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Thread: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

  1. #1

    Default Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    **NEW** EDIT (5/4/06): I'm on a new computer and have alot of installing to do (RTW, Corel, etc) before I continue to work on the tutorial. I have a few exams right now, so I'll probably not get to it until next weekend or so.


    *******PLEASE NOTE: It's not finished (in fact, I just started)! I'm simply drafting it here. I'll be slowly adding chunks until it's done. When it is completed, I will bump the thread. Please feel free to PM me comments or questions as I continue!*******

    :sign_wow:Krusoth's Mighty Super Skinning Tutorial for Awesome TWC People:sign_woot:

    I. An Explanation of How Skinning Works:
    Basically, the models you see in Rome: Total War are the product of two separate entities: the 3d model itself and a 2d skin. An analogy can be drawn from a painted vase; the shape of the vase is the 3d model and the paint is the 2d skin. In the game, certain parts of each skin are ‘wrapped’ around a 3d model to give it color. This tutorial will deal with editing skins and not the 3d model. "But... why not, Krusoth? Don't you love us?" you may ask. The answer to the first question is that I am a newb incapable of doing so . The answer to the second question is I love you all like a pig loves corn .

    II. Required Tools:
    1. Corel Photo-Paint (Corel Draw)
    A. This will be your vehicle of art editing where your creative juices will flow. Who could've guessed?
    B. Corel Photo-Paint is not the required image software for skinning; however, it is the program I use. Regardless, if you are new to skinning, this tutorial will aid you, and all steps unrelated to actual Corel Photo-Paint actions can be followed word for word. You simply will not be able to follow my tips for using Corel Photo-Paint.

    2. PAK Extractor (by Vercingetorix. Click the title to download)
    A. This program will convert bundled .PAK files of skins into individual .DDS files. Rejoice! Download it now. We will install it later.

    3. DXTBmp (click the title to download)
    A. This program will allow us to convert the .DDS files into .TGA files which are usable by Corel Photo-Paint. It will also give us the ability to easily preserve alpha channels, which will be discussed later. Download and install it now.

    4. Notepad
    A. Notepad will be required to edit certain text files to make the game load your specific skins.

    5. A Clean Install of RTW
    A. This is not necessarily required. However, if you do have mods installed that fiddle with units, skins, etc, it is unlikely you will be able to exactly follow the tutorial.

    III. Unbundling RTW’s Skins:
    In order to edit existing skins, they must be in a form usable by us. CA bundled the skins into .PAK files. We need to unbundle the .PAK files into usable, individual .DDS files. Vercingetorix’s PAK Extractor will do this for us.

    1. Open Vercingetorix's PAK Extractor zip file.

    2. Extract xpak.bat and xpak.exe to data/packs under your main RTW folder.

    3. Run xpak.bat, sit back, and wait for it to finish (denoted by ‘Press any key to continue . . .’). This may take awhile.

    4. Notice that under data/packs you now have a newly created branch of folders. We will be using the files located in data/packs/DATA/MODELS_UNIT/TEXTURES.


    IV. Finding and Preparing a Skin for Editing:
    Now that we have individual .DDS skins, we can browse through them using DXTBmp and select something we'd like to work with. We will also have to confirm that the .DDS skin we want to use is already assigned a model (as some skins included in vanilla RTW are not expressly linked to any particular model in the game and are best avoided for beginners). We will then save the .DDS skin as a .TGA for Corel Photo-Paint to use and the alpha channel (it will be explained later) of the image as a .bmp for later use.


    1. Open DXTBmp.

    2. Go under 'File' and select 'Browse for Images.'
    A. This will allow us to breeze over and preview the available skins so we can select one we'd like to play with.

    2. Browse your way to your RTW folder. Continue to data/packs/DATA/MODELS_UNIT/TEXTURES.
    A. In the middle of the Image Browser, you will see a list of files. Some of the images are blank (we will discuss these later). Some of them contain things such as camels. Some contain images with seemingly random objects. Pick one that clearly contains the parts of a unit. Hit OK.
    B. We must now check to see if the selected skin is currently assigned to any model in the game.
    a. Open Notepad.
    b. Go under 'File' and select 'Open.' Browse to your RTW directory. Continue to /data. Open descr_model_battle.txt.
    c. Hit Ctrl-F to bring up the 'Find.' In the Find box, type a "good chunk" of the file name to see if it exists in the text file. Do not include the file type in the search (.tga.dds). Hit 'Find Next.'
    As we can see, the skin I opened is actually used by the game and is assigned to models already. If this is not the case for the skin you opened up, head back to step 2A.

    3. Return to DXTBmp. Go under 'File,' 'Save as,' and select 'Targa with Alpha.' Save the file with whatever name you please in a folder. I recommend placing it in under your RTW directory in data/packs/DATA/MODELS_UNIT/TEXTURES/MYCUSTOMSKINS.
    Last edited by Krusoth_the_Plague; May 04, 2006 at 03:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    very nice so far very slick (maybe you should add a link to a tga viewer for windows)
    http://www.irfanview.com/

    lets you view thumbnails in windows and its free

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by halie satanus
    very nice so far very slick (maybe you should add a link to a tga viewer for windows)
    http://www.irfanview.com/

    lets you view thumbnails in windows and its free
    Thanks! Do you mean it allows several thumbnails of the pictures to exist at once in a viewing window? If so, that would indeed be a boon to any skinner, and I'd certainly replace my current method of picking a skin to play with using it.

    I appreciate the compliments! Hopefully I'll have it done by this weekend. Now it's time to go do some studying.

  4. #4
    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    it allows you to view all the tga,s as thumbnails in your windows browser, like this...........



    and yes it is very usefull

    good luck with the rest of your tutorial

  5. #5
    Mirconus the Great's Avatar Civis
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    But must u repack them?... I made some skins, following your instructions (just that i didn't need the TGA transformer cause i had a dds reader plug-in for Photoshop) and now i don't know how to activate them... I'd really appreciate if someone answered this problem...
    YES, I DO LOVE ANTIQUITY

  6. #6
    Lusted's Avatar Look to the stars
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    No, name your skin to something like: my_holite.tga.dds, then go into descr_model_battle.txt, nad go to a unit entry then change it so the game tries to use your texture.
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  7. #7
    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    maybe to start rather than creating a new unit just replace an existing skin the save settings can be seen in the banners icons tutorial that some nice chap did in this forum

  8. #8
    Mirconus the Great's Avatar Civis
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    Look what i did:
    1) i edited the bastarnae skin (UNIT_THRACIAN_THRACE)
    2) then i renamed it in my_bastarnae.tga
    3) in models_battle i wrote the path this way: models_unit/textures/my_bastarnae.tga
    4) seeing it doesn't work , i tried it this way: data/ models_unit/textures/my_bastarnae.tga
    And it still crashes when i want to start a battle with the new skins... Any suggestions?...
    YES, I DO LOVE ANTIQUITY

  9. #9
    Lusted's Avatar Look to the stars
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    Is the texture in data\models_unit\textures, NOT in the packs folder.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirconus the Great
    Look what i did:
    1) i edited the bastarnae skin (UNIT_THRACIAN_THRACE)
    2) then i renamed it in my_bastarnae.tga
    3) in models_battle i wrote the path this way: models_unit/textures/my_bastarnae.tga
    4) seeing it doesn't work , i tried it this way: data/ models_unit/textures/my_bastarnae.tga
    And it still crashes when i want to start a battle with the new skins... Any suggestions?...
    Firstly, for everyone else, sorry for not updating the tutorial for a few days. I've been a busy guy, but I will work on it more tonight and especially tomorrow .

    As has been answered, you do not need to rebundle them. You simply need to link the new skins to the game using the descr_model_battle.txt (or as Halie suggested keep the same name of the skin you edit).

    Concerning your problem, it depends entirely upon where you saved the new file: it can basically be anywhere within your Rome: Total War directory. All you need to do is direct the game to it.

    If you followed the tutorial to the word, it would be in data/packs/DATA/MODELS_UNIT/TEXTURES/MYCUSTOMSKINS (in which case you would use that directory link in descr_model_battle.txt). That could be where your error is at; perhaps you are saving it to data/packs/DATA/MODELS_UNIT/TEXTURES and not data/models_unit/textures.

    To digress, congratulations on starting to skin!
    Last edited by Krusoth_the_Plague; March 10, 2006 at 02:51 PM.

  11. #11
    Mirconus the Great's Avatar Civis
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    Now it works... cool skins. Next: screenshots to show them to you. Skins adapted to a white and red people: Alexander's Macedonians (not old o' Macedon).
    Not in this topic, cause i wanna make a mod.
    YES, I DO LOVE ANTIQUITY

  12. #12

    Default alpha channel

    Thank you very much.

    I am a noob and I didn't know where to start. Thanks for thise easy and clearly tutorial

    When I use DXTBmp to turn the .tga in a .dds structure he doesn't save the alpha channel that's the reason that all my own-made .dds textures doesn't have an alpha channel. How make you that DXTBmp saves the alpha channel? :original:
    Last edited by Mored; April 23, 2006 at 10:30 AM.

  13. #13
    Leonidas The Lion's Avatar Until we win! Or die.
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    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    Can someone please post the same tutorial eccept using Photoshop

  14. #14
    Lusted's Avatar Look to the stars
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    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    That depends entirely on whether anyone wants to do that or has the time to do that.
    Creator of:
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    It also works with photoshop
    After you changed the .dds in to .tga with DXTBmp
    You can edit the .tga in photoshop

    One problem:
    If you want to turn the .tga in to a .dds with DXTBmp, he just doesn't use the alpha channel. And that's not good!
    I use The Gimp for that reason
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  16. #16
    Lusted's Avatar Look to the stars
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    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    You can edit the alpha channel in DXTbmp, it just appers in the upper right corner of the DXTbmp, you need to edit it seperately.
    Creator of:
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    Awarded the Rank of Divus for oustanding work during my times as Administrator.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    I'd like to apologize for not having the tutorial completed. First Corel blew up on my old computer. Then I moved to a new computer and I still need to install Corel/RTW/my image webpage information to continue working.

    Lusted is correct. DXTbmp allows you to export and import alpha channels in .bmp format (see the upper right-hand corner of DXTbmp with the buttons/alpha channel window). I simply haven't gotten to that stage in the tutorial yet. It's far from done!

    Basically you export the skin's alpha channel before editing. Then you modify the skin, save it, open it with DXTbmp, import the original alpha channel, and resave it.
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  18. #18
    greek302's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    Nice, tutorial....Unfinished but nice, Good job krusoth
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    Krusoth; will this tutorial be finnished any time soon; or have you abandoned it? I would be interested to see the finnished tutorial.

    For those using Photoshop; NVIDIA supplies plugins and tools for working with .dss files: NVIDIA's Texture Tools

    This plug in particular will allow you to open .DDS files in photoshop.

  20. #20
    Barbarus
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    Icon10 Re: Krusoth's Skinning Tutorial

    i like this guide ive had the game since it came out but havnt been able to make skins until know thank you.

    by the way i made a gallowglass holding a fish as a weapon

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