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Archian 07-19-2007 10:10 PM

Basic Skinning and Skinning on Mac
10 Attachment(s)
Creating Custom Skins

I were just looking through some old text archives and stumbled over this half-finnished tutorial I once started. Thought I'd finnish it, but am now posting it here to get feedback and suggestions as I work further on this.

The title "Creating Custom Skins" isn't really correct, but people who wish to learn these things will probably be looking for a simillar title, isn't that right kids? A more suitable title would probably be "Editing Textures".

Click the images for larger versions.

Table of Content:
What is Texturing?
Texture mapping (a.k.a. "skinning") is a method for adding detail, surface texture, or colour to computer-generated graphics e.g. 3D models.
A texture map is applied (mapped) to the surface of a shape, or polygon.
This process is akin to applying patterned paper to a plain white box.

In this example, a texture of the Lich Blademaster model (created by Whitehorn) is applied to the model to create the illusion of color detail that would take very many additional polygons to realize otherwise.

Attachment 27306

This tutorial will take place as a starting-point regarding how to edit a texture for an existing 3D model (unit) within Warcraft 3.
Example, a total conversion of Arthas's face texture:

Attachment 27307
(Texture made by me)

A Slightly Note
Users at sites such as this or The Hive Workshop, can upload custom created skins for others to download and use as a replacement for an existing unit within Warcraft. However, in order to get a skin approved; the resource submission must obey to certain criterias.
Mainly that the textures have been modified significantly, atleast 75% freehand created (usually estimated by the respective texture or resource moderators). "Freehand" indicates that techniques e.g. Hue / Saturation or CnP (Copy and Pasting) is prohibited.
The texture also needs to work properly in-game, that means no alpha corruption. And finally, since nobody wish to use flat/matte textures, the skins you create and put up for download should have decent lighting and shading :)

Required Tools
In order to do all the above mentioned, you should first acquire a few tools. So first things first, you need a image-editing program. Something like Photoshop, if you do not have Photoshop installed on your hard-drive, you can download a 30 days trial version for free:
Adobe Photoshop, or simply Photoshop, is a graphics editor developed and published by Adobe Systems. It is the current market leader for commercial bitmap and image manipulation, and is the flagship product of Adobe Systems. It has been described as "an industry standard for graphics professionals." Although originally designed to edit images for paper-based printing, Photoshop can also be used for a wide range of other professional and amateur purposes.

Paint Shop Pro or Fireworks is ideal as well. If you have none of these, you can download the GIMP for free.

Next, you need to download a Warcraft III 3rd party tool.
This is used to convert Warcraft image files (.BLP) into editable image files (such as .TGA, .JPG & .BMP).
I recommend that you generally work with .TGA rather than .BMP or .JPG (it's more suitable and most people do that).
Zoom (requires log in)Warcraft 3 Viewer [Recommended]
  • Can display MDX and BLP files
  • Can export MDX or BLP files from the MPQ.
  • Can convert BMP, JPG, TGA to BLP
  • Can convert BLP to BMP, JPG, TGA
  • Allows quality and depth settings during conversions
  • Allows you to choose to view different .MPQ files (Such as War3.mpq and War3x.mpq)
  • Model Viewer
  • Model Editor
  • Geoset Importing/Exporting
  • Can save/load the model formats *.mdl and *.mdx
  • Can save/load the texture formats *.bmp, *.tga, *.png, *.jpg, *.jpeg, *.pcx and *.blp
  • Can import other model formats (importers stored in DLLs)
  • Ability to convert between the model formats
  • Ability to convert between the texture formats
  • MPQ Browser (very fast loading)
  • Support for custom listfiles
  • Support for custom MPQ filters & icons

Extract and Convert .BLP to .TGA
We now need to get posession of the texture we want to edit. So, open up the Warcraft 3 Viewer.

Now, since I want to edit a texture from the Frozen Throne expansion I'm going to open the War3x.mpq.
Choose File | Open MPQ...

Attachment 27361

Then navigate to your Warcraft 3 folder (usually found under C:\Programs\Warcraft III) and select the War3x.mpq.
If you wanted to edit a texture from Warcraft III: Rain of Chaos it would be the War3.mpq.

Attachment 27362

Make sure that the Treeview is displayed. (Choose the View | Treeview window command or press Ctrl + H)

Browse the BLP or MDX files in the treeview and choose a unit you wish to reskin. I'm going to reskin the Beastmaster model.

Attachment 27363

If you browsed through the BLP files you can extract a texture, by right clicking it and select Extract (and Convert) BLP.
In my case, I browsed through the MDX files (just to see the texture wrapped on the model).

If you did it the same way I did, you can right click the file and select Extract (and convert) used textures...
Or choose Current File | Extract (and convert) used textures...

Attachment 27364

Then deselect all used textures except the Textures\BeastMaster.blp.
Then choose a folder you wish to extract the file to and click on the OK button.

Attachment 27365

Texturing Techniques
It is time to start texturing, yah! :emote_grin:
Open the .TGA file with your image-editing program and start skinning.
It's always good to have an idea of what to make before you start something random, be creative.
Another good idea to start off with is choosing the basic colors for the texture, you will probably come to discover that as you gain more experience. Just remember, practice makes perfect.

Here's a few links which may prove useful:
As a result of approximately 2 hours of texturing, here is my Beastmaster reskinned into a Sasqualine Warrior:

Zoom (requires log in)

Convert .TGA to .BLP
.BLP files are texture files used by games made by Blizzard Entertainment.
.BLP graphics are used for Warcraft III, and are also stored within MPQs.

What we need to do now is to convert the .TGA file into a .BLP file format, so convert the file as follows:

Open the Warcraft 3 Viewer (if you havn't done so already).
Then click on Convert Files | BMP, TGA or JPG -> BLP CTRL+V, like so:

Attachment 27491

Then browse through your files and select your skin (in .TGA format).
Next, you will be able to set the quality / depth settings during the conversion (I usually go with 99%).

You're done! :emote_grin:
Now it's time to import your texture into the World Editor (thus playable ingame).

Import into the World Editor
Reading the tutorials stated below is recommended.Here's my Sasqualine Warrior skin viewed ingame:

Zoom (requires log in)Notice, this is an outdated ingame preview but it get's the intended job done.

Archean 08-04-2007 09:49 AM

Mac 2D Art Tools - Skinning on Mac
The purpose of this tutorial is not to teach people skinning techniques or how to skin overall. If that's what you're looking for, then I'd recommend these links:

- Wc3Campaigns skinning tutorials
- The Hive Workshop skinning tutorials
- World Editor skinning tutorials

This tutorial is, however, meant to a) give access to Macintosh compatible skinning tools, b) teach Mac users how to use them. After these two steps are done, then know that skinning on a Macintosh is exactly the same as on a PC.

For starters, you'll need a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. Keep in mind that these two programs are not the only two programs that can be used to skin. Anything that deals with graphics design should be satisfactory.
The other tools you'll need, are the Mac Art Tools which you can find here. Feel free to download them, now. The Mac Art Tools comprise of four different parts, including two applications and two files:
- One of them is the BLP Tools, which are used to change BLP files to TARGA files, or vice versa.
- The second tool is the MPQ2K, which is used to extract the skins from the Warcraft game.
- The other two text files are lists of path names that you will need to extract files from Warcraft.

1. Open the MPQ2K and click on the letter O on your keyboard. Now, a window from the Finder should appear. Navigate you way to your Warcraft III folder and if you want to reskin models in the Reign of Chaos game, then select War3.mpq. If you want to skin models that were released in the Frozen Throne, then select War3x.mpq. Once you've selected one of them, press Enter on your keyboard.

2. Now, if you chose to reskin a Reign of Chaos model, then open the Reign of Chaos pathlists file and find the model that you want to reskin. Do the same if you chose a Frozen Throne model, but use the Frozen Throne pathlists. Once you've found it, copy it (Apple + C) and go back to the MPQ2K.

3. Now that you have the path-name copied, hit the letter E on your keyboard (E stands for Extract) and paste (Apple + V) the selected model path. Now press Enter and a new window will pop up to ask you where you want to save the file. I'd recommend creating a new folder somewhere called Textures.

By this point, you should have a BLP file saved in your Textures folder. If you do not have that, then back up and do the above steps again.

1. In order to edit the extracted file, you need to convert it from a BLP into a TGA (TARGA). Only then will you be able to reskin it. Start by opening the BLP Tools. There should normally be two windows open; a big one with a blue background, and a smaller which should say:
Drag TARGA textures on this window to convert them to BLP and BLP textures to convert them to TARGA

2. Drag and drop your BLP file into this box and you should now have two files of the same name, one BLP and one TGA.

3. Now open your graphics design program, open the TARGA file, and get skinning. Now, I'm no skinning expert so don't ask me anything about it. If you need help with that, then I'd suggest you take a look at the above tutorial links.

1. After you've saved your skin (make sure it's still in TGA format) then re-open the BLP Tools and drag the edited TGA into the small window to convert it into a BLP.

At this point, everything should work exactly the same as a PC.

I hope that Mac users who are still experiencing difficulties with skinning on Mac will find this tutorial useful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in this thread, or by PM.
Also, should anyone have any corrections or suggestions, please tell me about them and I'll add the stuff giving you credits, of course.


Tide-Arc Ephemera 08-04-2007 10:39 PM

I already have all these, and I can't skin for shit... but it's nice someone's helping the other Mac users explore what they have to use, rather than what they don't.


PitzerMike 08-19-2007 07:11 AM

Well written, Archian. I couldn't find any errors.

The Convert .TGA back to .BLP section could be improved.
You could describe the process of deciding between jpg compressed blps and paletted blps. (eg. use JPG compression for textures with many gradients ...)
and the difference in compression.
BLPaletter is needed for the paletted images though.

EDIT: What were you planning to add to it? It feels quite complete already.

Archian 08-19-2007 08:57 AM

Thanks for reading :)

But you're too late, I kind of stopped caring about this article a while ago..
Nevertheless, I was going to add some info about Alpha Corruption and how to fix and how to use Multiple Skins on the Same Model.

If you feel it's acceptable at it's current state, then feel free to move it as I wont proceed working on this.

Archean 09-13-2007 09:15 AM

Haha! Archian and Archean have a common skinning thread!
Nice tutorial by the way. Really clear and easy to follow!

Archian 09-13-2007 09:37 AM

omg lolz we're like twins'n shit :o

EDIT: Repped. Good idea merging the threads Pitzer.

Sorry I didn't finnish the article, kids. Hope you'll learn it elsewhere.

PitzerMike 09-13-2007 02:00 PM

Haha, I really didn't notice you two were different persons until ...
just now.
I laughed.

Archian 09-13-2007 03:38 PM


Originally Posted by PitzerMike
I laughed.

I didn't.

So you're saying that you didn't merge these threads on purpose?
Well, that's kind of stealing a submission point from ArchEan (which it was anyway).

You should split'em. And give ArchEan he's share of the spoils.

EDIT: Is it possible to request a username change around here?

Archean 09-15-2007 07:12 AM

Actually, it might be better to leave them together. That way people who use Mac but can't skin can take a look at all the technical stuff, and then move on to your tutorial for the artistic side.
Just put a sentence at the beginning of your post to tell people that the Mac tut is in the second post.
Oh and don't worry about the credits...

Draco_9000 10-27-2007 07:15 PM

now everytime i try to open mpq2k it says "The application "MPQ2K Mac Edition" could not be launched because of a shared library error: "<MPQ2K><MPQ2K><StormCarbon><>"" :emote_confused:

Draco_9000 10-28-2007 02:47 AM

:emote_thumbdown: yea um i downloaded those model things but theyre .exe files and my mac cant open them.

Pyrogasm 10-28-2007 06:56 AM

You can't use Magos' Model Editor or Wc3Viewer on a Mac. The first part is for basic skinning, the second part (Post number 2) is the part about skinning on a Mac.

Ricardo Irving 09-13-2009 08:14 AM

What the hell?! We can't use Magos Model Editor or WC3 viewer! Oh wait, the post above me already said that.

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