
Image

Since it's very easy to tweak this, I will adjust it until it looks right for you / anyone else who sees the shield as a cross-section, and then release both versions.

And while I'm at it, here's the flagship:

Image
MantisManMike
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Re: Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:40 pm

BTW, I could also remove / reduce the transparency in the shield centre. Currently it fades to 0% opacity. It might look more like a "cut in half ovoid" if I keep some in the centre. This mostly just affects a few ships, especially the engi cruiser and rebel fighters.

(Although this is an annoying change.)
spicybanger
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Re: Shields concept

Postby spicybanger » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:31 am

MantisManMike wrote:First image is my standard outline, second is thicker. Does this second one give the impression of being a cross-section?


The first one looks more realistic to me. The second one seems like too much
MantisManMike
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Re: Shields concept

Postby MantisManMike » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:27 am

spicybanger wrote:The first one looks more realistic to me. The second one seems like too much


Yeah, that's my preference too. Thanks.

Do you see it as a cross-section, or do you see the shield "on top/around" the ship?

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