DirectX games use .dds texture files. For most purposes, these texture files are compressed to decrease their size and therefore video memory usage. In return, compressed textures also have slightly decreased quality. There are different compression types, one of the most common one is DXT (BC1-3). DirectX 11 and newer versions also support improved compression formats such as BC7, which supports grey colors and gradients without discoloration, while its file size is identical to DXT5 (BC3).
In some cases, DXT loses color information, which is especially noticeable with grey colors. For example, here is a comparison of 16x16 pixel textures, one compressed with DXT and one as an uncompressed ARGB texture with 8 bit per channel (A8R8G8B8 in OpenIV).
Please note that the size of dds files cannot be compared to the size of a .ytd texture file directly, as .ytd files are packed texture archives, similar to .zip files. The size of .ytd does not relate to the actual video memory required.
|RGB Color Code
||66, 63, 66
||63, 63, 63
As slightly visible in the images of the textures, the DXT .dds file is slightly pink, while the size is a lot lower.
In almost all cases, especially when using a large number of textures or high resolution textures, DXT is the better option. However, for specific parts, exact colors may be necessary. In that case, the best option is to use uncompressed textures, but at low resolutions to keep the size of the file low. If uncompressed textures are used for too many textures, in particular large ones, disappearing textures and crashes may happen due to the game engine not being able to handle the increased memory usage.
The different numbers of DXT are settings for alpha maps (transparency). DXT1 (BC1) supports an alpha channel that is either fully transparent or fully opaque, but it is typically used for completely opaque textures, for example all specular and normal maps. DXT3 (BC2) has an alpha map, but it does not allow smooth transitions. DXT5 (BC3) supports an interpolated alpha and can be used for smooth transitions.
Often when converting to DDS, choosing any of the DXT formats will cause the discoloration due to the compression of the texture and leave you with a purple or green shade hanging over your texture. This table ranging from RGB 0, 0, 0 to RGB 255, 255, 255 can be used to see exactly what colors would be altered after export to DDS.
As an example, colors such as RGB 31, 31, 31 would result in being RGB 30, 31, 30. The green being a mere one above red and blue results in this green shade. Other examples are the inverse of that, such as RGB 40, 40, 40 which results in RGB 41, 40, 41 after compression. Because the green is lower in this case, the color takes on the purple shade.
Compression algorithms differ for different tools. This comparison was created for the Nvidia Texture Tools Exporter.
The colors that resulted in grayscale RGB colors without any green or purple dominance in the DDS file are marked on the table with green ticks.
Sometimes, the compressed color is slightly different,
an example of this is RGB 2, 2, 2 which results in RGB 3, 3, 3. Regardless of
the rounding, its still equal and can be used but the key is to
use the value before compression which was originally RGB 2, 2, 2, as marked in the table.
Safe DXT greyscale color palette for Photoshop/Illustrator
This is an Adobe Swatch Exchange file which contains swatches for all greyscale colors which can be safely exported by the NVidia Texture Tools DDS exporter without discoloration/tinting due to DXT compression.
To install, simply open the Swatches panel in either Photoshop or Illustrator, click the menu button in the top right corner of the panel, and select "Load Swatches" or "Open Swatch Library > Other Library" and select the provided file. Use any color in the swatch group for greyscale…