If you haven't made any Warpaints yet, you are going to need an image editor and a warpaint-to-image converter. I generally use GIMP (available here[www.gimp.org]) for image editing because it's free and it's good, but Photoshop will work fine. For image conversions, I've been using ARKPntEditor, because it's easy to use.
Part 2: The One Big Rule
By now you've hopefully fooled around with these programs a little bit. Go ahead and load up one of the templates in ARKPntEditor, and export it as an image. Now take a look at the image size - 256x256. That's tiny. if you want your image to be symmetrical, you effectively have half of that to work with. Now take a look at the list of dyes (availabe here[ark.gamepedia.com]) - that's every single color we can use. To make matters even worse, once the paint is actually on the dinosaur, it's going to be spread out on the model and made lightly transparent. How do we deal with these constraints?
Keep it simple, stupid.
This one rule is going to determine whether your war paint comes out clear and bold or muddled and crappy. Try to use bold, straight lines with strong contrast, and try not to overlap what might be different parts of the dino on the template.
Part 3: The Step-By-Step
So now I'll walk you through a step-by-step of this. I'm not the most proficient image editor, so those of you who actually know what you're doing will probably think this is hilarious, but it works. Make sure you've loaded the appropriate pallete into GIMP if you're following along according to the instructions on the ArkPntEditorguide. You also have to actually load the game, and throw some paint onto a dinosaur with a paintbrush, and then hit the Save button - if you don't do this, you don't get the file to put .PNT files into.
So the first thing to do is to find a design. A user on Reddit asked for a Red Baron ptero skin, so I thought that would be pretty straightforward. After Googling a couple pictures of his plane to familiarize myself with what I would be doing, I know I'm trying to make a bright red plane with a white nose, and white squares on the tail and wings that contain a black iron cross.
The first thing I do is load the template in GIMP:
Then I create a new layer and make sure it's filled with transparency (Layer -> New Layer). In the Layers dialog I click back on the original layer to reselect it and I use the Select By Color tool (top row of the tools, looks like a hand pointing to three colored boxes, or just press Shift + O) and click on the green outline. Copy it, then click on the blank layer in the Layers dialog and paste it. You'll notice that the Layer's dialog says Floating Selection, press CTRL + H to anchor it.
Unfortunately, the aspect ratio here is all screwed up, and we have to fix it. Press CTRL + Shift + V to create a new image from the data on the clipboard, then right-click on the Layer and duplicate it. Always use layers to separate the work that's done from the work to do, it'll save you huge headaches later on. Naming layers is also fairly important. Now widen the image (Image -> Scale Image) to 512 wide. Don't change the height at all. Make sure you index the image with the appropriate palette, which you can find how to do on the ArkPNTEditor guide - I didn't do this, and had to clean up my work later (oops).
Next I use the Select By Color tool again, and I fill the pteranadon red. On a new layer, I make a white square, and I begin to create the iron cross design. However, I can't use plain white or black because the white and black that ARK uses are slightly off-color. If you've already indexed your image, this shouldn't be an issue, but here I am making sure that my shade of black is the correct one, using the hex code from the Dyes section of the wiki. I've also turned on the grid because I'm anal retentive. It won't show up in your final image, but it gives you a nice guide to arrange your images by. If you want to do this, go to View -> Show Grid. I configured mine to be 8 x 8 squares so it fills the image (Image -> Configure Grid) and I've also turned on View - Snap To Grid. This made it very easy to create a simple Iron Cross pattern with the Rectangle Select and Fill Bucket tools. After being satisfied with it, I duplicate the layer, then I go to the Layers dialog and click the eyeball next to the original layer so that I can't see it. I then use the Move Tool (press M) to drag the cross to the left image. I'm only going to be using one side - since my design will go on both sides of the bird, I'm only going to work on one side at a time, and just copy the whole thing over. However, notice that the right side has a tear in the wing - I'm going to use the most complete side. Then I use the Rotate (Shift + R) and Scale (Shift + T) tools to get the cross aligned correctly.
I duplicate the layer, and use the Flip tool (Shift + F), then drag the second cross in place. Then I make a new layer, and I draw on the white and black highlights with the Pencil (press N). Don't worry about going outside the lines, we'll fix it later. Now I've got the pattern that I want to go on top of the red background, so I use the eyeball in the Layers Dialog to make sure I can only see that pattern.
I create a new layer from the data that's visible on the screen (Layer -> New From Visible) and use the Flip tool. Then I make my background visible again, and line up the crosses. The feet weren't quite symmetrical, so I filled in the rest of them with white using the Pencil tool set to the one pixel brush and a scale of 1. I create a new layer from visible again, and make the last layer invisible. Now, to clean up all my doodles outside the lines, I grab the Select By Color tool again, select the bottom layer in the Layers Dialog, and click on the body of the bird. This gives me the dotted line around the template. I select the top layer, and invert the selection (Selection -> Invert or CTRL + I) and press Delete. This removes all the extra crap that I drew on with the pencil tool. Save this image - it's the easiest one to work on in case you need to change it.
I then copy this entire layer, and create a new image from it (CTRL + Shift + V). I scale this image back down to 256 width, copy that, and go back to the first image. I use the Select By Color tool to make sure the bird is highlighted, and paste my outline into it. Selecting the bird body means that GIMP will automagically fill the space with the identically-sized data on the clipboard. I export this image as a PNG (File -> Export, and make sure the filename ends with .png), and run it through ArkPNTEditor. Looks pretty swanky, huh?
So That's It?
No, that's not it! Always check your work! I save the .PNT file into ARK (Steam/Steamapps/Common/Ark/ShooterGame/Saved/MyPaintings) and load it up.
What the hell happened?! Turns out the squares are distorted due to the shape of the wing and I have to fix it. I open up the 512-pixel-wide image in GIMP, and use the Resize tool to shrink them down to half, reapply it to the other side, resize the whole image, and export it again. (note that this image can be saved and exported as a PNG if you want the war paint yourself).