VGMaps

General Boards => Mapping Tips/Guides => Topic started by: JonLeung on June 04, 2006, 04:08:56 PM



Title: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: JonLeung on June 04, 2006, 04:08:56 PM
This list of useful programs will be edited on an ongoing basis as more suggested programs are brought to our attention.



Image Organization

CompuPic Pro - I've been using this for years.  Good for basic (and advanced) browsing and organization.  And basic editing, too.  Has some helpful functions like auto-crop, batch conversion and renaming, keywords and categories for sorting, screensavers, slideshows, picture indexes, changing the time and date of files, looking inside .ZIPs easily, and finding out what type a file really is.  It can do a lot (I'm still finding things that it can do), all you need to do is click around.



Font Making

Bitmap Font Writer - Incredibly useful if you want to label your maps, but only want to do so with the game's own font.  Or any custom font you may want to create, really.



Image Checking

Revned's Tile Slicer/Splicer - If you make your maps as nice rectangles with dimensions that are multiples of 16, these programs will slice them up into all its unique 16 x 16 tiles.  You can then replace tiles that aren't the same (but should be) with ones that are and then splice them back together for a perfect map.

Revned's Tile Slicer (latest version, 1.1) - added May 2008, Splicer to come.



Image Compression

PNGGauntlet - I've been using this on every .PNG submitted to me, and nearly always am able to shrink them down.  Depending on what you use to edit your .PNGs, this could shrink the filesize by quite a lot without affecting the image.  Use this after you have no more editing to do on your map.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Revned on June 04, 2006, 11:00:31 PM
Maybe you should add my Tile Slicer/Splicer programs to the list.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: JonLeung on June 05, 2006, 06:35:34 AM
I was thinking about those two, too.



What's the official name for them?  And where can we download them again?


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Revned on June 05, 2006, 10:24:38 AM
That's the real name. Never thought of anything better. The old download URL still works: http://www.geocities.com/revned22/0.5.zip


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Revned on June 05, 2006, 03:15:08 PM
Ooh yay! Bitmap Font Writer runs on my new computer. I got one of those Intel Macs. Now I don't have to piece my titles together letter by letter :)


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: JonLeung on August 04, 2006, 01:15:56 PM
I'm finding that by checking on "Brute force compression" in PNGGauntlet, I can compress .PNGs even more!  o_0


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: TerraEsperZ on August 06, 2006, 01:00:47 PM
Unfortunately, PNGGauntlet won't work on my computer since my copy of Win XP isn't exactly legal, which means that the VisualBasic .Net thing it requires won't install.



I'd like to add Irfanview (http://www.irfanview.com/) in the Image Organization category. It can be used  for batch conversions and alterations but was I really like is that it's incredibly easy to browse the images in a directory when copying them in your paint program by using Space and Backspace to go to the next or previous image.



---

"With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." [...] The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged. - Captain Jean-Luc Picard



B*tch, meet reality. Reality, meet b*tch. - Me


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Grizzly on August 06, 2006, 03:14:42 PM
You can still use Ken's regular PNGOUT program which PNGGauntlet is built on. It is a command line based program, but creating a link file and just putting the image name in there works like a charm for me. You can only convert one image at a time but I never happen to finish more than one map a day so that's no problem for me :)

http://advsys.net/ken/ - Click on Utility Page


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: TerraEsperZ on August 06, 2006, 05:43:04 PM
Thanks. Irfanview has a PNGOUT plugin when saving to PNG but it has way too many options and it can take a long time to convert a large map. Anyway, I'll try it out.



---

"With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." [...] The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged. - Captain Jean-Luc Picard



B*tch, meet reality. Reality, meet b*tch. - Me


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Brainfire2008 on November 24, 2007, 02:17:56 PM
http://pagesperso-orange.fr/pierre.g/xnview/ennewsgroup.html



The freeware Xnview has the option to create strip of images !



wich can helpful.



http://pagesperso-orange.fr/pierre.g/xnview/endownloadwin32.html


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: JonLeung on May 14, 2008, 05:51:14 PM
Revned updated the Slicer.  Link is in the first post.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: vorpal86 on August 19, 2008, 03:13:48 PM
I may try tile slicer and see what benefits it has. I like to set my maps in a nice 16x16 fashion. I was about to post xNView cause it's a nice viewer/organizer/Editor. I been using it for a while.



I've just recompressed a map here with PNGGauntlet and gained back 8.6kb. Not bad. I'm going over it to see what differences the two are in quality.



Does PNGGauntlet work like; Taking a file and removing duplicate colors that have the same RGB value? Or just compress the file better without reducing the color quality? When working with 8bit plain 256 color images I normally remove duplicate colors manually, or those colors that are near identical and were just the same color only pasted in with a different value.



I'm sure PNGG would work best with 24bit png images cause it would be very tedious to remove duplicate colors in 24bit. :)


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Revned on August 19, 2008, 04:24:53 PM
I'm actually planning on redoing the whole interface (again) to bring the slicer and splicer together, as well as another cool feature I've played around with. I probably won't get to it for awhile, though.



I've had some success manually reducing image palettes before compressing them. For example, my Koholint Island map went from 312 KB down to 188 KB. I'd imagine the effects aren't so drastic when the palette is larger, but in this case it helped a lot.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Maxim on August 20, 2008, 06:35:50 AM
PNGOUT works by doing a more intensive search for high compression, and also by dropping unneeded parts of the file (eg. metadata), and trying to re-order/optimise the palette to give more compressible data. It can also reduce the bit depth in cases where it is lossless (eg. reducing a 200-colour 24-bit image to an 8-bit paletted image). It is possible to gain more by brute-force iteration through other parameters (eg. some 4-bit images compress better at 8bpp) but it's generally too slow to bother with that. In all cases, it is always lossless.



The slicer/splicer can be useful, especially for finding mistakes, but I find the sheer volume of tiles hard to manage; a GUI might help there.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Revned on August 20, 2008, 04:06:21 PM
Maxim Said:
PNGOUT works by doing a more intensive search for high compression, and also by dropping unneeded parts of the file (eg. metadata), and trying to re-order/optimise the palette to give more compressible data. It can also reduce the bit depth in cases where it is lossless (eg. reducing a 200-colour 24-bit image to an 8-bit paletted image). It is possible to gain more by brute-force iteration through other parameters (eg. some 4-bit images compress better at 8bpp) but it's generally too slow to bother with that. In all cases, it is always lossless.



The slicer/splicer can be useful, especially for finding mistakes, but I find the sheer volume of tiles hard to manage; a GUI might help there.

Indeed. That's one of the major features I plan on implementing. It will shade the image according to tile frequency, so the uncommon ones will stand out.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: vorpal86 on August 20, 2008, 04:15:16 PM
That sounds neat. I use Painshop Pro and it allows you to view the number of Used colors in the image, and afterwards you can reduce by using it's Reduce Color Depth X Colors and manually type the number of colors. This of course does not remove the duplicate colors.



As far a grids go my Graphics editor,which is a Sprite editor called Character Maker 1999 which allows you to set a brush size grid and can stamp them over and over until you right click another tile. As perhaps the way Mario Pain does it. Seems if i load the image i just saved out with character Maker into PSP then only resave the image, the image actually gets smaller just by doing that.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Maxim on August 21, 2008, 02:11:22 AM
You seem confused about colours. PSP will count the number of unique colours in the image. If you reduce it to some smaller number, you are throwing away some of the colour information. This might be an acceptable tradeoff in some situations but for game mapping it certainly is not.



As for reducing the file size by resaving in a different program: that's hardly surprising, but you will still get significant improvements by using a dedicated compressor like PNGOUT/PNGGauntlet, compared with pretty much any image editor's compression routines.



PSP(7) can do a passable version of "tile stamp mode" if you turn on the grid and snap to grid. Its texture fill mode also gives you a "stamp flood fill" feature which I find extremely handy.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: JonLeung on August 21, 2008, 06:33:12 AM
Revned Said:
Maxim Said:
The slicer/splicer can be useful, especially for finding mistakes, but I find the sheer volume of tiles hard to manage; a GUI might help there.
Indeed. That's one of the major features I plan on implementing. It will shade the image according to tile frequency, so the uncommon ones will stand out.


That sounds incredibly awesome.  I've had to work with hundreds of tiles before.



(When I was making the Star Trek To Star Wars wallpaper images, I ran the splicer/slicer on the one I made for 800 x 600.  It didn't work because 600 isn't a multiple of 16, so I changed it to 800 x 608.  It came out to exactly 1000 tiles...neat!  A coincidence, that.  Though that wasn't the same situation as a game map (i.e. not made of repeated tiles).)



The slicer/splicer was instrumental in making the Super Kid Icarus maps, as I mentioned before, probably, and I also used your slicer/splicer to check for errors when making the Oracle Of Hours maps.  I didn't make too many errors, but it allowed me to find the few I did.  I think I did really well for not working with a grid, but nobody's perfect.  But thanks to the slicer/splicer, my maps are!  :D



Or at least closer to "perfection" than if I hadn't used it.


Title: RE: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: vorpal86 on August 21, 2008, 11:40:44 AM
Maxim Said:
You seem confused about colours. PSP will count the number of unique colours in the image. If you reduce it to some smaller number, you are throwing away some of the colour information. This might be an acceptable tradeoff in some situations but for game mapping it certainly is not.



An inefficient paletted image might have "duplicate colours" in its palette, but it's not hard to avoid that; just convert to true colour and back to paletted, or use PNGOUT.



As for reducing the file size by resaving in a different program: that's hardly surprising, but you will still get significant improvements by using a dedicated compressor like PNGOUT/PNGGauntlet, compared with pretty much any image editor's compression routines.



PSP(7) can do a passable version of "tile stamp mode" if you turn on the grid and snap to grid. Its texture fill mode also gives you a "stamp flood fill" feature which I find extremely handy.

I'm not confused really. Before I reduce the colors I always have to change to a high color mode before reducing the palette back anyway and when reducing after, no colors are lost, only the unique colors are left which are the only colors in the original palette of the image. I've never seen a difference with 256 color images when I have done that. I never argue when reducing high color images to 8 bit. If the image uses more than 256 colors I never reduce them.



I haven't used the grid, tile stamp mode with psp. It's much quicker with Character maker not having to past in each new stampable tile and stamp it.


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Zerker on November 10, 2012, 03:41:21 PM
For the few maps I've done so far, I find Python (http://www.python.org/) and the struct module (http://docs.python.org/2/library/struct.html) are invaluable for decoding old DOS formats, so long as you can find documentation for the format in question. Combine that with the Python Imaging Library (PIL) (http://www.pythonware.com/index.htm), and you can load RAW images, create images programatically, then save the result.

For the less hacking inclined, ImageMagick (http://www.imagemagick.org/script/index.php) is awesome for automatically stitching, cropping, converting, resizing a bunch of images (and more!).


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: avalanch on December 28, 2012, 01:52:14 PM
I've been using PngOptimizer a bit lately and like pnggauntlet it optimizes png's to a lossless format while cleansing out bad/unneeded data.
http://psydk.org/PngOptimizer.php

Since this program doesn't handle jpg files, I use jstrip first, then convert them to png with pnggauntlet & finally use pngoptimizer on them.  I find pngoptimizer to be much faster than pnggauntlet.

I've grabbed roughly 25,527 files, mostly images from this site using softbytelabs blackwidow to test these tools on.

Right now the images are using a total of 8.37 GB (8,990,199,585 bytes).  I'll post back the results of optimizing them all with the above tools.

After clearing out some trash files (blackwidow made a bunch of copies of index pages) and running the tools on some files in the atlas folder, it's now at:
21,593 files
6.53 GB (7,021,207,557 bytes)

Even still I'm nowhere close to being finished yet especially with the super large maps in the PC folder... one is over 70 MB!


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: Revned on December 28, 2012, 07:17:23 PM
Part of the reason pngoptimizer is faster is because it doesn't do as good of a job as pngout (pnggauntlet). If reasonable, you should prefer pngout.


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: DarkWolf on December 29, 2012, 08:01:19 PM
Since this program doesn't handle jpg files, I use jstrip first, then convert them to png with pnggauntlet & finally use pngoptimizer on them.  I find pngoptimizer to be much faster than pnggauntlet.

Why are you converting JPG to PNG?  JPEG compression causes a loss in image quality that is fine for photo-realistic images, but not lower-color graphics (like most of the images here at VGMaps).  And for photo-realistic images, JPEG compression is probably going to beat out PNG most of the time.


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: avalanch on January 01, 2013, 03:09:53 PM
Most of the files are in .png format anyways.  Also, I prefer these tools even though they convert to png, pngoptimizer does it automatically anways.... and it sends gif files to .apng format.

If WebP had a GUI for windows, then I would definitely be looking forward to that.  I have found some converters that do convert to webp format, albeit an earlier version of webp before google optimized it later on for better file size & quality.  If I could find a webp converter to the updated webp image format, I'd love to try that out.


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: avalanch on January 08, 2014, 07:07:25 AM
I've been checking out jpegmini (http://www.jpegmini.com/).  If you use the desktop app you can do 20 jpegs a day with the free version.  
However you can also register and upload jpeg files to a album after you zip them.  That will put them in the server quo to be crushed, you can download the crushed images after it's done too.  So far it looks pretty good.  I'm considering upgrading for $20, however... it's limited to 28 MegaPixels unless you plop down $150... in which case it can handle up to 50 MegaPixels...

So long as you apply this before stitching maps together it should be a very valuable tool indeed!


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: JonLeung on January 08, 2014, 08:43:58 AM
PNG is lossless, JPEG is compressed.  Basically once you get something to the JPEG format, it's already distorted (even if very slightly), changing it back to a PNG isn't going to help.

As an example, load up nearly any map from the 8-bit or 16-bit era in your favourite image editor.  Do a colour count.  Likely it's going to be under 256 colours.  Now save it as a JPEG.  Reload it, count the colours.  It's probably now a lot more.  Save it as a PNG.  It's going to have the same number of colours as the JPEG.  Blecch.

When assembling maps, stick to lossless formats all the time.  Like PNG.  Or GIF if it's under 256 colours, but in nearly all cases PNG will be smaller.


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: GHS on May 31, 2015, 04:40:23 AM
can someone recommend a good screen capture software for full screen only PC games?


Title: Re: Recommended programs to assist your mapping
Post by: vorpal86 on August 05, 2017, 02:10:33 PM
Well it's been slow in this topic but I may have found something useful. Here is a web page based BG ripping tool that can extract a full BG from any or almost any Zsnes, Vba or Gens save state. I've used it some with Castle of Illusion and it really does get you the BG. It's cool. I think it will mostly work best with side scrollers or any game that has a parallax scrolling BG.

You'll need to save state in game where the BG is currently on screen, then upload the save state and click begin. The next page will take you to the extracted image. From here you can then copy the image to get it.
https://floating.muncher.se/bgrip/bgripper.php (https://floating.muncher.se/bgrip/bgripper.php)