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Here's my texturing dilemma...

I think it's time I start my own texturing problem thread instead of "crashing" CaptCargo's :)

I sincerely hope I'm not "beating a dead horse" as I've been trying to figure out my misdirection, correct my misunderstanding, and translating the "technically written" tutorials I've seen. Any and all help is appreciated... no mater how embarrassingly easy the solution is! :D

I don't understand why you save as TGA. It seems that you are applying a mask to your image simply to create a night texture. Once you have created the texture, your mask can be discarded. I normally only use TGA when I need to preserve the mask for use in the simulator. If you are including the mask in your texture then you will get strange effects.
I save my textures as TGA usually just for the use of a mask. Since GMax will use TGAs (with and without masks) just as well as BMPs I've used them more often to avoid having multiple copies of the same texture. Since ImageTool will import TGAs I didn't see any wrong in using this format... Was I wrong?

Al FR-153:
There are limited times when you might want to use reflective qualities but I would think that they are few and far between. Typically though, there is no need to mess with the alpha channel to do routine night textures.
I only use alpha channels during night for transparency. In order to keep the polygon count as low as possible I use transparency masks to create "complex" structures (for example... an airport beacon's tower, or stairway railing, ladders... etc...). I found through trial-n-error that I couldn't use the "_L" textures with a transparency mask since textures can only use a single mask... or so I've observed. I've used "_L" masks in the past since they emulated the illumination effects I wanted without degrading the textures I had created.

The point is though; night textures are not that overly difficult.
And this is what I always read in every post concerning textures... but I don't seem to quite get the knack. I thought that trial-n-error and reading posts would help but I always end up with the same problems. 99% of the tutorials are using PhotoShop and DXTBmp... I can't afford PhotoShop and, as easy as it seems for most people, DXTBmp still confuses me or gives me the same results. The really funny part is after I finish creating a texture it looks great... until I format it to use in FS. I tried saving the "original" as a TGA (with a mask when necessary), BMP, JPG, PSD and format it from there... but still the same "problems". Maybe your tutorial will shed some light on my situation but until then... here are my most recent examples of what I have to "troubleshoot". I hope the images are OK as I didn't want anyone to wait hours for them to load so I resized them a bit.

This building isn't finished but close enough for use as an example. It uses four different textures so I can create a lot of detail and a few of these textures use transparency masks to create the railing and "break-up" the shrubs. The example in the blue box shows what the texture looks like prior to formatting as opposed to what it looks like as a DXT1 (with or without MipMaps). The areas circled in red are the "artifacts" I get which are not apparent prior to formatting and I thought a wider, contrasting border around the windows would stop this... but it didn't. Just incase you're wondering... the windows are not reflecting the scenery... I created the simulated reflection. For the most part I can live with the daytime look... but it'd be nice to not have these "abnormalities"...

It seems that instead of just FS darkening the diffuse texture it alters it even further. After using a mask to darken my daytime texture I "collapse" everything into the background image prior to formatting. The examples show the "before formatting" look.

I have experimented with the following formats, regardless if the texture has a mask or MipMapping. All resulted in varying "abnormalities" but nothing as close to using "_L" textures:

8-bit (was very splotchy)
16-bit [555, 565, and 444] (splotchy with weird patterns)
24-bit (didn't show at all in FS)
32-bit (too big of a file size and splotchy)
DXT1 (as you see in my examples and what I try to use all the time)
DXT3 (worse than DXT1)

So... am I crying about nothing? Is there no way around these? Am I at a loss due to my dependancy on substandard programs? If only the answer would show itself...
I save my textures as TGA usually just for the use of a mask. Since GMax will use TGAs (with and without masks) just as well as BMPs I've used them more often to avoid having multiple copies of the same texture. Since ImageTool will import TGAs I didn't see any wrong in using this format... Was I wrong?

Sorry, I got the idea from the original post that the mask was part of the process of creating the night texture, rather than transparency. If the mask was used simply to create the effect of night, then it would need to be removed once the texture was created, otherwise the mask would represent transparency -- giving some rather wild results, no doubt, in both DXT1 and DXT3 formats.
Obviously this isn't the case.
The artifacts I think just come from DXT compression -- something has to give, and this is the main result. The night picture seems to be a mipmap problem -- you'd need to compare both textures in Imagetool to see if there is any difference in the appearance of the mipmaps.
I must admit that most of my sceneries work this way but only because I normally reduce the size of night textures to save space. Since they don't have to stand up to as much scrutiny (it is dark, after all) then they can be smaller.
It seems I've stumbled onto a "solution":yikes:. Since I posted this thread, and hours infront of my PC, I found that by varying the layer transparency I use in Corel to darken my textures and export the images as 8-bit the night time look is close enough to say "GOOD ENOUGH!".

I hate to compromise but as most anyone creating and texturing scenery has to accept the fact that things won't always work out the way you want. I guess I'm just being too picky about things I have no control of. I believe my "problem" was rooted in the fact that I'm using multiple texture maps, with varying light "effects", on a single building just to get the "right look". :cool:

Thanks for the help and the patience to listen to me beat my head against a wall.
Thanks Damien!
The textures actually look a little bit better now that I figured out a way to avoid some of the artifacts. I'm trying very hard to make the buildings look as realistic as possible... especially since I'm rebuilding this airport for someone else.