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Art for Total War - Terminology

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If you're not familiar with computer/game art, some terms may seem alien. Here follows a basic overview of common terms in alphabetical order. If you are new to 3D, then it would be useful to familiarise yourself with these terms.


The process of assigning vertices to bones. The vertices take on a child relationship according to their weight (between 0 and 1) to the bone, which acts as the parent. Also called weighting, painting weights, or incorrectly called rigging.
Object that vertices of the model are attached to.
An object that inherits its transformations from its parent object, and can move independently as well. (3ds Max)
Series of parent-child relationships. (3ds Max)
Controls the transformation of its children. When you move, rotate, or scale a parent, the child objects behave accordingly, using the parent's pivot point as their own. (3ds Max)
Correctly refers to the number of triangles in a model.
A polygon is a 3D surface connecting 3 or more vertices.
Quad, Quadrilateral
A 3D surface connecting 4 vertices. A quad is composed of two triangles.
The system by which animators manipulate bones that animate the character. It also incorrectly refers to the binding or weighting of a character.
A hierarchy of bones that create the armature for animation of a character.
Tri, Triangle
3D surface connecting 3 vertices. All 3D surfaces are broken down into triangles.
Node point in 3d space.
See binding. Also called painting weights.


.dds, Direct Draw Surface
A compressed texture file, the format Total War games use for unit textures and more.
Gloss map
see Specular map.
Normal map
Displays the "bumps" on a surface. They have an overall blue color (128, 128, 256 RGB to be exact).
Concerning art, usually refers to the size of a texture, in pixels. All texture sizes must be in a power of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096).
Specular map
This controls the highlights, or shine, on a surface.
CA's proprietary texture format (.dds file with header added)
.tga, Targa
An uncompressed texture file, which means the image does not lose any detail when it is saved (in comparison to something like a jpeg) which can have all sorts of artifacts. Its file size is also very large, and thus not often used for display of real-time content.
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