mod skins, reskinning or textures

Game Version: FS13 and later
GE Version: ? and later


Modding Index | General Modding Tutorials


[center] [table] [tr] [td][center]A Guide about mod skins or textures[/center][/td] [td][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]Should you violently disagree with anything in this work - don't hesitate to flame me via PM…[/td] [/tr] [tr][td][/td][/tr] [tr] [td]This Guide has been written with FS11 in mind and may or may not work for any other version.[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]This Guide will explain (partly and amateurishly) how mods are skinned or textured. [/td] [/tr] [tr] [td][center]Always get permission from the original owner of any work before you upload it…[/center][/td] [/tr] [/table] [/center] [hr]

Software required: [list] [li]Winzip, Jzip, 7zip or WinRar[/li] [li]Image editing software of your choice[/li] [/list]

Knowledge required: [list] [li]able to use Windows Explorer (file manager) to move files to other folders[/li] [li]able to use image editing software[/li] [/list]

associated Documents: [list] [li][b][color=blue]Making a mod from a default item -- Part 1.  – getting it all together[/color][/b][/li] [li][b][color=blue]Making a mod from a default item -- Part 2.  – the modDesc[/color][/b][/li] [li][b][color=blue]Making a mod from a default item -- Part 3. -- making a custom  ModDesc[/color][/b][/li] [li][b][color=blue]Making a mod from a default item -- Part 4. -- adding specializations 1[/color][/b][/li] [li]Making a mod from a default item – Part 5. – adding specializations 2[/li] [/list]

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My background is not professional in either software or training, simply from personal experience. If any of the terms I use are wrong, please PM with any corrections…

The world of texture editing can be very complex and far beyond my day to day use of image editing software. This only touches on what can be a very extensive profession. Research via google will hopefully fill in any gaps I have definitely left out…

I will only deal with what people would consider the usual definition of a texture; meaning the colour image that appears on a mod.

These are sometimes described as a diffuse image.

There are two more textures (at least) that can be used, these being a normal map texture also known as a bump map, providing an artificial 3D look to a flat surface and a specular textures affect how the lighting or reflections appear on a textured mod.

And then there are AO or Ambient Occlusion textures, if you know what these are, you should not be reading this…

If you don't, then Wikipedia has some answers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambient_occlusion

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In most cases, depending on which method was used to texture a mod; you will not be able to change the way a mod handles a texture. This is defined by the mod maker when they make the mod. However, if a mod as uploaded, is in several parts then it may be possible to isolate a part and save it as a standalone i3d file, alter the way it is textured and reload back into the mod.

Here is a header pretty much all the same colour, the reel was textured from the same image as the rest of the header, so is not possible to simply edit a texture to change the colour; it more or less disappears in the shadows. Exporting the reel, changing the colour and reloading it makes it stand out a bit more - probably not prototypical, but it keeps me happy…

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_9_02_53_0.jpegimg-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_9_02_53_1.jpeg

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Some mods may and can use a variety of texturing methods in the same overall mod.

Mods can be skinned in many different ways depending on: [list] [li]the software used to make the mod,[/li] [li]the type or style of the mod or any parts/items,[/li] [li]how that software allows skinning,[/li] [li]the mod makers preference or skill.[/li] [/list]

Depending on how the mod was skinned, how complex the texture is with regard to say weathering or artificial shadows and your image editing skills, will depend how easy it will be to reskin a mod…

Some games and modding software require a square texture and of certain sizes, even some older video cards will only support square textures.

These are usually a multiple of 16 - a legacy of the way computers work - so 16 pixels by 16 pixels, or 32 x 32, 64 x 64, 128 x 128 etc etc all the way up to 2048 x 2048 pixels. FS11 will support this largest size.

It is possible to actually have a 1 pixel by 1 pixel texture - tested and confirmed… but not recommended.

FS11 will actually support almost any size (up to 2048 x 2048) and they don't have to be a multiple of 16.

Most games also have the ability to compensate for different size textures than what the mod maker included; for instance, if the mod came with a 1024 x 1024 texture, you can safely resize this to 512 x 512 keeping the same filename to reduce lag.

You will reduce the visual quality of the mod ingame, but may be beneficial.

By the same token; you can resize a 512 x 512 up to 1024 by 1024 to better edit it, eg. adding a new logo or text - you can reduce the size or keep it, the larger size may cause lag, reducing the size back to 512 x 512 may lessen the quality ingame to an unacceptable level.

You may have noticed grainPlane textures in some mods of 1024 x 512 pixels.

The larger the texture the more the game engine has to work, and the more textures you have in a mod the more the game engine must work.

The least number of textures the better and the smaller the size the better to reduce lag. One very large image is better than 95 smaller ones…

The smaller the physical size of the part - the texture should be either smaller or mapped to a part of a larger texture…

As people make stuff that you can add to an existing mod, the most efficient way is not always possible. Each object will have its own texture(s) so adding to the overall texture count.

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The first type of skin is what I call the block or pixel method.

This is where a solid block of colour is mapped to an entire object's faces. It can produce some strange effects on curved surfaces depending on the complexity of the image.  

This is the easiest way to texture and the easiest way to reskin a mod, just change the colour of the texture file and edit the i3d in Notepad++ if required.

Here is an example of where the uploader didn't even bother to change the texture name… just change the colour from blue to orange and upload…

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_28_12_11_8_09_10_0.jpeg http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_28_12_11_8_09_10_1.jpeg

Another example of this is the Mod-Teams Ferguson mod pack. This uses a simple grey texture for most of the tractor, which is why you cannot reskin it successfully.

Here is the main body texture, and the as released look:

The TE20 only ever came in grey and the Mod-Team quite likely did not want you releasing TE20's in unprototypical colours…

With block texturing, you really/actually need to map your mod to an area less than the entire texture as colour bleed may occur resulting in an undesirable look.

Also it does not allow you much freedom in reskinning, eg. adding weathering, shadows etc as the entire object uses that one texture stretching it over entire sides/top/bottom.

Changing the colour of the grey.png to green results in this:

and adding some yellow stripes shows the undesirable look that can occur with this type of block texturing if you attempt to reskin a mod textured this way…

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_08_02_12_7_31_09_4.png

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The second type of skin is what I would call the mapped skin.

This is where a mod or object is textured from a section of a larger texture. In modding terms; mapping a texture.

The default tippers are an example of this. Here is the original texture showing where part of the rear door is mapped to; the area in the green outlined square.

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_6_58_21_2.jpegimg-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_7_07_38.jpeg

For most modding software: As long as the part is completely mapped from one texture you can either map different surfaces from different areas of the texture, or you can flatten the part and wrap it from just one area.

As well most modding software allows you to change the orientation of a part from say horizontal to vertical then map it and put it back; internally the mod keeps the texture mapping co-ordinates. This allows you to completely use all the odd spaces in a texture so keeping the number of textures to a minimum.

Most default items seem to have this type.

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The third type I have seen is a combination of both mapping and unwrapping/mapping a distorted texture to curved surfaces.

The farmer figure is an example of this. You can see a distorted texture that is made to wrap around round meshes the eventual result looking as it should do ingame.

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_08_02_12_6_58_21_4.jpeg

Squarer objects can still be flattened and mapped around the top and sides of a part. The area outlined below most likely has been mapped to the top and sides as the corners have been notched out.

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_08_02_12_6_58_21_0.jpeg

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Another method is called tiling, and those people that use Google Sketchup will be familiar with this method as will those with AC3D.

A single image is placed multiple times over the face of a mod, mostly walls and roofs etc. This allows a smaller image to be used several times instead of one very large image that is required to keep eg. bricks from appearing supersize…

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Below is an AO or Ambient Occlusion texture as found on a Stoll mower.  see Wikipedia for further info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambient_occlusion

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_08_02_12_7_26_13.jpeg

As well we have a Tutorial by milpol on making AO textures in the download section:

[color=blue][u]How TO AO Texture in Blender V2.6+[/u][/color]

There may be other ways I am not familiar with…

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There are any number of ways to edit an image depending on which software you use and your proficiency/skills in using that software.

If you don't have a favourite, then paint.net and gimp are two free ones.

Either google for them or see here for links at the bottom of the post: http://www.ls-uk.info/forum/index.php?topic=95782

Trawl Google and YouTube for tutorials on your chosen software.

The better mods use dds files for texture format - this format is preferred by modders and game engines for its smaller size kb wise.

paint.net will allow direct editing of dds files.

Gimp has a dds plugin.

Your favourite software may all ready be able to work with dds files.

If you need to convert a dds image to another format before editing it - please use png or bmp format - these will not decrease the quality of the image.

Do not convert a dds to jpg format - this usually has an aggressive compression algorythm that will decrease the quality of the image and so lead to a loss of visual quality ingame.

If you can work with layers all the better, they allow you to preserve the original image while still editing it. If you are not familiar with layers, then google will provide answers…

If an image has an alpha channel or transparent layer, and it is a dds or png, and you wish to convert it, then it will need to be converted to a tga or possibly a psd format to preserve the transparent layer.

An image with an alpha channel or transparency may look like this in paint.net with a checker board background.

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_8_01_35.jpeg

However, some people will fill in the background to stop colour bleed and make mesh edges better defined. The default map gra*** textures are an example of this.

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_8_14_35_0.jpeg

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_8_14_35_1.jpeg

In all cases backup any original images or make copies in another folder. When editing images things are guaranteed to turn to custard, so save your work regularly with different names - you will want to either start again or at least from just before it all went pear-shaped…

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So how might you go about it ?

Just supposing, that the default Pottinger Euroboss 330T manure spreader was similar to something in your country…

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_08_02_12_11_37_28_0.jpeg

Stretching my imagination beyond its normal boundaries… let's say it is similar to a fictitious one made by a long gone company called Chamberlain's, this imaginary one was branded Spreader Chief with the designation SC400…

What we will do here is simply change the branding to something else.

Go through the Making a Mod Part 1. getting it all together.

You can leave Parts 2 and 3 until later…

Go to the folder where you saved your copy of the Euroboss,

Open the euroboss330t_diffuse.dds texture in paint.net

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_11_37_28_1.jpeg

Paint.net has a pretty comprehensive online help system if ever you get stuck… plus tool tips, hold the mouse cursor over any item to show you what it does and any keyboard shortcut available.

Use the Clone Stamp Tool to clean up all the places where lettering is, as well you can use the Rectangle Select Tool to select a block of colour and then using CTRL C to copy that block, then CTRL SHIFT V to paste that block onto the image and move over over the lettering to cover it. Keep pressing CTRL SHIFT V to place more blocks of colour until all the lettering is gone.

Eventually you will end up with something similar to this:

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_11_37_28_2.jpeg

To add text, use the Text Tool shortcut T - select where you want the text, select the size, colour and style and type away. You can dynamically change the size, colour and style to suit the area and your preferences. Use the little square at the bottom right with the plus sign in it to move the text to where you want it.

After adding Lettering you will end up with this:

img-eu1.fs-uk.com_84448_08_02_12_11_37_28_3.jpeg

Save or Save As the edited texture with a different name if you like, using dds format in DXT1 with Generate MipMaps checked.

Use DXT3 for textures with alpha channels or transparency's.

And in GE it looks like this…

http://img-eu1.fs-uk.com/84448_08_02_12_11_37_28_4.jpeg

Not particularly creative I know, but doing this will give you the knowledge of paint.net to do something else or different…

Like adding your Contracting Company name to stuff directly on the texture.

Reskinning stuff is simply copying the entire mod folder to a different place and experimenting changing textures and see what result you get. It is unlikely you will know how the modder mapped the textures exactly - and some interesting results will probably be seen…

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Original Author: sandgroper | Date: sandgroper

Modding Index | General Modding Tutorials