Home Company of Heroes 2: WAR PAINT contest

[WIP] Historical - US Invasion of Sicily

f_x
By way of reading some of the threads here I was looking at the tanks-encyclopedia site where I found an image of an M5A1 Stuart which featured the US white star insignia surrounded by a yellow circle instead of the usual white:



That struck my curiosity and led me into a rabbit hole of research, during which I found additional evidence of other US vehicles (Shermans, Halftracks, Scout cars, Priests, Tank Destroyers) with this odd yellow circle.  They were not always easy to find!  There's even a B&W photo of Patton in his command car where you can clearly see the different shade between the star and the surrounding circle.



Apparently the yellow circle originated in the North African campaign, but a specific order was given in 1943 stating that all vehicles slated for participation in the invasion of Sicily were to increase the width of the circle and paint it in yellow.  Having already spent way too much time tracking down this historical trivia, it seems fitting to use this for my entry.  Using the M5 Stuart reference as a general guide for the paint scheme, I will make a US skin based on the 1943 invasion of Sicily.

Here is a first pass trying to get the basic colors and patterns to be in the ballpark.  I'm looking at this on a map with neutral, diffuse lighting, and another map with warmer direct sunlight.  I still need to balance the colors a bit before I start propagating this to the rest of the vehicles.




This does not yet have any white lettering for serial numbers, divisions, etc, but I aim to get to those details too.

Please note that this skin is in the category “inspired by the historical events”.  I place emphasis on INSPIRED BY.  When making creative choices I won’t be as much of a stickler for historical accuracy as others.  That said, the amount of reference I've found should allow me to make something that will look both good and plausible.

One more thing…

There's another idea I've wanted to try for a while, and now that the magic voodoo for baking normals/spec/gloss has been discovered (thanks Shriken!) I'd like to incorporate into some of my vehicles the concept of camo netting.  What I've researched is that the US Army issued nets without any dressing on them, and it was up to the soldiers on the field to find materials to make them into effective camouflage for their location.  The Germans favored using leafy branches, but the Americans often used rope which in the reference photography is easily recognizable as the squiggly lines on the nets.  Camo nets were mostly used to hide static emplacements and parked vehicles, both for the purpose of ambushing the enemy as well as to avoid detection by air.




Not being able to add new geometry, I can't really make draping sheets or add tree branches, but I think the rope lines on a net that's flush on the surface could still look pretty decent.  Below are a couple of proof-of-concept tests I did get an idea of what it will look like:




I'm still not sure if the net and rope will be brighter than the base vehicle, or darker.  I'm leaning towards darker.  The scale will be cheated.  My first tests had the net at a smaller scale which might be more appropriate but at the default zoom level in the game it will just turn into noisy mush.  So I'll probably end up with a grid size that's a bit larger for the sake of it looking decent in context.  The net and rope in these tests is too regular and dense but again it was just a proof.

I'm not going to apply this camo net concept to all the vehicles.  I tested with a Sherman because I had a file set up for it, but I think I'll try to restrict this to more emplaced/ranged vehicles like the Priest, Calliope, mortar halftrack, etc.  To me it makes sense that they might have thrown a camo net on those to help hide them while they are firing from a fixed location for a while.

The camo nets will definitely be a challenge but I hope it will add something unique to this skin pack.  The effect looks pretty cool as the vehicles and/or the camera moves and the light plays across them.

Replies

  • reallymadmaveric
    lighter would give a better contrast  play with both options and go with what you are happiest with

  • realb33rm4n
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    Fantastic!  Great innovation.  Looks legit too.  Well done.
  • georider
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    georider polygon
    the idea is excellent, I try though to do the same with british tanks durring my skinpack , the result in 2d is not always very good , the lighting , the shadows of making a layer looking 3d , I don't know there will be always some spots . nevertheless the idea is excellent , regarding that relic must take a look if some add ons to the models will be posible , I mean net add ons , extra items as protection like wood sticks in the sides of shermans etc etc.
    back in coh1 at the end we manage to alter the models with custom that use all the aboves and the result is wonderfull.
    Well done excellent aproach.
  • f_x
    WIP Update:

    I finalized the look on the Stuart and have been propagating it to the rest of the vehicles. Still have a few more vehicles to go and then I will start on the camo nets, which I want to feature on four of the artillery/ranged units.

    I've added quite a bit of weathering and wear particularly on the emblems.  Maybe a touch more than it would have been but I prefer how it integrates this way as opposed to the clean decal look.

    Some of the research I have read indicates that the inconsistency in the size and thickness of the yellow circles is sometimes a due to them painting them over an existing white one. So on the Sherman I have made it look like there is a thinner underlying white circle over which the thicker yellow one was painted.  The one on the front of the Priest is extra large, but it's matching one of the few color references and I'll cover some of that with camo netting.

    I have paid special attention to the unit battalion markings so they are all members of forces that were actually there.  Specifically they would have all been under the command of General Patton.  So anyone who uses these skins must play aggressively! :D














  • reallymadmaveric
  • georider
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    georider polygon

    Excellent work on decals /research well done. Weathering also is very good , you fix the ambulance (that decals is the only one in the net so that we all who have make USF use these ;)). Accurate skinpack well done.
    P.S A small suggestion , in Italy in 43 the climate was dry , and the sun was sunny so you must remake the basic color be less green and more drab feinted by weather, that is my humble opinion.

  • f_x
    georider said:

    P.S A small suggestion , in Italy in 43 the climate was dry , and the sun was sunny so you must remake the basic color be less green and more drab feinted by weather, that is my humble opinion.

    I now have a summer version for each vehicle, minus the camo net layer for the lucky four which will get that treatment.

    I still want to do one pass of adjusting contrast and brightness on them, depending on how they look while play-testing on a few different lighting environments.  Plus I may want to give a couple of doctrinal units a different treatment to use one other paint scheme (simple two tone green and tan) which I saw several times during my research.  I normally apply the same consistent look to all the vehicles in a skin but I'm warming up to the idea of having more than one style represented, borrowing from your and Starbuck's methodology.  So thanks for your suggestion, and I may find a way to factor it in at least for some vehicles.

  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    Very interesting.  I wondered why the yellow ring was so big on some of the stars in the reference pictures I had. Great info F_X.
    Really like how these are coming along.  Nice work.
  • RickyJohnston
  • f_x
    Well, after several iterations and painting so many squiggly lines that I'm seeing them with my eyes closed, I'm finally coming to a happy place with the camo netting on the four vehicles that park and fire from a distance:











    I need to add a bit of contact shadowing from the nets/ropes back onto the underlying armor.  And I still want to tweak the normals on the ropes to see if I can exaggerate the bump effect.  But there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel...
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    Wow. That looks awesome.  How does it look from a further zoom out?  Can you still tell that it's netting?
  • f_x


    If you click on the image to view it 1:1, it represents the default zoom from the game.  The net itself pretty much disappears, but the ropes are readable.  I did a few iterations on the rope thickness and spacing between the strands, checking how they appear from the default camera.

  • f_x
    Based on some additional reference I found during my research, I've now changed four doctrinal vehicles to feature a simple two-tone pattern:







    So at this point I have all vehicles in their near-final form.  I have a few minor details I still want to hit, but they shouldn't take long.  Then it's the winter versions, screengrabs for the store, packaging and uploading.  I'm glad we got an extension so I won't be rushed to finish it all tomorrow.

    Also, I've decided I'll call the skin "Operation Husky" when I publish it.  After all, the Allied invasion of Sicily was codenamed "Operation Husky", and it just sounds way cooler than "US Invasion of Sicily" :-)
  • f_x
    The last detail I added came from something I noticed early on and decided to go back and check.  Several of the Stuart images I had been studying had a black "15" in a yellow circle.  I didn't want to just add it to my skin without knowing what it was, so after some (more) research I've learned they were the weight class of each vehicle (in tons), which was displayed where guards posted on bridges could easily see them and determine if it was safe for the vehicle to cross that bridge.

    I have added this to those vehicles where I found specific reference showing them.  For the ambulance it meant tweaking the nrm/spc/gls maps to create a flat backing in front of the grille.



    Some vehicles had their full size and weight info (width, height, etc) stenciled on the side.  I've added that to the Easy 8.

    The rest of the vehicles won't be allowed on the bridge and must take the long way around...
  • georider
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    georider polygon
    the tand destroyer marking goes to the back of the turret not in front of the stasis in M-10 , though is very difficult to find the spot.
    BTW the ambulance with that decals already made by me and starbuck , but it's ok these are the only one available in the net , and the most good looking.
    it's a good aproach as skinpack and the overall is ok ,well done.
  • f_x
    georider said:
    the tand destroyer marking goes to the back of the turret not in front of the stasis in M-10 , though is very difficult to find the spot.
    BTW the ambulance with that decals already made by me and starbuck , but it's ok these are the only one available in the net , and the most good looking.
    it's a good aproach as skinpack and the overall is ok ,well done.
    Thanks Georider.

    Regarding the M10, I think I know the photo you are describing with the TD logo on the rear of the turret:



    I chose the front placement based on a decal sheet which also gave me the idea to paint it in the two-tone pattern:



    The version in the top right ("D") showed the logo in the front, under the star.  So it was definitely a creative choice, since I combined the color pattern of the lower left ("C") with the TD placement of the top right.  That specific combination perhaps never really occurred, but at least it seems possible.

    I'm sure I made up details elsewhere which are farther away from reality :-)
  • georider
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    georider polygon
    yes I forgot the star decals reference , well done excellent research , you get the spirit , keep on ;)
  • f_x
    Winterizing is done!  I made minor adjustments to the base color hues and saturation before applying my winter layers, to rebalance them against all the snow and frost.  The camo net vehicles turned out particularly well with the net and ropes getting frost but keeping the metal underneath relatively clear to create a nice contrast.













    Now there's more screenshots to grab, lots of i's to dot, t's to cross, and hopefully uploading in the next day or so...
  • georider
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    georider polygon
    yes the nets looking very good in winter, for the record I have seen some photos that British used white seats to apply cammo to their tanks
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    Looks awesome FX.  Very nice work over all
  • f_x
  • BardicheAssault
    Any chance of uploading it as a skin pack so we can use it in custom matches? It looks suuuuuper awesome and I would play USF all the time just to use it.
  • f_x
    Any chance of uploading it as a skin pack so we can use it in custom matches? It looks suuuuuper awesome and I would play USF all the time just to use it.

    Heheh.  Unfortunately I believe that would be against the contest rules as they want the entries to only be available in the curated path.   Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of asking players to pay for them ;)
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    F_X: Can you point to the rule that specifically states this? How does it defeat the purpose of asking players to pay, when what they're paying for is the ability to use a custom match skin, in auto matchmaking games?

  • BardicheAssault
    Oh didn't see that? They haven't really talked much about it and a few of the submissions are already skin packs in the workshop. Relic has a bad habit of not being clear on these things. :*
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    Oh didn't see that? They haven't really talked much about it and a few of the submissions are already skin packs in the workshop. Relic has a bad habit of not being clear on these things. :*
    No, I didn't see that. 
    Can you point out where that rule is please?
  • BardicheAssault
    Starbuck said:
    No, I didn't see that. 
    Can you point out where that rule is please?
    Sorry I was replying to F_X. Didn't see your post. I have no idea what Relic's thoughts are because they say some skins will be sold and others will not.
  • f_x
    Starbuck said:
    F_X: Can you point to the rule that specifically states this? How does it defeat the purpose of asking players to pay, when what they're paying for is the ability to use a custom match skin, in auto matchmaking games?


    The main contest thread has a link for the Full terms and conditions for the Competition.  This is from that page:

    "Your Submission must NOT:

    (a)    be previously published in any video game, on any website or social media page or elsewhere at a time prior to or after your Submission except as permitted by these Official Rules;"


    My interpretation of this is that they only want the (winning) entries available through their store, and it makes sense that if you are selling something you don't want it available for free.  Much like the way they forbid any mod whose only purpose is to grant free access to all the paid commanders, for example.  In any case, the "must not be ... published ... prior to or after your submission" is what I think would prohibit publishing it as a free and ready-to-use skin mod now that it's been submitted for the contest.

    I'd love to be wrong about this.  Maybe someone from Relic can chime in?

  • georider
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    georider polygon
    F_X what do you want to say with that? I did not see any similarity to your mod with other previous work from you.
    I understand that point in a way for authors like, don't make your work similar with other users work , i.e don't copy another user pattern for a skin etc etc. On the other hand if you reference to decals , these are something comon , you can't accuse someone that using the same decals i.e divisional to his skinpack because allied units have all the same decals , only divisional and squadron numbers changed , and the majority used the drab color pattern . In hoby modeling world allied tanks are not so popular due to limitation of one color , only great modelers gives a different aproach to these models with the use of weather effects etc etc .
    So I don't see a point why your previous post may be an issue.
  • f_x
    Sorry Geo - maybe it wasn't clear.  I am not worried about my entry or anyone else's.  I was responding to the suggestion that I should post this new skin as a free ready-to-use (not curated) mod.  And my point is that according to the contest rules, I don't think that's allowed.
  • georider
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    georider polygon
    when they said that? so we have to upload all these as ready to use? don't think so , leave these as they were , as I understand the promo will goes on a month so in that month we have to make the comunity like our staff , this is what i understand.
    I responce in that way with unique patterns etc etc , since the last 20 days I make 15+15 X2 (for 2 faction) new skins , and these almost 60 patterns are all diferend than  my previous one , because I understand also wrong about that...... they just wnt to see the result , that is what I believe, and if you like to make you a full analise about how the community voting , I will from tommorow ..... today still want to catch the day ;)
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    f_x said:
    Starbuck said:
    F_X: Can you point to the rule that specifically states this? How does it defeat the purpose of asking players to pay, when what they're paying for is the ability to use a custom match skin, in auto matchmaking games?


    The main contest thread has a link for the Full terms and conditions for the Competition.  This is from that page:

    "Your Submission must NOT:

    (a)    be previously published in any video game, on any website or social media page or elsewhere at a time prior to or after your Submission except as permitted by these Official Rules;"


    My interpretation of this is that they only want the (winning) entries available through their store, and it makes sense that if you are selling something you don't want it available for free.  Much like the way they forbid any mod whose only purpose is to grant free access to all the paid commanders, for example.  In any case, the "must not be ... published ... prior to or after your submission" is what I think would prohibit publishing it as a free and ready-to-use skin mod now that it's been submitted for the contest.

    I'd love to be wrong about this.  Maybe someone from Relic can chime in?

    Well, I hope you're wrong about this too! :)
    Otherwise, I've wasted the last 3 weeks (and workshop cloud space) trying to get these skin packs up for the competition.  As you may already know, I've re-used some skins from previously release ready-to-use skin packs. 
    Ultimately, if this is really the rule, then I suppose it's my own fault for not seeing it earlier...ugh.
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2

    deleted double post.

  • georider
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    georider polygon
    Starbuck have a very serious point , none of us make such a hudge work the last 3 weeks without use previous elements , although i try to make new patterns that was imposible in some cases so I readjust in a different look some , or fix some old ones. For the record patterns like starbuck's mine , and your as well since they are historical elements used in the past in similar form in coh1 , and perhaps from other ww2 games that I can't recall now. Of course that can someone understands if pay a very carefull attenchion , for the record your M-10 is a fine piece but similar patern may used back in coh 1 , same in many of my previous german skinpacks etc etc, that's why at first I make a very quick skinpack for eastern and after I change everything so none will accuse me in that way.
    At the end I submit and I'm saying that none of the Historical skinpacks in that contest have a 100% similarity with other previous elements, If some make an identical skin for Tiger that used in Normandy he make it by his point of view with the construction of COH2 , what I mean in coh1 the models were diferend so they might be the same M3 is always M3 but the skins are different in many ways. I hope that analycis covered your point of view.
  • f_x
    I think you've both reworked and improved previous material to make it so it's no longer the same as what you had already published before.  At least that was my impression.  So in my opinion your work should absolutely qualify.  Ultimately it's a judgement call up to whoever at Relic makes the decision.

    If my submission doesn't win, I'll release it for free and won't consider the past few weeks wasted because I learned a few new tricks like the correct settings for burning a new normal/spec/gloss map (which I had tried and failed to do before).  I can now read the markings on US WWII vehicles and know what they mean.  And we have access to the 3D models to help with future skins, which was not the case when we started.

    Overall, there's some good gains. :)
  • Starbuck
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    Starbuck polycounter lvl 2
    f_x said:
    I think you've both reworked and improved previous material to make it so it's no longer the same as what you had already published before.  At least that was my impression.  So in my opinion your work should absolutely qualify.  Ultimately it's a judgement call up to whoever at Relic makes the decision.

    If my submission doesn't win, I'll release it for free and won't consider the past few weeks wasted because I learned a few new tricks like the correct settings for burning a new normal/spec/gloss map (which I had tried and failed to do before).  I can now read the markings on US WWII vehicles and know what they mean.  And we have access to the 3D models to help with future skins, which was not the case when we started.

    Overall, there's some good gains. :)
    I wholeheartedly agree that this contest gave us the ability to really save time with having the 3D models.  That's a game changer for sure!  :smiley:
    Either way I look forward to using your skins. GL!

  • georider
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    georider polygon
    F_X in some points you are total wrong the 95% of my patterns are new , only elements like snow covering etc are the same , the initial patterns are all new , and I did that since I believe that somene could say something . As I said I'm making skins from COH1 , all my references DB goes back before COH1 , some elements are similar or the same like if someone try to apply random stripes in a vehicle probably will look up the same. Believe me If I have a slitest idea about contest etc , i won't release so many ready to use items special for the germans. Starbuck said something for fun but it was complete true , i have done and he have done , we have covered many patterns and knowing drawing from german war machine. Others covered something else , all of us try to be more unique and close to historical facts.
    Anyway , good luck , someone curst my winter skins and none upload correct ;) .... so i must figured something .... damn the code 9.
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