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Character Skinning Basics

This tutorial teaches you how to take an existing game character and create a new one with your own texture (colors) on it. Once completed you will be able to see your character when you play in standalone mode. You can also send it to friends so they can use it and see you using it in network play.

This will not teach you how to make good skins: you are simply learning how to go about making the skin, and you can then learn new techniques elsewhere and use them.


You will need to install UPaint from the extras disk. Either install the extras or note where they are on the install disk - you will be using them later.

You can paint directly with UPaint but you probably want also to install a better Graphics Application.

Getting started

Open up UPaint and load a character, say Torch or Brock. UPaint will show the character in 3D alongside two textures, one for the head and one for the body. Save the character with a new name, say MySkin. This will create MySkin.upp, MySkinbody.upt and MySkinHead.upt on disk.


Now you can draw directly on the 3D character or in the texture windows, but for best results it's worth using a full-fledged graphics package like Photoshop.

Finding a starting image

Go to your graphics program and look for the texture for your character beneath UPaint's installation folder (on my UT2004 installation they are at C:\Program Files\Right Hemisphere\uPaint\Textures). Torch is mercMaleAHeadB.

You can edit this to your heart's content. Use the existing texture as a guide to the positions of the eyes and ears, etc. They line up with the shapes on the 3D model so if you get them in the wrong place your character will look somewhat deformed!

When you are done, save the file in .PNG format. Let's say it's called MySkinHead.PNG.


In UPaint, click anywhere in the box on the left that has the head texture in it. Then go to file->import texture, find your texture and click open. Your texture should appear in the left hand window and on the 3D model to the right.

You can continue to make changes, export from your graphics package and re-import in UPaint, and don't forget for minor tweaks you can draw directly on the character in UPaint.


First, save your work! Then Choose File -> Export character to Unreal.

This will create the following files under your UT2004 install directory:

  • ./System/MySkin.upl
  • ./Textures/MySkin.utx
  • ./StaticMeshes/cp_myskin1.usx
  • ./StaticMeshes/X_cp_myskin1.usx
  • ./Textures/cp_myskin1.utx
  • ./Textures/X_cp_myskin1.utx

Team Colors

A skin will not get popular if it does not support team colors. Only deathmatch players will download it (not even team deathmatch players!) because anyone who plays a team game with a non-team skin will quickly find themselves in trouble, and getting kicked from servers.

The first step in making team colors is to create the additional skins. Follow the basic tutorial above to create the red and blue versions, but add team numbers to the name, for example, MySkin_0 for red and MySkin_1 for blue. You can trash the .upl file for the teamskins as long as you keep the original MySkin.upl.

You need UnrealEd to set up team colors. In UnrealEd, open the texture package containing the red skin and copy it into the package containing the neutral skin. Export the body/head texture into a .DDS file, then open the neutral skin package and import that .DDS file. Repeat for blue. The package should now contain three body skins with names exactly the same except for the _0 and _1 at the ends. In teamplay the engine will automatically select the _0 or _1 textures - this works for body-only, head-only, or both. If you want your skin to work with 4-team gametypes (TDM4, CTF4, etc) then you should also have the green and gold textures with _2 and _3 respectively at the end of their names.

Lastly, right click on each head and body textures, then click on "Properties". Look for the LODSet value and set it to LODSet_PlayerSkin. Make sure you do this for all the actual skin textures. The portrait should have the LODSet value set to LODSet_Interface.

Related Topics


SuperApe: This tutorial needs love. The usual: more proper formatting, less commentary, more relevance, explanation, pics, concept and element definitions, linkage, etc.

Sweavo: I just partially loved it.

Category:Legacy Tutorial

Category:Legacy To Do – Make this tutorial look more like the other successful tutorials on the wiki. See Discussion above.