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Introductory Resources

Discussion in 'Help' started by stuntcock, Nov 28, 2015.

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  1. stuntcock

    stuntcock Staff Member Moderator

    Jun 5, 2012
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    This thread will contain spillover material from various introductory posts (such as the Request Rules). Those posts must be kept brief because they are intended for newcomers. Detailed explanations will be provided in this thread, for perusal at users' convenience.

    The material in this thread is not required reading. It will include some details on technical subjects (e.g. Flash, ActionScript) which may be confusing for some users. The material will sometimes address the esoterica of the SDT game itself, which is of interest only to modders and their collaborators. If you don't understand the content of a post then please feel free to simply close this thread and continue using the forums - there is a great deal of newbie-friendly material available for you to download and use.

    For the sake of simplicity, this thread will be kept locked. If you wish to provide feedback, propose changes, or report a broken link then please contact a moderator for assistance.
  2. stuntcock

    stuntcock Staff Member Moderator

    Jun 5, 2012
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    SDT supports three types of hairstyles:
    • static PNG
    • static SWF
    • dynamic SWF

    There are two key technical differences among these types.

    The first difference is raster drawing vs vector drawing.

    PNG is shown on the left; SWF is shown on the right

    PNG files are raster images, which means that they consist of a grid of tiny dots called pixels. Each pixel has a specific color, and PNGs can preserve color information perfectly. You may be familiar with the blocky artifacts which sometimes disfigure a JPEG image. The PNG format allows lossless compression, which means that such artifacts need not appear.

    SWF files use vector graphics. Each vector image is a collection of lines, curves, and fills. Imagine that an artist is drawing a digital picture - his computer will keep a detailed log of each brushstroke that he makes (its color, its thickness, its position on the canvas, etc). He then sends you this log. Your computer repeats each of the artist's brushstrokes, causing his picture to appear on your screen.

    lines remain smooth at all zoom levels
    requires special tools to create or modify files
    hair strands can be drawn on any layer
    very small filesize (~15 kb)
    highly-detailed SWF files will slow down the game

    dimensions are unlimited - can be very tall and very wide
    hair tint can be fine-tuned via the game GUI

    lines become grainy at high zoom levels
    files can be modified by any user, with common tools (e.g. MSPaint)
    hair strands can be drawn on three pre-defined layers
    medium filesize (~150 kb)
    even the fanciest PNG file has a miniscule impact on game performance
    dimensions are limited, but sufficient for most hair designs
    hair tint can be fine-tuned via the game GUI

    The second technical difference involves animation.

    Most hairstyles are not animated; they are called static. The hair strands and hair accessories are drawn in a specific "resting" shape, and they will retain this shape throughout SDT gameplay. When the girl's head is tilted, her hairstyle will be tilted by the same amount.

    Some hairstyles are animated with dynamic motion. These hairstyles consist of many independently-moving strands. As the girl's head is tilted, her hairstyle will partially follow her head - but it will also respond to simulated physics forces (gravity, elasticity, inertia, etc).

    The left-hand hairstyle is static; the right-hand hairstyle is dynamic

    PNG files are always static. SWF files can be either static or dynamic.

    usually looks good when the girl is at rest
    pleasant animation when the girl is moving
    significant performance impact
    time-to-create is significantly longer than PNG
    rarely worth the effort for short hairstyles

    long hairstyles show off animation nicely
    if girl is flipped upside down, hair may flicker about or become tangled

    usually looks good when the girl is at rest
    sometimes appears stiff or unrealistic when the girl moves around
    modest performance impact on the game
    time-to-create is similar to a PNG hairstyle
    suitable for short hairstyles
    long hairstyles appear "fake" due to total stiffness
    if girl is flipped upside down by animtools, hair will defy gravity and look a bit silly

    Please consider the aforementioned factors when you make a hairstyle request.

    PNG will always be considered the default choice, because it is the most common format and it has the largest pool of talent. If you do not express a preference, then modders will assume that you want a PNG.

    A static SWF file may be preferable to PNG if you play the game on a very large monitor (or at a high zoom level). For most users, the inherent pixelation of a PNG hairstyle will not be visible during normal gameplay. The main reason that your request might require a static SWF is that your character wears a very large hat (one which is too tall to fit onto the PNG template). The less-common reason why you might ask for a SWF is because you need only a small accessory (such as a barrette) rather than a complete hairstyle. Once you have this SWF file, you can apply it "on top" of any other hairstyle.

    A dynamic SWF file is suitable for very long hairstyles. It can achieve pleasant visual effects which make a character feel more responsive and lifelike, but this fidelity comes at a cost of longer development time and reduced FPS during gameplay. Dynamic SWF hairstyles are also fine-tuned to look good in specific postures (such as the default "kneeling" pose). When using animtools, you will find that some positions (e.g. girl supine, guy on top) will cause your dynamic hairstyles to look terrible and/or animate poorly.
    sby likes this.
  3. stuntcock

    stuntcock Staff Member Moderator

    Jun 5, 2012
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    Photographic References

    The goal of an SDT modding project is usually to create a sprite which will can blend into a scene of SDT gameplay and appear as though it belongs there. The finished product will usually employ three-tone shading, a few internal lines (black or dark grey), a contiguous black border around its perimeter, and a diffuse light source at the "top" of the scene (so that the sprite's highlights will tend to be concentrated at its top, and dark-shaded area will mostly be found on its underside).

    A properly-selected anime screenshot will have all of the listed attributes; it can be quickly and easily converted into an SDT mod. It involves a bit of tedious work, but does not demand any special skill. Photographs rarely have any of those attributes. Converting one into an SDT mod requires creativity, good spatial reasoning, an intuitive grasp of anatomy and lighting, and artistic talent.


    When you ask an artist to create a SDT mod on the basis of a photograph, you're presenting him with a significant challenge.
    • He can trace the basic outline of the shape (e.g. hairstyle) but the internal lines will need to be drawn from scratch.
      • The SDT girl's proportions are somewhat inhuman. The skull length, jaw curvature, eye size, etc - these all differ from those of the photographic model. Stretching or reshaping may be needed around the browline, ear, nape, and crown.
    • Lighting and shading details must be invented, and they must fit the apparent surface texture of the object as it takes form on the canvas.
    • New colors must be selected - the palette must resemble that of the original photograph, but the saturation will usually need to be boosted (in order to fit the bright anime art style of SDT).
    And there's another problem: human faces are rarely photographed in profile view. Eye contact implies engagement. When we see a camera, we look at it and smile. You can usually find a few side-view photographs if the subject is famous enough, but those tend to be candid shots with poor lighting. The requester usually skips such images (because they're unflattering), and instead posts a bunch of frontal and oblique photographs of the woman's face. And then he sits back and waits for the SDT artist to work a miracle.

    Please don't be "that guy." If you're asking for a character from a film or live-action TV show, try to find anime fanart depicting your character. Put in some effort. Don't just assume that it's absurd or impossible. Remember: there are anime renditions of Walter White out there. The resulting images may be poor-quality or inconsistent with your vision of the finished mod, but that's a good thing: it allows you to point to the references and give guidance to the artist (e.g. "the forehead in this shot is too big. The bangs should be more spiky. The ponytail is longer than that. The whole thing should be auburn instead of brown.") You can include photographs among your Reference images, but please ensure that at least one of them is a profile shot.

    The one obvious exception is when someone makes a Request for a photorealistic hair mod. In this case, a side-view photograph is the only possible reference image; anime images are neither necessary nor useful. The modder will need to crop the photograph very carefully, and will often need to adjust the contrast so that the resulting mod blends in with the SDT scene. It will never blend perfectly (because it lacks an outline), but some people enjoy the silky shine of real hair so much that they're willing to overlook minor inconsistencies.

    Clothing and Accessories

    The preceding material implicitly assumed that the Request involved a hairstyle. It's also possible to provide photographic references for clothing items, but we face similar challenges and limitations:
    • the SDT girl's body proportions differ from those of a flesh-and-blood model
    • SDT modders must make clothes fit across the entire breast-slider range, but it's difficult to find photographic references in which the same outfit is worn by models with very small and very large breasts.
    • clothing is typically photographed against a seamless white backdrop. This omnidirectional illumination does not match the implied lighting of the SDT scene.
    • clothes are sometimes photographed from the side, but the model's arms get in the way. Armpit and torso details must often be inferred or invented by the SDT modder
    • necklaces look silly in side view; you'll almost never find a good reference shot of one.
    • panties are less sexy in side view; good references are hard to find. Bra reference images are easier.
    • shiny clothes (and metallic jewelry) can't be convincingly simulated in SDT because we lack a lighting engine.
    • shoes are usually photographed with the model standing upright or contrapposto. Kneeling images would be ideal, but they're rarely available.

    The suggested approach to these problems is similar to the approach for hairstyles: try to find side-view anime-style reference art which depicts the clothing or accessory which you've requested. Even if the anime image shows the wrong color entirely, it may still provide useful guidance regarding fitting, shading, orientation and visibility of seamlines, pleat/fold patterns, and so on. Include your photographs when posting your Request thread - as secondary references. Discuss the differences between the photographs and anime images; explain your preferences and expectations. Be patient and don't expect miracles.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015
  4. stuntcock

    stuntcock Staff Member Moderator

    Jun 5, 2012
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    Tagging Guidelines

    The purpose of tagging is to supplement the Search tool and overcome some of its weaknesses.

    Whenever you add a tag to your thread, it should be with the goal of making your thread discoverable. Please note that this is not the same thing as "drawing attention to your thread"!

    When tagging is used effectively, each tag added to a thread will add a tiny bit of value to the entire forum, by helping members (especially newcomers) to discover material which interests them. When a newcomer finds a relevant thread, they can use the tagging system to find threads covering similar topics or themes.

    Tags should be considered permanent (even though they technically aren't). Please don't tag your threads with status messages such as "on hold", "problem solved", "finished", "first draft" and so on. Major status information should instead be conveyed by a thread's location within the forum (e.g. Requests vs Filled Requests). Minor status information (such as "project is on hold because my HDD exploded") can simply be included in the text of your posts. The rationale for this policy is that people always forget to clean up their tags, and the status tags tend to become inaccurate.

    As a special concession to writers, modders, and artists (especially novice artists), I'll allow special-purpose status tags such as "feedback needed", "testing required", or "seeking constructive criticism". I'll watch how people use these tags for a few weeks, and then try to force everyone onto standardized tag names.

    Tags should focus on concepts, themes, fetishes, categories -- words which might not be explicitly mentioned in your post, but which are central to its appeal. "sensory deprivation", "catgirl", "bondage", "yaoi", "handjob", "latex", and so on.

    You may include tags for the names of characters included in your thread, and for the name of the series (or game title, or book title, etc). Please use one tag for each. Thus:
    • "neon genesis evangelion" is okay. "nge" is okay. Please use whichever one seems to be more popular with the community. Don't apply both tags to your thread.
    • "ayanami rei" is okay. "rei ayanami" is okay. Please use whichever is more popular. "rei" "ayanami" is not okay. "ayanami rei" "rei ayanami" "ayanami" "rei" is just spam.

    Special note: please remember that we share a forum database with other communities. There are some tags (such as "wrestling costume" or "female wrestler" or "female fighter") which could logically be applied to SDT threads, but which might cause confusion for members of the Wrestling forum. Where such problems arise, we will notify SDT users and alter the tags on existing threads. Please try to cooperate with such changes, so that we can keep things tidy and cordial.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
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