Why can’t graphic applications get their channels right?

Originally posted on Wincustomize.com

[Updated 11 May 2005] Read at the end of the article.

I’ve been on a quest to improve a skin today and to do so I needed to extract a big archive in a proprietary and not widely supported format and get the images out of it and into the skin. Turned out the first part was not as bad as I expected as I’ve found some tools on the net to do this and Kris helped with the tool to convert the images in the proprietary format into TGA’s. Now here’s where the pain begun.

I needed to have my alpha channel kept in the files but I also wanted to process the files before making them into the skin.

Turns out Adobe still haven’t got their TGA support fixed (which was why I added the quasi-PNG-support to SkinStudio in the first place). If you’re not familiar with the problem, Ive wrote an article about it  before and it’s available here. As you can read here Adobe actually considers the current one a proper behaviour and the one that we enjoyed in Photoshop 7.0 is considered an “incompatibility with some existing workflows”. I’ve tried a number of other apps including IrfanView, xnView and SageThumbs but they just couldn’t chew it. So before I’ve lost what was left of my nails, I’ve decided to write a little Applet that turns 32-bit images (be those TGA-s or BMP-s) to PNG-s so that I can actually do something with them before making them into a skin.

the applet is available here

But because a lot of skinners have troubles going the other way, and it was only like a few lines of code, I’ve also made one for the other format. This one takes any 32-bit BMP or PNG and turns it into a TGA.

and you can get it here.

[Updated 11 May 2005] It could get confusing for others just like it got for me, so I’ve integrated the 2 apps and added saving to 32-bit bitmaps. I have also added the option to include or ignore images that are not 32-bit.

Now this updated applet is available here.

Have fun, and make the cool skin coming!

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This entry (Permalink) was posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2005 at 1:29 am and is filed under Desktop Customization, Downloadable, Skinning, Software Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response , or trackback from your own site.

  • Hi Adam,

    I am having to work with a lot of files, that all need to be exported as TGAs. Your applet works great for this! I can’t believe how poor PS’s support for alpha channels are. It was driving me crazy, so I looked for alternatives, and came across this on wincustomize. I have been using it for a few days now, and was wondering if you have released the source? I would love to make the target format set to TGA by default, or remember my last choice. This would speed up my pipeline, and save some confusion when I forget to change the format :)



  • Hi Adam,

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad it could come to anyone’s use even after such a long time. In fact I’m surprised it still works :)

    In the subject of the requested changes, I really don’t think I would be able to find the code for it any longer. It’s an old Delphi 6 or 7 app anyway, and you would be hard pressed to buy a compiler that would be able to build it now. I can try to dig it out it if you’re sure you can find the compiler, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

    On a second thought I have released most of my code that I’ve done by that time to Stardock, you might potentially be able to get it from them, but seing how it was built over 5 years ago I really doubt they are storing it either. But someone might still have the original applets that were later integrated into the single exe.

  • Hi Adam,

    thank you for creating this tool. It saved me a lot of work when I created the icons for my Visual Studio plugin.


  • Thank you Mathias for taking the effort of getting back here with your comment.
    I’m really glad to hear it’s still useful for someone out there :)

  • Iain Clarke

    Hi Adam,

    I found your AlphaConv excellent for converting pngs to 32bit bmp for tree icons. Do you have the source publicly available? I was hoping to convert it to a command line utility to run it as a build step in VS.

    I’d be happy to share back any command line utility I make based on your code, of course!


  • Iain,

    Unfortunately the code is long gone I think. I can check some old CD’s but I am not sure it would be of much use for you, it’s a very old version Delphi Win32 app.
    Let me know if you still want me to dig for it, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.


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