Coloring Coolskins

Introduction and buildup

This guide looks into how coolskins are made and how to make them after a model has been created and textured correctly (finished model for baseq4)

The coolskins consists of four different colors where they have been named in a specific way to make it easier to explain how it works:

COLOR/NAME LAYERS COLOR CODE DESCRIPTION
Original 1 X X X No coloring done, it uses the baseq4 skin
Bumpmap 2 X X X Surface roughness
Specular map 3 X X X Fake light reflection
Grayscaled + red 4 255 X X Clothes color / Primary body
Grayscaled + green 5 X 255 X Color of Armor 1
Grayscaled + blue 6 X X 255 Color of Armor 2

These colors have been used as they are easier to manipulate later on inside the game. You need an image editor which can handle 1 base picture with 7-10 layers. In most cases people use Photoshop for this type of work but Corel and GIMP can also be used.

The none colored layers

These three layers can be made inside of one file for the current time being, as you can manipulate each layer independently without causing any issues and damage to the other layers

The first layer is based on the original skin (the baseQ4 original coloring).
This picture have nothing modified and is just used to see how the original looked like.

The second layer you put in is based on the bumpmap for the model (blueish picture for the model)
and is then called ‘layer 2’. This picture must be modified so there aren’t many shadows on it.
The thing that you need to do here is to change it to grayscale (black & white -> maximum white).
There might be needed to be some other changes aswell, but the main thing is here to do the exact
same procedure on all the models so they will have the same color density and intensity.

The third layer was taken from the specular map and you’ll use the exposure command, with the value of +3,
this should be enough for the specular transformation. After this you set the ‘layer 3’ blending method to ‘color burn’.
This will change the ‘layer 2’ a minor bit and give it some parts of the texture

The colored layers

These three layers can just be made on top of the layers 1-3 without any problem as you do it through a layer mask.

The fourth layer is made out of the original skin that is converted to grayscale with a layer mask that covers pretty much
everything that is going to be colored red. You need to choose the full red (255.0.0) to do it correctly

The fifth layer is made out of the original skin that is converted to grayscale with a layer mask that covers pretty much
everything that is going to be colored green. You need to choose the full green (0.255.0) to do it correctly

The sixth layer is made out of the original skin that is converted to grayscale with a layer mask that covers pretty much
everything that is going to be colored blue. You need to choose the full blue (0.0.255) to do it correctly

Thoughts about layer four – six

Making the layers 4 – 6 is pretty easy, since you don’t have to be ultra clean (in the end it’s alpha, so small errors won’t be visible). But the biggest problem is to decide, which parts get what color.

For the marine skin it was fairly easy to decide: The clothes could be the body color (red), and the armor was easy to divide into 2 parts as they were made in a way that could easily be split into two separate parts.

Summary and finishing the coolskin

If you look at the alpha channels, you’ll notice that some of the screws, metal parts and even the leather on the back is left out of the example file. This is done so the original skin will appear. This will make the coolskins not a fully colored skin with a less cartoonish and it gives a nice detail to it.

All that is left to be done then is to save this skin into a .tga file. This should be done in 32 bit without compression else the model might show up with artifacts or other issues inside the game.

That is how the coolskins are made and hopefully you’ll be able to do the same with your own model.

To test the models, first make a folder named ‘models’ inside your ‘gtr’ directory. Inside ‘models’ make another folder named ‘cc_coolskins’. Inside this folder you place your finished .tga file.