February 25, 2024

How I Make Signs

We’re opening a gacha buyback shop where people can sell their gachas, which Elissa is going to manage. I’m making a sign for the new shop, so I thought I would document as I go along. It’s a painful process since I’m still learning, but with any luck, some part of it might be helpful to someone learning.

Like with other signs I’ve made, first I start with an in-game object that I’ll use in Blender to get the perfect dimensions and proportions of the sign. I create a box prim, then move it to where the sign is going, stretching it until it fills the space I want.

Prim sign standin

Once I have the right shape I right-click and save. I use Firestorm, and in the pie menus it’s More -> More -> Save As -> Collada. The defaults are fine, the prim is all we care about.

Next I import that into Blender to use. I already have a Blender scene that contains a few different frame styles I’ve made. I make the one I want visible, along with the newly imported reference prim, then resize the frame object to match the prim. Note I use edit vertex mode and box-select the move each side, rather than scaling the frame. If I were to scale it, the frame edges would scale too, and lose their proportions.

The object is exported as a .dae file for Second Life (making sure only the frame object is selected and “Selected Only” is chosen in the export dialog box) and and .fbx file for use in Substance Painter.

Next step: Rest. Fire up Substance Painter, import the fbx, and realize I accidentally exported the prim and not the frame. Simple fix – re-export, and re-import. Done. Rest again.

In the meantime I was designing the actual sign. First, the font. I’ve made several signs before, but I’ve never been entirely happy with the font. I wanted type that looked like it was hand painted carefully. I spent about 2 hours looking on various sites and Adobe’s repository but didn’t come up with anything. Finally, I searched Google for “good hand painted sign font” and came across this article. It was geared towards real-life miniature modelling, which… wait, isn’t that Second Life in a way. At any rate, I ended up with the $6 Egyptian Painter’s font from that article.

I made up the sign in Photoshop with solid colors. I briefly toyed with the idea of cheating by distressing the background and letters right in Photoshop, skipping Substance Painter altogether. But I could really use the practice (besides, I’m paying for it, I might as well use it). So for now, just a plain flat sign to distress in Painter.

So Plain…

My plan at this point: export the “Gacha Buy Back” and “Elissa’s” in two separate, transparent pngs, and import them. That way I can create the background entirely in Painter, and distress the lettering separately.

In Painter, with a few minutes of playing I got it reasonably close to the non-distressed look, and also applied some initial wood textures for the frame.

Ok this is the part I confess I still barely know what I’m doing with Painter. I found a free weathered paint texture on Substance Share, imported it, and clicked on different things until it looked kind of how I wanted. The results weren’t perfect, but close enough to what I wanted.

The final product:

As I’ve said several times, I’m still learning. Compared to the first mesh objects I created a year ago I’m way better than where I was.

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