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Creating PNT Files
Tips and Tricks for creating better looking PNT files from scratch for Ark Survival. Contains reference tables of use to painters, as well as techniques and ideas specifically aimed at the sorts of images players want in Ark. WIP
Getting Started as the Van Gogh of Ark, but with Ears
First up, make sure you are familiar with my guide on using PNT files. I won't be duplicating that information here, and one of the most important bits you'll need in there is the list of file name suffixes.
Next, create a folder for stashing your arty farty bits n bobs in, and make sure it has a shortcut to your MyPaintings folder (see the other guide for that too!), and a PNT Converter. The conversion program I recommend (coz it works pretty well, and has templates) and instructions for its use are found at: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=518906272
Finally, make sure you have some sort of graphics design package. I use GIMP[www.gimp.org] because it's free, i used to work for a Photoshop competitor, I think Photoshop is over-priced for non-professional use, and I just like knowing that somewhere, at any time, there is someone in a latex suit chained up in a basement or a closet somewhere...
There are other packages, such as those produced by Corel, Adobe and so on. Usually the sorts of editors that come free with Operating Systems are not really capable of the sorts of tricks you will need to produce bloody amazing art, but that being said, it's 99% inspiration and sheer damn luck. Hell, I have even used Microsoft bloody Word to make artworks before, but certainly not at the level of sophistication that I produce with GIMP.
Once you've got all this stuff together, we're ready to plunge into the limited technicolor sea of Ark art. Rex in a gimp suit, about to enjoy a tasty Van Gogh head popsicle. Yummo!
Testing your Art in SP
The best way to polish your efforts is by actually painting your drafts in Ark. The easiest way to manage that is in a Single Player game, using cheats. Trust me, stuff never looks quite the same in-game as it does in previews, and pesky things like borders, rust stains and so on get in the road. In multiplayer worlds, you don't want to (or will be unable to!) change weather, time of day and so on.
Get started on your cheaty cheaty life: Give yourself a paintbrush: 20 of every dye: and a spray painter:
Freeze animals in place (and the whole world): PlayersOnly Use it again to unfreeze.
Get rid of those summons or structures by looking at them: DestroyMyTarget
Tips n Tricks for GORGEOUS FABULOUSNESS
Converting Full-color Images
Scale it, allowing for the aspect ratio of the object it's going to be painted on. Unlock the image's aspect ratio, and divide the axis that will be stretched by the aspect ratio of the object. For example, if its going on a sign of any type, divide the horizontal resolution by 2.5. Now lock the aspect ratio and change the largest dimension to the resolution of the object. For example, if it's a billboard, use 256.
At this point you will get a feel for any cropping you might want to do to the largest dimension to help square it up. Just get it close, a bit of squishy usually doesn't hurt too much. If the resulting image is heavily postboxed (one dimension is drastically short of what is required), consider using a background color on the canvas to make it look nice.
Use the brightness contrast tool to fiddle the image until you have a pure black and a pure white in the image. This ensures the most detail when we decolorise it for Ark.
Finally, convert the image to just use Ark colors, (in GIMP: Image > Mode > Indexed and select the Ark palette you've already installed that comes with the converter). Most of the time you will want to use some sort of dithering. The usual exception to dithering is for cartoonish images. Dithering will make the image quite speckly, if you want to try and despeckle the image, you will need to go back to full RGB color space to use the tool, but generally this is self-defeating. However, at this point you can choose to select all of given color (Shift-O on GIMP) used in the speckle, and change it to a more suitable color.
Getting the Most Out Of the Converter
If you have already set the palette to Ark inside your paint program before saving the PNG, make sure inside the Converter you turn Tolerance down to zero (top left) and Dithering to zero as well (bottom left). This will ensure the closest possible match to what you have produced.
Ideas for Metal Signs
Using the embossing effect with black letters on a white background, and then removing the original letters and the background gives a great appearance of an embossing popping out of the metal sign.
Having a transparent background with dull colors looks nice and primitive.