Nucleartaxi

Comprehensive KSP Skybox Creation Tutorial

8 posts in this topic

zTd2GOl.png

(I'll teach you how to make that)

Introduction 

This is a step by step guide to creating, exporting, and editing a skybox to make it ready for KSP. I made my first skybox mod the other day and several people wanted me to make a tutorial on how to make skyboxes in Space Engine. I haven't found any other tutorials on the subject so I guess I'm making one. 

 

Step 1: Download Space Engine

Go here to download the latest version of Space Engine. Space Engine is a free game that simulates the universe. It includes real and procedurally generated stars, nebulae, and galaxies. 

 

Step 2: Finding a location in Space Engine

You can either fly around (w, a, s, d, to move, q and e to rotate, scroll wheel to change speed, left mouse to pan) or use the search button to search for a specific star, nebula, or galaxy that exists in real life.

MTuHZvc.png

For this tutorial I will be making a skybox of the Crab Nebula, but you can choose your own location. To go to the location, hit "Go to".

 

Step 3: Positioning

Once you've found a location, you will want to position yourself in the place you would like your skybox. I recommend aligning yourself with the galactic plane so it is flat across the center of the screen. You can move inside a nebula as well. 

Here is what my screen looked like from within the crab nebula:

03DVczv.png

 

Step 4: Settings

There are a lot of different settings in Space Engine. To access settings, press escape -> settings -> graphics. The settings we will be focusing on are overbright and desaturate dim stars. You can play around with other settings, but these 2 settings mainly control how many stars are visible in your skybox. Lower levels of overbright = less visible stars and higher levels of overbright = more visible stars. If you want LOTS of stars in your skybox, 50-60 is a good number for this setting. I also frequently change the overbright setting to get the desired effect. 

The next setting is desaturate dim stars. Higher values of this setting make all but the brightest stars white and colorless. Lower values of this setting make the dimmest stars have slight color. It's a subtle difference, but personally I prefer to leave this in the lowest setting possible. That way when we edit the image later we get a more colorful skybox.

Here are my settings: 

Ai1TeL4.png

You can always change these to you liking.

 

Step 5: Exporting

Once you have your desired settings, we will export our skybox. Press escape -> editor -> export skybox. In the resolution box, you will put 4096 if you want a 4k skybox, but you can put whatever resolution you want. You should to save it as a .png. Leave the alpha box unchecked.

Here is what my export screen looked like:

9qh2DiQ.png

When your ready to export, hit export. This may take a few minutes.

Next, navigate to your Space Engine folder. By default (on windows), it is C:\SpaceEngine\export

You should have something that looks somewhat like this:
SXcxO6F.png

You can open up the pictures and see if you're happy with them. If you want to make changes, just go back into space engine, change what you want to, and re-export. WARNING: every new export will override the old files. If you want to keep your exported images, move them to a new folder before exporting again. 

 

Step 6: Preparing for KSP

To actually change the skybox in KSP, you will need to install the latest version of Texture Replacer Replaced

You can't just put these pictures into KSP yet. First you need to change the names so Texture Replacer can read them. Rename the files as follows:

  • Rename sky_neg_x to GalaxyTex_NegativeX
  • Rename sky_neg_y to GalaxyTex_NegativeY
  • Rename sky_neg_z to GalaxyTex_NegativeZ
  • Rename sky_pos_x to GalaxyTex_PositiveX
  • Rename sky_pos_y to GalaxyTex_PositiveY
  • Rename sky_pos_z to GalaxyTex_PositiveZ

Now you should have something that looks like this:

Eu0Ym2m.png

Now let's test it. In your KSP folder, navigate to Gamedata -> TextureReplacerReplaced -> default

Copy your files into the default folder and boot up KSP!

In theory, you now have a beautiful skybox:

rDVMnM7.png

However, Space Engine isn't perfect and it looks like some of the sides of our skybox are in the wrong place!

aF0Xpdk.png

This happens sometimes when you export from Space Engine. It only seems to happen sometimes, but it isn't hard to fix!

In this case, I renamed:

  • GalaxyTex_NegativeY to GalaxyTex_PositiveY
  • and then GalaxyTex_PositiveY to GalaxyTex_NegativeY

You may need to move 1 of them out of the folder temporarily because windows doesn't accept 2 files with the same name in the same folder. 

Then you need to rotate the GalaxyTex_PositiveY. To do this, right click on the picture, click edit with photos, crop and rotate, click rotate twice, done, save. There is some trial and error to get the right rotation with this one. Just rotate, boot up ksp, and try again.

Sometimes there will also be seams in your skybox where you can clearly see the edge between 2 sides. The fix for this is re-exporting the skybox from Space Engine. 

C9QSBFD.png

Now let's boot up KSP again!

In Theory all the sides of you skybox are lined up with no seams.

If there are no problems with your skybox so far, you can move onto the next step.

 

Step 7: Photo Editing

Now here is where you make your skybox more interesting. You can play around with photo settings to get the desired effect and make your skybox pop! You can use Photoshop or even the default Windows photos app! I will show how to do it in the Windows photos app because I don't have much experience with Photoshop.

You will right click the photo and click edit with photos. Then click adjust. There are little arrows next to light and color. Click those to bring down more options. Now here is where you just play around with photo settings. There's no particular guide for this part, just experiment and create something amazing! I do recommend dragging the color slider all the way to the right for a more colorful skybox though. These can make your skybox truly unique. Make sure to use the same adjustments for each photo though, otherwise it will look quite strange. Always keep a copy of the original photos in case you mess up with the adjustments.

2UerEnv.png

Step 8: Screenshots and Sharing!

Take some screenshots of you complete skybox! If you're feeling up to it, you can release it as a mod on SpacedockCurse, and The Forums. Make sure to read the add-on posting rules first.

Here is the finished product of this tutorial:

zTd2GOl.png

yBT2CJ5.png

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This skybox will be available for download HERE with my other skyboxes. 

Thank you for reading!

I hope you learned something. I look forward to seeing what you can make! Be sure to post your creations down below! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

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Posted (edited)

@Nucleartaxi Nice job!! I did have to flip the GalaxyTex_NegativeY to positive Y and vice versa, when I exported my skybox. But that only seemed to happen once so idk, ksp is a bit weird. :rolleyes:

Edited by proto85

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kwbWHmW.pngFgzzI7U.png

@Nucleartaxi, thanks for the tutorial! Made my first skybox today!

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5 hours ago, Notsure_jr said:

space engine crashes too much.

Maybe try turning down some of the graphics settings. It is a resource intensive program.

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5 hours ago, Nucleartaxi said:

Maybe try turning down some of the graphics settings. It is a resource intensive program.

rx 480 should be good enough right I get good frames it just crashes. Cpu is a i7 4770.

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2 hours ago, Notsure_jr said:

rx 480 should be good enough right I get good frames it just crashes. Cpu is a i7 4770.

Hmm I'm not sure. Are you sure you are using the latest version? You could maybe ask at the space engine forums as well.

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