Tutorial: Converting Tile Images That ACK Can Import

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Tutorial: Converting Tile Images That ACK Can Import

Post by joebonk »

Tutorial For Converting Tile Images To Those That ACK Can Import Using MT Paint Program.

MTPaint is a crude paint program that has the amazing capacity to keep and store BMPs 256 colored index.
Since ACK requires a palette index, all of our tile creations must keep this index in the images we make in paint
Most have abandoned this old format and this is where MT Paint can save the day.

Mark Tyler's Painting Program
Mtpaint is free.

ACK can import tiles from BMP images into our tile set.
In this way we can make new tiles in paint programs or can
barrow tiles from other games.
However the imported tile must have the colors indexed in the same 256 as your game is using presently.
Either a custom palette (which would be because you made one in the form of a palette.bmp stored in your game folder) or ACK's default palette.
If you need ACK's default palette, load an ACK game that
uses it and open a tile editor window.
Then hotkey CTRL + F5 to save an image which will have ACK's default palette stored in it. CTRL + F5 is screen shot capacity of DosBox and it will keep the 256 colored index of
whatever game is loaded into ACK.
It will be a folder called Capture.

This program is also good for converting BMPs you will use for ACK's other image features, such as a talk# bmp or
cut scene images.

1)Get your tiles ready.
Either one or many together, doesn't matter.
Tiles are imported to ACK one at a time so this isn't
Just have it ready.
Also to consider (though not too important), to make later cropping easier by having an image background that windows can differentiate from windows background.
As in my case black.

If you are converting character tiles with transparency, choose a color that stands out and can later turn into a transparent color after having it imported into ACK.
But for now get the image ready.
And save it to a folder that windows can get at.
(you could make the screen capture right from your other paint program, but mine puts a shadow at the borders which bothers me and I want to show it from the windows folders.)

2)Open your image containing your tiles with windows image viewer or something your OS uses to view images at their natural resolution.
In this example is 320 x 200. DO NOT ZOOM IN.
Keep the view at natural viewing.


3)Open the MTpaint Screenshot exe.
This will capture everything your monitor is viewing and load it into Mt Paint as an image.
Thus the name.
The image is no longer 320 by 200.
The resolution is the size of your monitor.
But because or perhaps since your image had a different color background, it will be easier to crop.
Mine has a black background color.


4)Crop the image where black meets background.
320 x 200.
I zoomed in to x's 300 so that I can see where to start the crop better.
Draw a bounding box starting at one corner and then stretch to the opposite corner.
At bottom are some numbers to help you see the resolution of the bounding box.
At top is a tab/button called "Image" and select "Crop". The image size we want 320 x 200. You can crop it smaller if you do not have an image background to work with and after you are all done simply expand the canvas to the 320 x 200 mandatory size. Mandatory for ACK's import size.

Note: At anytime you can undo last move by hotkey CTRL + Z.

Observations. At the top is a row of tab names to get at MTpaint's tools and settings. At the left side of the screen is 256 colors lined up in a row. At the top there is the present two mouse button colors selected. A and B. Here looks like red and black the first two colors in the palette. In the middle is the image. Crop it down to 320 x 200. Also at the top below the tab names are buttons for MTpaint’s tools. You can see the bounding box selection tool as a little red box with a dotted border.

Also note the number field for how much the view is zoomed in or out.


MTPaint does have some functionality, but because it can convert images to other palettes, we can do all of our adjustments in other programs.

5)Load the palette we need to convert to. This can be a text document created in Photoshop or Gimp. Or simply an image that uses the palette we want. Example - ACK's palette.bmp. At top is row of tab names, select "Palette" and from drop down menu select "Load". Navigate to where the image or text document is and load it. If you already made these before you can load an image right from your ACK/Import folder. Once loaded the colors at the right will change to that of the new palette. You know you did it right when they change. If loaded the wrong palette hotkey CTRL + Z to undo last move then load the right one.



6)Do the conversion. At top left a tab name called "IMAGE". From the drop down menu select "Convert To Indexed".


7)This brings up a popup window. Here is the settings you adjust to make the best or closest conversion possible. At the very top is a number field containing the colors from your palette. Sometimes it has only the number of colors your image contains. Like 32 or 120 or something. If so change it to 256. On the other hand a good trick you might want to experiment with later is to leave out the later colors of your palette. (Some games use the later colors for special purposes and effects and you do not want them used in the conversion or otherwise your tiles may take on those unwanted effects. ACK is safe from this except for the transparent color index. MTpaint does not know ACK's or any games index purpose colors. To leave out later colors use a smaller number in the number field. Like 200 or 150 or something. Just be sure to include the colors you actually need in the conversion. Beginners ignore this trick and just enter 256 in that field.


Below is what kind of conversion you want, click on the "Use Current Palette". This will be useless if you forgot or skipped the loading of the palette in the earlier step. So be sure you already have the new palette loaded.

Further below is the dither effect. Most of the time you select "None".

You hit "OK" when you are ready. In short enter 256 in number field, use current palette, and none for dither. Then hit OK. Move on to the next step... unless...

If the conversion didn't go so well, and some colors in your tiles may have been too different then the palette you are using, or maybe the style of image scan didn't fit the bill, you can do some more adjustments to the settings menu. If you do not like the conversation, hit hotkey CTRL + Z to undo last move and then go back up to "Image" "Convert To Indexed" and load the popup window again. Now hit the "settings" button. This gives you more options to change. Often just selecting RGB will make the better conversion. Sometimes it won't. You can disable the serpentine scan of the image. Simply try one at a time for different settings until the best conversion is made.


Keep in mind, many paint programs will also do a color conversion to desired colors from another image. Then when you get into MTpaint, this conversion will be exact. TRICK: If you want to change something like skin color of a character from a green goblin to a red demon, you can edit the palette to only be red instead of including green colors. And every color will be
converted but with a new red appearance instead of the former green. This trick works if the palette you loaded keeps the red where the red is indexed but is black for every other color. Then you can load the proper palette and do another conversion and the red will stay where the red is already indexed. There are a lot of tricks MTpaint will let you do just in the conversion

Also it may be that only one color was not quite converted properly. If this can't be changed you can live with it because ACK will let you later change that color to the one you want. Do not bother with that it 2 or more colors are still off. Aim at
being simple.

8)After the conversation has taken place, and you will notice that the image has adjusted ever so slightly to new colors, unless the colors were exactly the same already, then it is time to save it. If the image isn't a canvas size of 320 x 200 then go ahead and adjust the canvas size to it. Now at top is "File" and select "Save As". Navigate to where ACK imports images for tiles, ACK/IMPORT folder. And be sure to click the BMP tab. All images need to be BMPs. Then hit Ok.

Best conversions are from images that already used the colors we use in the palette. Which happens often when we put stuff like dressers and tables on different styled floors. Most paint programs do not keep the index BMP's 256 colors in the right order which is the benefit of using this program.

1)Have tiles/image ready
2)Load Image in Windows Image Viewer (no zoom)
3)Load MT Paint Screen Capture
4)Crop image to 320 x 200
5)Load palette to convert to
6)Convert image to the loaded palette
7)Save image as BMP image where ACK imports tiles - ACK/IMPORT folder

Admiral Ackguh
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:26 am
Location: Canada

Post by Admiral Ackguh »

One thing that might help is that I created an Import.bmp file. Since this website will not display BMPs, I give you its web address; you can download it from there.


Place this file in your ACK\ACK\IMPORT folder. It is a grid pattern in 320 x 200 BMP format, using the standard ACK palette. If you use a different palette, you will have to convert Import.bmp, using Gale or MTPaint. Keep a backup copy of Import.bmp just in case.

In any case, open Import.bmp with a graphic editor that preserves indexed palettes (such as Gale or MTPaint). The squares are all 16x16, suitable for pasting 16x16 images. Don't overwrite the white grid lines. Once you have done that, save Import, and you are ready to import.

NOTE: The actual importing is best done with the ACK tile editor. Select a tile to be overwritten, and press ALT-B. You will get a menu of suitable files, choose IMPORT.BMP or whatever you called this file. The import cursor will be a square you can easily align to the grid; use the arrow keys, Ctrl-Left, Ctrl-Right, PgUp, PgDn. Press ENTER to import the cursored image to your tile. If your current game and import file have the same palette, the colours will be exactly the same.
- A:A:


paint programs

Post by joebonked »

Good advice Admiral. I wonder if it is good to make video tutorials for using ACK's editors?
But could you give a link to this Gale paint program? I would really like to try it out. Is it free or open source, or do we have to purchase Gale? Never heard of it and would like to see other programs. Mainly because a lot of MTpaint is time consuming when I want to use it as an actual image editor.
My initial search for it didn't find it.
MTpaint does load the transparency of images stored in the file and will let you edit which index color for it but I feel like I have to learn how to talk cave man to use the program. Mt paint makes it hard to paint over one color of the entire image. Every pixel has to be edited one at a time and this can be very time consuming. Which is why I only use it for the final conversion.
If anyone is curious about MTpaint, you can add transparency to one color and paste a new tile over another tile. You would have to open one tile with MTpaint in a separate window and then save the tile (of a chair or table) to a Hotkey paste/load in the F Keys like F1 or F2 paste. Then go to the other window where you have your floor tile already loaded and then paste it over the floor tile. However you will have to turn on transparency for each paste and the time to do all of this in MTpaint is bothersome. But it is possible.

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