Where Can I Learn to Create Levels Like This

I recently came across this video, and the final result looks really good. I’d like to learn how to do this with JME, Blender, and GIMP (if JME even has the effects for something like that right now). If it’s possible with those tools, please let me know where I can learn how to use them that well. If not, what open source tools do you recommend (I’d really rather not pay for any sort of software needed for game development)?

Also, I know how to do the code side of things quite well (I think), but, I have very little idea how to make anything that isn’t procedural look even halfway decent.

EDIT: It looks like the person in that video is using mostly asset packs. While I don’t think that is a bad thing, I would also like make clear that I’d like to learn the creation of the assets as the main purpose of this thread.

Yeah like you said they’ve just used an editor to place things. Sure there is some some artistic input but I’ve used a number of them and it’s not difficult.

As for learning to create those assets themselves, if you’re willing to commit long-haul it gets easier over time, and you may eventually start to really enjoy it :slight_smile:

Ideally you’d go on a paid course, but putting that aside…

Your best bet is video tutorials - lots of them. You can follow step by step; you aren’t interested in the final result though, but learning the standard 3d techniques used for building (they might have slight variations but ultimately all 3d suites are pretty similar).

Unfortunately most of the video tutorials for blender on youtube are actually total trash. I’ve been learning both GIMP and Blender for about 2 years now and have gotten pretty competent. I have no tutorials to recommend, just follow any that you fancy and you’ll learn parts of the program. I learnt GIMP purely through experimentation and luck.

One big thing to remember about texturing is that a lot of the work comes down to finding textures like those from textures.com and creating overlays or masks. You can make some pretty cool textures for your models in a matter of minutes

I’d like to learn how to create textures like those on textures.com as well. Any input? Btw, thanks for the other information.

I think nearly 100% are photos.

Some have been heavily cropped and then edited to make them seamless so they tile, but I think it’s rare to straight up draw something like that from scratch on a PC. (I’m far better at modelling than texture work so don’t take my word for that).

I was thinking something like Blender’s cycles nodes for textures (ie. this) that can save to a PNG or something to be imported into JME.

And even taking photos to use as textures is quite an art. The best way to learn is just to do it… then do it again… then do it again. Find all of the articles you can read on the subject.

That’s true for all of this. I mean, you’ve kind of asked the game asset equivalent of “How can I learn to write symphonies like Mozart?” There is no one way… just lots and lots of hours of “doing with purpose”.

Do I need any special equipment for this or is a decent phone camera sufficient?

I’m more asking for information on, to continue with your analogy, what software can be used for composition and what patterns usually sound good – both of which I am sure have at least semi-standard answers.

I don’t recommend trying to create a texture like that with cycles… Most of the cycles nodes will dictate how it responds too light, and those that generate the wood texture, well you’d get better or equal results just taking a wood texture from a texture library. plaintextures.com is another I use. I suppose though looking at it you could somehow get the result as a texture, not a common way of doing it though.

As for photographing… whoa… whole new topic. I’ve never done it, but I’ve read about it. I imagine you’re gonna need something pretty high quality, DLSR probably. You really want a tripod as well, else a decent shutter speed if you’re gonna hold it. I think lighting is one of the most important parts to deal with. Don’t recommend going down that route, learning to model and use 2d graphics software at a high level is enough of a task :stuck_out_tongue:

Again I’ve not done it but, if the photo you are taking is only going to be an overlay (like a photo of rusty metal used as an overlay to add some depth/variation to another photo texture you got from a library) then I don’t see a picture from a phone being a problem to be honest.

It’s probably less about the camera than getting the lighting and point of view right. Ideally, you want to eliminate as much built in shadowing as necessary… but take some of those for reference also as they will be necessary for bump mapping.

I used to do this stuff back in the 1990s… and it’s a pain in the butt. Getting photo realistic textures to look right and to tile properly takes hours and hours… these days every time I think I want to do it, I just go look on cgtextures (which I guess is textures.com now) and find something I like in 5 minutes. At that point I can bring it into Photoshop and take it the ‘last mile’.

For hand-painted textures like I used for a lot of Mythruna’s textures, I just load photoshop up and paint them. But I’ve been making textures since grunge was a new form of alternative music.

Yeah, but you’ve already listed them I think. Blender, GIMP… for the free stuff. Photoshop is ‘my jam’ for images because I already have it and never learned GIMP. I modeled using 3DS Max and I still struggle with Blender but it’s getting better.

Else there is no trick:

  1. make something
  2. watch some tutorials to make it better
  3. make something else
  4. watch some different tutorials and/or post and get feedback on one of the art/modeling forums.
  5. goto 1

…a thousand hours later or so and you will be pretty competent.

Edit: I will also add… once you are many hundreds of hours into it and can choose to model train tracks and spend the hours necessary to make them look decent and so on… you will probably still choose to use stock assets for stuff like that. You might tweak them if the license allows for it… but for stuff that’s going to be pretty standard looking it’s often a waste of time to repeat the effort if there is already something nice out there. Good to know how… because then you know what you gain back in time, but ultimately you probably don’t make them.

How should I manage this with outdoors things that can’t be brought into a controlled lighting room (ie. the bark on a tree)? I can’t control where the sun is and my phone’s flash won’t make any noticeable difference. Also, what about things that have really irregular surfaces, such as rocks?

Are there any good sources for how to do this in GIMP or other open source software (even if you don’t use it, you may know where to learn how)? I can draw basic lines and gradients, but that’s about it.

When I write any sort of code, I almost always write the entirety of it myself (ie. excluding the Java APIs) – it was quite a disappointment to need to use JME rather than directly using LWJGL even, and I did so primarilly because of very little documentation for the lower-level information. As such, I can write a SpiderMonkey like library from scratch in about an hour (and I have done just that before, but with java.io rather than nio). Is it possible to get to a similar speed in modeling + texturing (either with photographs or drawing)?

old man pspeed (can I call you that from now on?) knows his stuff!

One could not even type all of the code for SpiderMonkey in an hour… so…

I’ve done network programming for a LOOOONG time, and it took me more than an hour to write spidermonkey… so either you are oversimplifying what it does or a touch delusional. More likely the first.

And the only reason I rewrote spider monkey in the first place is because the old one was a buggy mess that crashed all the time. Maybe they also tried to write it in one hour. :wink:

So, let’s take bark as an example. It could take 30 minutes easily just to find a suitable place on the tree to photograph that won’t give you as many tiling and lighting head-aches. Then you bring in some additional lighting or wait for a time of day that minimizes shadows and take your picture. Hires from several angles. It’s important to capture your source imagery correctly because it’s hard to run back and grab more once you are sitting in your chair in front of the screen.

You are probably a couple hours into the project by now…

So, then you load it into photoshop and have to get it to tile. There are a few different approaches to this but nothing automatic. Whether you use a jigsaw + blending approach or a four-point star approach or whatever (don’t know what the techniques are called colloquially) you’d be lucky if this takes you less than an hour. Getting a texture to tile properly is an art all its own. Getting it to tile properly without obvious ugly repeats is even harder. There will be several back-and-forths between Photoshop and a 3D tool because patterns that aren’t obvious in 2D somehow become glaringly obvious in 3D.

So just one texture can take quite a few hours and there are no real short cuts.


…and see a hundred options that are likely better than anything you’d produce anyway (and note: many you will still have to make tileable). Maybe you will still have to tweak the colors to make them fit with your game’s aesthetic but you’d have to do that anyway. Color palette mastering is a topic on its own.

To continue our symphony metaphor, you are effectively asking how long it would take to be able to sight-read and play every instrument in the symphony. A while. It’s better to have enough understanding of an instrument to write for it but then have a professional or dedicated amateur actually play it. Same goes with most low level assets.

Spend the time on the things that really matter and will set your game apart from something else. As a lone-wolf, you have to pick the battles.

For Blender, I think the blender guru tutorials are a great resource, he also has links to other great tutorial people (the rigging tut i find myself going back to over and over).

And while kinda on the topic, Crazy Bump is a fantastic little tool I use all the time since creating textures is a weak point of mine.

1 Like

It had every message handle it’s own (de)serialization by passing Data(Input/Output)Streams along with a simple ConcurrentHashMap full of ArrayLists with Strings as keys for the message class name + some basic networking code that totaled 60 lines. It was perfectly sufficient for the project (non-JME) but I can see if it lacks some features.

The main issue I have with textures like this is that many of them have various licensing requirements which are often a deal-breaker for my specific project – I don’t intend to use the skills I am asking about here just for games.

Thanks, I’ll definitely need to look at this in detail later (I don’t have time right now), but, from a cursory look it seems to be very helpful.

Thanks for the information, but I can’t use that as I develop 100% on Linux and only really ever use Windows for making sure something I made works there and I am really trying to not have to pay for any software. Also, GIMP has a normalmap filter which works well in each of the very few cases I’ve tried.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get this information, I think I have enough now to properly learn what I want.

Wine ?

I use it often, but, it isn’t anywhere near perfect and GIMP simply works much better than anything in wine.

hope this is related to topic and hope it helps you .
An open source alternative to CrazyBump is http://awesomebump.besaba.com/about/
which also support PBR shading and ambient occlusion map.
also available for Linux.


cheers mate, I didn’t know about AB

1 Like

Actually the SDK has an image editor that can create bump maps and normal maps.


One thing to consider:
You want photorealistic assets? Possibly no fantasy (Sci Fi or the like)?
Then you are on the winner side of asset using people.
Create your own non-photorealistic style and you need to create all assets yourself…
(Example for non-photorealistic style: The comic look of Team Fortress 2)