This tutorial will show you how to take one of the creature textures from Neverwinter Nights, modify it, and use it to create a modified version of the creature.
Creatures in the game use texture images which wrap around the model's skeleton to form the skin of the creature. By modifying these textures images using image editing software, you can change the visual appearance of the creatures skin. This is a great way to create new creatures for use in your custom adventures.
Steps for Re-Skinning a Creature Model
The process we will use is as follows:
- Download one of the original textures from the game
- Modify it visually using a program like Photoshop
- Convert it to the compressed format recognized by the game
- Add it to a Hak Pak for use in your module
The first thing that is needed is one of the original creature textures from the game. BioWare will be releasing creature textures for the community to use, and you can download textures here. The first bundle contains the Troll, Umberhulk, Bat, Badger, and Panther textures.
There are also community-made tools that will allow you to extract textures from the game, though this is a more involved process.
Modifying the Texture
Using an image editor of your choice that supports the Targa (.tga) format, open and edit the texture. Example software includes Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and Irfanview. [You can use GIMP, it has many hue/colour modifying options, besides, GIMP is completely free - feillyne. = ]]
You can modify the texture in several ways. Painting on tattoo patterns, or modifying the color balances are two ideas, but you are only limited by your imagination!
Adjust the Hue or modify the Color Balance [GIMP has these options, too.]
Once you are done your modifications, save the images as Targa (.tga) files, (selecting the '24 bits/pixel' and 'uncompressed' options of your software).
The filenames of textures are important, as you can only use them in the Toolset if they use the exact name of the texture image in the game. So the 'c_troll' texture that you download must retain the 'c_troll' filename if it to be recognized by the game as the texture for the Troll model.
Converting the Texture
In order to use the textures in your module for others to play, you must convert the images to the compressed format that is recognized by the game.
BioWare has created a compression tool for this process which we use internally. We are offering it for download as a free, unsupported Windows utility.
Instructions for using the DDS Compression Tool
2. After unzipping the tool, you will find 2 files in the 'dds' folder (processtextures.exe and runme.bat) along with 2 directories labelled 'in' and 'out'.
3. Place the .tga you wish to compress into the 'in' folder.
4. Double-click the 'runme.bat' in the 'dds' folder. This will convert the texture from .tga format to the compressed .dds format that is needed for the game. You will find the converted texture in the 'out' folder. It will have the same filename as the original, but with the .dds file extension. The 'c_troll.tga' texture I started with is now 'c_troll.dds'.
Notes about the DDS Compression Tool
The DDS Compression Tool is a free, unsupported Windows utility that will not work on all video cards. It is dependant on your video card and drivers supporting the required compression. Most DirectX 8 drivers should work - I have tested it on a GeForce3 and Radeon 8500, which worked fine, however the Matrox G550 card I tested did not work.
If you cannot run the DDS Compression Tool, I would suggest finding a friend who can to convert your textures, as this is just a small (though required) step in the overall process of creating your own textures!
[GIMP .dds plugin, you can easily convert tga's and other formats to .dds:
Creating a Hak Pak
Once your textures are ready, you will need to add them to a Hak Pak, which can then be used with your module, and distributed so others can enjoy your creations.
1. The Hak Pak Editor is the 'nwhak.exe' program located in the 'utils' directory where you have installed Neverwinter Nights (The default location is C: \NeverwinterNights \NWN \utils). Double-click the 'nwhak.exe' to start the editor.
2. Add the new .dds texture to the Hak Pak Editor by selecting
'Resource' -> 'Add'. Browse to the location of the .dds file. Select it and click 'Open'.
3. You will now see the texture file listed as a resource in the Hak Pak. Add a title and description to your Hak Pak, and save it to your 'hak' folder where you have installed Neverwinter Nights (The default location is C: \NeverwinterNights \NWN \hak).
Using a Hak Pak
Note: As of the 1.28 patch, Neverwinter Nights has allowed for the use of multiple Hak Paks and has changed the way you utilize them.
1. Now that the Hak Pak is in your 'hak' directory, we can add it to a module. Open an existing or new module in the Toolset. Under the 'Edit' menu select 'Module Properties', then select the 'Custom Content' tab. Click on the drop-down list via the small arrow above the Check for Conflicts button. You should see a list of all the Hak Paks you have placed into your hak directory. Select the Hak Pak(s) you want to include in your module and then click the 'Add' button.
Note: This is how Hak Paks are added to a module. Remember that, if you use a Hak Pak in your module, Players must place the same Hak Pak in their 'hak' directory to play the module, so be sure to bundle the Hak Pak with your module when offering it for download!
2. Now that the Hak Pak with the new texture has been added, creatures that use that texture will now have the new skin. In my example, all the Trolls I paint down in my module are purple.
If all you need to do is re-skin an existing creature in the game to give it a new look, then this is all that is needed! However, you can also use the Toolset to create a new creature type with custom abilities, and combine it with the new texture to create a truly unique custom creature. This process is outlined in the Creating Your Own Creatures tutorial.