Keeping the [Cabin] Fever away

I’ve been freelance a few months now and I thought I was making progress towards a weekly routine that made me feel fulfilled both personally and professionally. Then quarantine happened, everything stopped moving, and I was alone with my still-wounded psyche.

So I started a Minecraft server for me and my people to hang out virtually and hopefully escape from Covid world while finding some creative release in the process. I had never had a shared on-going world before so it was great fun to see how things would change between log-ins. We chose to use the Steven Universe Texture pack so that it would be new to all of us across different experience levels and I was loving it!

The skill/hobby/task of modding video games, especially Minecraft has always been very intriguing to me but since I am primarily a console gamer it had never really been accessible. Now with Minecraft running on my desktop, my partner Ryan asked why I don’t experiment with custom textures. It was a good question, so I did and now we’re here!

Resource Packs in Bedrock Edition

Resource Packs are a combination of code and images to theme everything about a Minecraft game. Resource Packs can include everything from beds to weapons to UI elements. My favorite part of a Resource Pack though is that it does not have to include every element to be functional. A Minecraft world can have multiple Resource Packs activated, meaning that if something is missing from the top-level pack, it simply moves to the next one to grab that element.

Combing Purchased and Custom Resources

I love the Steven Universe Texture Pack. (Not to mention the world that comes with it!) I think it was very well made with such a strong Steven Universe flavor, I would be shocked if the designers weren’t Steven fans themselves. That being said, there are some frustrations/disappointments I immediately knew I wanted to fix. The first of which was the signs that for some reason include some sort of hieroglyph pattern that makes them nearly impossible to read from any distance. Secondly, I wanted the colored beds to match the fancy patterns of wool already in this pack.

Problem 1 – Purchased Resource Packs

We are using the official Steven Universe Minecraft pack, purchased from the store and applied to our shared world via the world owner. This allowed for users on mobile, PS4, Switch, and Xbox to connect to our world and see everything in gem technicolor. From the backend I could see the file structure of the Resource Pack but was unable to access or edit any of the individual files. This meant that rather than tweaking existing pngs, I would have to supply my own. A research trip to Reddit and back informed me of the plethora of Minecraft Resource Packs readily available to download so I got some entity pngs and started to making my own Steven Universe Beds!

Attempt #1 – Standard Model Template Texture

If you’ve never seen a flattened texture image before, here you go:

64 pixels by 64 pixels of bed

It looks and acts pretty similar to how box dielines work except without being constrained to physical folding. Partially because I am not a programmer and partially because I didn’t even try to look into it, I have no idea why these textures are laid out so strangely. Why is the front end of the bed in the middle and off center? Why are the legs all jammed into one shape in the upper corner? I don’t know but since I found plenty of downloadable textures that used this lay out, it had to be right, right?

Problem 2 – Differing Models

Looks comfy

The code part of a Resource Pack defines the 3-dimensional shape of that object as well as any behaviors that object has such as animations, directional facing, and so on. I am not a programmer and at this point have little desire to manipulate the underlying models so I did not investigate this aspect of Minecraft. My plan was to simply edit some visuals to satisfy my own vain desires and move on. What I did not realize until after I had spent an afternoon recreating bed textures was that the Steven Universe Bed uses a custom bed model rather than the default built in one…

Back to the internet to find whoever had this painful realization before me but it appears I am the first? *yay me* So no base template and no access to the model code, just my own brain and the initial result from the default template.

Challenge Time!

Step #1 – Reference Grid

To start, I needed to see all of the Steven Universe Bed Model and there were clearly some pieces missing when using the default texture image. I knew the panels would not all be laid out in the same orientation so I needed a visual guide for both x and y directions. This way, I could begin pinpointing the different panels of the model and how they related to my texture image.

Starting Grid

I wish I had documented more along the way but alas, I didn’t anticipate this project to be so extensive and challenging.

Mid-way, additional grids and gradients for fine tuning.

This took some time and a lot of iterations to find all the various panels but I eventually made it to this:

Conclusion

TaDa!

Aren’t art and design and coding beautiful things?

My Minecraft beds match the wool patterns now, signs are readable, Phantoms are bright pink and someday the hoes will not look like shovels. If you are interested in making your beds for the Steven Universe Texture Pack, a 128×128 Photoshop template file is available here: /justcole.design/SUMinecraftBedTemplate/SUBedTemplate-128px.psd

Happy Adventuring!