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JustSomeGuy's Skin/Mod creation tutorial


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Since other people have been asking, I decided to share the skin-making process I found out myself "the hard way", using trial and error.

So, here it is. The base presumption is that you want to make an entirely new camo pattern for some AFV. In this tutorial, this was the case of creating Czech Army "U2500" camo pattern for the Ulan IFV.

JustSomeGuy's SB Skin-making tutorial


  1. you don't need paid Photoshop: it's perfectly possible to create SB Pro skins in Paint.NET, which is freeware
  2. you need a base skin. However, unless you only want to add details, typical "woodland" skins already have their own camo patterns, which probably wouldn't fit to the new ones you want to create. Therefore:
  3. copy a skin of the vehicle you want  to mod (.dds file) from the "<SB Pro Pe folder>\textures\desert" folder
  4. open the copy in Paint.NET (or photoshop)
  5. reduce the saturation of the desert skin to 0, to get rid of the "sand" color. Behold: a gray, non-camo base layer of AFV details is born
  6. paste the .dds file of the vehicle you want to mod from the "<SB Pro Pe folder>\textures\woodland" folder as a new layer
  7. move the woodland layer beneath the desert layer
  8. on the "desert" layer, delete all the non-camo pieces, eg. MG barrel, head&brake lights, gunner sights, wood, etc. Thus, they will be replaced by the details from the "woodnald" layer underneath.
  9. create a new layer, above the desert layer. This will be your actual camo layer.
  10. Now, your graphics editing program should look like this ("U2500" is the camo layer, "sedivak" the gray, ex-desert one, "Layer 4" is the woodland layer with color details like wheels, lights etc.):
  11. set your camo layer's properties to blending mode "overlay". That way, it would "combine" with the underlaying AFV details from the "gray" (ex-desert) skin layer.
  12. Get as much as possible reference images of the camo pattern you want to model. When skinning a new vehicle, get hi-res photos of other AFVs the army of your choice is using to get a feeling for what their camo pattern looks like, especially near the edges and ends of the vehicle.
  13. create your camo pattern. Itself, it would look like this:
    (Note the "holes" in the camo pattern: that's because in their place, details from other places of the model are inserted and if the camo pattern continued over them, it would look bad.)
  14. the texture itself is not proportional. What that means is that parts of the model which seem to be equally long on the texture are actually of different length on the model. That means that things which look directly underneath on the texture are way off on the model. So,
  15. debug the texture! Pixel by pixel, you have to align the camo pattern on the model's various surfaces. You could make the proccess a lot faster by adding another layer of temporary reference points like this:
    Which allow you to do the corrections in "one edit, one hit" pattern. Anyway, this phase could and would take hours and hours; for example, the Ulan took me about 10 hours of debugging, because each time, you have to "compile" the skin (see further points 17 through 19), restart SB Pro editor, have it re-load the skin, wonder around it, taking screenshots of things to correct and agin and again and again.
  16. It might happen that your are clueless of what certain portion of the texture represents on the model. In such a case, it's again bright colors what helps you. Create a spots of different colors or even numbers on the texture, save it's printscreen as a legend, then see it in-game, save screenshots, remove the colors/numbers and debug:
  17. When ready to try your skin in-game, merge the layers and save the resulting texture/image as .dds with options "DXT5 (Interpolated alpha)" and "generate mipmaps".
  18. Put the resulting .dds in the proper <eSim games>\mods folder
  19. Select the appropriate faction's camo pattern in SB PRO's editor, insert the vehicle, view it
  20. Something is still wrong? Go to step 15.
  21. Otherwise, rejoice upon the beauty of your final creation and create a screenshot:
  22. create a readme file, ZIP it together with the .dds skin (using legacy zip algorithm, otherwise, some users migh be unable to unpack it) and rename the resulting ZIP archive to "<AFV type> <your mod> (<SB version>), eg. "Czech Ulan (3.025)"
  23. Upload the archive to the corresponding section of steelbeasts.com and add the printscreen you took earlier as a thumbnail
  24. Wait till everything gets approved by moderator
  25. Mission accomplished!
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7 minutes ago, Zaphod said:

Can the skin be installed to a scenario that you edited and it be seen by all who plays it?

No but you can include the skin files in the zip and provide instructions to the user on installing it.




Thank you sooo very much. This is the best instructions.

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On 4/3/2016 at 0:14 PM, JustSomeGuy said:
  1. When ready to try your skin in-game, merge the layers and save the resulting texture/image as .dds with options "DXT5 (Interpolated alpha)" and "generate mipmaps".


Note that for general vehicle skins DXT1 (no alpha) is adequate, DXT5 is typically for images such as rotor.dds and decals (ie, files that actually have an alpha channel).

Edited by MAJ_Fubar
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10 hours ago, Zaphod said:

Well sounds like an option to add to the wish list


Except that the resulting scenario "pack" (Missions plus skins) might be multi MB in size.


As it is Ssnake is suggesting the new terrain model may require scenarios to not have maps embedded due to size issues.


So scenario, map, skin, terrain mods, etc. might result in a very large package.

Edited by Gibsonm
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  • Sean pinned this topic
1 minute ago, Gibsonm said:

Yes but I believe after a "hot pink" incident this was identified as cheating of the first order and very much frowned upon.

How did you find out that person was cheating if no one was seeing it?

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Oh I was expecting a video link ... sorry. Didn't know that quote box was a link.
I am set now thanks :)

My idea was more to add on the side of the tanks some graffiti like 'I'm with stupid' but no fun if I 'm the only one seeing it :(

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