Symptom - Graphics Error - Halftone Or Bars Distorted Shape

One or more pictures aren't displaying correctly in your mod.

This page discusses situations where the Images in question have a distorted shape, and the picture may possibly flow beyond the outlines for their TYPE. They may have black or green bars across them, appear as if a half-tone screen had been laid across them, and/or are missing every-other line of color. While all these variations are bizarre, and difficult to describe, you'll know them if you see them.

The good news is, visual errors of this sort don't generally crash the mod. The bad news is, there's several possible causes for it, so you may have to look in more than one place for the solution. These are all potential causes, and you may have more than one contributing to the issue, so we'll list them all on a single page.

Problems with file names

One possible cause of this problem is that a file or folder name might be too long. Shorten it, and the graphics will display correctly again.

  • Solution: If it's affecting just the graphics in one file with a long name, shorten that name (and don't forget to change the GFXP and/or ICON entries throughout your mod to match the new name).
  • Solution: If it's affecting multiple files, try shortening the name of your mod folder. I found that naming my mod file "compiled by a sgqwonkian" resulted in any graphics file whose name was 9 or more letters long (before the .jpg extension) to display poorly. Dropping the name of the main mod folder to "comp sgqwonk" made all the pictures display correctly again.

Problem with the image MASK of a single picture

If the distortion is happening to a single picture (most likely an alien race picture, or event image, but it could technically happen to anything) then you are probably lacking the MASK line in the (mask).ini files.

  • Solution: Open the graphics/races folder or graphics/misc folder, whichever one the picture is in. Create a .ini file in that folder, with the same name as the picture file, but ending with the ".ini" extension instead of ".jpg". In this .ini file, add the single line "MASK races/racemask.png". Save it, and your problem should be solved.
    • Even though it references races in the command line, this will fix problems with quest graphics, and even some items.
    • However, it only works for graphics that contain just a single image. Compilation files like l_system1.jpg don't (and can't) use MASK, they have .png files that do something similar.

Problem with the frame settings of a multi-image file

If the distortion is happening to a group of related pictures (such as all your new weapons), then you are probably lacking properly associated .png files or .ini files.

  • Solution: Start by opening two windows on your desktop. We're going to copy some files from one place to another, and rename them.
    • In one window, you'll want to open the graphics/items folder or graphics/misc folder, whichever one holds the picture that you've made and are having problems with.
    • In the other, open up the main game or mod folder that holds whichever file you'd based your graphics on. Copy the two other files that have the same name as it, but which end with ".ini" and ".png".
      • Paste them into the first folder/window you opened, and change the first part of their name (everything before the ".ini" and ".png") to be an exact match for the graphic file that's got problems. The next time you load your mod, it should run fine.

That's a little confusing, so here's an example:
Let's say you duplicated s_weapon1.jpg from the main game, renamed it "nailgun.jpg", and altered the picture. If so, you'd need to open the graphics/items folder, and copy s_weapon1.ini and s_weapon1.png to your folder, then rename them "nailgun.ini" and "nailgun.png".

Problem with image dimensions

If none of the above problems seems to be the source of your trouble, you might try opening the graphic with Photoshop or GIMP, and checking the image size.

The graphic in question might be the wrong size. Even a variation of one or two pixels can cause it to display wrong, in some circumstances.

  • To solve this, make sure your image is one of these sizes:1
    • For large items in a 4x4 grid, the size must be 512 by 512 pixels.
    • For small items laid out as densely as s_items1.jpg, the size must be 512 by 512 pixels.
    • For collections of small images to be ship system ICONs, the size must be 512 by 256 pixels.
    • For individual pictures, such as race and event images that aren't part of a larger file, the size must be 128 by 128 pixels.

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