Blending in Background for a Model Logo Skin HELP

So I’m making a transparent logo to be placed on most of my models, but I’m having a rough time making it blend well with one of the characters. Tried making the background color the same as the area where it will be placed, but that only made it ugly.

Tried making it transparent, but I either did it wrong, or it just doesn’t work.

It might not show in a 3D model editor like 3DS Max (or it might, depends on your settings if memory serves me right), but that’s not where your concern should be; your concern should be on whether it appears in-game/in SFM (depending on what it’s being compiled for) and/or in the model viewer.

Transparency is controlled by the alpha channel, if I recall correctly. If you’re wanting the logo to appear and blend in with what’s behind it when in-game, you need to adjust the alpha channel so that the logo is the only thing meant to show (indicated by the logo being completely white on the alpha channel) while everything else is meant to be hidden (indicated by everything else being completely black on the alpha channel), and then adjust the .VMT file(s) accordingly for that particular part of the mesh that contains the logo.

Ohh, so it’s something like this:
I remember that FoC Megatron model that psientist did a remake of. He improved the logo and everything. This is the vtf of it, since I don’t have the targa copy of it.

This is the same logo that I ripped from the game with everything intact. Same thing as the vtf above with a black background.

So if keep the background black in tga format, when I import it as a vmt/vtf in Source it reads the dark texture as a way to just bring up the logo and it will blend in with the model it’s attached to? The background will be visible in Max, but in Source it’ll be removed?

No. The background actually has little to do with the logo itself. It’s the alpha channel that you need to modify. I’m assuming you’re using Photoshop based on the images you’ve provided, so here’s a brief explanation using one of the textures from the prop effect pack I’m working on for Ryu-Gi.

When you’re in Photoshop, there is a tab labeled as ‘Channels’ (which you can actually see in one of your provided screenshots in this thread. Going into that tab will normally show four separate channels; RGB, Red, Blue, and Green. The alpha channel, which usually isn’t present, needs to be made manually; you can do this by clicking on the ‘Create new layer/channel’ icon.

After clicking that, you should have a new channel appear in the list that’s labeled as ‘Alpha’ or ‘Alpha 1’. This channel will first appear as solid black or solid white; this is normal, and usually comes up as solid black (indicating that everything is hidden). From here, click on the RGB channel, and you should see your main work area return back to normal. Assuming you’re working on a single layer only, you’ll want to use one of the selection tools (marque tools, magic wand tools, etc.) to select only what you are wanting to have shown; since the logo is all one solid color against a black background, let’s just use the magic wand tool to select the colored segments only. After doing this, go back to your alpha channel by simply clicking on it under the Channels tab.

Since your logo doesn’t really have any defining edges or need for detail, you’ll either want to take your brush tool to the the selected areas (it will be white by default when you’re on the alpha channel) and simply go over the selection, or you can simply hit the delete key your keyboard to turn it white (if you know how to flip the color swatches in Photoshop, you may have to do so in order to have your selection turn white while in the alpha channel; hitting the delete key by default without swapping the color swatches will leave it black if you don’t, so it may be necessary to flip them around). After doing this, save your .TGA and make sure it retains the alpha channel. Once you’ve converted it over to a .VTF, the alpha channel should remain. All that would be left after that would be to use either $translucent 1 or $alphatest 1 in your .VMT (preferably $alphatest since it gives you a bit more freedom to work with other commands) to have it use the transparency provided in the alpha channel.

On a side note, it would actually be wise to have two separate .VMT files that make use of $translucent and $alphatest separately, as well as to make a second layer of that logo in your 3D modelling program and assign both layers one of the two .VMT files during the compiling process. By doing this, you can make the logo blend in a bit better, and you can adjust the .VMT with $alphatest included until you get the desired results for the logo.

Thanks! Followed it down to the letter. I’ve yet to port the character now, but the texture has the black background in Max. I guess by the time I make it with two vmt’s with $translucent and $alphatest it’ll actually go away and blend in. Not sure if I want to bother learning the glow effect from the game yet, but I think that’ll be later.

Unless I’m mistaken, you can apply the necessary commands for the .VMT that uses $alphatest to actually have the glow effect actually work.

So if I were to apply $alphatest to a VMT, I can utilize the glow effect on the logos? Does the process of making the glow texture work the same way I made the logo blend into the model?

You’d still have to use other commands (like $selfillum) and edit the textures where necessary to get the glow effects to function as intended. Using $translucent won’t allow $selfillum to function properly, so $alphatest is really the only other option if you want the logos to have a glow effect to them while being transparent.

If you want to see transparency in 3DS max, open the material editor, click on your material, open the “maps” tab and drag your diffuse down to opacity. Then click on the material you just copied to opacity.

Scroll down till you see mono channel output and set it to “alpha” You should then have opacity in max.

Compact Material Editor or Slate Editor? Neither one has a slider or some way to drag the diffuse to opacity.

No, you just click and drag it. It’s not a slider.

Bringing this back up because I want to give the faction logo a glow effect. Any tips?
Also, what would the .VMT’s look like for the $alphatest and $translucent?

For the use of $alphatest and $translucent .VMT files, you’ll usually want something similar to the following samples I nabbed from another project.
$translucent .VMT:

	$basetexture "models\Ryu-Gi's Effect Props\Blood\blood02_TEX_a"
	$translucent 1


$alphatest .VMT:

	$basetexture "models\Ryu-Gi's Effect Props\Blood\blood02_TEX_a"
	$bumpmap "models\Ryu-Gi's Effect Props\Blood\blood02_NRM"
	$alphatest "1"
	$alphatestreference "0.43"  //This is adjustable.
	$color2 "[0.75 0.75 0.75]"  //This is adjustable.
	$phongalbedotint "1"
	$phongexponenttexture "models\Ryu-Gi's Effect Props\EXP"  //This is for if you actually have a phong exponent texture, which is usually a good idea to have.
	$phong "1"
	$phongfresnelranges "[1 2 5]" //This usually needs to be adjusted to suit the specific model in question. BlueFlytrap and Ageha would be able to tell you more about this.
	$phongboost "35"  //This is adjustable.
	$phongexponent "65"  //This is adjustable.
	$ambientocclusion "0"  //This seems to only be necessary for faces and eyes according to the Source dev wiki, but I'm not exactly sure if it would be needed for Transformers characters.

But the logo is its own texture, and they want both it to be both translucent AND self-illuminating. Since $alphatest and $selfillum can’t be used to together, the easiest way is to just make it Unlit. Like this:

	$basetexture "models\whatever\logo"
	$translucent 1


and then to give the transformer’s main body texture the beefed-up VMT with phong and such.

If there’s more to the character glowing than just the logo, I suggest bunching them all into their own texture with a simple .VMT like:

	$basetexture "models\whatever\glowy-bits"
	$selfillum 1


and once again keeping the regularly shaded main-bulk to its own VMT

Nifty, though I’m probably gonna need a way to make the logo pop from the similar red that Prime has.
Too low and it’s maroon, too high and it blends right in. How do I make a glow texture for the logo?