1. Photoshop, Paint.net or Gimp for image editing.
2. HMT or Eschaton
3. DDS saving capabilities if using HMT.
I don't care what paint program you use as long as it can do some advanced editing and can save in .dds format if using HMT. Eschaton you can use any of the major file extensions you wish such as .jpg, .png and .bmp. Im going to be using Photoshop for this tutorial since it's my weapon of choice. Also, ill be referring to Photoshop as "PS" for the rest of this tutorial and Eschaton as Esch.
How To Extract Your Bitmaps/Textures
In either program your going to want to locate the bitmap tag class when you open one of your map files in either program. For HMT you simply choose "Save Texture" to save it to your computer for editing and in Esch you choose "Export". The reverse will be done to put your edited textures back into the maps once editing is done. Please see the screenshot below for more understanding on this.
Saving File Formats Correctly In HMT
HMT will tell you right on the program what file format each bitmap needs to be saved as if you simply look. I see so many people say "I can't save
to DXT1 cause of..(excuse here)". Were going to solve that now with a simple picture.
You see where I circled there in HMT? That's your file saving format. Since there is no DXT2 it of course is going to be in DXT3 format. Remember when saving DO NOT! alter the original size of the bitmap in height and width or this is can cause corruptions. When injecting your bitmaps and HMT asks "Would you like you resize..." always choose "NO!" to this or you can cause corruptions yet again. Below is a short break down list of known HaloPC DXT formats and how to save them.
What HMT Says -> How you're saving it.
DXT1 -> DXT1 RGB 4 bpp no alpha
DXT2/DXT3 -> DXT3 ARGB 8 bpp explicit alpha
X8R8G8B8 -> X.8.8.8 XRGB 32 bpp unsigned
A8R8G8B8 -> 188.8.131.52 ARGB 32 bpp unsigned
R5G6B5 -> 5.6.5 RGB 16 bpp unsigned
DXT4/DXT5 -> DXT5 ARGB 8 bpp interpolated alpha
A1R5G5B5 -> 184.108.40.206 ARGB 16 bpp unsigned
By looking at what HMT calls them vs. how your saving them I shouldn't have to explain how to read them if you look at the similarities between the two.
Im getting this out the way quickly. You can not extract and edit cube maps from HMT. HaloPC's cube maps are in a file size of 64x384. HMT will only extract one side of the cube and not the whole cube map itself. When you open the cube in PS it will say its 64x64. This is wrong. Its only one side. If you edit the "cube" you extracted and try to inject HMT will say the file size if different. Why? Cause your only injecting back in one side of the cube map. You can edit cubemaps in Esch by following the picture below. It should be self explanatory.
The EOF Trick With HMT
This is what made the origional FTW stand so much out. It's an old trick made popular by Philly in his plasma rifles mod that was taught to me by Dead Hamster. What is it? Simply put, when doing an EOF you can make a bitmap be exclusive to only the one map you're doing it for. Example, say you want a new floor texture but only want it to show on the sidewinder base floors. Simply extract your bitmap, edit it, but before you inject hit the "EOF" button and then hit "Update". You will get a popup box saying you did it right. This is telling the sidewinder map to search the bitmaps file for this new offset you just made and only use this texture when that offset is present in the map. Below is a picture explaining where the buttons are in HMT.
Eschaton Internalizing Bitmaps (EOF Outdated)
By doing the technique you will no longer need to give anyone a bitmap.map file with your mod. You simply internalize your bitmaps at the very end of your mod and all your skin edits will be part of the map file not needing to have a seperate bitmaps.map being passed out. This also phases out .ppf files for textures as well in larger mods. This is only supported in Esch as it is newer and can do alot of things HMT could not. A quick video on how to do this can be seen below. Yes, I am tired in the vid.
Vid Download: http://halomodding.c...es/internal.wmv
Basics of Skinning Maps
Honestly I don't know were to begin on this since alot of it is trial and error. Im going to do something random and we will see how it evolves from there. Let's skin a floor or something since they all revolve basically the same theory on what you need to do. we can begin with Sidewinder and the base floor in that map. First we need a texture and it has to be seamless since these textures repeat themselves side by side. For this example im going to redo the floors in the bases. Also, you can find many tutorials on how to make seamless textures on various sites like pixels2life and good-tutorials. I never said any of this was going to be simple. Ok, now we have our texture here...
Now once again this is where you have to learn. You have to use some PS skills and make the texture interesting and not all basic and bland. Again, check those two sites I mentioned and learn some tricks of the trade. This is what I came up with real quick..
Now all we have to do is resize or floor texture from 512x512 to 256x256 like it is in HMT/Esch and inject it using the right DDS format if using HMT. Here is a picture of HMT and our result..
Looks kind of dull and bland doesn't it. Well we can correct those things also by using alpha layers and bump maps. Cool thing is this texture has a bump map spot that compliments it so we can make a custom one. First well talk a little about alpha layers thoe..
Alpha Layers - Image Masks
Esch refers to Alpha layers as "Image Masks" but we will be calling them Alpha layers for this. Your alpha layers in halo when dealing with level textures dictate how much the levels scenery cube map will be present on it. In other words, how shiny it will be or have the cubemap reflect off it. They can also determine how much a bumpmap shows on it as well depedning on how the BSP section is set up. To make a quick alpha layer just simple go to your channels in PS. Down bottom there is a icon to create a new channel. This will make your alpha channel. All the textures besides DXT1 should have alphas to go with them so don't forget to edit/make them for your textures. If the image has a alpha when using Esch it will tell you to save the image mask when exporting your texture. That mask is your alpha layer. In HMT the alpha layer can be seen by selecting the channels tab in PS to view all the channels your image has. You can see the alpha layer in the pic below when using a .dda format.
Now for a simple way to make a alpha channel is to simply desaturate the texture and copy/paste it over the alpha channel. This does work for alot of things but some key notes to remember with alphas are this. The darker the color is on a alpha the darker it will be in game. For this im referring to the DXT3 format ones. Alpha's will only be in black and white so the whiter, the more visible, the blacker, the less visible. Let's do a quick alpha with what I said above..
Before we go check it in game remember how the floor looked a little big and bulky also? Were going to correct that some to at this point. All im going to do is making the texture smaller and replicate it a few times. Ill show you a picture of what im talking about..
Don't forget to adjust your alpha layer to compensate for the new texture. If you ever get a saving error saying "too many channels" just left click in your layers and choose flatten image. Now we need a custom bump for it, but first I need to finish about alphas. The main thing is this, in your alphas if it solid black Halo is going to try to render that part of the picture 100% transparent. If it's white it will be 100% visible. Going from black to white is grays will adjust the level of transparency for that alpha. The alpha layer is going to control how well you see your texture and how much of it you will see. Item like walls and textures reply on aplhas to show a cube map on the texture or even a bump map. Some alpha's such as the ones for logo's, contrails and so forth has tranparancys with them. You have to do alot of experimenting with them to see how your alpha makes you texture act. You would almost argue that alpha editing is just as important as the origional texture itself.
Bump maps, Normal maps.. What a controversy. While technically they are normal maps Halo refers to them as bump maps so we will just say bump for this tutorial. How do we make a bump for our texture? Well there's two ways. One is sloppy kind of and one is more precise. Open your texture in PS. Go to filter then to NVIDIA then Normal Map Tools. Make your settings for example like mine below OR!! you can first desaturate the texture then go to filter then to sketch then to photocopy. Adjust the settings and the goal is to get it so there is nothing but clean smooth lines. If you're looking for a more rustic bump then do the sloppy way. Either way is fine but using the photocopy way is more precise and clean. Now to those settings..
See the number I circled? That is going to control the depth of the bump in place. Let's do those settings, inject it in our slot for the bump and check it in game now. Don't forget, the bump has a different DXT saving format..
Looks spiffy! Now if we would have spent a little extra time on making the texture we began with more detailed and spent more time on the alpha layer this would really shine and stand out. But hey, im teaching you the ropes so experiment.
Fake Bump Mapping for Non Bump Related Textures
Want to make something seem bump mapped but actually has no bump to go with it? Just look at the screen below and apply this filter and these settings to the texture you're editing. This can be done on anything really so experiment. Go to filter then to render then to lighting effects and make it look like this..
Im doing this on FTW's AR and here is a before and after shot of this effect in action..
This can also be used to add detail to alot of things such as flood or rocks and what not. Use your imagination.
Weapons and Vehicles
I can't really offer any pictures and such but more of ways and methods of skinning these items. Picture something you want to skin first. For example were going to choose a pistol. Go into halo and take as many screens of it in game as you can from any possible angle. You're going to need them. Get the pistol skin out of HMT and open it in Photoshop. Looks like a mess huh? Well, if you look at all those pictures you took in game some of those parts in the skin should start looking familiar. You really need to take your time and identify each part and where it goes. Also remember that items such as weapons and vehicles have 2 sides to them. This means if you add text on a skin the other side of the item the text will be reversed. Looks tacky so don't do it. Just try something simple as coloring a few items and see how it plays how in game. Make adjustments and look again. This really is a trial and error process and can't be taught per say. There are many tutorials out there on how to do certain items but the main idea is what I said above. Don't be afraid to fail. Failing is only going to make you correct mistakes and learn. Below is a example of the warthog parts and how the skin is laid out. Each vehicle or weapon is going to be broken apart in a simular fashion. Only trial and error will help you learn to understand where each part goes where.
-#28 & #24 are together. They both go in the same part of the hog.
-#33 is part of #18
-#31 & #32 are unknown. I've looked top to bottom and can't find a visable spot for these pieces. I would assume they belong to a neighboring piece.
-The big white object is nothing, it's empty space.
-The white line seen on the hog between section #'s 17 & 1 shows the rough boundry between these two parts
(Notes and pics are by 1981gMachine)
How many skins do we see that look so awesome but lack a multipurpose. Your multi is like your alpha in a sense because it controls the level of detail, gloss and overall presence the skin is going to be shown in the game. The multipurpose is mostly edited on the bases of three main colors. Blue, Red, Green. Here's a Simple breakdown of what those colors do.
Detail. This controls how much detail will be shown in these areas colored in red.
Light map/Glow. This controls how much a color will show up as bright or vibrant on your texture. Example, you wanted something on the master chief to look like a LED light? Then edit the multi on the correct spot to make it glow. Ill show you in screens for this below.
Cube map play aka. Shiny! This will control the reflective surface the maps cube map will play off the texture. You want something super shiny then make the multi all blue. Tacky but it works.
Acts like a second detail for the texture. It can also be used to denote special colors depending on how it's being used. I told you alphas were important.
Now let's take a reskinned cyborg and break down how the real texture plays a role with the multi. Im going to use a picture to better illustrate this.
See how the multi compliments the actual skin? Now compare the skin with the multi with the actual in game pictures. By experimenting with the three primary colors of red, green and blue you can do alot to alter your skin itself. This also requires alot of trial and error and seeing what works and what doesn't. I hope this helped you better understand multi's thoe since there really isn't anything dealing with them.
All light maps will be found in "levels\test\nameofmap". SP maps have multiple bsps so they will have multiple light maps. Editing light maps can be quite time consuming but really pay off if done right. Simply extract all the light maps for the level you're working on and open them in PS. If you have a certain theme you're going for in a map try to color them to match the theme. DONT JUST PAINT THEM A SOLID COLOR! use hue/saturation and maybe brightness/contrast on them but do it in small levels. A little goes a long way here. Also when looking at light maps you may notice bright spots in them. This is denoting an area of the map where a light fixture is. If you want to change the coloring of a light in game you have to do it in the light/lens tag then edit the light map to go alone with it. Here is one I edited for sidewinder..
See all those little white areas? Yea, those are for various lights shining down on the map, open areas in the middle of the map and so on. Make sure you take the time to edit them carefully and have backups of stock. When injecting edited light maps make sure there in the correct format and click NO!! when asked to resize.
Misc. Textures and Tidbits
This is going to be like a hints and guidelines more then anything else for this section of the tutorial.
This is easy. Just edit the texture itself and make sure the edits you made on the texture match the alpha layer it will show perfectly. Remember to inject with correct format and NOT to click yes to resize when asked if using HMT.
Backgrounds/Post Game Carnage Report
Just edit as normal and click "NO" when asked to resize if using HMT.
Sniper/pistol/ rocket launcher zoom screen
When you edit these remember the rules of alpha. They totally apply here on EVERYTHING!.
black ------------- gray ------------- white
transparent ------ opaque ---------- visible
Make your edits following those coloring ques.
Anything Ending in "Mask"
Bitmaps ending in the word "mask" are referring to a shader mask. Example of this would be the jackal shield mask. When you're editing that bitmap you're editing the animation in the jackal shield. Also same goes for shield generator mask. Those are the energy shields you can hide behind in levels like danger canyon. Editing those to your liking then swapping that shader onto other objects can yield some interesting effects.
These are going to be anything from the bolt coming out a plasma rifle to the dirt that comes out the ground when you shoot it with a pistol. Anything that is debris, particles or a "bullet/bolt" will be found in this section. When skinning your covie weapons make sure you try to edit all of it to match your theme. Having a red gun fire green goo looks half done.
The cryoglass is not invisible. But after you read all this you should know now how to make it 100% invisible thoe. Cryo Glass is a quick way of nulling something out not needed. Just make the alpha for the cryoglass 100% black and reinject. All your have to do now is simply referance the cryoglass bitmap on something you want gone. A prime example of this is replacing the "sky clear blue" bitmap in bloodgulch sky tag with cryoglass and you instantly have a night sky.
This really deserves it own tutorial but I will simply just say this much. There are more then 10 bitmaps that make up the shell of the HUD. Each one of them has to be edited very precise. You would edit this the same way you would a recticle. Alot of experimenting is involved in this also and NEVER resize when injecting or you will mess up your bitmaps big-time if using HMT.
How Map Grounds Work
First off you can find the map ground for any map under the bitmap tag "levels\test\mapname\bitmaps\mapname ground". If you look closely at that bitmap you can usually see faint greens for grass, some paths/trails and even ice for some snow maps. Im going to be working on Bloodgulch for this tutorial. Take close notice at the ground map vs. it's alpha layer in the pic below.
We know from reading above how alpha layering works so we know what colors and textures are going to take effect where by comparing the two. If you want to change a path then of course you need to edit the alpha layer also to make it show up. Now im going to describe how this sandwich works. A sandwich? Yes, a sandwich cause our BSP is the bottom piece of bread. The first layer on this "sandwich" is the "detail sand" texture. This will give the ground its texture as far as cracks, dirt look, whatever you want to call it. The "detail ground" goes over these sections defining the "detail sand" even more. Look at like this.. The "detail sand" is the texture, the "detail ground" is its bitmap if that is a good analogy but it doesn't bump like a bump map would. Now this only takes effect in places where grass is not present BUT!!! it is under the grass too. Make it too dark and you'll see it. The "detail grass" will fill all the other places the dirt is not present. The bitmap placements of dirt vs. grass is defined by the mapping Bungie did and cannot be changed unless you go CE and do something there.
The final top piece of bread is that "detail ground" we began with. Now consider our alpha layer white areas like eaten pieces out of that bread. Unless you can think in 3 dimensions alot of this is not going to make sense and trying to explain what im picturing is hard so i hope this gave you a insight in how it works. The "ground" map colors do show up even thoe the alpha layer says their "blackened" out but they will be very, very faint. Also maps such as Icefeilds and Sidewinder have custom bump maps to go over the snow and ice there. Don't forget those. Just take your time and look through and you eventually get a awesome sandwich of your own. Also, scenery items are like tomatoes, pickles, ketchup.. lol.
Fun Fact With Grounds-
Map grounds are more clever than that. If you look at the [senv] tag in HMT, and scroll to "levels\(test)\mapname\shaders\mapname_ground", you can actually edit the levels of detail for all three detail maps.
Primary Detail = Usually Grass
Secondary Detail = Usually sand/dirt/rock
Micro Detail = The 'detail ground' texture which Pepsi explained.
Note that, when you make the numbers higher, the detail maps get smaller, and therefore more detailed. All numbers are relative to the map size.
Cleaning Up Your Skins When Done
You know when you do your skins and it seems they have a bunch of pixelation in them just making then look blocky and rough? Well, im going to show you a simple trick to smooth that out and also clean your skins up making them more clean looking. First off im going to assume your using Photoshop agagin and you have your skin already done before we do this procedure. There should be no need for pics in this cause its a very simple thing to do. First open your stock .dds in Photoshop. Do everything you want to the skin editing wise and save it as you normally would. Instead of injecting your modified skin reopen that modified skin back into Photoshop and try the following..
Go to "filter > noise > reduce noise"
Now look at that image closely. You have to first check the "advanced" tab. After that click the tab that says "per channel" right next to overall. Now we see a marker for "channel:" and red being the first one. Move the strength all the way to 10 and bring preserve detail down to 0. After you have done this click the drop down box where red is and move to green. Apply the same settings as we did for red. Then go to blue and do the same yet again.
By this time the skin should look blurred and somewhat faded. Thats ok, were going to correct that. Now click the overall tab again and make your settings like this.
Max the strength, zero the color noise and I usually keep the sharpen details to about 75 and set "preserve details" to your own personal liking. Click "OK" to save these changes and then re-save your skin again then inject. So yeah, very simple and very slick. Its nice finish to your skin when its all complete. Just mess with the sharpen details / preserve details on the overall tab like i said and im sure youll find something right for you. This should also kill thoes comments about "looks pixelated, to sharpened" and what not. You can also feel free to play with any other settings as well in this but the ones I picked out were my personal settings of choice. Everyone will view what they like differently so don't be afraid to experiment.
Editing The Halo Logo
Remember above when I talked about alpha layers and such? This goes for the same thing here. Just open the Halo logo bitmap in PS and view the alpha channel. Everything you see that is white is going to be seen on the screen. If it is black you will not see it. To make or edit a new Halo logo just simply make your render in the RGB area and make sure the alpha layer has a white layer behind it so its visible in game. you can also experiment with light shades of gray in the alpha layer if you wish to add some transparency to your logo as well. I dont feel I need to have pics for this cause it really isnt that hard to understand and I done have Halo installed at the moment.
Helpful Tools For Skinning
Windows Texture Viewer
WTV was developed by Tomas Blaho for simple DDS viewing, especially for those DDS files with an alpha channel. Basically you can drop a .dds file in a little window and it will show you it and its alpha channel without needing to open any paint programs. Good for looking at skins real quick that users post for mods and skins.
DDS Thumb Nail Viewer
Allows you to view .dds files in Thumbnail view in the Windows Explorer folders. No more of guessing if a bitmap is an edited one or not, just have this installed and have your textures folder set to thumbnail view and you can see all your .dds files as if they were .jpg.
Adobe Photoshop Plug-ins
This is the plug-in pack for Photoshop so you can begin skinning. it includes a normal map filter, DDS plug-in, mipster script for doing mipmaps if need be, and a cube map shuffler.
A good place to get some nice textures to begin with. Using these textures in a default state without editing them is going to get your seriously flammed so please, use these as a stepping stone to making your own textures.
Read above what I said about Filter Forge.
Nice High Res Textures As Seen In Church Map
Just what the title says.
Assortment Texture Pack From Kva
In this texture pack you will find environment textures from the game TF2, for all the levels. You need this tool to get them to tga.
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Trial
If you download this get ahold of me on Xfire for more details.
Lots of Time and Patience
The final url you need to begin. There's millions of tutorials out there and millions of textures just waiting to be used in Halo. Now use that final link and begin searching for your own creative ideas. There's nothing stopping you except yourself.
In closing I hope this tutorial helped someone because I didn't have anything close to this at all when I began. There were a few things but nothing really extensive. If anything is not covered and you would like it to be covered more then I can add to this if I have the time. Just leave a reply in this thread.
Edited by Pepsi, 21 July 2010 - 03:45 PM.