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Locked Topic FU Skinning Tutorial - AvP2 (Read 9741 times)


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FU Skinning Tutorial - AvP2
Apr 27th, 2014 at 5:57am

by Ripley'sUglyBaby[fu]

Skinning is the easiest form of game editing once you break down the walls the get so many people stuck. There are so many
tutorials that confuse people rather than inform them. I first tried my hand in making skins when the first AVP2 toolkit was released,
and since I had never edited any games, the grammar and methods totally fried my brain, leaving me in a pretty bad and frustrated
mood. I followed every step with very little understanding for what i was doing. Of course, I didnt get very far, but i did get a tiny bit
out of info from every attempt. I sifted and filtered through the tutorials, comparing them and their differences to close up the loopholes
I was finding. I finally came across one that spoke plain english, and it helped me understand what i was doing in enough detail.
Within an hour or so, i had my first full skin up, running with few problems. What i want to do here is make it so that you can do the
same, with even fewer unknowns than i had. for cross-reference, i have included a link to that document at the very bottom of this tutorial.
FYI, the most common trouble spot for people is properly extracting the game resources into something DEdit can use. This tutorial also
assumes you know how to install and run custom skins. If you don't already have a "custom" folder in your Program Files>Fox>Aliens vs.
Predator 2 Directory, you need to create one. I have re-read this tutorial a few times, and find it more complete and to the point than any of the other tutorials i have seen so far. Even if you arent' successful with it, have technical problems or whatnot, i hope it helps you understand
what you are doing and how to go about it.

Everybody i have talked to has an idea of what kind of skin they would like to make, and you should too. You will waste a lot of time
if you try making up the skin as you go along, so have at least a theme or character in mind with at least a few details sorted out before
you get editing. For examples, I have been asked to make Yellowjacket Aliens, Great White Shark Aliens, Liquid Metal Predators, Arnold
Schwarzenegger Corporates, Hannibal Lecter Marines, etc. Also keep in mind that you might like your skin so much that you want to
make a complete set, species, etc with some of the same themes running thru all the characters. basically, I'm saying dont throw out
any textures, bmps, jpgs that you used to make the skin, because you might want to use it again later on a different skin or weapon.

*note* if you do not know how to edit pictures, STOP. You must have an editing program such as Jasc Paintshop Pro, Ulead Editor, or
Adobe Photoshop 5.5 or higher. The more you know about any of these programs, the nicer your skins will look. You can download a trial
version of Jasc Paintshop Pro, which can get you through a basic skin edit if you have to.

DEdit and Lithrez in a nutshell

Now we get down to business. As far as skins are concerned, they do just a few things. DEdit is the "sorting" tool that helps
you convert textures to and from something you can edit. Lithrez is the compression tool that turns your finished textures into a working .REZ
file. DEdit has certain file assosiations it uses: .DTX, .TGA, and .PCX. The steps all have to be in order, but there arent a whole lot of steps, no
more complicated than this next list:
(G) There's some groundwork we have to do.
The default skin textures start as .dtx.
(A) You use DEdit to convert them to .tga.
(B) Then you edit them with your pic editing software.
(C) Once they are edited, you save them as .pcx. or as .tga.
(D) Then you import them back into DEdit.
(E) Then you move your newly created textures into the correct folders.
(F) You use Lithrez to turn the folders/files into a working .rez.
This may sound complicated, there is a little groundwork you have to lay, but theres really not much more to it than that. Can you handle it?
I hope so, a lot of people have turned back not knowing that's all there was to it.

The Groundwork

The hardest parts are setting up DEdit and Lithrez to do what you are going want to do with them. Its very important to first
understand the different file structures and what it all means. When you play AvP2 and NOLF, your machine draws each character,
weapon, vehicle, wall, floor, ceiling, prop, etc. Each one has two parts: the model itself and its skin. Each skin is really a flat square or
rectangle, and is just stretched or laid on the model. When you edit the skin, you don't edit the model, just the way its covered. Each skin
texture "waits" in a folder until your game tells itself that it needs to draw/cover the correct model. Some tutorials are going to have you
fire up DEdit and Lithrez right away, but these file structures are key, and it's a good idea to get used to them since they are one of the
fundamental elements of every single thing you see in the game.

Without even installing/running the toolkit, check out the file structure below:

>Aliens vs Predator 2
>Weapons---------------Alien -Marine
-Marine -Predator

AVP2 is the main game folder for our purposes. SKINS rests inside that. SKINS also contains CHARACTERS, which in turn contains
ALIENS, MARINE, and PREDATOR. WEAPONS also contains a similar ALIENS, MARINE, and PREDATOR. There are other folders, but these
are all you will need to know for now. Aliens vs. Predator 2 and NOLF are not case sensitive, so it doesn't matter what case you use as
long as the spelling is exact.

STEP G1: At this point, Create a folder on your desktop called AVP2Mods. Fu Members, create FUSIONMods folder instead Smiley
Create another folder on your desktop called SKINS.

If you also wanted to edit the skins for the ground (a.k.a. "pv")weapons and/or 1st person "hh" weapons (what you see when you
are Holding the weapon in your Hand), you would also want to follow and create that WEAPONS file structure. FYI, 1st person arms have been
set in those species subfolders inside WEAPONS in their respective species.

Almost every skin i have ever seen, beautiful or ugly, doesn't include the 1st person view. I personally think not having the arms/tail
re-textured makes the skin incomplete. It looks silly when u are playing as Ichiro and u see all the other Ichiros with new textures on the
arms but your own arms wear the default skin. The same applies to ground weapons and hand-held weapons.

STEP G2: Go inside your new SKINS folder. Decide whether or not you want to do the 1st person arms/tail/jaws etc. If so, create BOTH sets
of subfolders:
if not, just create the CHARACTERS folder and its subfolders.

*note* Do you have a certain species/character in mind? You'd better by now! you don't really have to create ALL of the subfolders unless
you are doing a full set for that character. If it's only the Praetorian (not his arms & tail) you want to do at this point, then you only need to
create ALIEN inside the CHARACTERS folder. Having empty folders won't hurt. In future skins, just create the folders that you need. When all
is said and done, and you are finished with all of this, you can reuse the folders after you have taken the finished textures out.

STEP G3: Install and Update the AVP2 Toolkit. there are 2 updates, available from PlanetAVP, AVPNews.com, and they are also contained on
the AvP: Primal Hunt CD. when you do, you will find a new "Tools" folder in your Fox>Aliens vs. Predator 2 folder. dont do anything
with it just yet, but make sure that it is there.

What drive is your game installed on? C: or D: ? You have to set up the tools by running a command, but note the file locations below.
You may need to copy them for the upcoming steps...

C:\ program files\fox\aliens vs. predator 2\tools
D:\ program files\fox\aliens vs. predator 2\tools

STEP G4: LEFT-Click Start>Programs>Accessories then RIGHT-Click Command Promt and "Send To" your Desktop (create shortcut). I'm on
Windows2KPro so u might have a little different way of going about it.

STEP G5: RIGHT-Click the desktop "Shortcut to Command Prompt" you just made. Select "Properties". There will be a list of tabs: General,
Shortcut, Options, Font, Layout, Colors ( you might also have Security & Compatibility tabs). Click on the "Shortcut" tab.
Do you see a field labeled "Start in:"? in that field, clear it out. Copy and paste one of those two paths above, depending on where
your game is kept (e.g., mine is D:\ program files\fox\aliens vs. predator 2\tools). Click "Ok". RIGHT-Click this shortcut and "Rename"
it to "Lithrez Command Prompt". That's a big step, but an essential one.

STEP G6: LEFT-Click on your new shortcut and after the prompt, type in:
What this is doing is extracting the game resources into textures that u will be able to edit. It might take a minute or two, so let
it run. if it is successful, you will see a folder called AVP2 in your Fox>Aliens vs.Predator 2 directory. If you don't eventually get
the "Unrez Complete" message , something didnt work. I have had a few failures unrezing, even when I'm sure i followed the
procedure exactly. Don't give up if it fails on the first try. Just back up, make sure your shortcut is proper, and that you are telling
the command prompt to look in the right directory.

STEP G7: Go into Fox>Aliens vs. Predator 2>Tools. RIGHT-Click the DEdit logo and select "Send to">"Desktop" (create shortcut).

STEP G8: MOVE your AVP2Mods (or FUSIONMods) folder from your desktop to your C: directory OR your D: directory. it doesn't really matter
which drive u move it to BUT make sure its right out in the open, NOT inside any other folders.

CONGRATS! You are finished laying the bricks! Now just a little plumbing & electricity and you are in business!

In windows, take a minute to explore your AVP2 folder's contents and you'll find a mirror of that file stucture i helped you create in step G2.
You wont be able to open any textures (.dtx) in windows, but notice the folders and file structures that the game uses... pretty kool huh?
Every single thing you can see ingame was crammed into those folders and taken out ingame at the appropriate time. Also, there are a lot
of things that you never saw in the game. You CAN get into the game sounds and listen to the .WAV files, some of which are hilarious Tongue


Skinning with a little help from DEdit

DEdit works in "Projects", and you can have many projects that you are working on. this comes in handy when you want to make future
skins for the same character you are planning to skin now. There are two known bugs in the DEdit programming, one is in its texture list,
when you replace or overwrite a texture, it may not show up until you close and reopen DEdit. If this happens, dont sweat it. it happens to all
of us. Just close and reopen. The second bug is more serious, and causes some parts of skins to be partially or completely invisible. I will
show you how to ensure that doesnt happen at the right time. I had done a complete set of 16 characters, vehicles, powerups, weapons,
and the HUD ( Heads-Up-Display) before I figured out how to overcome this problem. Overcoming the second bug also drastically reduces the
filesize, and turns a 5MB skin into a 800Kb skin without losing any image quality.

STEP A1: Click on your shortcut to DEdit that you created on your desktop. In DEdit, click "File" and "New Project". By default, the name of
your new project (and the path) will be ...Fox\Aliens vs. Predator 2\Tools\Project0 . Some other tutorials have suggested renaming
it to a temporary file name which is a good idea. these textures that you are going to be bringing into it are temporary unedited
textures, so rename the field to:
C:\ AVP2Mods\temp
D:\ AVP2Mods\temp depending on which drive you moved the folder to.
(Fusion members double check STEP G8 when you are renaming this project)

STEP A2: Click "Ok" when DEdit gives you the "Can't find class module.dll" error. It will then ask you what you want to call your world, which
for our skinning purposes doesnt really matter. type in anything you wish.

STEP A3: Close DEdit. Reopen DEdit.

STEP A4: See the little icon of a open folder with a single page in it under the word "Edit" on the top taskbar? Click that, and click on your
AVP2Mods\temp.dep file. the .DEP is the project. Again it will tell you that it can's find the class model. Just click "Ok".

STEP A5: You should see a handful of gray tabs, 2 white boxes, and one black box. Click the gray "Textures" tab.

STEP A6: In the upper WHITE box,You should see the name you gave to the world that you made up. It has a plus sign next to it. Click that
plus sign.

STEP A7: Did a folder called "Textures" drop down? Click it. If not, backtrack a bit and hunt down the problem.

STEP A8: Move your mouse down to the LOWER white box, and RIGHT-Click in any of the blank space. Select "Import Textures" in the popup
menu. (Its the 4th option from the top).

STEP A9: An "OPEN" window pops up. In the "Look in:" field, move over to the small square with the black "down" triangle. Click that, and
sort your way through to your Program Files>Fox>Aliens vs. Predator 2>AVP2>Skins>Characters folders. Pick a species and skin
that you want to edit. repeat for the remaining skins for that character. This repetition is just part of skinning. It takes a bit of time
to remember what skins are kept in what folders. You're getting there.

I should tell you that there are a few MP characters that arent labeled like they are ingame: You won't find any Corporates, they are all
found under "Marine". Here are the characters whose names are different...

Merc1 = Ivan
Merc2 = Dunya
Merc4 = Dmitri

Railgunner_MP = Ichiro (his head is under railgunner_head)
Obrian = Johnson
Minigunner = Jones

MhawkPred = Assault Predator

Also, in the Multiplayer game, there are 3 add-ons that the game uses. They are found in the "ATTACHMENTS" folder, and you might want to
edit these also to fit their edited owners. If you decide to, you can find the originals in the ATTACHMENTS folder. Import them the same way, but remember they will be going back in a separate folder when you are done editing their appearance.

Helmet ; Harrison and Jones
Obriansgogglz ; Johnson
Railgunnermask ; Ichiro

STEP A10: Once you have imported the textures you want, you have to export them as .TGA format so that you image editor can modify the look. In the LOWER white DEdit box, LEFT-click on a texture, and then RIGHT-click it. That options popup returns. The 9th option from the top is "Export TGA File(s)". In the "Save in:" line, move to the right again and send them to YOUR DESKTOP. This helps you not lose them until you are more familiar with all of this new stuff. Repeat for the rest of the skins for that character.
A shortcut to exporting all the textures at one time is to click on the top texture, hold the shift key, and click on the bottom one in the list. this will select all and you can export them in one step. I would suggest doing them one at a time until you are more familiar.

***VERY IMPORTANT*** as you are exporting the textures, double-LEFT-click on each one. do you see the four "Compression" boxes on the lower left side of the popup window? notice each and every one and which box is checked as you are exporting. when you are done editing the look, after you bring them back into DEdit, those boxes have to be checked just like the originals were. this is one of those "bugs" i was talking about. if they arent compressed properly, some parts can become invisible, or take up way too much filesize. I had a big problem with this in the past so trust me its something that isnt in any tutorial, but you will want to make a habit of noting and verifying this little detail.

CONGRATULATIONS! You are more than halfway done the skinning training! Take a break, kiss your woman, open up a window and let some light into your workspace Tongue

Be creative. If you plan on sharing this and other skins, you aren't going to want to just re-color or lay some effects over the original skin. Taking existing pictures, cutting out parts of them, and overlaying can look really good if done right and to scale. Seams and blurry parts get overemphasized when they get converted later. Go grab images from a bunch of places, copy and paste this into your explorer "go to" field if you like:


Type in anything you can think of and you're sure to find something. Even if your skin is very good, none of the filesites will host it if it has objectionable content. Be good, Elliot... I personally recommend Jasc to new skinners for its ease of use and user-friendliness.

STEP B: Edit that mofo!

STEP C: When saving your edited image, save in .pcx format (a.k.a. zsoft paintbrush format). Saving in the native .tga format sounds simpler, but often times you will not be able to import a .tga easily back into DEdit. Just save in .pcx and you will be fine.

Another tip:
Lets say you want to add a logo or a label to a character somewhere.. on some of the textures, you have to invert, reverse etc. The label or logo. It will look normal and you won't see the "glitch" until you have a working rez ingame. This is a trial and error process of finding out what characters need text reversed or logos flipped. It's a good idea to do labels/logos/text for last on your edit. Make a backup .pcx in case the logos/labels/text don't come out just the way you want. This way you dont have to start over.


Almost Done!

The hard part was understanding what you were doing and how to do it. By now, you hopefully understand what we did to get here. Now, all we have to do is get the edited textures back into DEdit, do some file arranging, and have Lithrez convert them into one working skin.

STEP D1: If you closed DEdit, open it back up and return to your open project, click the "Textures" tab, the "plus sign" next to your original world name, and the "Textures" folder under it. Review steps A4-A7 if you are lost.

STEP D2: In the LOWER white window, RIGHT-click in any blank space and choose the top option in the popup: "Import PCX Files". Find the edited .pcx files on your desktop. You can import all at once without a problem. Click "Yes" to overwrite the original texture. The duplicity of the files will disappear the next time you reopen DEdit.

STEP D3: **VERY IMPORTANT** After you have imported all of the .pcx files, right click on EACH ONE and select "Create Alpha From Color". Then, LEFT-Click (or double click) on each texture and check the DXT1 Compression Box int he window that pops up.
This is the last thing to debug the skin's texture and prevent any invisibility.

What you just did was convert .pcx files into .dtx textures. you are so close! your newly created textures are to be found in C: or D: AVP2Mods>Temp>Textures. (Fusion Members: FusionMods>Temp>Textures)

STEP E1: Create a folder inside your AVP2MODS folder. Let's Call it SKIN1 (you can call it whatever you want, just know how you spelled it exactly).

STEP E2: Remember that SKINS folder u created on your desktop in STEP G1:? DRAG it into the SKIN1 Folder.

STEP E3: Copy OR Move the finished .dtx files/textures to their appropriate folders inside the SKINS folder subfolders.
Let's say you did a skin for Ichiro/Railgunner. You also re-skinned his Mask. Your file placement inside the subfolders would be as follows:

C: or D: AVP2Mods
>Attachments----------Railgunnermask >Railgunner_head

Close DEdit. you are finished with it today unless you have more skins planned. If you had done multiple characters, you would just put them in the corresponding folders. If you are confused as to what goes where re: something that hasn't been addressed, just go into Fox>Aliens vs.Predator 2>AVP2 and have a look around to see what goes there as a refresher.


All we have to do is tie up a few loose ends. Lithrez has to be used to convert that file structure to a working rez/skin and u can go try it out. The finish line is within the last step and you have built up more than enough momentum to carry you across Smiley

STEP F1: Click on your Desktop shortcut to the command prompt.

STEP F2: If you are sure your file structure is correct, at the prompt, type C: or D: depending again on what drive you put your AVP2Mods/FusionMods folder:

lithrez cv my1stskin.rez c:avp2mods\skin1
lithrez cv my1stskin.rez c:fusionmods\skin1 (for fusion members Tongue)

Lets analyze that command so there are no loose ends as to what you are doing:
lithrez ; "hey lithrez!"
cv ; create (create view actually)
my1stskin.rez ; the name you want to give your freshly created rez file
c:avp2mods ; the main folder to look in for the folder(s)
skin1 ; the specific folder and folders contained inside with which to view when compressing your rez

STEP F3: FINAL STEP! Drag your new rez into your Fox>Aliens vs.Predator 2>CUSTOM folder. In the game launch screen, type in the name of the rez exactly. the command for this one is
-rez custom/my1stskin.rez


So You Made a Skin....
Hey Hotshot, you are now a part of the creative side of AVP2, Way to go! you can use these same principles to edit just about anything you can see ingame. one thing i would heavily advise against is OVERWRITING THE ORIGINAL TEXTURES IN YOUR AVP2 FOLDER.. trust me, you will have big problems and will have to uninstall and reinstall your game! Have Fun, email me with questions, comments. If you email me with a question that is addressed in this tutorial, I probably won't reply. Dont get upset. Also, the forums are a great place to raise ideas and questions.

If you intend to share this .REZ with anyone (or the file sites), prepare a readme text document with details for people who have no clue as to how to install a custom skin. Include your credits and email address in the readme. Also, the filesites insist on a JPEG image, usually 640x480 in pixel size. Take all three files ( The .rez, the pic, and the readme) put them in a folder, Zip it up, and off you go.

Thanks for sticking with me,

blackbirdmultimedia @ gmail.com

Big Thanks to FU for sharing this

« Last Edit: Apr 27th, 2014 at 5:58am by x-M-x »  
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