Lights and playfield plastics - how to make it look good?

madmrmax

Weeeeeee
Site Supporters
Joined
Sep 21, 2017
Messages
239
Reaction score
93
Points
35
Favorite Pinball Machine
Indiana Jones (Williams)
What are some good techniques for getting playfield plastics which have transparent areas to also have the General Illumination lights under the plastics to actually illuminate the plastic? I can't seem to find the correct approach. Note I have the z-index of the lights highest,

For the plastic, I have the plastic with the TGA image having the transparency in it, but in order for the transparency to take full effect, I also have to make the FP Transparency slider be all the way to the left.

1708385857050.png

BUT in doing so, I notice that FP's light rendering doesn't let any light through the plastic.
1708385725579.png 1708385750457.png

If I instead make the FP transparency slider fully left the lights show through! BUT the transparent parts of the TGA image actually is not fully transparent:
1708385558467.png 1708385681449.png
 
Last edited:
Fake it until you make it.

Basically, either edit the plastics image to look like its lit up (and swap between the lit image for GI ON, and the normal image for GI OFF), or you do it all in Blender and prebake it (much harder).

You can see how I've done it with some tables like Sonic, Star Wars DSA GE, etc.
 
Thanks Terry. I had wondered if that is the only thing that can be done, but I had really hoped that BAM was improving the light behavior with transparency.

Regarding the prebake - vs. edit the plastic images -- end the end that is the same, correct? The pre-baked goes into the plastic images, correct?
 
Yes, same idea..... just different levels of accuracy / realism that can be achieved.
 
...You can see how I've done it with some tables like Sonic, Star Wars DSA GE, etc.

I'll take a look at some of these some more! I had dug into your Sonic table in the past couple of weeks, but I hadn't gotten into the specifics of lights yet.

-mark
 
Strange...
First pic, you can see the ball. Second pic, the plastic

Jub2.jpgJub1.jpg
 
Strange...
First pic, you can see the ball. Second pic, the plastic

View attachment 41539View attachment 41538
I'm curious - is this plastic in the texture manager as a BMP transparency (e.g. purple color)? Additionally, what is the transparency scale set to for the plastic?

I'm happy to take a look at this table and figure out some more details.

It does look like from your image that the flipper is getting rendered in front of the plastic rendering
1708409418293.png
 
Plastic is a .tga file, so no transparency scale (you have to do this with the alpha channel).
 
Strange...
First pic, you can see the ball. Second pic, the plastic

View attachment 41539View attachment 41538

You could use 2 copies of the same surface.

The top surface would use a semi transparent sphere map (use an image that works well for glass / plastic). This would be the normal thickness of the plastic.

The bottom surface would use the image of the art with the transparent areas being fully transparent. Use 1 mm of thickness. This is similar to how real plastics are made.


Or you can do the same thing but have the art surface on top instead.


As for transparencies, and not seeing the ball under the clear surface, ramps, etc....

You can't have the Transparent slider on Max (to the right). It must be less than that to allow the ball to be visible underneath, even if the TGA image has transparency in its alpha channel.
 
Last edited:
I had a problem on a table where a surface was transparent to everything below it except the ball. It used a model for the surface that someone created. I made it work by replacing the model with a standard FP surface. The surface had a cutout that was transparent and the rest of it was a standard surface. I had to make 2 surfaces that fit together.

You can just leave the top texture field blank for the surface and change the top color. The color will tint the transparency to what ever color you want.
 
I had a problem on a table where a surface was transparent to everything below it except the ball. It used a model for the surface that someone created. I made it work by replacing the model with a standard FP surface. The surface had a cutout that was transparent and the rest of it was a standard surface. I had to make 2 surfaces that fit together.

You can just leave the top texture field blank for the surface and change the top color. The color will tint the transparency to what ever color you want.
Yeah I had modeled the plastics in Blender and textured them there, for ToM, but then I'm seeing exactly what you noticed -- transparent to everything except the ball.

I then went the route (just to troubleshoot) of creating a FP surface and using the "cookie cut from global texture" to the TGA image I was using for the model. Same issue where the ball wouldn't show through as with the 3D model of the plastics. (in the above screen shots I'm showing using the FP surfaces)

So yeah, now I'm probably leaning towards the 2 texture\2 surfaces approaches, which sucks as it doubles the graphical elements just for plastics.

I'm also concerned about the visual line where the surface with the "print" (non transparent) meets with the transparent surface.
 
I could probably could have saved some time on the table I discussed earlier if I used JP's method. He set a surface to look like metal using a sphere map on FP. Then he added an overlay with a texture that had transparent areas on it using the transparent features of the TGA format. It looks beautiful! Well done JP!

In your case, you would set the surface up as transparent with no texture and your color tint instead of using the metal sphere map like JP did. Then you set the overlay to the same surface as the transparent surface and create a texture with transparent areas. JP used a TGA file he created with transparent areas. If you don't know how to create the TGA file, you can use a bit map and use the option in the FP editor named "Color to Make Transparent" set to the color in the bit map of the area to be transparent. Bit maps are much larger in file size than TGA files but using them on a few plastics probably won't hurt.
 
Now that I think about it, the overlay may not have the same translucency as the other surfaces on the table. So Terry's method might work out to be the best. Most plastics are 2 mm thick so having 2 surfaces of 1 mm would look the same.
 
Actually... correction to my previous post. You could use 0.1 mm for the art layer, and then your normal thickness for the plastic layer. This is how I do it with MOTU CE.
 
Actually... correction to my previous post. You could use 0.1 mm for the art layer, and then your normal thickness for the plastic layer. This is how I do it with MOTU CE.
Yup this seems to be working. I use a transparent TGA texture for the sides of the .1mm art layer. A lot tedious since now I have to make the FP surface match the art layer, which is a kinda complex shape: 1708534793113.png
 
I don't understand... The two layers have to have the same size and the same form. The "normal" plastic full transparent and the art lyer full .tga with transparency on the borders. So, no problem to match them...
 
I see. I'm currently using custom models imported (via FPM) as Ramp models to get the transparency slider. In that aspect I didn't do texture mapping for the slides, but I can. I guess I could have one model that is only .1 mm in height vs. 2mm in height.
1708553373247.png
 
If it's a ramp, I can't help you as I recreated mostly old good EM. But I'm sure you could do that, maybe with pain.
 
Last edited:
If it's a ramp, I can help you as I recreated mostly old good EM. But I'm sure you could to that, maybe with pain.
Oh sorry - I'm telling FP that it is a ramp model. Ok after real-work getting in the way for a couple of days, I've been able to try things out a bit more.

So TLDR is that FP seems to render Ramp models differently that FP built in surfaces. Again, I've told FP that my custom plastic models are Ramp models, even it is just a 2mm thick model.

The results are the same as I initially discovered, but it is good to see. Basically as a 3D model that is textured, if the Ramp model's Transparency slider is all the way right, it doesn't render the ball through any transparent areas; lights on the playfield will shine through. But adjusting the Transparency slider down one (left one tick) allows the ball to be visible through it, but now light on the playfield doesn't show through it.

So yes, I've now abandoned the custom 3D models for plastics and instead have to switch over to using FP surface elements. The only place I'll have problems is on the Theatre of Magic skill shot launch since it is an angled plastic. In this case I'll not worry about light effects shining through the plastic (or artificially bake it in)

1708675657823.png
 
I can't say I have ever seen an angled plastic on a table before. It might work to use an FP ramp and set the sides to "0". If that doesn't work, I am pretty sure you could use a BAM miniplayfield to rotate an FP surface. I think @Gimli is the best at using miniplayfields.
 
I failed to mention something earlier on the table where I had to replace the models of the plastics that had clear areas. I actually used plastics that were models on other parts of the table that did not have clear areas. On FP surfaces, right clicking and selecting "Send to Forward" normally makes the surface opaque. Right clicking and selecting "Send to Back" makes the surface translucent. Of the models that I used for plastics, one was translucent and the other opaque. The send to forward and send to back options didn't do anything on the models. I don't work on models, but I think there must be some sort of setting when creating the model that determines translucency and opaqueness so you might be able to use some of your models if you figure out what that setting is.
 
The send to forward and send to back options didn't do anything on the models. I don't work on models, but I think there must be some sort of setting when creating the model that determines translucency and opaqueness so you might be able to use some of your models if you figure out what that setting is
Nope there isn't anything on a model that determines that, (well there is the odd effect of turning the individual triangle faces of a model "inside out", but generally this doesn't generate an effect you want, and the triangles are almost never aligned to anything you want except to the model edges)

The only thing I thought about doing if I wanted to keep with the model approach for plastics would be to "cut" off the translucent parts and only keep the opaque parts. This is harder to do in Blender cause the texture view is generally different than the "edit mode", so it would be a lot of trial and error (probably trying to align some reference image)
 
Nope there isn't anything on a model that determines that, (well there is the odd effect of turning the individual triangle faces of a model "inside out", but generally this doesn't generate an effect you want, and the triangles are almost never aligned to anything you want except to the model edges)

The only thing I thought about doing if I wanted to keep with the model approach for plastics would be to "cut" off the translucent parts and only keep the opaque parts. This is harder to do in Blender cause the texture view is generally different than the "edit mode", so it would be a lot of trial and error (probably trying to align some reference image)

It is probably not worth it. I like translucency myself.
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
You can interact with the ChatGPT Bot in any Chat Room and there is a dedicated room. The command is /ai followed by a space and then your ? or inquiry.
ie: /ai What is a EM Pinball Machine?
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    that decade was huge for them!
    Quote
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    Do you know Fleet Foxes?
    Quote
  • Quote
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    never forget 'em after this tune
    Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    (AI prompt) describe the band Fleet Foxes
    Quote
  • ChatGPT @ ChatGPT:
    @JonPurpleHaze, Fleet Foxes are an American indie folk band formed in Seattle, Washington in 2006. The band is known for their lush harmonies, intricate arrangements, and poetic lyrics. Their music draws on a wide range of influences, including folk, rock, and baroque pop.

    The band's sound is characterized by intricate vocal harmonies, acoustic guitars, and a variety of other instruments such as mandolin, piano, and various percussion. Their lyrics often explore themes of nature, spirituality, and the passage of time.

    Fleet Foxes gained critical acclaim with their self-titled debut album in 2008, which was followed by the equally well-received albums "Helplessness Blues" in 2011 and "Crack-Up" in 2017. The band has developed a dedicated fanbase and continues to be praised for their unique sound and songwriting abilities.
    Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    (AI prompt) Helplessness Blues lyrics by Fleet Foxes
    Quote
  • ChatGPT @ ChatGPT:
    @JonPurpleHaze, I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
    Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
    And
    Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    ai coulda summed it up: — superb 3rd-wave folkrock :headphones:
    Quote
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    yeah wow, that Fleet Foxes tune is a trip?
    Quote
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    gangly guitars
    Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    Liked it, nice shows!
    Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    Have to learn to listen afterwards..
    Quote
  • Chat Bot Mibs Chat Bot Mibs:
    JonPurpleHaze rolls 2d6 and gets 10.
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    thanks! well, next thing i'm looking for is songs about nursery rhymes
    • Like
    Reactions: JonPurpleHaze
    Quote
  • Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    (AI prompt) adult nursery rhymes songs
    Quote
  • ChatGPT @ ChatGPT:
    @JonPurpleHaze, 1. "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" - updated for adults with humorous lyrics about farm life and animal sounds.

    2. "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" - a more mature version with deeper meaning and reflection on the beauty of the night sky.

    3. "The Wheels on the Bus" - a fun and funky remix for adults, with a catchy beat and new verses about the daily commute.

    4. "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - a revamped version with lyrics about navigating the ups and downs of adult life.

    5. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" - a grown-up twist on the classic nursery rhyme, exploring themes of friendship and loyalty.

    6. "Humpty Dumpty" - a modern retelling of the tale of Humpty Dumpty, with a focus on resilience and overcoming obstacles.

    7. "Hickory Dickory Dock" - a jazzy rendition of the traditional nursery rhyme, with a swingin' beat and updated lyrics.

    Quote
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    haha, but WHO does those songs?
    • Like
    Reactions: JonPurpleHaze
    Quote
  • JonPurpleHaze @ JonPurpleHaze:
    (AI prompt) bands that do adult nursery rhymes songs
    Quote
  • ChatGPT @ ChatGPT:
    @JonPurpleHaze, 1. The Wiggles - Known for their catchy and playful songs for children, The Wiggles have also released adult versions of nursery rhymes with a humorous twist.

    2. Rockabye Baby! - This series of albums feature lullaby renditions of popular rock and pop songs, including nursery rhymes, that are perfect for both children and adults to enjoy.

    3. The Nursery Rhymes - A band that specializes in creating modern and edgy versions of classic nursery rhymes, appealing to both kids and adults with their catchy tunes.

    4. The Mother Goose Band - Combining elements of rock, folk, and pop music, The Mother Goose Band puts a unique spin on traditional nursery rhymes, making them fun and entertaining for listeners of all ages.

    5. The Nursery Rhyme Rebels - This band takes nursery rhymes to a whole new level with their edgy and adult-themed versions, adding a modern twist to these timeless classics.
    Quote
  • Quote
  • Free Bally! @ Free Bally!:
    Well anywhop, not getting paid this week means i have to tend to a cascade of unpaid bills, better get to it. Good chattin this week, have a beaut of a weekend!
    • Like
    Reactions: JonPurpleHaze
    Quote
  • Chat Bot Mibs Chat Bot Mibs:
    Free Bally! has left the room.
  • Chat Bot Mibs Chat Bot Mibs:
    Block has left the room.
      Chat Bot Mibs Chat Bot Mibs: Block has left the room.
      Back
      Top