Modding Tutorial: Generating perfect part thumbnails

This small tutorial is for those modders that are developing custom parts into the game. The objetive of this guide will be creating thumbnails for your part icons that follow the Spore look and feel perfectly, like this:

For this tutorial, you will need to download and install the latest version of the ModCreatorKit.

Fixing the part preview

In the Spore editor, when you hover the mouse over a part in the palette, it will show a 3d preview of it. If you have ever developed a custom part you might have noticed, however, that for custom parts usually this preview is not centered and sometimes the part is not even fully visible. This has a pretty easy solution, actually:

  1. Open the .prop.prop_t of your custom part.
  2. Find the modelDefaultChannelsBBox property.
  3. Remove it.

Done! Told you it would be simple. If you are wondering why this happened, that property defines the boundaries of your part, which are used to center it in the part preview. Usually part mods just copy this property from somewhere else, but it’s actually not necessary: when the property is not present, the boundaries will be taken from the model itself.

Generating a thumbnail

For the thumbnail, you are going to need the latest version of the ModCreatorKit mod. This will generate a thumbnail that corresponds to the exact first frame of the part preview. It will also use the same color used in Spore part icons, althugh you can change that if you want.

Making a preview page

Since the icon is generated from the part preview, it will probably get out in a too low resolution. To fix that, you might want to create a new parts page with bigger items. These properties will make a page with a single 128×128 item, which will generate icons with enough quality:

bool palettePageUseAbsoluteItemSize true
float paletteItemWidth 128
float paletteItemHeight 128
int32 palettePageNumRows 1
int32 palettePageNumColumns 1
bool palettePageUseRelativeLayout false
float palettePageHorizontalOffset 40

Using the ModCreatorKit

Now, instructions:

  1. Open the game and go to the editor.
  2. Open the cheat console with Ctrl+C, and tpe the cheat:
    captureIcon "destinationPath"
    destinationPath is the actual path to the folder where the images will be saved. For example:
  3. Hover the mouse over the part of which you want to generate the thumbnail. You have to wait until the part zooms and starts rotating; a message in the console will appear when the image was saved.

Voilà! Since the mod does not know the file names you used in your project, the output images will use hashes instead. You can rename them if you want to have the same filename as the original part, but they should work without renamin them as well. Now just copy the images into the CreaturePartIcons~ folder (or a different folder if you are working on a different editor). If you really want to be the thumbnail to be perfect, you should consider adding some shadow around it like Spore parts do.

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