Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pro-style Placeholder Image for Chooser Dialogs

I have been busy with my game development so my blog and tut video stream have been a bit quiet.

Meantime here's a quick video tutorial on creating one of those nice "chiselled grey text" placeholder images that make an image chooser dialog in your game or app so much more pro-stylee.

For this sort of job I often use the GIMP which is a great piece of open-source software and for me one that provides all the functionality I need in bit-map graphics for game development.  To get GIMP for the Mac, go here: and click Download GIMP 2.8 to get Simone Karin Lehmann's build - the others I find are often missing stuff and don't work nearly as well on Mac as her builds.

If you work through the tutorial and are looking for more here are some things you can do that will give some extra nice polish to the chiselled text placeholder.

Carefully color match to your dialogs background.

You can try to get the GIMP to produce the same color for its image background as your dialog, but because of the way the map filter works with the "compensate for darkening" not always being accurate, I suggest instead setting up your GIMP image to be as close to the color you want as possible, and then adjust the dialog background color in your UI designer.  On Mac you can use the magnifying glass on the color chooser to pick up the color of the image:

If you're using XCode for example you can navigate to the color chooser for the background color of the dialog, and then click on the magnifying glass and go across into the the Preview app which you have open alongside showing the image with the color you want to match.  Then just click to sample that colour.  Your XCode dialog is now the exact same background color.

Change the Look of your Chiselled Text

Try applying a blur to your black text after you've typed it in, but before you use it as the bump map.  This will cause your chiselled letters to have a more rounded look instead of the straight sides.  Depending on what you want it might look good in your app or game.

You can also play around with the settings in the Bump Map dialog to get different effects.

Get a Smoother Look

If the aliasing and jags on this image are annoying you can get a better result by running through this exercise with everything done twice as big.  So start out with an image that is twice as wide and twice as high as described here, and use a font that is twice as big.

When you have the final result, the scaling down process will nicely smooth out the jaggies.  This produces a better smoothing result than trying to blur the image you have.