113: A Quick Fix to SHADE Darkness

As mentioned in Post 107, the one thing I particularly dislike SHADE for FSX is that all its available Presets will significantly dim the brightness of all scenes in FSX, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

Although users can modify the Preset values via the program’s graphical user interface (Shade_gui.exe), the effects of changes are not intuitive and the results are to some extent depending on a time-consuming trial-and-error process.

Indeed, there’s not much one can do to speed up the process of getting an ideal result from color and shadow changes.   But for the “too dark” issue, followings are what I did for a quick fix, from which I further finetune the color and shadow of shade for my own preferences.

According to the program’s manual, each day in FSX is divided into 14 subsections — called Time of Day or TOD in short by the developers.

Through the use of a Preset that contains specific Light, Shadows, and Fog values corresponding to these 14 TODs,  SHADE replaces FSX’s original sky textures with values of these Presets to achieve different sky color and shadow effects that blend with fixed ambient lights.

So, if we exclude Pre-Dawn 1 and Midnight (the first and the last items) from the subsection list, the remaining 12 TODs each roughly occupies a time-slot of about 1 hour.

Of course, it should be noted that this is just a rough estimation since the length of daytime varies in different seasons and latitudes, even in FSX.

To me, the brightness with SHADE is somewhat like 1 to 2 hours behind the clock in the morning, and 1 to 2 hours ahead of the clock in the afternoon.

Therefore, with the 1-hour time-slot concept in mind, the “too dark” issue of a TOD section could be quickly “brightened up” by replacing the TOD with a “brighter” time-slot.

Moreover, instead of making this TOD replacement through the program’s graphical user interface, it is also much easier to make such quick changes directly to the targeted Preset file.

The following steps describe how I made the Marks Final.SLP Preset brighter in the early morning and in the late afternoon.

  • The image on the right shows the original content of the Marks Final.SLP coming with version 1.01.   There are 14 sections in total listing specific values of Light, Shadows and Fog for the different Time of Day (click image to see the full list).
  • In order to brighten up the Pre-Dawn 1 to Post-Dawn 2 TODs, I chopped the original Pre-Dawn 1 and moved Pre-Dawn 2 to Post-Dawn 2 one slot ahead.  Also, I duplicated the Morning TOD to Post-Dawn 2.
  • Similar copies and moves were made to the afternoon sections.
  • Once the modifications were re-numbered, the Preset was then saved with a different name.

Now, the early morning and late afternoon scenes are better lit with this modified Preset.

Even though I may further finetune this new Preset for a better result, so far I am quite happy with the effect from this quick fix.

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17 thoughts on “113: A Quick Fix to SHADE Darkness

    1. Hi Garry, you could try the method I mentioned in my post to find the best result in the cockpit. Or use the tool come with Shade to change the greyish color. You have to test for the best result. There’s no easier way. Also, when you change the brightness in the cockpit, all tones outside the aircraft will be changed as well. It’s a bit frustrating, I know.

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    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for sending the link over. I have downloaded it and the package comes with 110 sky texture files. They are used to replace the original sky texture files either they are default or modified by AS2012 or REX Essential which I am using.
      However, SHADE for FSX has its own sets of sky texture. When it is applied, the original sky texture will be temporarily moved to a TEMP folder and then be restored again after FSX is quitted.
      So, SHADE for FSX and this Soft Horizon can’t be used at the same time.
      But the idea is interesting. When I have time, I’ll further explore if the Soft Horizon concept can be integrated as a preset for SHADE for FSX.
      Tom

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  1. Follow-up
    I am using “soft horizons” Sky textures, which soften the horizon line, and makes more natural visibility characteristics.

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    1. Hi Mike, thanks for the note. I am not aware of the situation you are facing. But will surely take a look about it and the “soft horizons” texture you mentioned. Tom

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  2. As much as at first I was excited about contrasted look I found a dealbreaker for me, once visibility drops below 8 miles I have huge and disgusting horizon line that can be seen through all the way to when you are in a fog situation.
    That is unacceptable and I can’t use it for now

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  3. Hi Tom,

    My airplane is SO DARK at night…I can see the taxiway lines if I turn on landing lights, and I can see the terminal…and the airplane structure, but I cant see the interior Cabin lights! The cockpit lights are showing…is this just a realism effect? Or is this some kind of bug?

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  4. Hello Tom
    My first post here and with that I would like to recognize and thank you for your keen insight regarding FSX !
    I have been using your “Quick Fix To Shade Darkness” for quite some time now. When I first started using the tweak I thought that it would make the dawn and dusk skies a little brighter at those times. My reasoning for this assumption was the fact that day cycles were being spread out while the pointed night cycles were removed. I realized that only the “Shade” is affected. This brings me to my point of discussion……
    It is my opinion as I study sunrises and sunsets that the sky is much brighter in real life than is depicted in FSX, that is when the sun is almost invisible at the horizon.
    1) Is there a way to tell FSX to adjust this?
    2) Is there a way to tell FSX to stop casting light on clouds and buildings when the sun is actually behind the horizon but it is not yet dark?

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    1. Hi Bill,
      1)
      Please search my Post 12 about adjusting brightness for dusk and dawn.
      Also, addons like REX provides customized settings for dusk and dawn. You can take a look too.
      2)
      As far as I know, probably not. Maybe adjusting dusk and dawn brightness could help a bit.
      Tom

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