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How To: Skinning Your Planes

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SdKfz_181 #1 Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:16 AM

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Ok, this'll be my big all encompassing guide to skinning. To help make it easier to read I'll just go through the process, stopping to explain bits as I go along. Please note: Do read the entire thing, there's some important notes at the end. Anyway, on with the show.


Necessary Software
First off , you'll need some sort of photo editing software that is capable of working with .dds files. The majority of editing software doesn't come WITH the capability of editing .dds files, and for those you will need plugins. Some that come to mind are Gimp, Paint.net and Photoshop, Gimp and Paint.net being freeware and Photoshop costing, well... a lot. Here are a few links to guide you to the proper software:

Gimp (the actual program): http://www.gimp.org/
Gimp (the .dds plugin): http://registry.gimp.org/node/70
Photoshop (the .dds plugin): https://developer.nv...adobe-photoshop
Paint.net (the actual program): http://www.getpaint.net/ (Direct .dds support, does not require plugins)

Obviously I can't link you to the actual program Photoshop, as that's what we call pirating, and that is bad. There may be a trial version however.

You will also need a program to extract the .dds files from the .pkg files that the game uses, as well as repackage your modified .dds files back into the .pkg files. The only ones that come to mind for me are 7zip and Winrar, 7zip being open source software and Winrar being a payed for program, but having a trial time period that you could use. Here's link for those as well:

7zip: http://www.7-zip.org/
Winrar: http://www.win-rar.c...nload.html?&L=0

For the rest of this guide everything you see will be done with Photoshop and Winrar, as that's what I use, though I'd imagine the other programs work pretty similar. Installing everything should be pretty simple so I'm not going to go through that process.

Locating the .dds Files
First off, after you've got your necessary software installed (if you didn't already have it), your going to need to locate the .dds files for the plane you want to skin. For this guide I'll be using the Bf 109 G, since it's the only plane I've FULLY skinned so far.

Navigate to where the .pkg files are located (mine are a little different since I didn't install in the default location, but you'll get the idea) and copy it to, for example, your desktop.
SGuide011.jpg

Next, change the file extension from .pkg to .zip, and select yes when it gives you the warning about changing file extensions. (A note on this: Alex mentioned that you do not have to change the file extension, but that you can simply extract the files using whatever extraction software your using.)
SGuide012.jpg SGuide013.jpg

Now, using the extraction software we've got we simply extract the files. I always use the "extract to (insert file destination here)" method, as I find it's the easiest, and I can always move the folder/files around afterwards.
SGuide014.jpg

Now we've got all those folders with all those .dds files. (Mind you I've got some extra .psd files from previously working on skins.)
SGuide015.jpg

Editing the .dds Files
Let's go ahead and open the GR11_BF109G_hangar file (default skin file). You can do that by opening it through your photo editing software or, since we installed the .dds plugins, simply double click the file. (You may have to right click the file, select properties, and make whatever program your using the default for this to work, and if you do if makes life much easier.)
SGuide016.jpg

Once the program starts up and the file opens you'll get a little box like this. Make sure you open the file at the default sizes.
SGuide017.jpg

Now you've got your skin open in your photo editing software and your free do play with it as much as you want, just make sure you don't rotate it, or it will look all sorts of weird in game because nothing will match up right. Then when your done playing around with it, simply save it over the currently existing .dds file.
SGuide018.jpg SGuide019.jpg

When you go to save it you'll get yet another dialogue box like this. Make sure you've got everything set like I do in this picture. (It's all default so I'd imagine Gimp users can just leave everything defaulted.)
SGuide020.jpg

Repackaging the .dds Files
Now we go ahead and open our extracting/packaging software, locate, and open the games .pkg archive.
SGuide001.jpg SGuide002.jpg SGuide003.jpg SGuide004.jpg

When your locating the .pkg archives within your extracting/packaging software you'll have to make sure it's looking for all file types, as the .pkg files may not show up otherwise. Once you do that you'll be able to see the .pkg file.
SGuide005.jpg SGuide006.jpg

Now, still within the extraction/packaging software, we navigate to where the .dds file is located.
SGuide007.jpg SGuide008.jpg SGuide009.jpg SGuide010.jpg

Now you'll click and drag the .dds file you modified pretty much anywhere in the folder you have open with your extraction/packaging software, with the exception of into one of those top three folders.
SGuide021.jpg

Now you'll get one last dialogue box. Make sure you have everything set like I do. (Aka: The default way.)
SGuide022.jpg

That's it, now your ready to go fly your pretty new plane!

Final Notes (Notes with dates have been added at a later time, just putting the dates there to make new ones easier to find.)
Please note that you should not have WoWP open while doing all this. Aside from the demand on your computer, you won't be able to repackage your .dds files if it's open. It should also be noted that you need to back up your original .pkg files in case you mess anything up.

I have heard that some planes are not skinnable. I however have not yet run into this problem, though I have not skinned every plane in the game, so you may come across one that you can't. I have also run into problems with blanking out the country insignia, kill markers, unit numbers, and the other common files. The last time I tried messing with them I broke something or other and had to resort to reinstalling to fix the issue. (My fault for not backing anything up.)

4/15/2013
It does not SEEM that changing the image size of the .dds file affects the skin, at least not increasing it, as long as you go in multiples rather than decimals. For example, I was able to 4x the size of the P-51A skin with no problem, albiet a huge file size. Another note on that as well, keep in mind if you do increase the size of the image, the greatly increases the size of the file, therefore decreasing game performance. Testing it on the 51A, when I 4x'ed the image, the file size shot up to roughly 30mb, though it does look better. Just something to keep in mind.

I take no responsibility for broken games. Modding any game is a risk, but if you do it properly everything should be fine.

Have any questions? Feel free to ask. Also, if there is any way I can improve this guide, please do let me know, as this is an ongoing project of mine.

Lastly, a big thanks goes out to DrSinister for helping me figure out how to get skins to work in WoWP.

Edited by SdKfz_181, 15 April 2013 - 05:15 AM.

Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

Arnim #2 Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:43 AM

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Hey this looks like a great guide, well done, I may tinker with it a bit soon.  Last time I did skinning was way back in the old IL-2 series game, this process looks a bit easier (I think).  Just out of curiosity, how long would you say it takes you on average to complete one skin, for example, how long did it take you to do the purple one?  I'm just trying to get a sense of how much work is involved, and I know the more detailed the skin, the longer it will take.

Great write up, +1!

Eon264 #3 Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:59 AM

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I am totally making a purple plane too, thanks for the guide.

This is probably a dumb question, and if it's in there forgive me as I intend to read this in its entirety later, but can other people see your skins or is it just you?



Ace: Bf 109 b, I-16 (late), A6M2, A6M5, F4F,

SdKfz_181 #4 Posted 14 April 2013 - 06:13 AM

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View PostArnim, on 14 April 2013 - 05:43 AM, said:

Hey this looks like a great guide, well done, I may tinker with it a bit soon.  Last time I did skinning was way back in the old IL-2 series game, this process looks a bit easier (I think).  Just out of curiosity, how long would you say it takes you on average to complete one skin, for example, how long did it take you to do the purple one?  I'm just trying to get a sense of how much work is involved, and I know the more detailed the skin, the longer it will take.
Great write up, +1!

It mostly depends on the person (I say person because some people work really fast, others, not so much) and the complexity of the skin file. The biggest time consumer, even on more simple planes is figuring out exactly what goes where, like what part of the skin file shows up where in relation to the in game 3D model. Most parts are pretty easy to figure out, but some can take quite a while, and that is where the complexity of the plane comes into play. I swear finding the little tiny intakes on the 109G's nose had to have taken me half an hour on their own. You also have to look at how many/what modules a plane has. For example, a plane with only one engine module would be easier than a plane with more than one, as you'd have to work on all the engine modules, unless you were only concerned about, say, the final one.

Another big time consumer is getting things to match up. For example, say you wanted something on the fuselage of the plane, going down and onto the wing. You'd have to spend some extra time matching up where the fuselage and the wing meet up on the skin file. A lot of it is trial and error. After all the unpacking and opening the .dds file in your photo editor, you save it, repack it, open WoWP, and see that the line you made on the fuselage is over here, while the same line on the wing is over there. Then you close WoWP, reopen everything, edit it to where you think it'll match up, save everything, repack everything, rinse, repeat.

I think it took me about 3 or 4 hours to do the Purple Lotus skin I did for the 109G. However, I did end up starting over a couple time during the process so it could have taken less time. I'll probably end up at 10+ by the time I'm 100% satisfied with it.

View PostEon264, on 14 April 2013 - 05:59 AM, said:

I am totally making a purple plane too, thanks for the guide.

This is probably a dumb question, and if it's in there forgive me as I intend to read this in its entirety later, but can other people see your skins or is it just you?

It is only you, and anyone else that might happen to have the same skin as you (say, if you downloaded it). Also, all planes (of the same type) will have the skin, not just yours, though a note about that, only planes with the same in game camo as you. So say you modify the hangar (camo that is on the plane when you buy it, true base in my opinion) skin, only other players using that in game skin will have yours as well. This is why I tend to use the hangar one, as most people tend to choose another camo rather than leaving their plane as it came when they bought it.


Now I think I'm gonna throw Memphis Belle on the tele and go to bed, I'm pretty sure I spent more time on the forums today that actually playing, lol.
Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

GeorgePatton #5 Posted 14 April 2013 - 02:51 PM

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There are some issues with saving .dds files in Gimp if they have mipmaps. I haven't done it in a while, so can't write a guide on it right now. I will mess around with it later and try to get around to writing a little guide on that here sometime.


Cheers!
Glenn

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venser #6 Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:12 PM

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Thanks, this is a good guide. It will be gun doing artistic stuff on my favorite planes!
Ace: Fw 57
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LightningStriker911 #7 Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:35 PM

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Wow... putting a skin in WoWp is harder than putting a skin in Wot..  Putting a skin for Wot is so simple.

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SdKfz_181 #8 Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:07 PM

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View PostAlexVandross, on 14 April 2013 - 08:29 AM, said:

Also. I am wondering, have you tried it in gIMP? I am wondering if, seeing as you have DXT1, and other options.. I might have to play around with the exported settings (mipmap and such)


Edit: Now matter HOW I tried that.. it still wouldn't work. In terms of airplanes, it just rips all textures off and leaves an unpainted (whitish/gray) plane.

I think I will try some settings changes on WinRar.. I will also try 7zip again, and play with it's settings..


It's just weird.. I can get djwhodat to load my dds files into the pkg's and it works and he sends me the new pkg..and it works...

And we checked we had the same apparent settings.. Wondering if he and I missed a setting difference, something slight maybe..

I'm not POSITIVE as to the issue your running into, since I don't know the exact steps your taking, but it sounds like it's a problem with how Gimp is saving the files, like Glenn mentioned. I personally haven't worked with Gimp too much, but the only thing I can think of it having something to do with the compression method. Have you tried using compression mode BC2/DXT3? I've tead around that that's what you need to be using with Gimp, so you might give that a try. Also, the renaming from .pkg to .zip is only for when your extracting the .dds files, not repackaging them. I tried, can't even get it to revert to a .pkg file by renaming.

You might try using Paint.net, another open source program, to edit/save the .dds files. It has direct .dds support, by that I mean it does not require a plugin. I added a link to it in the first post.

View PostLightningStriker911, on 14 April 2013 - 03:35 PM, said:

Wow... putting a skin in WoWp is harder than putting a skin in Wot..  Putting a skin for Wot is so simple.

Yeah, but it's mostly just due to the fact that we have to repackage everything, rather than simply dropping it into the right folder within res_mods (I tried it that way, doesn't work). Hopefully in the future they do like WoT and have the game make use of a mods folder.

Edited by SdKfz_181, 14 April 2013 - 05:15 PM.

Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

hathore #9 Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:43 PM

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This is so awesome- thank you so much for posting this!!

I think a contest is in order sometime next month...

^^

~Hathore

SdKfz_181 #10 Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:07 PM

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View Posthathore, on 14 April 2013 - 05:43 PM, said:

This is so awesome- thank you so much for posting this!!

I think a contest is in order sometime next month...

^^

~Hathore

No problem at all, just tryin to help out ^_^. Thanks for pinning it by the way, hopefully it'll turn out to be a good resource for people interested in skinning. Also, as I mentioned, I'll update it whenever necessary, as was the case with Alex's problem, made me look further into possible programs to use, so I ended up adding a bit to the original post.
Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

hathore #11 Posted 14 April 2013 - 08:06 PM

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Most welcome!
And thank you- this is indeed helpful!
Pin is well-deserved :)

gaidalcain85 #12 Posted 14 April 2013 - 09:45 PM

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Using 7zip you can pull the .dds files right from the .pkg and put them right back in, without having to change any file extensions or having extract the entire thing, and I am adding my voice to yours in stressing the need to backup any .dds files you edit. Awesome guide btw :honoring:

GreyKnight1 #13 Posted 14 April 2013 - 10:25 PM

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:playing: nice guide SK +1 for it

SdKfz_181 #14 Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:09 AM

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View PostAlexVandross, on 14 April 2013 - 10:47 PM, said:

You don't need to rename to .zip to extract or view any of the files.. and, unfortunately, if it were how  gIMP was saving the files.... why can djwhodat simply take my .dds files and easily put it into his .pkg's, then link me to the new .pkg on his cloud? It works just fine after using it.

I'm almost wondering if it's because he's using 32 bit windows, or there's just some setting we overlooked on WinRAR. Either way, I'll keep playing with it. I'll even probably buy Adobe CS soon (my wife loves doodling/painting anyway...and I love making stuff in Illustrator.),.,,, well, soon ™ since it IS expensive.

Ah, well, that's how I was taught but I'll add that to the original post :).

As far as it possibly having something to do with your OS, I have no idea but it's a possibility. I'm running 64 bit Windows 8 myself.

Also added some info about changing the resolution of the .dds files that I discovered while attempting to make a high res skin. (As hard as it would/will be on game performance.)

Edited by SdKfz_181, 15 April 2013 - 05:13 AM.

Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

Eon264 #15 Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:52 AM

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I wouldn't mind throwing my hat in the ring if WG actually does end up making a contest. I've been looking for an excuse to fiddle with gIMP some more anyway. Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.



Ace: Bf 109 b, I-16 (late), A6M2, A6M5, F4F,

GeorgePatton #16 Posted 15 April 2013 - 04:48 PM

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Information Bulletin:


I have tried using Gimp and Photoshop to edit the .dds files. I have followed every instruction posted in the OP to the letter. I've used both 7Zip and WinRAR to pack/unpack the archive files. No matter which program I use, I end up with blank white aircraft (with the grunge/panels still there of course).

I think we should all get together and post our system specs and which programs we've tried to see if this is something related to our hardware/OS.


I am running Windows 7 64-bit Professional on an Alienware M17xR4 system.


Cheers!
Glenn

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SdKfz_181 #17 Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:02 PM

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Hmm, seems we have differences in even our packages folder:
pkgfolder.jpg

Also, if anyone has a skin requests, send me a PM, otherwise I'll forget, or totally miss it.
Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

zkyz #18 Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:05 AM

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Hello, I don´t want to be a party pooper but i was at support and found this article:

https://support.worl...ld-of-warplanes

Since now we found how to edit the paintings how WG will control or charge for the others in store ?

SdKfz_181 #19 Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:17 AM

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I'm with Alex, I'd guess it'll be pretty much like WoT. Also, if you wanna shoot me your .dds files I can try that Alex.
Ace: P-51A, F4F, F4U(G), LaGG-3, IL-2(t)(3G), Ar 68, Me 209 A1, AGO Ao 192(2G), Fw 57(G), Bf 110B(2G), Bf 110E(G), Me 410(G), Bf 109 Z(3G)
Skin requests should be sent to my inbox (PM), also, reference pictures or at least a general idea of what you want is always nice. I can't promise I'll have it done too soon, as it usually takes me all day to do a skin depending on the plane.

FreeFOXMIKE #20 Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:58 AM

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good work ,and a great outline. the only thing I may differ with is I have used panitnet.com and had good results and I am new at it been doning them from the Alpha days and found paintnet a lot easyer.

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