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UT2k4 | Customizing Skins

The contents of this tutorial were written by Baba (*BS*Orion)


1. Decide what model (mesh) you want.

-There are a number of places to find both models and custom skins such as http://skincity.beyondunreal.com/

- You’ll want to begin by selecting a model you want to work with.

- We’ll run this tutorial as if you’ve found the one you want called “SkinTutorial” and you’ve already either downloaded it or found it on your computer. Now all you have to do is to create a new skin for it. The first thing you’ll have to do is to find the animation file (.ukx) and the texture files (.utx) you want to modify. Make copies and rename them to whatever you plan on calling your new skin.

- Let’s assume you’ve found the model/skin you want and just downloaded the zip file for the skin “SkinTutorial”. You can copy these files to a new folder which you create if you like, but for the sake of this tutorial copy the .upl file to the UT2003 system folder (C:\UT2003\System\), copy the .ukx file to the UT2003 animations folder (C:\UT2003\Animations\), and copy the .utx file to the UT2003 textures folder (C:\UT2003\Textures\). I ALWAYS make sure I backup anything I’m working with. So copy the files you just installed and name them whatever you want to name your new skin. I’ll rename mine MySkin.utx, Myskin.ukx, and MySkin.upl.

2. Remove the reference to the current skin from the animation file.

- Open UnrealEd.exe which should be located in your UT2003\System folder. I’ll be calling this UE3 to save time.

- Open and maximize your browser window. It may already be open when you open UE3. This is the window that has tabs on it for Textures, Actor Classes, Meshes, Animations, Static Meshes, Prefabs, Groups, Sounds, and Music. To open this browser, either click on one of the browser icons at the top of the UE3 window or click “view” on the menu bar and select “show animation browser”.

- Click on the “Animations” tab. Click on “File” and select “Open”. Now find the file you just copied and renamed, i.e. MySkin.ukx, and open it.

- On the extreme right side of the screen you should see a selection of tabs. Select the tab “Mesh” if it’s not already selected. You will see a list of properties with plus signs next to them on the tab. The last property is “Skin”. Expand that property by single clicking the plus sign.

- You will see another property with a plus sign called “material”. Expand that by single clicking the plus sign.

-You will see two line items. These are the references to which texture is applied to the head and to the body. The [0] is for the body and the [1] is for the head. Single-click on each in turn and select “Clear” when the choice appears. This will allow you to delete the old skin when you need to later in this tutorial.

3. Use UnrealEd to export the textures into a format which you can edit.

- Click on the “Textures” tab. Click on “File” and select “Open”. Now find the file you just copied and renamed, i.e. MySkin.utx, and open it. You should be able to see the relationship between these textures and where they go on the model with no problem.

- Select one of the textures by clicking on it once to hi-light it. Right click to bring up a menu and select “Export to file”. Save this to a folder of your choice. This is the texture you will be using to create your new skin. Repeat this for each texture, for the body, head, and portrait. An important thing to note is that UE3 will only export the files as .dds files. I believe these are “direct draw surfaces”. I had a very difficult time finding a way to edit them. I had to acquire Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and add a plug-in to work with them. For this tutorial, I have saved copies in the zip file for this tutorial. These copies have the file extension bmp as I think it’s a relatively ubiquitous extension for images. You need to have the files in a format that you can edit, so if you can’t access the dds files, just use these bmps for now as your base images.

3. Edit the textures.

- Now using these bmps as your base images, edit your files to look how you want. The format you save the final version in is VERY important. You can only import certain file types back into UE3. Previously I had always used pcx file, but as of writing this tutorial I have found that you can import bmp files back into UE3. The bmp must be 24 bit and the image size must be a power of 2, i.e. 256×256, 512×512, 1024×1024, and so on. The point is, make sure the image you plan on importing back into UE3 is the right file type and is the right size. Once this is done, you are ready to import the image back into your texture file by using UE3. The Portrait file is 512×256. Something else I just discovered is that you can import this into the UE3 texture file, perhaps you can import non square files in. I’ll leave it up to you to experiment. This makes it much easier to utilize.

4. Import the textures back into the texture file (.utx) which you just named.

- Return to the texture tab in the UE3 browser window. Click on “File” and select “Import”. Find the file you just made for your custom skin and import it. Do the same for the head, body, and portrait images. SAVE YOUR FILE.

5. Delete unwanted textures from the texture file.

- You want to keep your texture file as small as possible so now you’ll want to delete the original, unedited images from the texture file. Select the image to delete by left-clicking on it once. Right-click on it to bring up a menu. Select “Delete”. Delete the image. Do the same for the old head, body, and portrait images. The texture file for your new skin is finished now. SAVE YOUR FILE.

6. Assign your textures to the model/mesh.

- While still in the “textures” tab, select the image for the body, ensuring that it is hi-lighted.

- Now you need to go back to the “Animations” tab on the UE3 browser. You should still have the model you opened up earlier on the screen. If not, open the file as indicated above. I will proceed as if the model is still on the screen. Single click on the line with the [0] on it (on the tab “Mesh”, under the property “Skin”, under the property “material”). Select “Use” when the option comes up. If it worked correctly, you should see your custom body skin appear on the model. Otherwise, return to the “Textures” tab again and repeat this step.

- Return to the “Textures” tab and select the image for the head, ensuring that it is hi-lighted. do the same thing you did with the body skin except assign it to the line number [1].

-The animation file for your new skin is finished now. SAVE YOUR FILE.

7. Make your .upl file

- Edit the upl file that came with the zip file, or
- Copy the hi-lighted text to a text file using the text editor “Notepad” or whatever works for you. Once the information below is copied into the file save it as whatever you plan on naming your new skin, i.e. MySkin.txt. Close the file. Now change the file extension from txt to upl by right-clicking on the file and selecting “rename”. Open the file again for editing.

[Public]

Player=(DefaultName=“SkinTutorial”,Mesh=SkinTutorial.MercMaleB,
species=xGame.SPECIES_Merc,BodySkin=SkinTutorial.TutorialBody,
FaceSkin=SkinTutorial.TutorialHead,Portrait=SkinTutorial.TutorialPortrait,
Text=XPlayers.SkinTutorial,Sex=Male,Menu=“SP”,Ragdoll=Male, FavoriteWeapon=xWeapons.FlakCannon,Aggressiveness=+0.5,
Tactics=1.0,Accuracy=+0.7,bJumpy=1)

- The “DefaultName” is whatever you want to call your skin
- The “Mesh” name you can find at the top of the screen in the “Animations” tab of UE3 when you have your model on the screen. It will be the first writing over the picture of your model. The format is “filename.meshname”.
- For “BodySkin”, “FaceSkin”, and “Portrait” the format is “filename.imagename”. You can get this from the textures tab in UE3 when you have your texture file selected.
- For “Text” you will always want to start with xplayers then the name of your skin. The format will be “xplayers.yourskinname”. This text points to the bio information that you can give your character which you can see when you select your skin for use.
- The rest of the information I haven’t messed with yet, but most of it looks easy to figure out.

- The upl file for your new skin is finished now. SAVE YOUR FILE.

8. Put your new files in the right place.

- Make sure your new files are in the correct place so that you can see your new skin. I recommend making a special folder to keep the master copy of your skin, then copy the files to the appropriate directory.

- The upl file goes into the UT2003\System directory

- The utx file goes into the UT2003\Textures directory

- The ukx file goes into the UT2003\Animations directory.

- Once this is done you can use your skin on your machine. Other players will not see you in your skin though. The Server Admin of whatever server you wish to play on will have to set it up on his server for everyone else to see. This is called “pushing” the skin.

10. To make it possible for others to see your new skin while playing, read the following tutorial.
Pushing Skins

Page last modified on December 15, 2005, at 09:07 PM