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NOLF PC | Newbies | How To Make A Skin

Introduction

Welcome to the Illustrated Skinning Tutorial! It will show you how to modify a color in a skin, which covers almost everything needed to know about skinning, and answers some questions about skinning and texture editing.

Please note that a basic understanding and know-how of image edition is assumed, as this is not a tutorial on image edition. For those of you who are not familiar with WimGimp, the image edition software used here, don't worry, there are a number of screenshots in the tutorial to help you start with it. If you are already used to another image manipulation software such as Photoshop, you can use it rather than WinGimp (if it offers the required functions of course, which Photoshop does, but not irfanview for instance).

To do yourself the steps of this tutorial, you need to have installed the Nolf Editing Tools (available from the official site here), the rez file manager WinRez-LT (available for free here, many thanks to BlackAngel Software!) and finally the WimGimp image edition software (available for free here thanks to WinGimp.org). Because the Nolf Editing Tools are available only on the PC platform, this tutorial cover only the PC. Unfortunately WinGimp is not totally bug free and may bug sometime (the program will close, all you have to do to go on is to restart it and re-open your image), therefore remember to save your work from time to time.

You will see in numerous places a symbol representing a screen: . Clicking on it will display a screenshot to illustrate the text.

This tutorial applies to the original Nolf as well as to Nolf 2: A Spy in Harm's way. In the How-to section after the tutorial, we'll see how to modify a Nolf 2 skin. Because at the moment I'm writing this, Nolf 2's Editing Tools are not available, I will use the original Nolf's Editing Tools. You could of course do it with Nolf 2's Editing Tools.

What is a skin?

What we call a skin is the color and designs of a character: skin, hair, clothes, accessories, etc...

In the game's system, the skin is a simple image painted, which is 'folded' around the player. By modifying this image, you can modify the color and designs of a character. More often than not, there are in fact several skin images per character: it can be one for the head and one for everything else for instance (common in Nolf1), or one for the hair, another for the face, and a last one for everything else (common in Nolf2). We often call those files skin files, or in short just skins.

The art of skinning is the art of modifying those images, or creating brand new ones, for a character. 

The images of the skins are also sometime called textures. Skins are textures, but not all textures are skins: skins are only used for characters, while texture is the name used for image files 'folded' around something, regardless what it is: rocks, grass, walls, furnitures, objects, etc.

In this tutorial, we'll see in detail how to change the color of a cloth. If you have more ambitious goals with skinning, know then that once you'll have learned that you'll know 90% of what there is to know in skinning! From there, making more ambitious skins is just a matter of mastering your image editor software.

Tutorial - Change a color in a skin

This is done in 3 steps. We will export the skin's image file from the game using DEdit, modify the image using WinGimp, and finally import the new image in the game using DEdit again.

1. Export the skin
Start DEdit

Start DEdit  (it is in the Tools folder located in the folder where you have installed No One Lives Forever, usually it is the "c:\Program Files\Fox\No One Lives Forever\Tools" folder). Open the game's project file (in the menu File, choose the command Open Project , and open the Nolf.dep file that is in the NOLF folder located in the folder where you have installed No One Lives Forever .)

Select the skin, write down its properties.

Click on the texture tab, and in the folder tree (usually at the top of the left part) select the CHARS/SKINS folder . That feeds in the list of textures below it. Click on the ELITEASIAN_ACTION skin to select it. Double click on it to see its properties and write them down somewhere! You will need them later

Export the skin

Right-click on that skin in the list and select the "Export TGA File(s)..." command . Browse to your documents folder, create there a new folder, name it "My Nolf Skins", open it and save the image there .

Save the original skin file

With the explorer, go to your skin folder. Select the .dtx file , copy and paste it to create a copy of it in this folder .

2. Edit the image file
Open the file

Open Wingimp . Click on Ok to close the "Tip of the Day" window, and select the Open option in the File menu . Wingimp is the windows version of Gimp, which is originally a Unix program. Even the windows version kept a part of the traditional Unix "look and feel", so if at the beginning you don't find your marks, don't worry, it will come quickly as you use WinGimp! 

Double click on the "My Document" folder to open it . Open then the "My Nolf Skin" folder . There you can open the skin file we just exported, open it

Modify the skin

Let's modify the color of the belly band and the lower leg bands. Those bands are rectangular, so select the "Select rectangular regions" tool by clicking on its icon in the toolbox .  With it, select the belly band by positioning the pointer to one of its corner, clicking and dragging (while maintaining the click) the mouse to the opposite corner . Then right-click somewhere on the image and select the "Image -> Colors -> Hue-Saturation..." command . In the window that opens, make sure the Preview button is in the pushed position . You may there change the colors by moving the sliders to obtain the color like that for instance . Click on the Ok button when done. You can repeat the same thing for the leg band (the little vertical one, lower).

Save the modified skin

Right-click on the image and select the "File -> Save As..." option . We will save it as a PCX file type. For that, click on the "Determine File Type" button and choose the PCX file type . Then click Ok to save . You may know close Wingimp .

3. Import the new image file
Import the new skin

In DEdit, right-click in the texture list and select the "Import PCX Files"... option . Open the pcx file , and confirm the we indeed wish to overwrite the existing texture . You still have, noted somewhere, all the original texture properties, right? Good, because we'll need them now. Double-click on the new texture to edit its properties: they have been reset to the defaults value when importing the skin ,  you need to change their value to recover their original values . Press Ok when done. Were' done with DEdit. The new skin is now, with its correct properties, in the EliteAsian_Action.dtx file. 

Make the rez file

With the explorer, go to the skins folder and select the new skin file EliteAsian_Action.dtx . We will copy it in the right folder structure to build the rez file. Copy this file and create in the "My Nolf Skins" folder a new folder called RezFolder . Inside that new folder, create another folder named CHARS . Inside it, create a SKINS folder and copy the skin there . Now, with the explorer, go to "My Nolf Skins" folder and save there the rez.vbs file (right-click here and choose "Save Target As.."). Double-click on it to create the rez file . That will create a rez file with your skin in it . Don't forget to rename it with a more specific name!

See it in the game

Copy the rez file in your custom folder (in the game's folder). Now, start the game's launcher and load that rez file with the custom button . Start the game, in the Multiplayer menu choose the Player Setup screen, and there select the player model "Elite Guard, Style 4" to see the new skin .

And if you wish to share your skin with the community, send it to NolfGirl.com! 

If you wish to do more advanced skinning, have a look at the how-to here, and if you have questions not answered here feel free to ask your questions in the forum here.

Happy skinning!

Deunid.


How to...

How to learn more about image editing with WinGimp?

See the official site's list of links (here), it includes links to numerous tutorials. If you wish to really become a WinGimp expert, you can also find a few books about WinGimp.

How to change the color of a non rectangular shape?

You'll need to make a non-rectangular selection in WinGimp, and there are a few tools to do that - please see WinGimp's documentation for more information. As a start, you can try the magic wand (the one that say "Select contiguous regions") which can select the part of an image that have a certain color (very convenient! use the threshold in the tools option window to control it). You can correct a selection by using a selection tool while pressing the Shift key to add to the current selection, or the Ctrl key to remove from the current selection.

How to add something onto a skin?

In WinGimp, create a layer above the layer containing the skin and draw in this layer. You can also paste your design in that layer if you already have it in another image file. Please see WinGimp's documentation to learn how to work with layers and transparency.

How to modify a skin in the Nolf 2 Demo with the original Nolf's Editing Tools?

Easy. First, unrez Nolf2's demo rez files. For this, download and save this small file Markers.rez (right-click and choose "Save Target As...") and the UnrezDemo.vbs program (save it in the same folder). In that folder, drop a copy of WinRezLT and double click on UnrezDemo.vbs. That will unrez the demo files. Then, run this little program here (click on it and choose the Open button) to create a Nolf1 DEdit project for the Nolf2 Demo. Later, when you open that project you will see a message about a missing dll, you can safely ignore it. 

You might have to lower the number of mipmaps in the texture properties to 4, because Nolf1's DEdit is limited to 4 mipmaps while Nolf2 can use more (a few Nolf2 skins have 7 mipmaps). Other than that, there should be no problem.

To load your rez file into the Nol2 Demo, create a folder named "Custom" in the Demo's folder, put your rez file there and type-in "-rez custom\MYSKIN.REZ" (without the quotes) in the Command line of the launcher's Advanced option window. While you're there, make sure that "Always pass command line arguments to the game" is checked.

Here is an example of a skin for Nolf2 made with the Demo (it should works too with the game) . Aren't they cute? You can get the rez file here.

Please note that this only allows you to import/export the textures, to make maps for Nolf2 with Nolf1's DEdit cannot work.

How to modify another kind of texture?

Simply: in the same way. Remember however that your RezFolder must have its structure copied onto the structure of the NOLF folder. If for instance you modify a texture that is located in NOLF\TEX\WOOD\WD01, make sure you put it in REZFOLDER\TEX\WOOD\WD01, otherwise your rez file won't work as intended. 

If your texture is a transparent or transluscent one, then you'll have to save it in WinGimp as a TGA file (not a PCX), and to import it in DEdit as a TGA file. Make sure when you save a TGA file with WinGimp that the RLE button is not pushed (it will appear when you save), otherwise DEdit won't be able to import it.

For some reason, when I import in DEdit a TGA file saved from WimGimp, it's all upside down. To solve that problem, just before saving it, I put it upside down myself so that DEdit will put it correctly when importing. For that, I select the "Flip the layer or selection" tool and click once with it in the skin, then right-click in the skin and choose "Image -> Transforms -> Rotate -> 180 Degrees". It's a bit tricky, but it works. If you encounter that problem, well, you now know how I solve it...

How to make my custom skin seen by the other players in multiplayer?

In order to keep the capacity of your internet connection intact for the gaming experience, Nolf doesn't automatically download add-ons. So, because your skin is correctly installed and shows up on your machine does not mean that the other players will see your custom skin on their machine. If you made a new skin and want it to be seen by your gaming partners in multiplayer games, they need to install your rez file onto their machine. Make sure they know how to get it! You can also make it available to the whole community by sending it to NolfGirl.com.

How to create a new variation of a character?

Variations are additional skins which are selectable in the "Player Setup" screen in multiplayer (please read the paragraph just above this one about multiplayer). You can use them too if you are making a single-player mission (and you can then add new skins and still use the original ones). 

All you need to do is to create you new skin file(s) and define them. 

The character variations are defined in the Modelbutes.txt file located in the Attributes folder. This way of defining variations was introduced in version 1.002, so you'll have to use the Modelbutes.txt file from version 1.002 or up, not the one from v1.001 that is already extracted in your Nolf folder. Extract Modelbutes.txt from the rez file Nolfu003.rez (you have installed at least update 3, right?), and open it. Go at its end, you will see how the variations are defined. Simple hey? There's a title line for each character, and one line for each skin file. Add your line(s) there, put Modelbutes.txt in your rez file at the right place (in an ATTRIBUTES folder) and you have created a new variation!

How to get the answer to a question about skinning not mentioned here?

If you have questions unanswered left, do not hesitate to ask your questions in the forum here.