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- Category: Fallout 3 Modding Guides
- Last Updated on Monday, 12 September 2011 21:25
- Written by Giskard
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Fallout 3: Reskinning Armour Tutorial
WARNING: This tutorial explains how to reskin meshes and get them working in the game, any texturing tips found here are optional bonus material.
This tutorial will explain how to take the Brotherhood of steel power armour and make a new set of power armour out of it for your self in a way that does not conflict with the existing Brotherhood of steel power armour. I will walk you through the steps required to extract the files, edit the meshes and prepare the textures before adding them back to the game in a conflict free and ready to use way. By the end of this tutorial you will have a completely new set of power armour mod you can use.
How you texture it is entirely up to you but I assume you will use the original meshes base texture as a starting point and use that throughout this tutorial. You will find this tutorial handy for other reskin jobs since the techniques are the same, only the information about GECK changes because a wall is clearly not armour and so you must edit items within the static section of GECK not the armour section. Other than that, you will find many similarities exist and should be able to reskin anything after completing this tutorial.
The areas this tutorial will cover are as follows.
1) Extracting the original meshes and textures from the Fallout 3 BSA files.
2) Repackaging the meshes and textures to make them unique to your mod in order to avoid compatibility issues.
3) Editing the meshes in Nifscope to use your new textures.
4) Setting up the Armour so it works in the game.
This is the Power Armour I created for a faction mod I will be making soon, I need 2 other types of armour for it so this is the start of a big project for me. All need to be in in these colours so they will look the same as this when seen on my NPCs. Below the armour pick is the Camo Texture I used to make the texture, I have included as an example of how the original colours are changed by the game. I may give some tips on how I achieved this look during the course of this tutorial. Since I use Photoshop 6 (Cannot afford the newer versions at this time), any tips I gave will naturally base based on that program. But they will be optional parts and other tutorials found online will be far better at explaining texturing to you than mine anyway. But mine will be dead easy to do, even for you people that lack any artistic talent at all.
Required tools for this tutorial
You will need following tools for this tutorial. I will explain why you need them so if you know of a better tool, you can use it instead of the ones I name.
Fallout 3 Mod Manager (FOMM) by TimeSlip
This will be used to extract the Nif and DDS files from the Fallout 3 BSA files so we can use them and change the Invalidation setting in your Fallout 3 Ini so it will use our new files.
Gecko editor by Beth
We will be using this to add our new armour to the game and create a mod that uses it.
Nvidias Adobe Photoshop Normal Map and DDS Authoring Plug-ins
These allow you to save DDS files, if your paint package already does this, you may not need these plugins. The plugins above are for Photoshop as you may have noticed.
NifScope 1.7 or newer
Used to edit the meshes so they use our new textures.
IMPORTANT: Changing the Invadation setting.
First Load up the Fallout 3 Mod Manage and once loaded, click on the Toggle Invalidation Button on the right, this will allow our mods to work correctly. It updates your fallout 3 ini so you could probably find this line and change it by hand if you wish. This is needed because the game will use the files in the BSAs rather than our files if it is not changed. Even with custom textures, you get some funky effects if this is not changed. So change it once and forget about it.
I am not entirely sure but i believe the line you need to edit in the ini is bInvalidateOlderFiles=1 if you are not usinf FOMM to do it for you, best ask around first though, make sure I am right.
Extracting the files.
Load up the Fallout 3 Mod Manager and click on BSA Unpacker and Unpack the Fallout 3 Meshes BSA and the Fallout 3 Textures BSA somewhere safe (not your fallout 3 directly). Any good mod maker extracts all of these BSAs to the same folder so they can make use of the original files instantly in their mods. Having them accessible this way is a good idea if you are a keen mod maker.
Once extracted, you need to make a new folder to hold your modded files in, find someplace on your harddrive (NOT in the the Fallout 3 game folder) and create a new folder there called "My Armour". In side the My Armour folder, make a new folder called Data and inside that make 2 new folders called textures and meshes. Inside textures make a new folder called "armor" (the US spelling) and inside that make a new folder called MyArmour. Inside meshes make a new folder called "armor" (the US spelling) and inside that make a new folder called MyArmour (no spaces, using spaces in a mod is a problematic and sloppy modding practice, avoid it and thus avoid all problems associated with spaces and mods for any future game you mod).
Now go to the place where you extracted the 2 BSA files to, go to textures\armor\powerarmor and copy the following files in to your own textures/armor/MyArmour folder.
Now go to textures\armor\powerarmor\headgear and copy the following files in to your own textures/armor/MyArmour (this is not a mistake, I am not going to use the headgear folder this time. Don't you hate it when tutorials fail to say this sort of thing is deliberate and just leaves you guessing ?).
Now you should have the following files in your textures/armor/MyArmour folder.
These are the files you edit to retexture the armour, more on that later or follow a tutorial on texturing for Fallout 3 or Oblivion, either s fine. For now, level these alone so we can get a mod working, then retexture them when you know the mod works. It helps because if you get the textures wrong, it will show on a previously working mod and you will know something is wrong with the texture file right away this way.
Next go to meshes\armor\powerarmor and copy the following files in to your meshes/armor/MyArmour
Tip: Add the name of your armour to the beginning of the NIF file names so if your armour is called MyArmour, the new name for powerarmorarmygo.nif becomes myarmourpowerarmorarmygo.nif , this is just good modding practice and I will assume you did this during this tutorial. You should do it for the textures too but we will be skipping that because Nif editing can be error prone and editing the names increases the chance of error and using a new folder should mean its safe enough not too. But if you feel up to editing the texture names too, go head and do it.
Editing the NIF Files.
Double click on the myarmourbackpackpacylinders.nif NIF file so it loads it in to NIFscope (was backpackpacylinders.nif). If it does not load it in to NIFscope then load Nifscope first then open myarmourbackpackpacylinders.nif from there. Once loaded go to the File menu for Nifscope and make sure "Auto Sanitize before save" is unticked, this avoids mesh errors when Nifscope tries to fix issues he believes are wrong when you save your changes. Next go to the view menu and select "Show Blocks in List", default is "Show Blocks in Tree" and is a pain to navigate so this makes it easier all round to find our changes quickly.
Now in the Block list window, find the first BSShaderTextureSet entry, remember this name, it is where all the textures are hidden. Select it and in the Block Details Window you will see "> Textures". Select it to open it up and view the textures this mesh uses.
You will see textures\armor\powerarmor\PowerArmorBody.dds is used twice and we need to edit this to point to our own textures. So change the path listed to match your own texture paths. Assuming you did not change the texture names, only the path part needs changing. If you changed the texture names too, make sure you replace the PowerArmorBody.dds name with your own texture name.
Now change this
Finally scroll down the Block List (if it is a long list) and do the same for any more "textures\armor\powerarmor\PowerArmorBody.dds" texture entries you see listed in any BSShaderTextureSet entries. Power Armour uses the Gore textures too but we are not editing those so leave any Gore Paths you find alone and stick to editing the PowerArmorBody.dds entries unless you wish to change those too.
Now do the same for all the other Nif files in your meshes/armor/MyArmour folder. Take note that the powerarmorcomplete.nif is very big and contains several BSShaderTextureSet entries that all need changing. So check your work twice to make sure you did them all correctly.
Adding your new Armour to the game using Geck.
First go to your MyArmour folder and open it, you will see a folder called Data, select it and copy it to the Fallout 3 game directory, if it says overwrite Data folder, just say yes, its not overwriting it, it just means the folder exists. It is just windows being stupid. Now your textures and meshes are in your game folder ready to use in Geck so lets get started making your mod.
Load up Geck and scroll down to Armor and find PowerArmor, select it and look for ArmorPower and ArmorPowerHelmet. Double click on each add MyArmour to the start of ID so it now says MyArmorPower or give it a name you prefer, its entirely up to you. Do the same for ArmorPowerHelmet so it becomes MyArmorPowerHelmet and okay both, saying yes to the requester asking if you want to make a new formID.
Next scroll down to the end of the Armour section until you find "Armor Addon, click on it and find the following entries.
At this point, notice the file PowerArmorDecalBoS, this is the Brotherhood of Steal decal, if you edited the bosdecal.nif as you did with the other NIFs from the Power Armor mesh folder, you can use it here to assign your new Decal to your power armour. It works exactly the same way as other addon meshes above and is found in the meshes\armor\powerarmor folder if you want to try using it.
Now click on PowerArmorBackPack change the ID by adding MyArmour to the start of the ID so it becomes MyArmourPowerArmorBackPack then select the Edit box for Biped model, then in model filename, select edit and navigate until you find your MyArmour folder and select the myarmourbackpackpacylinders.nif or what ever name you gave if. Then Okay the window to close it. Say yes to the question "create new formID".
Now click on PowerArmorLeftHand change the ID by adding MyArmour to the start of the ID so it becomes MyArmourPowerArmorLeftHand then select the Edit box for Biped model, then in model filename, select edit and navigate until you find your MyArmour folder and select the myarmourpowerarmorlefthand.nif or what ever name you gave if. Then Okay the window to close it. Say yes to the question "create new formID".
Now click on PowerArmorRightHand change the ID by adding MyArmour to the start of the ID so it becomes MyArmourPowerArmorRightHand then select the Edit box for Biped model, then in model filename, select edit and navigate until you find your MyArmour folder and select the myarmourpowerarmorrighthand.nif or what ever name you gave if. Then Okay the window to close it. Say yes to the question "create new formID".
Now go back to the Armor section and find Power Armor, open it up and you should see your MyArmour listed there, if not look for MYArmour listed under Armour, the Editor may have updated it already. It usually needs you to save first before it updates. Once you found your new MyArmour version of Power Armour or MyArmour (where ever Geck put it), select your MyArmourPowerArmour and open it, then go to the Biped Male model section on the right, we will not be dealing with female armour in this tutorial but if you are, just repeat this for the female armour too.
Select the Edit button for the Biped Model, next select edit in the Model File Name box and navigate to your MyArmourpowerarmorcomplete.nif (what ever you called the powerarmorcomplete.nif file) and select it, then OK the windows to close them so you go back to your armors main window again.
Select the Edit button for the World Model, next select edit in the Model File Name box and navigate to your MyArmourpowerarmorgo.nif (what ever you called the powerarmorgo.nif file) and select it, then OK the windows to close them so you go back to your armors main window again.
If you made a Pitboy Icon for it too, it should be placed in Interface\Icons\PipboyImages\Apparel\ and should be a DDS DXT1 RGB 4 bpp | no alpha file, without mip maps. I may be wrong here but that should work, if not, try one of the other DXT formats. Also do not forget about the Message Icon for the Armour, it should be in Interface\Icons\PipboyImages_small\Apparel_small\. I will be leaving the icons for you to work out and sticking to using the original Power Armour Icons in this tutorial since this is still powerarmour and the icons still match.
On the left you will see a Biped model list and an edit button. It will say ArmorPowerList, select edit and change the ID to MyArmourPowerList. Whilst the list is open delete everything you find there and go back to Armour Addon and drag and drop your MyArmourPowerArmorBackPack, MyArmourPowerArmorLeftHand, MyArmourPowerArmorRightHand items in to the new MyArmorPowerList window.
What you just did is assign addon parts to your new armour. This means your new Power Armour will get your own back pack and gloves, which I am sure you will agree is a very cool feature for Fallout 3s Gecko editor, I certainly love it.
You could in theory have different styles of addons here for the same armour instead of needing to make 1 set of armour for each style as we used to have to do in Oblivion. Here is another cool part. Remember that Decal I said you could also change ? Well it is an addon like the backpack and gloves and simply needs creating as you did with the backpack and gloves, if you made one, you add it to this list now and it appears on the armour. If you have unit based Decals and wish the same armour to be used by several different units in the same faction, you need only make a new list to do it and assign a new decal to each new list without needing to make any more new armour.
Now you must admit, that is VERY cool.
Once you have created your new list, close the MyArmourPowerList window and say yes to create new formID, then close your Armours own window too and find the MyArmorPowerHelmet next (or what ever you called it) and open it. We need to change the Nifs for this but need not bother with the ArmourPowerList. We just use that on the main body of the armour. The helmet is much easier to do for that reason.
So open up the MyArmorPowerHelmet next and go to Biped Model and select Edit, then select the Edit Button under Model File Name and navigate until you find your Helmet Nif file in your meshes/armor/MyArmour folder. It should be called MyArmourhelmet.nif or something similar. Next to go World Model and select your MyArmourpowerarmorhelmetgo.nif.
The word GO at the end of the NIF filename usually means it is a GROUND object. E.g. the mesh file you see on the floor when you drop something.
Finally update the Icons if you made any new ones, I will not be doing that in this tutorial, so this is an extra step you can do or not as the case may be.
Saving the Mod
Now to force our armour to update on the list of armors we must save the mod, so go the file menu and select save mod, give it name, then reload the mod you just saved. Your new armour will appear in its own category. If you called your Armours mesh folder MyArmour, then the new Category will be called MyArmour when the mod reloads in to GECK because it takes its name from the folder containing the meshes for your armour.
Adding your Armour to a player Home.
It is easy to add armour to a shop but this is not a shop tutorial and you will no doubt want to test your work quickly, so we will add it directly to a player home cell. In this case I have chosen the Megaton Home but you can add it anywhere you want in the game world. With the Cell View window selected, press M to jump to the M named cells and scroll down to find MegatonPlayerHouse.
Select it so it opens in the main render window.
Now go to Armor section in GECK and select your MyArmourPower and MyArmourHelmet entries from the MyArmour category and drag and drop them in to your Player Home cell or any cell you wish your armour to appear in. Making sure they are on a clear piece of floor and save the mod.
Now if you go to that cell in the game with the mod activated, you will have your new set of Power Armour waiting for you.
Optional: Quick Retexturing the Armour tip.
I will assume your using Photoshop here and I will assume you are not brilliant at texturing either. So what follows is a quick and dirty method of getting fairly good results if you want to retexture something quickly.
Load up the following DDS files in Photoshop
Now lets find a good texture to use with our armour online, wow look, I have one here all ready, fancy that :D
Load it in to Photoshop and resize it so it matches the same size as the powerarmorbody.dds (1024zx1024 pixels) and again so it matches the powerarmorhelmet.dds (512z512 pixels), You can find out a the size of a texture by selecting the texture and pressing Control A to select ALL. Then press Control C to copy and go to the file menu and select new in Photoshop and see what it says the new image size will be, it is usually the same size as the last copied (control C copies the selected item) item. Other ways may exist in newer versions or in different software to help you get the size of an image.
Now select the powerarmorbody.dds file in Photoshop and press Control A or Select ALL from the edit menu. Press Control C and then Control V to paste it as a new Layer inside the same image. This gives us a layer we can work on if need be. Now press Control A or Select ALL with the new layer selected and go to the Select Menu in Photoshop (6) and choose Colour Range. In the colour range window select fuzzyness and set it to about 111, you can mess with this to get a greater or less effect on your texture if you are not happy with the results later. This will make the detail stand out.
Using the Colour Picker tool in the Colour Range window, select the darkest area, and okay it, then press Press Control C and then Control V to paste it as a new Layer.
Next press Control A or Select ALL with the original layer selected and go to the Select Menu in Photoshop (6) and choose Colour Range. In the colour range window select fuzzyness and set it to about 111 again, you can mess with this to get a greater or less effect on your texture if you are not happy with the results later.
Using the Colour Picker tool in the Colour Range window, select the whitest area, and okay it, then press Press Control C and then Control V to paste it as a new Layer.
The fuzziness selects more white or more black the higher the number is, so reduce it to select less black or white, high fuzziness settings will select a lot of greys too or the whole image.
Finally go and get your camo texture (the 1024x1024 one or one that matches the size of the armour texture your editing) or what ever you want to use, use select all or press control A whilst it is selected and then control C it to copy it and select your powerarmorbody.dds window and control V it to paste your texture in to the window as a new layer.
Finally move the original layer 1 up from the background in the Layer window in photoshop (you may need to go to the windows menu and turn it on), move your camo layer one up above the original layer and make the bright and dark layers you made with the colour range window sit above all of those and save the image as powerarmorbody.psd so you can load it in later and edit it some more if you are not happy. When your done, go to the Layer menu in Photoshop and select Flattern Image (do not save this as powerarmorbody.psd because the flatterned image has no layers, the psd remembers them, that is why we saved that first, eg so you could go back and edit the original if need be).
Then save it as a DDS file DDS DXT1 RGB 4 bpp | no alpha file, (DXT3 should also work), choose generate mip maps (so it displays in GECK correctly) and save without an alpha channel.
The resulting armour really needs you to do some fine brush work to clean it up and add detail but it is still pretty dam good even if you do nothing more. Any real texture Artist would guess what you did but most players will have no clue.
Really you need to add your armour to a shop or something but we will cover that in a new tutorial later. I am checking these things work as I go along and I have not done much merchant work yet. So I will not include the data here until I know it works as advertized.
Also If you remember that folder you made right at the start to move the original nifs and dds files in to, if you go and make sure they all contain your mods latest files and move the esp for your mod in to the data folder of that "My Armour" folder, you can use it to pack up your mod and keep original files save at the same time. This is actually how I work, I keep these backups of all mods I am working on currently and keep dev material in special folders within those mods dev folders for later use. It just keeps things nice and organized.
I hope you found this useful, look out for a shop tutorial later that can be used to add your armour or anything else to a shop.
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