Post tutorial RSS Dow The FX Editor

This tutorial will cover the basics of the FX editor, and eventually go through to a moderately advanced level where, if you encounter something new, you will have enough knowledge and resources to figure it out for yourselves!

Posted by on - Intermediate Animation

Originally made by final_phase

Hey guys, I'm reeelax (aka final_phase), and I'm the fx artist for DoWpro.
Recently I've been receiving a lot of requests for FX from various mod teams, and since it seems that FX artists are few and far between, I decided that I would make an expansive tutorial dedicated to the FX editor so that you guys can do your own .

This tutorial will cover the basics of the FX editor, and eventually go through to a moderately advanced level where, if you encounter something new, you will have enough knowledge and resources to figure it out for yourselves!

• Introduction to the Fx Editor


The FX Editor, while seemingly daunting at first glance, is actually a very simple and powerful tool used to create all of the visual FX that you see in DoW. From standard bolter fire to the Orbital Strike, from the rain and snow weather fx to the Farseer's Eldritch Storm, the FX editor was used to make them all.

In this tutorial I'm going to assume that you've never even tried the fx editor before, so it may seem a little slow in some places. There is also a lot to say when it comes to fx, but be patient and take it a step at a time and you never know, you may actually learn something

Ok let's get started.

• Note that for this tutorial you won't need to use the Object Editor, as I will limit the scope to editing Relic's FX only. If you wish to make fx for your own models, then the Object Editor will be required to get these fx ingame

• Setting up an FX Dedicated Mod


This bit may be slightly tricky if you are not familiar with DoW modding, but you will only need to do it once, and when you're done it's all fun from there!

The first thing that you will want to do before you start is to create a dedicated mod and extract all of Relic's FX and textures from the correct SGA files. If you are already have a mod set up you can use that one, however I find it easier to have the fx separate from the actual mod I am making fx for, especially if you are making fx for multiple mods.
I won't go through the details of setting up a mod because Octopus Rex has explained it all perfectly in the other tutorial on this mod page.
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Setting Up FX!

To extract all of the necessary files you will need a program such as Corsix's Mod Studio or an SGA Explorer.
Personally, I use Corsix's SGA Reader, which is quite simple and intuitive, and is the one I will use to explain how to do this part of the tutorial.

Open up Corsix's SGA Reader, and go to the menu bar and select File>Open

From here you should browse to your Dark Crusade directory (or Soulstorm Directory), go into the 'W40k' folder and open up the W40kData.sga file.

You should now see something like this:


You won't need to extract all of the files, so browse the folder tree on the left by selecting 'art' and 'fx'. Click on the fx folder to ensure that all of the subfolders appear in the right window.


Ok the moment of truth! Right click on the 'fx' folder and then click 'Extract'.
You will be presented with the following form:

Check that it is extracting only the contents of "data\art\fx" and that you have specified the correct path to your mod (as shown in the picture), and then click OK. All of the necessary files for making fx will now be magically extracted into the correct folder!
• Note that if you can't get the SGA reader to display an option to extract the files, restart it and repeat the procedure without minimising it, as it seems to have trouble with this.

You will have to repeat this for the Dark Crusade FX (stored in the DXP2Data.sga in the DXP2 folder) and also for the Soulstorm FX (When it is released ). Make sure you extract them to exactly the same place as you did before.

Alright, if you are still here after all that then excellent! You probably have what it takes to become an FX Artist
Now we'll start the fun stuff!

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The Basics of the Fx Tool and Your First FX

Ok, now that's out of the way, on to the real reason of this tutorial.

Part 1: Admiring Relics FX, and the basics of the FX Tool:

he best thing to do when you open the FX Tool for the first time is to take a look at a few of Relic's fx. After all, they are professionals .
Select File>Open from the menu bar and browse to where you extracted all of the fx.
(eg Dawn of War - Dark Crusade\my_mod\data\art\fx)

A reasonably cool fx is the flamethrower fx, which will be the basis of the early stages of this tutorial.
From the main fx folder, browse to and open (flame_fx\flame_sprays\gravity_flamer_combo_4.lua) and push PLAY at the bottom left. You should see something like as follows:


Obviously it would be a lot better if we could actually see the whole thing, but there is a little trick I need to teach you first (the picture below will help to explain this).
To zoom and rotate the fx display, you will need to have the top left fx display window selected. To do this, left click at the centre of the 4 windows where all of their borders meet.
You can now use the mousewheel to zoom in and out, and by holding right click you can pan around the fx. If you hold the middle mouse button you can also move the camera focus position.


If you look at the window on the top right, you will notice that this fx is a 'Combo fx', and that it is made up of 2 'Spray fx', a 'Ring fx' and a 'Beam fx'. We will learn what some of these types do next.

Part 2: Making your first FX (Ring FX)


• Making Your First FX (Ring FX)
In this part we will begin to make our flamethrower fx. First up we will need to make the individual balls of flame that will eventually be sprayed from the flamethrower.
• Note: A useful resource when making FX is the RDNWiki FX Tool section (Will be posted on the tutorials here). In particular you might like to take a look at the 'Ring Effect' section for this part of the tutorial.

Open up the FX Tool and select File>New. This is what you will be faced with:

Select the 'Ring' fx type and also your mod and then hit OK. You will then be prompted to save your new file. You can save it anywhere within the fx file, but it pays to put it somewhere where you will be able to find it
I saved mine as (reeelax\fx_tutorial\flamethrower_ring_01.lua)

You can try hitting play and see what the default ring fx is: a texture that says 'BAD FX' and changes size and colour. Don't worry, we will be making good fx soon


First off we will want to know about a few of the basic things that we can change. These 'things' are called parameters, and they are all listed in the top right window.

• TEXTURE
First, find the parameter called 'Texture', and click on it. You will notice that the bottom right window has changed to allow you to select a texture for your fx. Click browse and open NIGHTBRINGER_SMOKE_LRG_00.DDS from the main fx folder (You can also just type it into the box if you wish).
Click apply.

You will now notice that the 'BAD FX' texture has been replaced by Nightbringer smoke. Textures are the basis of every FX, and play a big part in what the end product will look like. You will also notice that the texture has a black background. We don't want it to be like this ingame, so we will need to change the 'Blending' parameter to set the type of transparency that the texture will use.

• Note that you can use any texture you like to for your flamethrower. If you don't like how the NIGHTBRINGER_SMOKE textures look, the FIRE_PUFF textures also work especially well.

• BLENDING
Find and click on 'Blending' in the parameter window (top right). In the bottom right window set it's value to '2'.
This means that you have chosen 'Additive Blending'. If you have textures overlapping ingame, their brightness will add, so that they will seem to merge together. This is what we want for our flamethrower fx, because we want to have a stream of fire, not just a bunch of individual rings. We will see more about this when we come to the colour parameter. (You can try the other types of blending if you like, to see what they do. There is a small description of what each value represents at the far bottom left).

Note that the most useful settings are:
Blending = 1: Alpha Blending (Only suitable for textures with an alpha layer)
Blending = 2: Additive Blending (The most useful, because the brightnesses stack with multiple textures, and the textures will blend together)

• RADIUS
Now we will learn to change the size of the ring. Select 'Radius' from the parameter window. Notice that there is now a graph that slopes from 0 to 5, which corresponds to the size of the ring when you play the FX. The horizontal axis refers to time and the vertical axis refers to the texture radius.

Try left clicking at random places on the graph to see how it effects the size of the ring (make sure you have the ring playing ). To remove these points, simply right click on them.
Because these rings will eventually be sprayed out of a flamethrower, I have started them small and gradually increased their size (shown in the picture). Don't try to get it exactly right now, as this will just be a guideline for later on, when we will adjust it to be more suitable.


• COLOUR
This is where you get to choose what your flamethrower will turn out like, after all, you are making this fx for yourself .
Do you want it to shoot flames? Balls of electricity? Or maybe even some chaotic energy that you invented yourself?
I'm going to make my 'flamethrower' shoot some kind of freezing gas, but really you could make it anything you want. You can also change the texture to something more suitable for your fx if you'd like to, it is up to you.
The window for changing the colour looks like this:


It is very similar to the graph we used when we changed the radius of the ring, however instead of changing the radius, we are changing the colour and the transparency.
Like before, you can left click on the sliders to make new points, and right click to delete them. By selecting these points you can choose a colour for the texture at this point, and by adjusting the brightness and the alpha you can change the transparency.


Note that the top slider represents the colour, and the bottom slider represents the alpha.
Because we have used additive blending, try to keep the colours quite dark. This is because the colours will stack ingame and appear brighter, for example: three dark blue textures can add to give a bright blue texture when overlapped.
Again, don't try to get it exactly right now, as all of these things can be adjusted later

• BILLBOARD

The Billboard parameter is very useful for making fx seem 3D when you are only using 2D textures. What is does is make the texture always face the camera, which is what we want in this case. Tick the checkbox to make our ring a billboard.

• DURATION

The last step for now is looking at the duration. This determines how long the ring will last in seconds after it is spawned. Set its value to about 2.5 and save your ring.

Now we are going to take our ring and make it into a flamethrower


Making Your First FX (Spray FX)

Ok! Now that you have a basic idea of how the fx editor works and you have made a ring, it's time to create something that resembles a flamethrower.

Create a new fx and select 'Spray' from the menu. Save it next to the ring you just created. (I called mine flamethrower_spray_01).

• PARTICLE FX
This option allows you to choose the fx that is going to be sprayed. In our case we want to spray the ring that we just created. This is very similar to how we set the texture for our ring. Click import and open the ring. Now push play and see what happens!


Also note that the ring you created before is now stored in the 'Particle_Fx'. You can expand the ring and edit any of it's properties in the exact same way that you did before, however note that it is a different ring with the same properties, so any changes you make to this ring will not affect the other ring.

Ok, now we want to make a few adjustments so that it will look more like a flamethrower

• EMITTER DEVIATION

The emitter deviation parameter determines the size of the angle that the particles are allowed to be emitted from in the shape of a cone. As you can see, for the default values, the particles are emitted in a straight line to begin with (0 degrees) and end up being emitted at 180 degrees.
You should adjust this to your preference, but values around 5 to 8 will work well.

Here is what I've done:


• EMITTER DURATION
This is how long the emitter will spray particles for. A good value for a flamethrower is about 2 seconds.

• EMITTER RATE
This defines how many particles are produced per second. For a flamethrower we will want it to be about constant, so set both the starting and ending values to around 22.

• EMITTER LOOP
Turning this on will cause the fx to loop, so that when the fx ends it will begin again from the start. Tick this for our flamethrower fx.

Alright! Hopefully your fx is starting to look like it could have come out of a flamethrower!
This is the part were we begin to make minor adjustments to the parameters to get it just right. The ring especially will need adjustment now that we can see what it looks like when it is sprayed.
Expand the ring in the top right window and adjust the parameters you've just learnt about to really get your flamethrower looking good!
If you would like to, you can try changing a few parameters that I haven't explained here by looking at the information contained in the RDNWiki. For example, to make our FX look more realistic, a good parameter to change for the ring will be SpinZ.
• Note that because our ring is a billboard, SpinX and SpinY won't have any effect.


This is what my 'flamethrower' turned out like

Now let's see what it looks like ingame!


Looking at the FX Ingame



One of the cool things about making fx is getting to see what they look like ingame.
To get this fx ingame we are going to overwrite one of Relic's fx, so be sure to make a backup copy if you want to keep it

Open your flamethrower spray fx and go to 'Save as'. Navigate to your mods fx folder (eg Dawn of War - Dark Crusade\my_mod\data\art\fx) and Save as 'muzzle_flamer_spray_combo'.

Now load up your mod, start a skirmish as Space Marines and build a scout squad with a flamethrower.
Watch with glee as your new fx destroys the enemy!

"Walk softly and carry a big freeze gun"

What I would do now that I have seen how it looks ingame, is to go back into the fx editor and change some of the parameters again, until I am happy. However since this is a simple test fx I don't think I'll bother


Final Words



Well, hopefully you were successful in making your flamethrower fx.
Feel free to comment on any part of the tutorial that was too hard/too easy/unclear/whatever, and I will try to improve it

However it is not over yet! There are many more aspects of the fx editor that I haven't even covered, so be on the lookout for a part 2 for this tutorial

If you are keen and want to try out something more now, there is another fx tutorial here, however it deals mostly with the object editor.

I strongly encourage you to just play with the fx editor, and by using the RDNWiki as a guide, just try things out. Try making a simple explosion or even some fireworks or something and just see what happens!
Also it is a great idea to look at (and even edit) Relic's fx and see what they have done. That is how I learnt to use the FX editor.

Finally, a big thanks to the whole DoWpro team, for letting me mess with (and occasionally mess up ) the fx for DoWpro.

gl hf!


Note!


  • To get your fx to attach to a weapon requires the object editor.
    You will have to open your model in the object editor and create a new event. In this event you will add the fx and attach it to the correct marker on your weapon.
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