How to actually make a texture pack – advice from the skilled

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Today we’ll be focusing on the creative world of texture packs.

Although it is primarily based around minecraft it has a lot of practical uses for many other situations such as indie game texturing.

Creating a great looking texturepack is difficult,  however with a little help and a nudge in the right direction, creating a fantastic looking texture pack can be a lot easier than most believe is possible.

We decided to speak to a few Minecraft texture pack developers in a bid to provide you with the answers you are looking for.

Inspiration for a great texture pack

While talking to ozBillo the creator of Battered old stuff texture pack, we learnt that the inspiration behind a texture pack can be the make or break of it –

Rummaging through dusty old sheds looking at rusty tools and junk. Old buildings that have been left to age gracefully; or, more usually, disgracefully

It turns out that the world around us is a great place to start: You can get lot of inspiration from simply looking at the many textures that lurk around us, that many of us take for granted on a daily basis.

OzBillio also commented on how a lot of the inspiration for his texture pack is taken from “old rundown buildings and factories” (which really fits in with the battered and old feel) – showing that creating a texture pack doesn’t just mean sitting behind a computer, racking your brain for different texture ideas.

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Experience before making the texture pack?

Many people believe that you must have some previous experience before even attempting to make a texture pack. This may be the case for some people, however if you are anything like me you may be able to pick it up straight away and start creating unbelievable texture packs from the offset – you only need to have a go.

In Sphax’s case he has a background of computer graphics and game design; this meant it was easier for him to create the texture pack from the thought process of how to go about it and the tools he needed to use had already been established.

We can still find evidence of ameteur designers approaching the creation of texture packs in this way and, although experience is not necessary, having a creative mind and set out thought processes will be an advantage for you in the design aspect of the texture pack .

Making the texture pack

To many, creating a texture pack could seem like a daunting task… but if you know where to look it is not as difficult as it may seem.

Get your self a free texture editor:

What is great  is there are many free tools or software you can use to aid you in the process of creating a texture pack alternatively you could even  mix and match different software to achieve a finished look.

GIMP is like a free version of photoshop and comes with nearly the exact amount of features (but you may have to download some plugins to get to that level), it works well for making tiny detailed  objects in a reasonable time.

If the GIMP interface is not for you, PAINT.NET or inkscape are also other great free peices of software to assist you.

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If you have the money to spend (an alternative way to get hold of the software) you could also opt for the adobe suite with either photoshop or/and illustrator.

What’s good about Illustrator is that it allows you to make objects of mass proportions and then scale them down to virtually nothing with no pixelation at all (but it does come with a steep learning curve). If you’re anything like Oz Billo you could also opt to go with PaintShopPro

The first texture I made was the chest. It was mostly taken from 1 photo of an old sea chest; edited in PaintShop Pro to fit the Minecraft cube shape; and edges shaded or worn with brush tools.

Get into the style you want

Once you have your choice of editor(s) you will need to start gathering materials for the inspiration you have already collected. You may have decided that you want to map it all out by hand, illustrate it or use real natural photographs – depending on the style you want any of these options would be a good Idea.

Oz Billo told us that in the making of his texture pack “I used other photos of leather straps, brass rivets, brass hinges, etc, and put the new chest together from the different bits.”.

Taking from a mix and match of natural images could be the answer to your problems – just take some leather from here and stick it onto here…

The Story is quite different for Sphax Pure BD Craft: This texture pack has that cartoon / comic style that everyone seems to love meaning that a different approach would of needed to be taken. A Lot of these textures would of been made inside of an editing program such as Illustrator as a lot of control and sizing is needed to get that cartoon quirky look

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Make sure you are original in all that you do

This is easier said than done? Wrong. It can be very tempting to take a look a t many other designs and subconsciously (or consciously) add a bit of their influence into your own, but if you want your texture pack to be the very best avoid this at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong here, you want to take some influence from your surroundings but as said by Oz,

Most definitely, do your own thing. As much as possible, don’t even look at other texture packs. That way, any great textures you make will be ones you can be 100% proud of.

If you are one hundred percent proud of your work, you will be more confident in using it and showing it off to the world – ultimately meaning you will be more chuffed with your self and able to market it.

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Most people forget that marketing your texture pack is a big step

What’s the point in creating a texture pack if nobody is going to download it? If you get this step right and you are confident that your texture pack is ready to be released upon the world, it will go down a treat. Here are some free and very simple ways to get noticed:

  • Post it everywhere! Yes! Absolutely everywhere! This will maximize the exposure it will get, meaning there is a high chance for people to download it
  • Talk to other texture developers! You may think telling other designers about your pack is counter intuitive but most people will be more than happy to help you promote it.
  • Respond to initial feedback. People love nothing more than seeing there is actually a developer that cares
  • Give people a reason to download it. Make sure you actually tell people about your self and the texture pack

Of course these steps are not the only ones you will have to use but they will certainly help to kickstart the initial release of your texture pack. Shortly we will be releasing an article letting you know the best ways to promote your textures games and much more, so make sure you watch this space.

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Difficulties you may face

Ah yes, there is always going to be a snag in the road somewhere and you are bound to face a problem with your texture pack. This could be in the form of something as simple as not being able to get a texture right or not having enough time to pursue it.

Natural textures were a particular difficulty for Oz: “The later ones that look okay usually took many failed attempts before I got something I was happy with.” The best way to overcome this is to just carry on, give it enough time and you will get it the way you want it (even if it takes a whole year)

Interestingly creating textures may not be your only problem. Depending on your day job you may find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand from your users.

Oz was telling me how “Finding enough time to work on textures now is becoming increasingly difficult. I spent over 80 hours working on the Tunnel Bore for RailCraft. I doubt I would even tackle something like that, now.” 

Like before there is also ways around this, if you delegate your time right and possibly make a schedule to keep in line with your other daily routines you may just be able to keep up. Unfortunately this is not always a viable option and it may come down to the fact that you may have to go on a quest to search for another skilled texture artist to help you out (which in its self can take a lot of time)

The future of texture packs

As for the future of Minecraft texture packs, it is hard to tell. With Mojang constantly making changes to the system, in 5 years time we may see a completely revolutionised way of creating texture packs. This goes the same for other texture artists.

As of now we are seeing a whole range of technological advances and before we know it we could be creating textures with just the power of our minds (going a bit far into the future there I think!)

If a new version of Minecraft changes the way textures work then I make the necessary changes so I can continue to play using my texture pack.

Remember to adapt, if you can do that then you will be secured for the future and that way if any changes are made your user experience will not be affected.

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What to do next?

Explore the world of texture packs and find out / plan how you’re going to begin – if you have already done this take on the advice you have seen here and share it with your friends.

As for Oz, with support from other developers such as Glimmar (creator of steampunk hybrid), he has continued to carry on his work with battered old stuff. However not only did the encouraging support from Glimmar spur him on to now have over 187,000 downloads and make it on to our top 10 list of texture packs, it was the important feedback from his users that allowed his creativity to flow.

If you have the creativity and ambition you can achieve limits of mass proportions.



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