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Textures

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Many artists paint their own, utilizing the various filters and effects available in Photoshop or the Gimp to create the effect they want. Others draw upon real-world sources, along with heavy editing. Still others use procedurally generated textures as bases, tweaking and editing to their needs. Either approach is fine; it's the attention to detail of the artist that makes or breaks the texture.

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There is also a big difference between Object textures and Effect textures.

Often when making effects, I start with basic textures like a alpha circle.
From there, I figure out the motion of the effect, and then make a decision on what texture I need on it.

The nice thing about textures though, is that after you've made a few, you have some to play with. It is the new effects that are hard. I make a choice from the motion, fill, appear/disapear style, effect type and pick details that I need in the texture. Like water splashes need to have lots of dots and streamers. Electricity needs to look like a wavy line with branches. Fire needs to look like perlin noise. Or other random things that I think may make the texture look cool.

But, with a library of textures to play with, my standard approach is to just cycle through every texture and see what has elements that I want in the final set of textures I use. Then comes itteration on the texture. Make one that is close. Tweak colors, contrast, opacity, shape. See if that looks better or worse.

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