Classic Battlefield Modding Wikia

Soldier re-skinning, A method for retaining better details

By kysterama

00 header.jpg

Image File: 00_header.jpg

Tools required:

  • Photoshop or equivalent
  • Crazybump

Hi all, for the first time i started messing with soldier skinning the other day and the very first thing i noticed about the process and about a lot of the work out there already, is that without the detail overlays from the original dice texture sheets, its really hard to retain all the seams, cloth folds and fabric material texture etc when painting new schemes over the original textures. My first thought was to grab the normal map and try and convert it to a color/diffuse map and use it as a base for a new texture as most of the little details can be used from there. I'm sure a lot of people do the same thing, however its hard to make the bf2 soldier normal maps look flat as they have some pretty significant highlights in them as shown below. You can see i just have one channel on in the RGB and the result is no where near flat enough to use as a texture base.

01 highlights.jpg

Image File: 01_highlights.jpg

Now you could mess with the shadow/highlight filters in photoshop to tone out these uneven highlights, but Crazy bump can do it in one click. So download and installCrazybump

  • Once in the main interface for crazybump, click open and then click on the "open normal map from file" button.
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Image File: 02_crazybump_open.jpg

  • Browse to where you unzipped your textures and open the normal map file. This ends in a "" usually for the soldier skins. In this case I'm
  • Once the image has loaded, click the "Diffuse" button and then move the "Remove highlights" slider all the way to the right.
03 crazybump settings.jpg

Image File: 03_crazybump_settings.jpg

  • As you can see crazy bump gives a pretty good result in a few seconds.
  • Now click the "Save" button and then "Save diffuse to file" and choose a lossless image format such as png, bmp etc.
  • Open the saved image file in photoshop and now you have a good base with details to start painting a new texture.

* The last thing you will have to do is Invert the image (ctrl+I) and then play with the levels/brightness/contrast to get it looking good as the shadows and highlights bump details will actually be reversed when you bring it in from crazy bump.

PHOTOSHOP TIPS For my particular skin I wanted to retain some of the original details from the dice texture so quickly using the point to point lassoo tool, i cut out and pasted the boots, straps, vest, buttons, zipper, gloves and knee guard onto new layers.

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Image File: 04_photoshop_layers.jpg

Then I set my newly created detail diffuse map beneath these layers

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Image File: 05_photoshop_layers2.jpg

Colours tip

  • A great way to test out your colours over the the detail diffuse map in photoshop is to use the rectangle tool and draw a rectangle over a section of your texture.
  • Set the layer to multiply
  • now double click the little colour icon in the layer thumbnail and a colour selector will appear
  • Simply keep clicking in the colour selector until you find a hue that you like and it will update the rectangles colour in real time. This is a great way to quickly test out what colours look best
  • Remember you can change the brightness/contrast or levels of the grey detail diffuse map we made to make it lighter or darker depending on the type of skin you want to achieve. (Mine is dark because i was going for a nightops style skin.

06 Photoshop colour picker.jpg

Image File: 06_Photoshop_colour_picker.jpg

Overlaying patterns If you don't want to recolour it yourself, then pick a nice camo pattern (preferably tiling)

  • I used the "Filter -> other -> Offset" tool to make my camo pattern tileable. (There aretutes for making tileable textures online)
  • Set it to a nice size and put it on a layer set to "overlay"
  • Now play with the layers levels (Ctrl L) to brighten up the camo texture to your liking
  • In this example i also lightened up the detail diffuse map we made to suit the desert skin better
07 pattern overlays.jpg

Image File: 07_pattern_overlays.jpg

Highlights and shadows * Dodge and burn are your friend At this point we have a pretty nice result, but it is still a very flat texture as all we really have are the bump details and no highlighting or shadows present. The illusion of the folds in the cloth is usually done with dodge and burn. Now the general rule of thumb with texturing is to follow the path of least destruction, that is...try not to paint directly on existing layers or you forever lose the original layer as soon as your undo levels run out. Here's a little trick i learned recently about dodge and burning on a separate layer

  • Click "layer" -> "New" -> "Layer" or (shift+ctrl+N)
  • In the new layer dialogue box, set the mode to "overlay" and checkmark the "Fill with overlay-neutral color (50% gray)" box
  • Name the new layer "burn"
  • Repeat the above steps and this time call the 2nd layer "dodge"

Now we have two separate layers where we can control shadows and highlights

08 newLayer.jpg

Image File: 08_newLayer.jpg

  • The cool thing about this method is that the new layer is basically 100% transparent, but you can dodge and burn on it to your hearts contentIf you feel your dodge and burn results don't look good, simply sample that plain grey colour on that layer and paint your bad bits out and do it again much like using the brush as a sort of eraser.
  • For reference you can throw the original dice texture on a separate layer above this so you can continually refer to where the folds in the cloth appear, although it is relatively easy to see where they should go by following the bump details in our detail diffuse map.
  • For those who don't know, The dodge tool lightens the image while the burn tool simply darkens it. These 2 tools used in concert will give you great shadow/highlight details to give the illusion of 3d depth on a flat texture sheet.

Useful photoshop shortcuts to speed up things:

  • F* cycles between full screen modes * VERY handy when you're zoomed right in
  • Space* holding down space turns your cursor to the move hand. click and drag while space is held to move your texture around while zoomed in.
  • Alt+mousewheel* Zooms in and out
  • [* decrease brush size
  • ]* increase brush size
  • right click* Brings up the parameters of the current tool
  • Ctrl+L* Levels tool
  • Ctrl+U* Colour saturation tool
  • Ctrl + Click on a layer thumbnail* gives you a marquee selection of whats on that layer
  • Ctrl+z* go back one undo level
  • ctrl+alt+z* go back multiple undo levels

At this point, I feel our detail diffuse map we made in crazy bump is a little too strong and still a little too dark. I created a new layer beneath it with a 50% grey fill. Then i reduced the opacity slider on the detail diffuse map so that my new plain grey layer started showing through it. This softened up the detail layer to stop is looking so harsh. Then i put the levels up slightly on my plain grey layer so the overall brightness increases.

Make sure the the camo texture is above our dodge and burn layers. We want to retain the color information in the camo pattern and actually only dodge and burn the grey layers below it.

Lets start with the shadows. Select the burn tool and set the brush size to an appropriate size for the task at hand. Set the hardness to 0 so we have a nice soft edged brush and the opacity to around 15-20%. Also set the Range to Midtones for burning.

09 burnTool.jpg

Image File: 09_burnTool.jpg

Now start painting on the "dodge / burn" layer we created, where the shadows would naturally appear below the folds of cloth first starting with a thick stroke and then reducing the brush size as you go to really define the darkest part of the shadow. Its important to to start large and continually refine the shadow by reducing the brush size for each consequent stroke for the most natural effect. So I would start with a brush size of say 10 in this instance, make a stroke or two, press the "[" key twice, make another couple of strokes, press the [ key twice again and so on.

Now that I have a few shadow details in one area, i select my dodge layer, switch to the dodge tool and do the same process above to create the highlights above the shadows. For dodge, set the range to : Highlights.

10 beforeAfter.jpg

Image File: 10_beforeAfter.jpg

As you can see this creates a very nice depth effect to the texture. As usual, continually tweak levels and opacity's to get the right look. Right now, my highlights look too strong to look like cloth, so from here, i might reduce the opacity slightly on the dodge layer so the highlight effect reduces and smooths out more. I would also reduce the saturation level (ctrl+u) on that camo pattern to give it a more washed out and used look.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to reskinning and texturing, nor the only way to achieve the above results. I started this thread to share some of my knowledge and hopefully start a discussion on what you guys use in your texturing workflow. Hopefully with all our knowledge combined we can come up with some great results.