Gauge appearance

Help and techniques for creating Air Manager Instrument Graphics

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kedmondson1970
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Gauge appearance

#1 Post by kedmondson1970 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:15 pm

Is there a way to make the 172 gauges look more like a real gauge and less "digital"? It's hard to describe what I mean exactly. But more like a real gauge behind glass, with a more softened look, versus the crisp, bright graphics. And when flying at night to have them appear like a post-lit gauge vs. a digital super bright gauge. Thanks.

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Sling
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Re: Gauge appearance

#2 Post by Sling » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:55 am

Yes is the quick answer. It really comes down to the gauge graphics and code used for lighting. There are also examples of needle vibration/oscillation and scratched front glass for further realism.

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Ralph
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Re: Gauge appearance

#3 Post by Ralph » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:57 am

Like Tony says, if you have good graphic skills then yes. You could even do something with sunlight if you're using X-Plane, the angle of the sun is available, probably also the brightness.

JackZ
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Re: Gauge appearance

#4 Post by JackZ » Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:14 pm

Well actually the crispness of gauges is somewhat what makes them “real”, as if you study photos of real gauges, they evidently have well defined contours.
What may add to realism are tiny details which are sometimes barely visible up to 1 pixel difference: the shadow of a needle or a button, when carefully crafted, adds a lot.
Talking about shadows this is probably what is probably less sharp in real life, as light sources are not linear nor ponctual, and diffuse over the edge and IRL “soft shadows” are the rule. If you want a “closer to reality” effect, I suggest you use a 3D program and model at least the button, bezel and needle of your instrument. Then use this 3D model to generate realistic soft shadows as graphic ressources.

Other tricks in 2D are to use the “diffuse” parameter in Skinman, and/or play with opacity, emboss and other 2D effects. Theses parameters add some fuzziness to each element and after some practice, the results can be nice.

I generally recommend to use a vector based drawing software (Skinman is neat and free, but as any other has a learning curve) instead of a pixel based software. The precise placement of vector rendered primitives is the key for detailed instruments.

Last possibility, “post-process” the crisp PNG images rendered with the 2D rendering image by using a picture rendering program such as Photoshop or the like. Using filters you can achieve whatever effect you like, but once again it is a matter of personal taste.
Sky’s the limit.

Jacques
My YouTube Chanel on the A320 (Real SOPs by an Airline Pilot IRL):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 0Q6SBASRqJ

JackZ
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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:02 pm

Re: Gauge appearance

#5 Post by JackZ » Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:47 pm

kedmondson1970 wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:15 pm
Is there a way to make the 172 gauges look more like a real gauge and less "digital"? It's hard to describe what I mean exactly. But more like a real gauge behind glass, with a more softened look, versus the crisp, bright graphics. And when flying at night to have them appear like a post-lit gauge vs. a digital super bright gauge. Thanks.
Any way you make it, having a gauge displayed through a computer screen will never render as well as a real instrument which is in fact actually lighted from the side of the bezel, even though older instruments are lighted from a lamp placed in a small pole and directed towards the glass.

Any screen (and especially LCD flat screens) has a hard time rendering the complete dark colors as the backlighting of the screen is always present (could be different with Oleds screens though), so black is never really black. same happens while watching a movie on any flat screen, the darkest parts are kind of tricky to render.

If you want to “fake” a glass in front of the gauge, you can always play with transparency and add an extra layer with subtle effect of glass (it has to be a PNG file with alpha rendering on). You will have to use subtle changes of grey scale to slightly alter the colors of what’s behind the glass layer.
Then add this layer in the code at the proper location, playing with the transparency factor that AM provides.

Worth a try.

Jacques
My YouTube Chanel on the A320 (Real SOPs by an Airline Pilot IRL):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 0Q6SBASRqJ

JackZ
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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:02 pm

Re: Gauge appearance

#6 Post by JackZ » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:52 pm

Here for you to try, I have made with skinman a glass layer PNG image of size 512x512 that you can try to overlay over your gauges. This image has some effects included, a subtle graduation effects, alpha gray levels "dirty" background and some emboss/shadows to give the sense of width of the actual glass. Try it over a black background though, as obviously over a white one, most of the effect will disappear. Then play with the overall opacity, between 20 and 40% should be fine
glass.png
Let me know what you think.

Jacques
glass2.png
My YouTube Chanel on the A320 (Real SOPs by an Airline Pilot IRL):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 0Q6SBASRqJ

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