After fiddling around trying to make a picture of Earth that would fit in FTL, I think I worked this down to several relatively easy steps. So, I present to you...
Find a good planet to convert, preferably in png format so you don't have to cut it out yourself. Make sure the brightness is distributed relatively equally. For example this one won't work because the left edge is far too bright compared to the rest, however this one is just about perfect.
Open the planet you decide on and one of the original FTL ones in GIMP. Put the FTL one to the aside for now, and fiddle around with the wand and select by color tools until you have any atmospheric glow around your planet selected. Delete selection, invert selection, then crop to selection.
Switch to the FTL planet and repeat step 2. Take note of the size of the image at this point, you'll be needing that for the next step.
Resize your image to be 2 by 2 pixels larger than the FTL image. Make sure interpolation is set to none. Save the image and close GIMP.
From here on you'll need to use an online editor called Pixlr, mainly because it has a filter that is ideally suited to convert the planet. Open the FTL image and your's. Copy your's into the FTL image (it will automatically form a new layer). Separate the FTL planet's glow into it's own layer by selecting it with the wand tool, deleting, copying and pasting.
Make the new "Glow" layer invisible for the moment. Go to the FTL planet's layer and select all the empty space with the wand tool. Now go the your planet's layer and hit "delete." This should remove the excess pixels and give your planet a more perfect circular shape. If you accidentally moved your planet's layer after copying it in, you should delete it and copy it in again so it's centered properly.
The original FTL planet is no longer necessary, delete its layer. Duplicate your planet's layer and merge down several times (these options are found by right clicking on the layer) to ensure any transparent pixels become completely opaque.
Now, this is where the magic happens. Open "Filter," select "Pastels" and change the size to 2 (if you feel your particular image needs more or less then go ahead).
Make the "Glow" layer visible again, delete any background layer you may have made and save the image. If the planet you chose didn't start with a dark side, you'll need to add a gradient yourself, but there are other tutorials for that. I hope this is helpful to anyone who's wanted something like this, because I know I have for a while. Good luck and happy modding!
Discuss and distribute tools and methods for modding. Moderator - Grognak
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