To make a decent texture you will need a good graphical program like Photoshop, Paintshop pro or like in my case Fireworks from Macromedia. I can't actually say which program is best as long as it supports layers it should do. I have been using Fireworks quite some time now even before I started working on textures. It's actually a program specialised on web graphics I use it mainly because of it's powerful scaling tool and simple interface. I must say that it doesn't have a lot fancy masks like Photoshop (you won't be using them anyway) has but it is a lot easier to us, than again that could also be my knowledge of Photoshop which is pretty much none. Any way I will be using Fireworks version 3 in this tutorial and I think that a lot of the options and tools I use like bevel, emblose, dropshadows will be available in the other two programs. If you know your program there shouldn't be any problem if not get the free 30 day's Fireworks demo that can be downloaded at http://www.macromedia.com.
I actually wanted to put a little note here telling you all to read the whole thing first before you start following the steps but you probably won't do that so I’ll put my notes and tips here.
For starters the XWA engine does strange things with colours so make sure there is enough contrast in the colours and don't make them look too white because XWA will make it look like white anyway. This is something I can't help you with you will have to try and see what the engine does to the colours you used.
Second the example I used here is a little big I did this on purpose so it would show ok. If your going to make new textures try not to make them any bigger than twice the actual texture size so max. 512 x 512. You can make them bigger but it will cost you details when you are going to scale it down. There is how ever another way to fix that. You can split up a texture after making it if you want I can explain that later.
When scaling down your texture to any XWA accepted size make sure it reassembles the as much as you can for instance a texture 580 x 300 should be scaled down to 256 x 128. That way you will keep the most details
Ok let's start.
I will be texturing the side of the X-Wing that was made by Darksaber mainly because it's a good example and isn't to hard to do. I'm not going to make it look exactly like the original X-wing because there is no need for that it's just to show you how this stuff is done. I would have used my already finished Z-95 but I lost those after a stupid mistake I made, I accidentally deleted them, yes I know the word MORRON comes to mind. Ok let's get to work.
Ok I’m presuming you have your model finished and the first thing we have to do is determining which texture goes where. It comes down to cutting the model in small parts like sides, front, back, top and bottom. It's not like your going to have only 5 textures, wings probably have to be separate as well as the guns but I’ll leave the dividing up to you. Well if you have a rough idea on how the textures are going to be split up you better get to it. Open you model in your 3D program and take a screenshot of the side you want to start with, don't forget to delete all the meshes you don't need for this texture because they will only make it harder for you to determine the borders. Ok open the screenshot in your graphical program and select the exact part you want to texture using the retangeling tool.