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This is a purely Photoshop tutorial.



The attached files: Spell_Icon_Resources_v01.zip

...are intended to serve as a help to modders who include new spells in their mods to create new BG1-style spell icons in a streamlined process, or improve spell icons in their existing mods.  

Basic overview: New spell icon designs must be created first. They are then inserted in bulk in the Master Template, correctly positioned in the grid and and relative to the scrolls, and exported into corresponding color BAM-derived PNGs. C, A and B are created in this same way, in that order. The PNGs are then divided and exported into 32x32x files from which BAMs V1 can be made. 

Detailed instructions, also included in the package; i recommend not reading them on their own:



  1. Make C designs for all all your new spells as separate transparent PNGs. Use negative space to separate shapes, not dark lines or inner shading, as it wont' carry over to subsequent steps, so use a sigle color such as black and solid pixels. Edit and splice together vanilla designs* from existing C BAMs, converted to transparent PNGs, most conveniently. I will call finished spell icon designs Objects. They must fit into 29x29px. 
  2. Open the Master Template file, set the grid to 32x32, subdivisions: 2 (in Preferences); make the grid show, and turn on Snap (View > ...). These settings will persist for subsequently opened files. 
  3. In Layers navigate: A&C > FOREGROUND > MASKING GROUP > OBJECTS, and there drop a max of 64 Objects, 16 for each color**; the PNGs will then start popping up as layers; place each in the grid (confirm with Enter): Red spell Objects in squares 1-16, Blue ones in 17-33 etc.*** The color pattern of top layers composed of exact colors from original BAMs will be automatically applied. The result you'll be seeing should look like finished A files. If you'd like to add a few touch-ups, don't do it now. 
  4. This is a good time to make C files: Hide the SCROLLS layer so only Objects are visible, merge-copy all the spells of a single color, open the PNG file with the corresponding color table (REDC for example), and paste them into place there****. The colors will "set into place". Optionally: now do some manual editing such as inner shading; if you do it, you should paste the edited Objects back into the master file on top of everything so Objects on A and C will be identical. 
  5. Use the Slice Select tool to divide the PNG (click the image with it, click Divide, and set 32x32px); then go File > Export > Save for Web ... 
  6. Unhide SCROLLS. Repeat the merge-copy/paste (into REDA in this case) and slice > export procedure for A files. There should be no visual glitches but colors at the very edges of scrolls might be wrong. Fix this by pasting again together with a black color-filled background, which may make colors "set into place" better. 
  7. Hide the A, C top group and copy/move all Objects into the equivalent group within the B top group. If needed, you can adjust Brightness in the Adjustment layer and for individual Objects use a bit of the Dodge tool on the stone texture beneath. Use 1px black and white pencil to reshape the stone backgrounds in the mask (click the mask of the STONE group to edit it).***** 
  8. Repeat the merge-copy/paste (into REDB) and slice > export procedure for B files. Small glitches are more likely with B versions such as 1x1 pixel holes in stones, and at the edges, and it's easy to go over those manually.
  9. This way you will have created transparent PNG-8s with the original color tables. You can create BAMs V1 easily from these with IrfanView and BAM-Batcher (I don't know if it's state of the art currently but that's how i did it recently). 

* Fire, cold and lightning symbols, cross, heart, moon, stars, shield, circle (symbolizing protection), eye, sword, the summoning "bowl", various heads, hands etc. The pictographic language of 2e spells already exists so you don't need to be visually creative to deal with this reasonably fast.

** You can expand the Red "zone" at the expense of Blue, etc. by modifying the clipping masks. 

*** Placement is the key thing in this step (3). Make every Object centered, and if it can't be perfectly centered, move it 1px to the right; some vanilla Objects are bottom heavy, mainly summoning spells, so keep them low. 

**** These copy/paste operations are done with Ctrl+Shift+C/V.

***** Prevent the stones from having a lot of empty space, and from having 2x2px block jaggies. If you want another rock texture you can pick a spare one from the ROCK - EXTRA group at the bottom of STONE group.


P.S.: Sorry if you don't have Photoshop and/or aren't starting out with a basic understanding of layers and masks. The intent here is to completely skip BAMWorkshop I&II, and to make as many icons at once as possible. I've read the relevant IEDSP page and Erephine's developer resources. It seems that in the case of spell BAMs at least, the majority of that technical knowledge can be eschewed in favor of some straightforward shooping. If you think there's room for improvement, find the instructions unclear, or can't get good results, please let me know. 

@subtledoctor you've shown an interest in spell icon creation lately :happy:

Edited by bob_veng
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I’ve never touched Photoshop in my life, so this is all over my head. I’ve become pretty handy with Weidu, and can do some fun and pretty complicated stuff with spells... but I cannot make icons for them, except what I manage using recoloring and similar changes with NI’s tools. It’s my modder’s Achilles’ Heel. 

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17 hours ago, bob_veng said:

New spell icon designs must be created first.

Do you perhaps have any suggestion/tutorial about this? I mean, I do think this is one of the most difficult part when making icons....

Edited by Luke
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@Luke (tldr design ruminations)



i did write a little about that in the actual instructions, but it's in the spoiler, so i'll expand this part here; please bear with me because i don't know how best to cover this. The following is kinda long but nothing is complicated.

I still presuppose Photoshop for this part, but it's not strictly necessary.

- If they aren't already spelled out in the spell's name, define your new spell in 2-3 basic concepts. Connect these to visual motifs of vanilla spell icons:  Fire, cold and lightning symbols, cross (healing), heart (emotion), moon and/or stars (magic), shield (...), armor (mage armor), circle (immunity/protection), broken line circle (resistance), eye (divination), various weapons, the summoning "bowl", various heads, hands etc. "Mass ..." anything is typically depicted by three of the same, but smaller,  in a triangular array SPPR729C.PNG.4484fb90b7c9bec7874d6a6168ff4d89.PNG. The pictographic language of 2e spells is already laid down so you don't need to be visually creative to complete this "mental mapping" of sorts on your own.  

- Reuse the abovementioned motifs (copy/paste:happy:), and if there's a concept that can't benefit from recycling, draw something new yourself (google images: clip art for, like, inspiration); use BG2EE C BAMs converted to transparent PNGs as resources.

- Work and save in separate 32x32px transparent PNGs. Resulting designs should not be too big so they can be set away from the edges 2-3 px at least (aim for no bigger than 26x26px).

- Use solid pixels only (Pencil tool).

- Color doesn't matter; use black; don't create inner detail such as shading/contours/outlines ("not supported" until a later stage in the overall procedure)

the following "theoretical" part might seem a little dumb but it helps to have it all together in your head as you go along. I hope I'm not totally off the mark in terms of helpfulness thus far:

- Understand the following concepts: positive space is something drawn with solid pixels surrounded by transparent pixels, and negative space is something drawn with transparent pixels in a mass of solid pixels SPWI120C.PNG.b0620f50416f95aa8507c30388a85bb8.PNG 

- Objects can be filled or line-art SPWI212C.PNG.286f91f190cb7b45688786d13b75d89f.PNG; Line-art somewhat tends to be 2px thick SPPR103C.PNG.63d051dff56dd7b17a7b1500d0282072.PNG; outer strokes which serve to reinforce a (usually filled) object are 1px thick SPPR502C.PNG.f45530442c9450fcc132e28229622049.PNG

- Apart from the solid fill, vanilla designs incorporate hatching, denoting invisibility or ghostliness: SPWI405C.PNG.55521a704917bce2eaf3d52a32467c15.PNGSPWI317C.PNG.9763894c60e74bb417adf67322e86c98.PNG

- Combining and contrasting these visual features enables you to, for example, superimpose objects so you can string concepts together and squeeze in a lot more semantic content in the same area, and to denote opposite concepts/elements: SPWI403C.PNG.e6e04dd5eaf777351715ac70d2f79e78.PNG(p-space fire in a line-art shield) SPWI418C.PNG.e063e7aab0214c2f8b35e9ff174ec5b4.PNG(n-space fire in a filled shield) 

- In filled objects, use negative space contours to set apart internal features (or things may look splatted): SPWI107C.PNG.bc2eb2a8cf1fde4aee701034d4c43875.PNG

- To have an impactful (:rolleyes:) design try to incorporate at least two of the above mentioned visual features; if you incorporate just one, the results may be a little feeble: SPWI629C.PNG.834f1998b4ac012c88fc5b9f93794625.PNG(a dart... but is it a Darts? of Bone?) SPPR424C.PNG.931ae487f33e115b8a215b16c07c114b.PNG(a cudgel or a pegleg... but is it Metal? Star Metal?)

- Create a negative space design by first choosing an appropriate background motif (Circle, Square, Shield, Armor, etc.) and fill it out, then take a foreground element, select it's pixels (right click on layer thumbnail > select pixels ) and apply this selection as a mask (select the background element layer and create a mask) so you can move it around and place it well (you can't move the mask with the Move tool before you select the whole area; use Ctrl+A)


- The goal of the design is not to make neat 32x32px artwork (the formal pixel-art rules don't apply), but to just make a well-blended-in UI element which doesn't seem disconnected from it's purpose - the spell, which helps set the spell apart from other spells, and is therefore sufficiently clear and useful to players. But if you do inner shading/contours/outlines afterwards (optional, i don't recommend it), avoid things which are called Banding, Hugging and Fat pixel here (the rest is not really important. 

edit: an example - IWD2 spell Death Armor which icon i did for IWD-in-EET IWWI228C.PNG.f91026777d4c08448304fc948097c036.PNGis the filled mage armor motif + negative space (& line art) Death Spell C BAM (barely squeezed in)


- - -

update: improved template files for compatibility with bam conversion

Edited by bob_veng
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I have found a fairly quick and easy, if not pretty, way to make spell icons. I'm just working with paint, so nothing fancy. I just save a similar bam as what I want as a bitmap using dltcep. I then alter it as I like (using black for transparency). Next, I import it to dltcep in the animations tab and save it as a bam. Bam!

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Btw, I loaded the template in gimp and it appears to work. I don't know enough about layers etc. to determine if it does work but I thought I'd throw that out there.

Edit: btw, I have been getting satisfactory results with gimp and material provided here:


I create the C icon, convert the blank space to transparency and then add the scroll and/or rock backgrounds as needed, and then convert the exported images with DLTCEP

Edited by Grammarsalad
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