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Skinning, page 1
Welcome to the skinning tutorial for Morrowind. For this tutorial, you'll need a few other tools besides the TES Construction Set. Here are the things you'll need:
The Parts: Skins, Icons and Meshes
Before we begin, I want to give you some background on different parts that make up some items in the Morrowind game. There are three basic items you'll be working with to do skinning:
The skin (also known as the texture) is the picture that you're going to drape over the mesh.
You can think of the mesh as one of those wire reindeer that people put in their yards during the holidays and the skin (or texture) as a sheet that they're draping over the wire outline.
If you haven't figured it out, the skin, the icon and the mesh in this group of three pictures are not of the same object.
The icon isn't very complicated at all. It is merely the picture that shows up in the player's inventory when carrying the item.
Since some items cannot be picked up and carried (such as a person), not all items have an icon associated with them.
The mesh is like a wire outline that has a blanket draped over it (the skin) to make a solid-looking object.
Mesh editing is something difficult to do for Morrowind since Bethesda didn't supply mesh editing tools until Morrowind had been released for a several months. The tools they have now only work with a 3d software package called 3D Studio Max (3DS) and so you're out of luck unless you own this expensive graphics software. For most people, editing the skin and icon (as described in this tutorial) will be sufficient for most situations.
Still, you'll need to edit a few things in the mesh file with a hex editor in order to get the skin to show up correctly when changing skins. Changing some values with a hex editor is required because of the way that the mesh files contain embedded information about the skin that goes with a mesh.
Getting Started: Changing an Icon
Find the item on which you want to change the icon
You first need to find an item to edit. As you can see, I've selected a key in the picture on the left side. I'm going to change the ID and name of the key so that we create a new key for a different door.
If you look at the lower of the two pictures at the left you'll see that a NIF file is listed on one button and a tga file is listed on the other button. The file extension (NIF or tga) indicates the type of file that is being used in Windows. The NIF file is a NetImmerse Mesh while the tga file is a fairly standard graphics format (targa). We're going to be changing only the icon in this tutorial, so we'll change the TGA file.
Change Windows view options
In order to figure out the types of files on your computer, it's sometimes helpful to show the file extensions. You'll need to see the .nif, .tga and other extensions in order to find the files you need on your TES Construction Set CD.
Click Tools | Folder Options. Then click the View tab. Uncheck the box that says "Hide file extensions for known file types" and then click ok. If you would rather not see the file extensions you may turn this option off again later by checking this box again.
Search the TES Construction Set CD for the icon file
Put your TES Construction Set CD into your CD-ROM drive since we need to get the original icon picture off this disk. The game installed on your hard drive has all the artwork and other items in a compressed file and so you need to get the files to modify off your CD.
Click Start and then click either Search or Find (depending on your version of windows). Then click Files or Folders.
Type the name of the icon file as it is shown in the Construction set window—in this example, Tx_key_standard_01.tga. Change the drive letter under the Look in: section to show your correct CD-ROM drive letter. And then click Search Now.
Find out what folder the file is located in and copy it to your hard drive at the analagous location
Once the computer finds the file on your CD, click the file once so it is highlighted. You will see the location listed at the top of the search window (Windows 2000/XP). In other versions of Windows you may right-click the filename and click properties to find out the location.
You need to copy this file over to your Morrowind game folder so you can modify it. But you must be careful to put it in the same location inside your Morrowind folder that it in on the CD. For instance, since the CD has this file at "\Data Files\Icons\m\", I need to put this folder under the "Data Files" folder inside my Morrowind folder, and inside the "Icons" folder inside the "Data Files" folder and inside the "m" folder inside the "Icons" folder.
You may need to create the "m" folder on your hard drive.
After you've created the folders, you can copy the picture file from the cd with CTRL-C and paste it with CTRL-V or you may use the edit menu to copy and paste this file—or you may drag this file to the correct folder.
Rename the file to something descriptive
Now that you've copied this file to the folder inside the game folder ("C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Icons\m"), rename it to something more descriptive.
It's a good practice to leave the first part of the filename the same as it was before ("Tx_key") and to keep the filename the exact same length. Notice I merely changed "standard" to "devilkey" in the filename so it has exactly the same number of letters (count underscores or spaces as letters) as it did before.
Later when you're changing the skin for an object, it's essential NOT to change the length of the filename because you have to do some editing with a hex editor, and changing the length could make your item non-functional.
Edit the image file in your image-editing program
Make the changes in appearance that you would like in your image-editng program and then save the file with the same name and file format. Since this is a ".tga" file be sure to save it in this format.
Do not resample the image to make it larger or smaller—the modified image must be the same size as the original image (though you may zoom in or out when looking at the image and drawing or modifying it).
If you're not sure how to edit your picture, check the documentation that comes with your editing program. You may also find information on using your program (especially for Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro) on many sites on the Internet. Do
If you're not sure how to edit your picture, check the documentation that comes with your editing program. You may also find information on using your program (especially for Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro) on many sites on the Internet. Do a search from a search engine such as Google.
Change the information for your object in the TES Construction Set
Now go back to the TES Construction set and change the name and description of the object. Click the bottom of the two buttons to change the icon file for the object. The object will then use the new icon when you look at it in your inventory screen.
When you're done changing the information, click Save. Click the option to create a new object when asked.
Drop the object in the world someplace where you can pick it up and look at it in the game. Save your plugin, load the plugin into the game and test it out.
Although you've changed the icon for the inventory screen, you haven't changed the way the object looks in the world. The next section will explain how to create a new skin for an object, so read on.
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