Kexikus

[WIP] High quality skyboxes

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This is the WIP-Thread for my High Quality Skyboxes project.

 

As you probably know, the skyboxes in both KotOR games are very low in resolution and also not always interesting. These mods attempt to change this by creating entirely new skyboxes using Terragen 4 and rendering those in 2048x2048 (vanilla uses 512x512). Version 1 of the KotOR skyboxes has been released since October 2015 and can be found here.

 

After its release, I took a break to work on other mods but recently I came back to work on the TSL version and version 2 of the KotOR skyboxes. I've learned quite a lot since version 1 which is why I want to rework some of the skyboxes for KotOR and also, since I now own Terragen 4, I can render them in higher quality which will also be part of version 2.

 

You can follow my progress in this thread and in the following image which I'll (hopefully) update regularly to show where I'm at:

 

Ya0B2QTh.jpg

 

Original first post:

 

As the title suggests I started working on some high quality skyboxes to replace the blurry pixelated ones used in both games. I actually wanted to do this for quite some time and two days ago I finally started working on them with this result:

 

[Deleted due to photobucket blocking embeding]
 
I'd say that while the clouds certainly need to be improved some more and I didn't render in full quality and some photoshop work has to be done, they actually look pretty good except for one thing. And that's the resolution.
The problem here is that Terragen 3 (which I used to make the skybox) only allows me to render in resolutions up to 900x900 in the free version. And since the cheapest license costs 200$ I won't buy it just for this mod^^ So, I decided to try my luck with Terragen Classic (which I'm pretty sure is what Bioware and Obsidian originally used for their skyboxes) but it has the same limitations and the registration to remove the limitation is no longer possible.
 
So, this mod is pretty much dead before it even started unless and that's where I need your help, someone here has access to a full legal version of Terragen and would be willing to render quite a lot of pictures for me. Or alternatively if someone knows of a good free tool to create skyboxes I could try it with that one.

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I think I still have a installation for a  full working version of terragen on my PC.... somewhere :)
 

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The problem here is that Terragen 3 (which I used to make the skybox) only allows me to render in resolutions up to 900x900 in the free version.

How large were you hoping to make your skyboxes anyway?

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Actually, I have to ask in regards to Terragen, is there a tutorial on how to render sky ceilings and edges so that minimal seams show up?

 

(By the way, that sky looks good :) )

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How large were you hoping to make your skyboxes anyway?

 

My original plan was 1024x1024 making them four times bigger compared to the original ones. And I'm pretty sure I could have upscaled the 900x900 renders without too much problems. However, when placing the 900x900 ones ingame they seemed just as pixelated as the original ones so now I'm hoping for 2048x2048 (and I'm not looking forward to uploading that filesize xD )

 

Actually, I have to ask in regards to Terragen, is there a tutorial on how to render sky ceilings and edges so that minimal seams show up?

 

(By the way, that sky looks good :D )

 

(Thanks ;) )

 

I think that depends on the terragen version you are using.

You obviously have to rotate the camera correctly in both programs (90° FOV etc) and in TG 3 you can either enable Global Illumination Caching which is unavailable in the free version or in TG 3.1 and newer you can set the "Ray detail region" in the Renderer's Advanced tab to "360 degree detail (highest)" (which is what I did). In both cases TG will calculate the lighting for the whole scene and not just for your field of view, preventing seems caused by different illuminations per tile.

But I also had some problems with a sky ceiling I tested and I don't know what happened there yet.

 

 

Edit: Here's a link for the original full HD screenshot I took, where you can see the low resolution even more:

http://i1346.photobucket.com/albums/p700/Kexikus9/2015-01-16_00001_zps614c1752.jpg~original

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Good news :D

I managed to get around the resolution issue I had with the free version of Terragen.

Now I have to render 17 instead of 5 images and have to edit them together but I can create skyboxes in 1800*1800 which I will rescale to 2048*2048.

 

And here is what Manaan now looks like:

swkotor%202015-02-15%2019-15-41_zpsa0q21

 

Full resolution: http://i1346.photobucket.com/albums/p700/Kexikus9/swkotor%202015-02-15%2019-15-41_zpsa0q219o4.png~original

 

Criticism is always welcome and now that I know that this method works I'll start remaking all skyboxes in the game :)

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Malachor V will break your heart.

 

Stated from personal experience and torturing Quanon with the dilemma...

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Did some more Photoshop work for the Manaan skybox so that the horizon is less yellow and the borders now fit (almost) perfectly together. The later problem arises because one or two pixels of each texture are not used on the left and right so that I have to shrink them a bit to fit the skybox model. But it's not that big of a deal and with some more tweaking I should be able to make them look seamless.

 

I also did the Terragen work for Tatooine so that I can probably render it in the next days. Screenshots will follow once those textures are ingame but for now I only have a download of my (unfinished) Manaan skybox in case anyone wants to have a look.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ko2p2o06okk6apj/Manaan.rar?dl=0

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Stated from personal experience and torturing Quanon with the dilemma...

 

 

Yes, indeed.

I did mess around some more in PS with my Malachor skybox. Slicing off 1 or 2 pixel lines from left and/ or right. But never got it properly fixed. And got mighty frustrated with it all, to be honest  x-S

 

Oh, and sorry Kexikus for not getting back to you about Terragen. Manaan is looking mighty good though!

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As I said I'm currently working on Tatooine and I could use some more opinions.

Here are two versions of the terrain I'm going to use.

 

 

 

TatooineV1_zpsjovykcul.png

 

TatooineV2_zpsq9x2ijmx.png

 

 

 

Would you prefer the first version where the dunes slowly turn into mountains in the distance or the second version with flat dunes and only a few mountains in the background (as in vanilla)?

 

 

Oh, and sorry Kexikus for not getting back to you about Terragen. Manaan is looking mighty good though!

 

No problem. I think in the end it's better if I do the renders myself anyway.

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In my opinion the second version just has more of a Star Wars feel to it, especially considering all the canyons and rocks shown iin the movies (Episode4, when Luke meets Obi; Episode6, Jabba's palace and surrounding area; Episode1, the Race; Episode2, when Skywalker was avenging his mom)

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As I said I'm currently working on Tatooine and I could use some more opinions.

Here are two versions of the terrain I'm going to use.

 

 

 

TatooineV1_zpsjovykcul.png

 

TatooineV2_zpsq9x2ijmx.png

 

 

 

Would you prefer the first version where the dunes slowly turn into mountains in the distance or the second version with flat dunes and only a few mountains in the background (as in vanilla)?

 

 

 

No problem. I think in the end it's better if I do the renders myself anyway.

 

Nice work on those renders! Love both of them, don't you need 4 to 5 sides anyway, its a skyBOX? :P
Suggestion, could also render out some sand; just the floor at, say 1024x1024. Because the old kotor sand texture applied to the dunes is going

to look very different to what appears  in the skybox.

 

Just so it matches nicely ^_^

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I prefer the seciond one better, but why limit yourself to one of them? Maybe in the first Tatooine dune sea area with the sandthrawler, maybe use the first one and with the second skybox, use-it for the sand people camp?

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Thank you all for your feedback :D

I personally prefered the first version since it looks more realistic to me but that might also be caused by the fact that I threw version 2 together as a concept in about 15 minutes.

I'll probably try some type of combination with a little more height variety in the dunes than in version 2 but also with less mountains in the background.

 

 

Nice work on those renders! Love both of them, don't you need 4 to 5 sides anyway, its a skyBOX? :P
Suggestion, could also render out some sand; just the floor at, say 1024x1024. Because the old kotor sand texture applied to the dunes is going

to look very different to what appears  in the skybox.

 

Just so it matches nicely ^_^

 

 

Well, yeah I need 5 textures in the end. And in version 1 the view I showed above is actually the only one with that many mountains. In most other directions you see only sand and the sky.

You can see this with this low resolution test I made yesterday:

 

swkotor%202015-02-21%2023-33-45_zpsxmexh

 

I'd say that the sand actually fits the vanilla sand quite well. Atleast in the foreground but since KotOR does really weird things with the skybox colors, I'll have to darken and partially desaturate them anyway so that in the end they fit the vanilla sand.

 

I prefer the seciond one better, but why limit yourself to one of them? Maybe in the first Tatooine dune sea area with the sandthrawler, maybe use the first one and with the second skybox, use-it for the sand people camp?

 

Well, I guess that would require editing of those modules since in vanilla they all use the same skybox textures from Anchorhead to the Eastern Dune Sea. And I have no idea how to do such things :D

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When you first said Tatooine, I was like, "there's no clouds there", but now I see what you meant.

//>-

 

As for the choice, I prefer the first set, since the craggy outcropping reminds me the most of the movies. Maybe leaving one mountain could hint at how the Tatooine landscape is constantly changing/evolving. :)

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