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[User Info] Getting Started Tutorial for VXLE III.
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Tacyarts
Vehicle Drone


Joined: 30 May 2010

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:05 am    Post subject:  [User Info] Getting Started Tutorial for VXLE III. Reply with quote

Hi Banshee,

Re the tutorial I spoke to you about...

I was unsure where to post this draft so I figured this area would do and you can keep or remove it depending if you think its up to the PPM standards.


This is far from finished but I was hoping to get some feedback and suggestions on how it can be improved.
Appropriate images will be added at a later date.


Please remember its written for those who have no, or very limited knowledge of Voxels and/or VXLE III.




I'd like to start by saying I'm no expert when it comes to using VXLE III.
I'm just someone who had an idea and that idea eventually brought me here to PPM.

I knew nothing about what a "Voxel" was or what they were used for or that they were used in games but I did enjoy playing the C&C genre of games.
It just so happened that I was playing Tib Sun while a new episode of Dr Who was on the television.
It was the episode where the Daleks were back in WW II and I thought to myself " it would be great if there was a Tib Sun or RA2 map/mission based around Daleks.
I decided to see if anyone else had had the same idea so I fired up Firefox and did a search for "Tiberian Sun New Units"
It was while reading about units on various sites I learned that C&C units were created using "Voxels".
I then did a search for "Dalek Voxel" hoping I could find some information on how I could create my own units which eventually brought me to PPM.
Thankfully PPM had a huge amount of information on what Voxels were, how they were used in the C&C games.
Most importantly PPM had a program that could modify and create new units.

Woooohooo... I was set. I was going to make the best voxels anyone had ever seen and take the world by storm.... ( Yeah right.... )

I soon ran into a couple of big problems...
My first problem was, after loading VXLE III and starting it up I had no idea what a "Voxel" really was.
That brought me to my second problem..
There I was looking at the opening screen of VXLE III wondering what the hell I was supposed to do next ?!?!?!?.

The answer to the first problem is not that hard to find out if you search the net. but for those who don't understand all the tech jargon...

A "Voxel" is a 3d representation of an object which is created with lots of small cubes. Each cube is itself a "Voxel"

Imagine you have an apple and you cut it into slices, not just from Top to Bottom but also from Right to Left and from Front to Back.
What you end up with is an apple shaped "Rubic's Cube" and that is exactly what a "Voxel" is. An irregularly shaped "Rubic's Cube".
Not that hard to understand once you remove the tech speak huh Wink

Ok now you know basically what a "Voxel" is, the next thing you need to do is start thinking in 3D.
To do this you need to think in slices of the apple or "Layers".

Layers go in 3 directions or axies - X axis or Right to Left - Y axis or Top to Bottom - Z axis or Back to Front.
Layers can be viewed from any one of the 3 directions.
If you move throught the apple from Back to Front, you can see the whole of each layer from Top to Bottom and from Right to Left.
If you move throught the apple from Right to Left, you can see the whole of each layer from Top to Bottom and from Back to Front.
If you move throught the apple from Top to Bottom, you can see the whole of each layer from Right to Left and from Back to Front.

The hard part is trying to imagine and remember where that "Layer" fits in your "Rubic's Cube".
Eventually it becomes easier the more you play with VXLE III.
Now for the good stuff........



This is a basic "Getting Started" tutorial for Banshees Voxel Editor III program.



First thing you'll need is the program itself. You can download the latest version from here --> [ Link to latest Version of VXLE III ]

You will also need a complete voxel unit.

For the purpose of this tutorial you will be using a "Bobcat" Voxel created by a member of PPM. You can download it from here -> [ Link to Bobcat Voxel ]

Assuming you now have both the VXLE III program loaded on your system and the Bobcat voxel file... . Fire up VXLE III and you should see the following screen...



Across the top of the screen you will see "File" "Edit" "View" "Section" "Pallet" "Scripts" "Tools" "Options" "Sites" "Help" and beneath that you will see some Icons.
Once you have a general idea how to use VXLE III you will be able to use various options in these areas to enhance or modify your creations.
As this is just a basic getting started tutorial most of these areas will not be used. Any of these areas that are used in this tutorial will be described at the time of use.

At this point you normally choose if you want to create a new blank voxel, or load a voxel you have saved on your computer.

You will see a mostly grey screen which is divided vertically into 3 main areas.
Before I can explain what each of these areas are for you need to create a new blank voxel.

To do this go to the upper left and click "File" then click "New".
You will now see 2 options. "Tiberian Sun" and "Red Alert 2".



There are many differences between the 2 games and the way they treat voxels so usually you need to choose which game you are creating the voxel for.
As this is just a tutorial to help you learn the basics you dont need to worry about which game so just click on "Red Alert 2"


You should now see the following...



You are now being asked what size voxel you wish to create and if its going to be an "Air" or "Land" unit.

Basically it is asking how many layers ( slices ) you want from Right to left, Top to Bottom and Back to Front.
There is no "Standard" size for a voxel. The size will depend on how large a unit you intend to create.

There are some basic rules to keep in mind.
The larger the voxel the more detail you can incorporate but huge voxels could possible lag the game.
If the voxel you are creating is larger than normal game units then it has to be reduced via the voxel header so it can be used ingame.
In resizing your voxel you will lose some of that extra detail.
Proportional size, if you think of a vehicle like a car or truck or a tank they are usually similar in width and height and usually longer in length.
You can always change overall dimensions of a voxel you are working on if you find you need it to be wider, taller or longer via the resize canvas option.

You need to start with X - 45 ( Width ) Y - 51 ( Height ) and Z - 81 ( Length ) type those figures into the appropriate boxes, check "Land" and click "OK"


You should now see the following...



You have just created a blank Voxel that is 45 layers wide, 51 layers high and 81 layers long.


I will now describe about the 3 main areas on the screen.


To the left of the screen you will see...



"Section" - This is the name of the "Section" you are working on. In this case your section is titled "Body"
A voxel can have more that 1 section in the case of an artillery unit - A Body, Turret and Barrel. As this is a basic introduction, this area will not be covered in depth here.

"Tools" - This is where you choose the various tools to work on your voxel.

"Brush" - Different size and shape brushes for the tools you choose.

"Layers" - This is where you choose which Layer ( slice ) of your voxel ( irregularly shaped "Rubic's Cube" ) you wish to work on.
You move slider on the appropriate X,Y or Z axis to the layer you wish to edit.
Layer X - Left to Right.
Layer Y - Top to Bottom
Layer Z - Back to Front

"Pallet" - This is where you choose which colours to use for your creation.
Each colour has a number from 0 to 255. Pallet colours vary slightly depending on which game you are creating your voxel for.
Not all colours are used and some colours are reserved for use by the games themselves.


In the center of the screen you will see...



"Editing View : Back" - This is the main work area. It is here that you will create/modify you voxels.
The "Back" in the title tells you which direction you are looking at your voxel from.
You will notice a grey square in the center of the work area. This is the outline of the blank voxel you've just created viewed from the back.


To the right of the screen you will see...



"View : Right" - This shows one alternate view of the voxel you are working on.

"View : Top" - This shows another alternate view of the voxel you are working on.

There are 3 possible views for your voxel and they are "Back", "Right" or "Top". By default the main work area looks at your voxel from the "Back".
You can change your "View" of the voxel you are working on in the main work area by clicking on the "Title" of either of the "View" sections.
Which ever "View" is in the "Title" will then appear in the main work area and your voxel will be oriented in that direction.
The "View" section that you clicked will then change to whatever was in the main work area.

The second purpose of the "View" sections is to indicate which "Layer" you are working on and allow you to choose which layer you wish to work on.
The cross hairs of the two windows combine to indicate where you are in 3D space.
Moving the crosshairs in either "View" section will change which layer appears in your main work space.
This has the same effect as moving the sliders in the "Layers" area on the left of the screen.

"3D View" - This window allows you to view your creation in 3D. You can rotate it through all axies so you have an idea what it will look like ingame.


Ok you now know a little about what you are seeing on the screen.

At this point there are some basic rules to keep in mind.
Save your creation on a regular basis and ALWAYS save it before you make any major changes. That way if the changes dont work you can always reload the last saved version.

Always and I repeat ALWAYS make sure you know which direction your voxel is oriented.
I say this because I once made the mistake of spending hours creating what I thought was a rather nice dune buggy only to find that what I thought was the "Back"
was actually the "Right" and when I tried to use it in-game it drove sidways like a crab on steroids.
Yeah I know you're all laughing at me but imagine how you'll feel if you do the same and waste hours of work only to find out that you can't rotate your creation 90deg
and theres NO way to fix the problem and you have to start from scratch.....

Normally, the next thing to do is decide what you're going to create. Its always handy to have a picture or an image of what you're going to create.
Even if the picture is not exactly what your finished creation will look like it allows you to work out some relative dimensions like wheel spacing overall height and width ect.


( This is where thinking in 3D comes in )
When you first start VXLE III the main work area will view a newly created or a freshly loaded voxel from the "Back" by default.
Also, by default, VXLE III will always set your main work area to the center of your blank voxel. This meens all 3 ( X, Y and Z ) axies.
Imagine the apple you sliced earlier, you would be looking at the "core" of the apple from the "Top", "Back" or "Right" depending which view you choose.

As you can see, your work area is blank other than the rectangle in the middle.
This rectangle is the outline of the "Blank Voxel" you created earlier viewed from the "Back".
You are looking at 1 layer in the center of the blank voxel. You can see the whole layer from Right to Left and from Top to Bottom.
The only way to tell which direction you are looking at your creation is by looking at the"Title" of the main work area.



You will always have 3 possible views, the one currently in the main work space and the other two in the 2 View sections on the right hand side of the screen.



You need to make sure you are looking at your new creation from the correct direction.
If you want to work on your creation from the side or the top you will need to change the main work area from "Back" to whichever view you need.
Find the "View : Right" section on the upper right of the screen.

Click on the Title "View : Right"



You should now see the "Title" of your workspace has changed from "Editing View : Back" to "Editing View : Right"
You will also see the title of the section that you clicked has changed from "View : Right" to "View : Back".





You should also notice the square in the center of the work space has changed size.
This is because you were looking at your voxel from the back and now your looking at it from the side.
The blank voxel you created earlier is longer in length than it is in width hence the change in size.



Next you need to make sure you are working on the correct layer.

You are currently working on the center layer of your voxel viewed from the "Right"
Imagine you want to create a new unit and the unit you want to create is a car.
You decide you wanted to draw the wheels, if you drew them on the current layer in the main work area, and then viewed your voxel from the "top"
The wheels would appear in the centre ( Right to Left ) of the car and not towards the outside.

You want to navigate so you can work on the "Outside" layer of the "Right" side of your voxel so you can draw some wheels....

You can do this in 2 ways. You could use the cross hairs in one of the 2 "View" sections ( this can be difficult in the beginning ) or you can do it the safe way.
Goto the "Layers" area on the left of the screen.
Since you're viewing your creation from the side, you want to move from Left to Right.
Move the "Layer X" slider. Slide it all the way to the left.



You will notice the crosshairs in the two "View" sections have changes positions. They are now aligned to the outer layer on the right of your blank voxel.



You are now working on the extreme right layer of your voxel.

Next you need to choose what "Tool" you are going to use to draw in the work area.
If you are going to be drawing circles, VXLE III does not have a "Draw Circle" tool as yet so you will use the standard "Draw" tool. Thats the "Pencil" icon on the left.
This tool allows you to draw 1 voxel ( dot ) at a time.



Next you need to choose a colour. As tires are usually black thats the logical choice. You will notice theres more that 1 "Black" in the pallet.
Remember I mentioned not all colours are used and some colours are reserved ? You should use colour number 63, thats the black at the bottom of the 2nd column from the left.
You will notice the colour you chose and its corresponding number appeared in the box below the colour pallet.
This box will always show the colour currently being used by the draw tools.



All you need to do now is decide where your wheel should be drawn in relation to the back or front on this layer and how big it should be.
Draw something similar to the following image.

[VXLEIII Tut - 17.png]

You now have the outline of a tire on this layer. You will notice the red squares. Theres are the boundries of the individual voxels.
You can delete or change the colour of any individual voxel at any time using the appropriate tool.

[VXLEIII Tut - 18.png]

At this point I need to explain about your choice of "Views" in the main work area in relation to to those red boxes.
At the very top of the screen you will see "View". If you click this you will see 3 more options the first being "View Mode".
If you click "View Mode" you see 3 more options these being "Full" - "Cross Section" - "Emphasise Depth".
You will notice "Emphasise Depth" has a tick next to it, this is the default display for the main work area.
These 3 options effect the way you view each layer in relation to the other layers.

"Emphasise Depth" - This option displays all voxels on the current layer outlined in red.
Any voxels on layers behind the current layer will also be displayed but will not be outlined in red.
This can be confusing when first learning to use VXLE III but with experience this is the most often used view.

"Cross Section" - This option displays only the voxels on the current layer. Voxels are not highlighted as no other layers are visible.

"Full" - This option Is the same as "Emphasise Depth" without voxels on the current layer being outlined in red. Normally used to check work against other layers.

[VXLEIII Tut - 19.png]

Back to your voxel...
Next you should draw the inner edge of the tire.
Draw something similar to the following image.

[VXLEIII Tut - 20.png]

Ok now you want to fill the whole thing with black. Goto the "Tools" area and choose the "Flood" tool.

[VXLEIII Tut - 21.png]

Now click between the 2 black circles and it should flood the area with black.

[VXLEIII Tut - 22.png]

Nice black donut...
How about you put the tire on a nice chrome wheel rim ?
Go back to the "Tools" area and choose the "Draw" tool. Now go down to the "Pallet" and choose the silver colour number 85, its in the third column about 2/3rd down.

Now draw the wheel rim like the following image.

[VXLEIII Tut - 23.png]

Ok, its looking good so far but........

You have only drawn 1 layer ( slice ) of the wheel. If you were to view it from the "Top" or from the "Back" it would only be 1 voxel ( dot ) in width.
To make the wheel wider you will need to move to the next layer and draw the wheel in the same position.

Before you do that you can make life a little easier for yourself.
As the wheel you're drawing will be the same size and in the same position on each layer you can just copy the layer you just created and paste it into the next layer.
One thing to remember when copying and pasting, you copy EVERYTHING on the layer in the main work area and REPLACE everything on the layer you are pasting into.
This is fine when you first start out and all layers are blank but if you have added other details on different layers they will be replaced when you do the paste.

You will eventually learn to draw all the major details eg : Car body outline, wheels and tires ect on 1 layer, then copy and paste that layer to each subsequent layer
from Right to Left giving you a rough 3D vehicle knowing that everything is lined up orrectly.
You will then "Edit" each individual layer, making small changes rather than drawing the same thing over and over again.


To be continued, edited and modified.......



Tac.

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Orac
President


Joined: 11 Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, I was going to do something very much like this a while back - but I got busy.
Good work. Smile

I would suggest that every feature of VXLSE should eventually be documented, and the manual should be updated (how old is that thing? #Tongue)
Documentation of the hotkeys (Ctrl+L, etc) would also make a lot of sense - I don't think that there is such a thing atm.

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