About custom decals and stratums

This is a blog post on where you can find the current decals, how you could potentially edit these decals and how to add them back into your map. Take note that I am no designer, hence the 'edits' will be relatively simple.

This blog is also useful for adding custom stratums and, in the near future when it is supported, custom props.

We'll go through the steps with a case study for the one of the missions of the Nomad campaign.

Interesting sources
A list of sources that you can use as inspiration for new decals, stratums and textures in general.

A video tutorial by @Morax about the same topic, with the focus on stratums instead of decals:


If you cannot afford Photoshop then you can use Gimp as an alternative. Gimp supports the .dds format used by Supreme Commander by default.

Take note that Supreme Commander also supports the .png format by default.

The case
One of the nomad maps have lava in them. The map doesn't use the default stratum textures for lava, hence creating cracks like in Haven Reef is rather difficult.

The expected results:
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The current results:
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As you can see the colors do not match as nicely as one would like. Therefore we decide to make a small but evident change to the textures.

Where to find the original decals of Supreme Commander
The game itself typically resides inside your Steam folder, from there you can go to:

  • <path-to-steam>\Steam\steamapps\common\Supreme Commander Forged Alliance\gamedata\environment.scd
  • <path-to-installation-folder>\Supreme Commander Forged Alliance\gamedata\environment.scd

Copy the file and change its extension from .scd to .zip. Extract the .zip file you just 'created' - the contents contain all the stratum textures of the game, nicely organised per theme.

The files we need for this case study are:

  • env\Lava\Decals\LAV_Lava_line_albedo.dds
  • env\Lava\Decals\LAV_Lava_line_end_albedo.dds
  • env\Lava\Decals\LAV_Lava_line_end2_albedo.dds
  • env\Lava\Decals\LAV_Lava_line2_albedo.dds

On Windows 10 .dds files can be visualized in the Explorer. Make sure that your view is not on details but instead of large or very large pictograms.

On editing decals
I cannot pin point what to do for every possible edit. But I can give you some pointers and will tell you what I do to my textures to make them fit in more.

First of all, lets talk about the alpha channel. This isn't a separate alpha channel as one would typically expect, instead the base layer is not a background layer - it is a separate layer that has alpha encoded directly into the layer itself.

The channels of the decal
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The layers of the decal
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Therefore whenever you work with an alpha channel, think in terms of layer transparency. This is also useful to know when you search on the internet.

In our case we simply want the colors of the decal to match the colors of the stratum. Take note that the decal has different colors in photoshop than it has in the editor - this is due to the lighting settings of Supreme Commander that are applied to the decal. You can change these settings in the editor.

For the purpose of this blog we want to match the color of the decal with the color of the stratum used commonly on the plateau's. This allows us to more easily 'hide' the decal, making our life easier in the long run. We can do this by navigating to Image -> Adjustments -> Match Color and then choosing the stratum we exported along with it as source.

The original decal
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The adjusted decal
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Other tools that are certainly interesting without breaking any tiling patterns are:

  • Image -> Adjustments -> Hue / Saturation
  • Image -> Adjustments -> Color Lookup
  • Image -> Adjustments -> Replace Color

And pretty much anything inside Image -> Adjustments is generally worth knowing about its existence.

Adding the decal back in
Now that we have made our adjustments it is time to make it available within the Editor and within Supreme Commander for usage.

Navigate towards your map. We refer to your map folder as root. Add in the following folders to your map:

  • root/env/decals
  • root/env/layers

Save your decals in .dds format in the decals folder and save any new stratum textures in .dds format into the layers folder. Take note that this nicely matches the structure of the original env.scd file that we extracted earlier.

For the future, you can add in custom props by storing them into root/env/props.

From this moment on the decals and / or additional layers should be visible in the Resource Browser of the Ozonex editor. Choose as Type the Map folder, and the corresponding Category. From this moment on everything works as expected and you can even load in the decals from the old GPG editor.

The outcome of the change
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The difference is small but it is now nearly invisible unless you pay really, really close attention to the decal work and know what to look for. In both cases, players either don't do that or they don't know what to look for. All is beautiful.

About you
If you have interesting sources that aren't listed yet: feel free to contact me on Discord or the Aeolus in Forged Alliance Forever! Take note that for the latter, if I did not respond, I may have missed your message.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

This is phenomenally written and something I hope to see more of. Nice work, Jip!