WIP Report: The Making of Shirley from Pilotwings

Shirley was a little difficult to nail down design-wise, even back then. Hailing from the original Pilotwings on the SNES, we see her mostly in portrait form in course 2 and 6. It isn’t until the end credits when we see more of her and and the other instructors in the lineup giving a salute. It’s from this where I started my research into what her uniform looks like. And that’s where the challenge began. I wasn’t sure if to give her a regular commercial pilot’s uniform, and air force one, or a navy one. Given that Big Al makes you man an attack helicopter (twice), I could safely rule out commercial pilot. So that left either Navy or Air Force. Looking at the black parts on the shoulder of the blouse, it looked like it was a Navy uniform, which meant white skirt. But then at the same time, it could be Air Force (I mean this is Pilotwings after all), which means a dark blue/black skirt. I had to keep in mind that this is also based on 1980s standards, which were still a factor for Pilotwing’s release year, 1990. I eventually settled on a dark blue skirt. Out of curiosity, I wondered if someone else did a full-body drawing of Shirley, and sure enough one other person did on Pixiv, and he went with a dark skirt as well.

I had a pose ready to go, along with the background (which I’ll get to when the time comes). However when I started it last week, it wasn’t quite working well. It was hard to visualize her leaning on the golf cart that, presumably, would be used by the instructor to drive students to and from bases. So I resorted to getting a Golf Cart 3D model off of CG Trader and posing Clip Studio Paint’s 3D model on, this time with a better pose than what I got from my Body-chan model. CSP is able to import .obj and .fbx files to use. However when I imported the model, it had no textures, just a gray body. So since I’m still a relative newbie to 3D models (only knowing how to pose them), I had to give myself a near 3-hour crash course on OBJs, MTLs, their coding, and how the hell to make this thing work properly. I put down what I had to do to make the textures work in Clip Studio Paint in the side gallery so that if you gotta do this, you don’t have to waste too much time looking for the answer. I found a reddit poster that sort of hinted at what to do. When I did it, it didn’t work, but I seemed to be on the right direction. I read up a bit more on how to make this work from old articles from the Manga Studio days (before CSP took over). Eventually I learned that the .mtl controls the textures, and that the .tga image files that the 3D pack came with were also needed (that I also had to convert to PNG, which was no problem). The .mtl that came with the golf cart were commanding two aspects of the cart that the .obj was referring to. I had to manually type the map_Kd string into the coding in notepad under both strings of the .mtl. The .obj’s code was referring mostly to the .mtl file’s commands, which the .mtl needed to refer to a separate texture image to apply. The other thing the .obj referred to was “GolfCart01_Alpha”, which seeing some of the labels around there, meant it had something to do with the windshield and transparency. One of the textures had the “DIFF” label on its filename, which clued me in that it meant “Diffuse” or basically to pass through something. So I added that string too. And then after some trial and error and some syntax correction on the map_Kd string, I FINALLY got it to work… mostly. The model’s arm disappears through the windshield when you try looking through it on either side (I plan to draw in a smaller windshield). I probably has something to do with the coding again that I’ll try messing around with some other time. But for now, I got what I need and am ready to continue with this pic.

And in case you’re wondering, the .fbx had the same problem with the .mtl. But it was compounded with the elements and bones on the model not being in the right spots. So I have to stick with .objs for the foreseeable future if I want control of the bones.

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