Adding your own effect

umairazfar edited this page Oct 10, 2014 · 1 revision
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Creating a workable SHP was very difficult when it came to making my own effects. After about a week of trial and error and asking many people over at OpenRA forums and PPM site, I finally got my SHP to work. First thing first, the SHP Builder is very good at making cameos, but it is horrible for making effects SHPs. I created an SHP and it worked and then I created another SHP and OpenRA failed to pick it up. I had my head scratching because I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. Only later did someone tell me that SHP Builder is not good for making animation SHPs.

So what do we need to make our SHPs? Any image program such as Photoshop and XCC mixer, which I will be using in this tutorial.


First of all, make your sprite in Photoshop like this one given below:

the dimensions of this image are 120 x 12, that is, 120 width and 12 height, so a total of 10 frames. Be extremely careful in your measurements as if they are wrong, the XCC Mixer will create funny looking SHPs and you will not understand why that is happening.

Also keep in mind that the images should have black background as that indicates the area which the game will make transparent.

In Photoshop, go to Image->mode and select Indexed color. (I am not exactly sure that it is required but I will mention it here just to be safe)

Now save the image as a PNG and give it any name. What I am doing is to change the smoke effect, so I will name it as smokey.png as I will be making smokey.shp.


Now we come to the most important part of the tutorial. In order to make successful SHP, you need a proper palette to get things done. What you can do is follow the instructions on this site. This will help you in using the correct palette for your SHPs and without it, they will not show correctly, which means, your images will show many artifacts and look pretty bad. Now time to work in XCC Mixer.

XCC Mixer

XCC mixer has 3 columns, but we will only need to work in the first one. Navigate to the place where you saved your smokey.png

now press Ctrl + P and select the correct palette, which in this case is temperat.pal

Right click on the png and select Copy as SHP

You would think that you might be done here but that is not the case. Now right click on the created SHP select Clipboard and then select Copy.

now press Ctrl + P again to ensure that the correct palette has been selected. If it has, then close the popup, select the SHP file that you created, right click on it and then select Clipboard->Paste as SHP (TS). When you will do that a Save As dialog box will come up. Just save it again as smokey.shp or any other name you wish to give or replace. When you will do that, another dialog box will pop up asking you the width and height of the frames and the number of frames. Since we wanted 10 frames with each having 12 x 12 dimensions, make the changes as necessary.

And we are done. All you got to do now is to place the generated SHP into the bits folder and see the new effects.

  • made by Umair Azfar Khan