Apr 112013

Blessed, consistent, blackness
Lovely consistent blackness

There is one place in DDO where Turbine forgot to color in the world. At least, that is what I imagine, maybe it is colored the way it is on purpose. But it doesn’t look like it, it looks like nowhere else in the game. A big black scar, pitch black, like Rainbow in the Dark without a torch, except containing in-game lighting so that things in the blackness are themselves lit normally.

Again, I suspect this was an error. But it is an awesome error, and one that has saved me countless hundreds of hours over the years. I’ll explain why, but first I will tell you where this miraculously colorless area is:

In House Kundarak, past the Vault of Night, all the way in the extreme northeast, past the tower of Kol Karran, on the bottom level. One runs all the way to the VON5 entrance, keeps going, then drops off the platform to ground level.

Blackness. Blessed consistent blackness.

I take a lot of screenshots. A lot. You may have noticed.

Sometimes I just save them as wallpaper. Sometimes I edit them into cartoons or other images. Sometimes I even animate them.

Many times, maybe even most times, I am trying to highlight one character for some reason or other. It is not as easy to do this as one might imagine. For instance, many areas in the game have bad lighting, either way too dark making it impossible to see the character’s face or even sometimes too light, washing out her face and details altogether. Sometimes an area has a decent light source but it is highly directional and I can only have the character face one way to get proper highlighting (like in the Twelve building).

But getting a good shot of the character is often not enough. I frequently “cut out” the character, removing the background and context so that I can place them with other characters, or maybe use them against a different background, or just to add dramatics to some point I am trying to make.

Cutting out a character can be a very time-consuming process. It is easiest done with a graphics program (like Photoshop, although I use the GIMP because it is free). A common method is to zoom to 4x or 8x scale and then use a selection tool to carefully select only those pixels belonging to the character. This is effective but tedious. Very, very tedious.

Action shot from the deck of the Halfling Commandos airshipThere are other, easier methods: selecting by color allows one to specify a color and only those pixels will be selected no matter where they may be in the image. Selecting by region allows one to choose a pixel and receive a selection including all similarly-colored pixels that are contiguous.

Action shot from the deck of the Halfling Commandos airshipThese more advanced tools have one thing in common: they require a consistent background color. Consider the first image above, Brymn on the deck of the Halfling Commandos airship. A nice action shot.

I can use advanced selection tools to get everything that is similarly colored to the decking, but that won’t select the dark grain of the decking, nor the rails nor rigging nor sky. There are really quite a few colors in the background; selecting by color will be as tedious as doing it by hand. Maybe even more so.

Action shot from the deck of the Halfling Commandos airshipNow consider the second image, taken in House K’s shadowlands. Note the solid black background

So much easier to get the result you see in the third image. So much easier. I can just tell the GIMP to select everything black and then delete that selection. I still had a little cleanup to do, but it was easy and fast, much more so than tediously selecting by hand.

There are a couple of other areas in the game that have nicely consistent background colors. The sky of the Restless Isles. White marble in a couple of different places in Meridia. But nothing that is a consistent as the Black Hole of House K.

Or as I like to call it, graphics wonderland.

🙂 😀 🙂

  5 Responses to “The Black Hole of Graphics”

Comments (5)
  1. I didn’t know about ‘The Black Hole’.. I suspect I shall be utilising it for character shots from now on 😛

  2. Awesome and informative! What’s more it says something about how much players invest in exploring their game world!

  3. Sweet, I’ll have to check that out! I’m guessing it’s either an error or meant to be a shadow. I agree though that that’s a useful location.

  4. We don’t have to tell everyone do we? It is a very useful feature. 🙂

  5. I stumbled across this once, never thought to use it the way you have used it so well … if I remember, I will be borrowing this quite useful idea.

What do you think?

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