The beginers guide to Skin Maker

Q) What exactly is a skin?
A) Most 3D games (like unreal Tournament) use a 3D model to create a body shape and then pictures (textures) are wrapped around the model to give its appearance - this is called a skin. Obviously, a skin can be changed for a model to give it an entirely different appearence.

Q) Right - what do I need to make a skin for unreal Tournament?
A) Well obviously, you need a the skin maker program ( - just download, unzip to a folder and click on "UTSkinmaker.exe" to start)
It also helps if you have got some kind of comprehensive graphics package as well (like photoshop). You could just use windows "paint" and the integral picture editor with in the Skin maker program, but both are only really ok for the basic tasks.

Q) What kind of system do I need to run the Skin maker program?
A) If your system is good enough to run UT, then it is good enough to run the skin maker. However older 3dFX cards may not be able to display the 3D preview for Skin maker.

Q) Don't I need to be some kind of artist to make my own skin?
A) Depends on what you are planning. When making a skin, you could either draw a new skin from scratch (which obviously means you do need to be good at drawing) or you could create a skin from digital photos (in which case you can get away with basic graphic package skills, like... Cut & pasting, Reducing, layers, overlaying, filters and basic touching up). Using some sort of digital camera is the best way of doing this as you need many photo's of the body.

Q) OK, I've got the skin maker installed - where do I start?
A) First, start a new project and decided which model you are going to skin. Skin maker comes with a basic set of models, you can download more from the skin maker web site, just put any model files downloaded in the skin maker directory.

However, if the models you use to create a skin are not already installed in the UT game, you MUST also install the new models into UT as well(or your skins will have nothing to attach to!). However, you cannot just use the actual model files that are used for skin maker. Instead you have to locate and download the original model/skin umod that was created for UT (as a stand-alone product). It is not as bad as it sounds, try... (its probably best to do this now than later) - it also will give you an example of what someone else has done with that skin.

Q) Ok, I've chosen my model - is it important what name I save the project as?
A) Yes, you must save the model so it begins with the original model name. I.e. if you are changing the "Soldier" model, your project name must start with "soldier". To confuse matters slightly, you must then follow the prefix "soldier" by the word "skins" and then after that, you can put what ever you want. So if you were making a skin for the soldier model, call it...
"soldierskinsWHATEVERYOUWANT" (do not use spaces in the name)
In my example, I will call it "soldierskinssexy"

Q) Phew, got the name - So how do I start on the skins?
A) Ok, on the skin editor box (left), right click on your project name and choose "New skin"
This will bring up a box asking for a description ( enter anything, I.e. "Sexy skin" ) and most importantly, you MUST enter a skin code (must be FOUR LETTERS - I.E. "SEXY", you cannot use numbers )
Once you have done that, a list of the sections of the model will now be listed in the "skin editor" box underneath your project name. This is a list of different pictures(textures) that make up the Skin

Q) Is the list always the same?
A) No - They differ depending on the model. Some models use only one picture to create a skin, others use many (not including the "Talk texture" which is constantly there in all models).

Q) What is the talk texture?
A) The talk texture is the little picture that appears at the top of the screen in UT when you say something (usually a picture of the persons head). This is the easiest picture to create because it is just like a passport photo. To create the talk texture it must be a picture of 64 x 64 pixels. (I use a 24bit BMP file). You can just reduce a digital photo for this, but remember its only small, so detail will be lost if you do this.
Once created... to add in the talk texture, right click on "talk texture" and choose "add texture"
on the new box, click the "..." button and point it to your talk texture file. Leave the "< default >" bit alone - hit "ok"
If it has worked ok - you will now see your talk texture in the top left hand corner of the model preview.

IMPORTANT - You have to repeat the above again, and add the talk texture again (using the same picture file) - except this time change the "< default >" to something else - I.E. "sexyface". Faliure to do this will prevent you using your skin on the "bots" in UT (for some strange reason)
If done correctly, under "talk texture" in the skin editor box, you should now have "< default >" and then your own named talk texture (i.e. "sexy face") underneath that!

Q) Ok, the talk textures done - how do I make the skins?
A) First of all you really need to plan how your skin is going to work out. You see, you actually need to make 5 variations on your skin (default, red, blue, green & gold skins). Obviously, you could just make the one "default" skin if you only plan to play on your own. However, for multiplayer gaming you will probably need a different skin for each colour team (red,blue,green & gold) - obviously, you could make the default skin the same as one of the colour teams which would bring down the amount need to four!

Q) Crumbs, I have to make four different skins????
A) Well yes, but its not as hard as it sounds. You could for instance just change the colour of the trousers on each skin to give you the four teams (you can even use a filter in photoshop on the trousers to create four different colours from the original picture)

Q) Ok, I got my plan together - so how do I start Skinning?
A) Well, for each model you will actually find skin templates in the directory you unzipped the utskinmaker too.
Using the solider example, it uses four pictures (textures) to create its skin. They are listed in the "Skin editor box" as..
Head & Hands

The first texture in the list - "chest" has a picture template in the utskinmaker directory called "soldierwire1.bmp". The second texture "Legs" uses "soldierwire2.bmp" and so on.....
For each model, they are always listed in order of appearance and use the same naming.. (i.e. Modelname followed by "wire" and then 1,2,3 or 4)

If you look at one of the templates, it will look a little odd, as it is just a grey picture, with sections of the white wire frame from the model ironed out flat.
Right before you do any editing, I suggest you make backup copies of these files (Do not use the originals as you may need them again if things go wrong). It doesn't matter what you save these files as - just call them 1,2,3 & 4 if you like.

Q) How the heck do I know which bits go where on the model?
A) Good question. What you must understand is this... Only the section of the picture that has the white grid on it is used in the skin (the blank grey area is just ignored). What I do (ON THE BACKUP UP PICTURE) is I doodle different colour markings on the white grid so I can see which bits go where.

Q) Ok, I have done my doodles - how do I see it on the model?
A) Lets say, we are going to load the "1.bmp" that we have doodled on, into the "chest" (for the soldier model). Right Click on the word "Chest" and choose "add texture". This brings up a box very similar to the talk texture you did earlier. Again, press the "..." button to point it towards your doodled "1.bmp" file.

HOWEVER, before you press ok - click the down arrow, to the right of the "< default >" button. In the case of the solder model, this will give you the options of Default, red team, blue team, green team & gold team. This is telling you, that for this section of the skin you can add 5 different variations of this section (obviously for the different teams). You cannot do this on all sections. For the soldier model, you can add 5 variations for the "chest" & "legs", but the "arms" & "Head & Hands" you can only add the default.
Anyway, now that you are aware how to add the same texture for different colour teams - choose "< default >" from the list and click ok.

You should now be able to see your doodle on the 3D model.
Good news, whenever you change the "1.bmp" (and save it) the 3D model will auto update the changes instantly, so you should never need to add it again!

Now, go forth - doodle on all the sections and add them onto the model until you get familiar with what goes where.

Q) I think I can now see what goes where - can I begin the proper stuff now?
A) Yep, go forth and draw, however please bear in mind....

File set-up
I find it is best to work with 24bit Bitmaps, the template bitmaps are not 24bit - I find it best to copy and paste them into a new file (with-in photoshop) and then save them as a 24bit bitmap later.
IF you do mess around with the templates, keep them the same size (256 x 256 pixels) do not enlarge or reduce them.

Graphics package
It is best you use layers and then use the "overlay" feature to see the original wire frame underneath your modifications/drawing (great for lining up things up in the correct place)

Digital Photos
You will find that you will need many photos of the body if you are going to do it this way. Sometimes, some clever splicing is also needed - for example.. The face section will not only need a cut out version of the face but you will also need side shots of the head spliced onto the left and right of the face. It look weird in the picture but looks fine on the model. Again - use "overlay" to see the wire frame through the placing of your digital photos (a lot of clever re-sizing may also be needed)

You can spend ages making a highly detailed skin, but bear in mind if you are any good at UT, people will only really see a flash of you in the distance when you take their head off with a sniper shot, so don't go mad with detail, its better to get a good overall impression.

Q) While I was creating a skin, I imported some 24bit bitmaps into Skin maker - and the colours are all messed up on the 3D model preview, but they look fine on the bitmap preview?
A) Have you've got your windows desktop set to 16bit colour - set it to 24bit and it will look ok. Otherwise, try updating the latest drivers for your graphics card.

Q) Right, I have completed my DEFAULT skin - it looks great, is that it?
A) Not, if you want to use your skin on the different coloured teams. If so, you must add extra textures for the sections that allow different skins for each of the coloured teams (on the solider model - you can add different colour sections for the "chest" & "legs" - The same default "arms" and "head & hands" are used for all the different coloured skins).
To add a team colour skin, add it exactly the same as you added the default skin, except do not choose "<defualt>" in the dialog box - press the arrow to the right of it and choose "red team" (or whatever colour). If there is no other option except "<default>" then that part of the skin cannot be changed.

When you are creating a team colour skin, to preview it - you must change the "Team" box in the 3D preview from "default" - to the team colour you want to view, i.e. "red team"
As said before, you could just use a filter in photoshop to create four different colour variations colours from the original textures.

Q) Ok, so I've made the all the different skins for the teams (or I just wanted the default skin). Is that it?
A) Yes (almost) - we are ready to install your skin into Unreal Tournament....
To do this, first ensure you have saved your project. Then choose "actions" from the menu bar and then click on "compile project to utx/int and install in UT"
This will create two files, both called what your project file is called (in my case "soldierskinssexy")
One file will end in ".INT", which is copied to the "system" directory in your UT install.
The other (ends in ".UTX") will be installed into the "textures" directory in your UT install.
If for some reason, you can't install directly to your UT install (because you duel boot or something) - choose instead "compile project to utx/int" and you will have to copy the files over manually to their UT destinations.

Warning, if you intend to send your mates your skins (obviously, they also need to install the files on their system if they want to see the skins) - on the new beta version of skin maker you get the option to turn the files into a UMOD file. However, if you send your skins via the umod method to your mates and then use the direct install from skin maker to install the skins on your system, you will get a "skin mismatch error" - it is best to either install one way or another - don't mix methods.

Q) Ok, the files are installed in the correct place - is that it?
A) Nope, You must now ask yourself the following question - did you use a model for your skin that is already installed in UT. (like the soldier) or did you use a model that you have never seen before and is not installed in UT (like alien queen)??
If you used a model that is already installed into UT, skip this bit. If you have a used a model that is not yet installed in UT please read on...
Unfortunately, for your skin to work, you must also install the new model into UT. As mentioned earlier you cannot use the model file used in the skin maker program, you must download the proper model UMOD file created for UT. Try this site for the umod file..

Q) Ok, files installed, model installed (if needed) - is that it?
A) Yes (almost). If you play alone, it will should work fine - however, if you (or your mates) intend to be a server for a multiplay game (and you want everyone to see your skins), who-ever is intending to be the host (you or your mate) needs to add a line to the "Unrealtournament.ini" file, which is found in the "system" directory of your UT install. Obviously, anyone who does this also needs your skin files (and any extra models) installed on their system.

Q) I can't find a "UNREALTOURNAMENT.INI" file?
A) It is there (in the UT "system" directory) - certain file types are hidden by default. The best way around this is to do a find/search in windows explorer on "unrealtournament.ini"

Q) Got it - how do I edit it?
A) Just double click on the file and it should open with "notepad"
Ok - once in, you will find the very first section starts with the line...

Keep moving down until you find the section beginning with..
Keep moving down until you find the section beginning with..
Keep moving down until you find the section beginning with..
Keep moving down until you find the section beginning with..
Keep moving down until you find the section beginning with..

Right at the bottom of this section you will find a line like this
Insert a line after the last "serverpackages=xxxxxxxxxxx" line and add "ServerPackages=yourskinname"
In my case, this will be..

Finally just make sure you have left a blank line between your added line and "[WinDrv.WindowsClient]"

Ok - save the update, quit notepad and you ready to play.

Q) How do I select my skin in UT?
A) OK - first choose the model name that you used in "Class" (e.g. Soldier) then you should find your skin name in the "skin". Changing the colour, should also show your different coloured teams.

Q) Damm, it works great - however, the colours look brighter than they did when I created them.
A) In the unreal preferences (under "video") there is a brightness control - try knocking it down a bit!

A quick recap list of possible problems to watch out for...

Skin maker doesn't give a 3D preview with some older 3DFX cards

If you use a new model that isn't installed in UT, you will have to locate and download the original UMOD file for the model and install it in UT.

Project name - you must use the correct file naming when you save the file

Skin Code - don't forget to add a FOUR LETTER skin code when you create a skin

24bit Bmp files are the best way to go.

Talk texture must be 63x64 pixels

Talk texture - you must add a "default" talk texture and a named talk texture (or it won't work with the bots).

Body textures are 256 x 256 pixels

You must add five textures under one skin to create the 4 coloured teams and default.

Funny colours on 3d preview on skin maker - set windows desktop to 24bit colour or try updating graphics card driver

Must update unrealtournament.ini if you want to use the skins in multiplayer game

For your mates to use your skin, they must have the two skin files installed on their computer, they must install the model (if they haven't got it) and they must update their INI file (if they intend to host a game)

You must not install the skin files directly to your own computer from skin maker and then use a umod to send the files to them (skin mismatch error)

Head missing when you used the "Boss" model - known problem, download a patch from the Skin maker web site.

Skin looks brighter in UT - There is a brightness control in the "video" section of "preferences" in UT