On these forums I keep seeing the same questions crop up repeatedly from different people in a multitude of different threads, questions that could quite easily be answered but there is no 'central' F.A.Q thread for the subject of skinning the tanks in-game.
Therefore! this thread is intended to combine all possible queries and questions you may have about skinning your tanks, and if I miss anything or you think of something that should be in the F.A.Q, do add it below.
So without further ado;
1. General & Frequently Asked Questions
2. Photographic Editing Utilities
3. Leofwine's Guide to Slightly Advanced Axis Skinning
3.1 Preparation Work
3.4 Decals (to come)
1. General QuestionsBEFORE YOU CHANGE/ALTER ANY OF THE SKINS, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACK-UP OF THE ORIGINAL
Q. Is it possible for me to add my own painted skin into the game
A. Yes, see the rest of this thread
Q. Will I have to paint the skins I want to use myself, or can I download other peoples?
A. If the person who has made a new version of the skin 'publishes' it online, whether on the forums or in an online gallery/compendium with a download link, then yes you can download and use those skins.
Q. How do I put the skin into the game folder, or take the file out if I want to paint my own skin?
A. The skins are located in the following folder: World of Tanks > Res > Vehicles > Side > Vehicle name > 'thevehiclename.dds'
If you want to add a new skin, make sure you have a copy of the original saved safely, then just copy the new 'thevehiclename.dds' file into the folder. Nice and easy to do.
Q. I have painted up my skin/am using a skin I downloaded, but every tank of the same type looks the same as my tank. Is there anyway to change this, as I only want the skin on my tank?
A. I'm afraid once you apply a skin all tanks of that type will look the same. Because the skins are held locally, as in on your computer, rather than on the server, and as of the current moment there can only be one skin choice per tank type. As far as I am aware, there will be a 'paint' room, and certainly the developers will be offering new skins for vehicles in the future (whether they will cost in-game or actual currency I don't know).
Q. I've looked around for skins on the forums, but I can only find scattered threads of individual skinners work. Are there any threads I can look through for plenty of different skins?
A. There are a couple about and also a few sites on which you can track down new skins.
Q. Is using modified skins allowed by the developers?
A. Whilst I have not seen any official word on the developers views on custom skins, as far as I am aware we have the green light to continue doing so. As the skins are held locally (your computer) it is your decision to replace the skin files, so if you download a skin with content that may offend (offensive text/offensive images used on the skin) it will only show on your machine.
Q. Is the use of 'Hitbox' skins permitted?
A. 'Hitbox' skins, purportedly showing the weakest parts of each tank, are currently allowed. However these skins will not give a player a massive advantage over others due to serveral factors; shell dispersion, lag, inaccuracy of the skins. The 'hitbox' skins do little more than hint at where to aim as there is no guarantee that you will cause damage to a specific module by firing at a particular part of the tank.
Q. If I paint all of the tanks bright colours, will they be easier for me to spot?
A. Not at all. Due to the spotting mechanics relying on statistics (Turret visual range, Commander's skill level and several other factors), painting all the tanks bright colours will have no visual effect. May help you a little to put your reticule on the target, but as the tanks are outlined in bright red, as well as having a bright red icon above them, it would be near futile. Stick with either the stock skins or some of the fantastic ones community members have come up with.
Q. I didn't back up the original skin file and now I have a skin I do not want to use. What should I do?
A. Couple of options open to you;
1. Redownload the entire game, though this may take time to do, as well as taking account of any updates that may need to be installed, along with adding skins you may have already been using.
2. Private Message a skinner on these forums, such as myself, and ask them politely (and nicely!) to upload the original if they can. I'm sure they will be more than happy to help you out.
3. Download another skin you do like for that vehicle and use that one instead
Q. Why are you making custom skins for the game? Aren't the developers ones good enough for you?
A. Not at all, the original skins are a fantastic base for those of us who wish to have more variation in the appeance of the vehicles on the battlefield. I love the patterns and colours the German Army used from 1940-45, there are some fantastic combinations of colour and pattern, and seeing those patterns and colours transcribed onto the vehicles ingame just adds even further to the fantastic job the developers have done on the game world and vehicles.
Q. I'm quite tempted to make my own skins. Is it worth the time and effort, as I'm worried I'll do a bad job?
A. Yes, yes and yes again! As I view it, the more skinners, the more skins, the more variety to choose from. Everyone has different tastes, whether its a preference for strictly historically accurate skins, or modern 'sporty' type skins, the more choice there is the better for everyone.
If you're worried about how your efforts will turn out, don't be. We all have to start somewhere, and the more you apply yourself to the painting the skins, the more tricks you will pick up, and the better you will get at them. There are a couple of general tutorials out there, such as Tasmanian's guide here, which will get you started.
Q. I've seen a few skins with 'Zimmerit' anti-magnetic paste on them. How do I get this effect?
A. Lack_26 has written an excellent tutorial that you can find here if you wish to add the Zimmerit paste effect to your vehicle.
Q. If there is going to be a 'paint' room and skins from the developers, why this F.A.Q thread?
A. At the moment we don't know exactly what form a 'paint' room would take, how in-depth it will be and what you can do with it, and as far as the skins from the developers go, they will no doubt be fantastic, but custom user-made skins allow us to paint all of the tank types in colours we prefer without having to get a custom skin for each one. This thread will also tide the questions over until we know more about the 'paint' room and the developers skins.
Q. I've heard that people are loading skin packages with viruses/malware. Is this true and what should I do to avoid my computer being infected?
A. This is a sad thing that has come to light with regards to skinning, that people are taking advantage of custom-made skins and loading them with malicious content. If at any time you are suspicious about a file you are downloading, play it safe and don't download it. If it's a skin you really want, either try your hand at making it yourself, or look for something similar elsewhere - it is not worth the risk of downloading malicious content just to make your tank look pretty. From the skins I have downloaded, I have not seen a single one containing any malicious content so I am assuming this is a minor thing.
To quote moderator Eide on the issue, from the thread he posted here:
Unfortunately we have had several incidents now where people have attempted to take advantage of this by adding viruses or malware to packages advertised as skins. We will permanently ban any user who is guilty of this and we try to screen this forum section as much as possible. As a rule of thumb:
- Do not download skins offered in *.exe files
- if you unpack a file and there something else than a *.dds, remove the package
- scan every file you download before installing on your computer
Be careful what you download. If you don’t trust the source, don’t download a package and report it to the moderators. We will investigate the package and take action when needed. In all cases make sure you have a good protection suite on your computer!
Starting Guide to WoT Skinning - by Tasmanian
Zimmerit Effect Tutorial - by Lack_26
Zimmerit Effect w/out nVidia plug-in & how to apply it & camouflage colours
2. Photographic Editting UtilitiesBEFORE YOU MAKE/ALTER ANY OF THE SKINS, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACK-UP OF THE ORIGINAL
There are two main Photo Editting Utilities out there to use. First of all there is Adobe Photoshop, which is an expensive and powerful piece of professional photo-editting software. Secondly there is GIMP 2.6 (the latest version), which does pretty much all that Photoshop does but is free!
Generally these two are the better for editting the skins I find, though there are other tools out there.
For these utilities you can get a rather useful 'plug-in' called a .dds plug-in. This will allow you to directly alter the skins in their native .dds file format.This means you don't have to mess around converting files into and out of .dds format, and can save copies of your work in other formats.
However, if you prefer to not use a .dds pluging the other option is to take the files out of their .dds format and convert them into several formats using a converter. The one I use is DDS Converter 2.1*. Free and easy to use once you get the hang of it. Upside is that you can save multiple copies as you paint the skin, allowing you to have back-ups at various stages, though obviously there is a little bit of a messing around when you want to put the skin into the game. As I get quite paranoid that I will make some dreadful mistake that I can not rectify when painting the skin, I make a load of back-ups at various key points, so that I can just go back and reopen an older version and carry on from there. I also save the original skin in both .dds and .jpeg format to the vehicle types folder in my pictures folder and then save the altered skins to sub folders to keep it all organised.
*Link is to my Mediafire. I uploaded the installation .exe to it, after I had checked it over thoroughly for viruses/spyware and so on.
To put the file back into the game, just reverse the conversion format - from whichever image file type (for example .png or .jpeg) into .dds format and return the file to the vehicles folder in the game directory.
3. Painting/Altering German Tank Skins
[aka. Leofwines Guide to Slightly Advanced Axis Skinning]
This guide is intended to give basic techniques on how to create skins beyond applying basic images to the skin or using a placing a large camouflage texture over the whole skin. By the end of this tutorial I hope you will be confident in being able to paint a skin by hand, bit-by-bit This guide will be split into 2 parts - Preperation & Basecoat. For more information on creating textures see Amade's Handy Texturing Tips Thread
I have named the guide 'Painting/Altering German Tanks' as I have no experience of skinning Russian vehicles as they are not ones I use, and with the base Russian colour potentially affecting how the overlays and other techniques work I will not go on out on a limb and say that they will. Work that is. On the Russian skins. If anyone can add input on this, I will add it into the guide with credit.
Primarily I will be talking about painting historically accurate camouflage skins, as those are the ones that I personally try to create, but you can still use the same techniques to paint your vehicle however you wish.
Please note that I do not use .dds plugins, due to personal preference. If you use a .dds plugin, ignore any mentions of converting files. I will write in the guide how to convert files from and into .dds format at appropriate places in the guide.
Terms and Meanings:
Where I use the follwing words on their own I refer to the following;
Original: The original, uneditted skin in its pre-editted grey, whether in .dds or .jpeg format, depending upon which is relevant at the time.
No-Go: An area that you do not want to paint over [for example the glass on headlights or periscsopes]
3.1: Preparation Work
Before you start work it is important to lay out the ground for the skin. Essentially this covers everything from unpacking .dds files to choosing your colours. This may seem tedious and a time consuming process to begin with, but it makes being organised and painting the skin that bit easier, and you will generally do a better job on a skin if you know exactly what you want it to look like.
Colours & Camouflage
Your first task is to decide what type of skin you want to paint. Ask yourself if you want a historically accurate camouflage skin or something more contemporary or fun? Do you want to paint a winter skin or summer camouflage? Perhaps something looking sporty or maybe a paint scheme that you will find amusing to have your tank painted as? If you need any inspiration for historical camouflage H2HSnake and Apos compiled a historical camouflage thread with external links to images of vehicle camouflage.
An excellent source of images of historical camouflage can be found here. They are Bison Decal sheets and give excellent indication of colours, patterns & markings, as well as their location.
For a selection of German RAL colours, this works as a good reference point;
Selecting the colours for the skin is important, there are essentially three you will need;
Basecoat This is the main colour of the tank, the first you will use which will set the tone for the tanks camouflage. It will affect the Overlays if it is too bright or too dark a colour, so if you are using a 3-colour camouflage, it is worth testing which colour you wish to use as the Basecoat. This will be covered in more detail in part 2.
Camouflage Colour 1 The primary camouflage colour, generally the one that will make up the majority of the skins camouflage. If using a three-colour camouflage pattern where all three are represented equally designate Colour 1 as the first camouflage colour you will apply to the Basecoat.
Camouflage Colour 2 If creating a two-colour camouflage, Camouflage Colour 2 is not a definite requisite, but it can be used to temper Camouflage Colour 1, by using it as a base colour to Camouflage Colour 1.
When choosing colours for a historically accurate skin, try and make sure that the colours you use match the actual colours used as closely as possible. Fortunately the German Army tank crews had to paint their vehicles themselves, and the paints were supplied as pigments which the crews had to thin with whatever they had to hand. This made for varying colours in the camouflage of vehicles, so if your base colour ends up being brighter or darker than the 'correct' original colour, it is not a problem.
A bit of research into the colours used will help out, and if you can identify the colours, often known as RAL XXXX, or by a fuller name such a Dunkelgelb Nach Muster, then do a search for them by their correct name in a search engines 'images' search, and you will turn up colour 'swatches' for the correct shades. This gives you something to work from in whichever software platform you are using.
Folders, Organisation and .dds files
As you skin vehicles I tend to find I end up with older back-up copies of the skin in progress, and when you are painting the same vehicle in two different camouflage skins, or are updating an older skin to a newer one, being organised with your images folders is near vital, in my opinion. A simple and effective way to organise your skins follows [using the Tiger tank as the example here];
1. Create a folder named WoT and open it
2. Create a sub-folder named 'Tiger' [in actuality this would be replaced by the name of whichever type of vehicle you were skinning]
3. Inside the newly made 'Tiger' folder, create another named 'Tiger 1'. This is the version number of the skin, so you can keep relevant files together, and makes it easier should you return to the relevant skin to work on it further or to create a new skin. So 'Tiger 1' would be followed by, for example, 'Tiger 1.1' or 'Tiger 2' and then 'Tiger 1.2' or 'Tiger 3'
4. Return to the 'Tiger' subfolder and open up your World of Tanks game folder and proceed to the vehicle folders [example path route: C:\Games\World_Of_Tanks_closed_Beta\res\vehicles\German\]. Inside this folder you will find the various German tanks inside their folders. Locate the folder of the tank you will be skinning [in this example, for the Tiger, it is "\G04_PzVI_Tiger"]
5. Inside the tanks folder locate the skins .dds file. There will be several .dds files, but the one you want is just the tanks name ["PzVI_Tiger_I.dds" in this example]
6. Copy, not cut, copy the .dds file to your folder named 'Tiger' and open up DDS Converter 2. With this convert the .dds into a .jpeg or whichever image file type you prefer [I shall refer to it hereon as a .jpeg]. Both of these files must stay in the 'Tiger' file.
7. Open your image editting software and the image file you now have of the skin [so in the folder will be PzVI_Tiger_I.dds and PzVI_Tiger_I.jpeg. One you want is the .jpeg]
8. Save the .jpeg version of the skin into the folder 'WoT\Tiger\Tiger 1' as 'TigerBASE' in an image format and close the original 'PzVI_Tiger_I.jpeg'.
What you have now is the skin ready to be editted ['TigerBASE' in the example], and the original in both .dds and .jpeg format saved in the root folder for the skin in case you need to start from the beginning or to layer on original parts of the skin for whichever reason.
For the sake of safety, to make sure you don't overwrite the original, it might be prudent to save another copy of the .dds file, if you are as accident prone as I am. You also have folders set up allowing you to save your work as you skin to create backups to fall back upon if needs be without them being scattered to the four winds or mixed in with a lot of other image files.
Last part, the tools of the trade. In essence there are only three tools you really need, these will be the ones you will use for 90%+ of the skinning. In many photographic editting software packages there will be the three following tools;
The Marque is essentially a click-and-drag box/circle tool, depending on the shape you choose. This will allow you to highlight square/rectangular or circular/oval pieces of the skin, effectively 'masking' the rest of the skin, so that the paint is only applied inside the Marque. If, on the otherhand, you wish to highlight an area so it is not painted but the surround area can be, then create your box/circle and right-click inside it. In Photoshop this will bring up a menu that will include the option 'Invert Selection'. This will reverse the box/circle so that everything inside it can not be touched by paint but the areas that are not highlighted can.
Lasso is the most useful tool I've used for skins. The better version I find is Polyganol Lasso, as the line it draws will differentiate between different colours of pixels, allowing for more accurate outlines between pieces. You literally click from point to point of the area you want to highlight, and when you've drawn out the shape, click on the starting point to join it up. This tool allows you to outline several parts together in a row and paint them all at once. Very, very handy.
There is a tip I will offer with the polyganol lasso. On some parts there are areas you will want to paint the outer part of but not the inner. Best example is with the 'headlights. This will have an outer 'rim' or 'edge' which will be in Panzergrau, and a lense/glass effect in its centre, and obviously you will only want to paint the rim, not the glass [which I shall refer to as the 'No-Go' area]. For reference when doing this, refer to the picture beneath;
To do this make your starting point with the polyganol lasso [1.] and go a little way around the outside edge of the item . Then cut straight through the area to the very edge of the 'No-Go' area  and highlight all the way around it. Then once you've reached where you cut across to the 'No-Go' area you need to go over the original line . This is so that you do not highlight any pixels when leaving the 'No-Go' part. Then continue as you would have normally and link up with the original point, and there you have it, picking out an area to paint whilst 'masking' an inner part.
If that does not make much sense, then thats my fault, and I apologise, but I hope you get the idea from the image. There are one or two things that can go wrong - if the two lines you make are too close together [i.e less than 1 pixel apart] it will merge both lines. Second is sometimes it will not play ball, and will just create a single outline on the outer area, without it masking the 'No-Go' area. All you need to do is draw it out again. I find doing the outerlayer 'Clockwise' (Left to right) and the inner part 'Anti-Clockwise' [Right to left] it generally works.
Paint Brush Now this might seem like stating the obvious, but the paint brush is used to apply the paint on to the skin. Easy so far...until you look at the paint brushes. There are numerous types, ranging in shape and how they apply the paint. Some will apply it in a random pattern of pixels, painting more and more of them the more times you click. Others will have a set shape it will paint in. Generally the basic type of brush, generally at the top of the list, will suffice for the majority of the time. There are a few parts of the paintbrush I wish to talk about though;
- The main one is brush size. This is essentially how big you wish the brush to be, from 1 pixel up to 2600+ pixels.
- Second is Brush Mode. Out of this menu there are three essential ones; Normal [for adding the paint], Overlay [placing a colour on top of a another surface, allowing whatever is beneath the Overlay to more or less show through, depending on opacity settings], and Clear. Clear is one to be careful with, it is best used if you are painting on to a Layer, not the Background [which will be the skin]. What you can do is create a Layer, do your painting, and then if you need to alter any parts, change the Brush Mode to Clear, at 100%, and remove the error.
- Third is the 'Hardness'. This is how sharp the paintbrush will be, how crisp or blurred its outline. On 100% the outline of the brush will be very sharp, whilst on 0% it will blur, without a defined outline to the brush. Depending what you want to do it is worth testing out varying percentages to see which you prefer.
- Fourth is the Opacity. Opacity is a wonderful adjustment, allowing to you alter how noticeable the paint is. On 100% it will be block colour, whilst at 0% it will be invisible. Varying opactities have varying uses. When applying paint you will generally want quite a high opacity, 50%-100%, whilst if you are clearing an area, 5-15% works quite well. What type of brush you are using and for what has an effect as well.
Last thing is using Layers. Essentially using Layers allows you to work without painting directly onto the original image/background, making it easier to remove mistakes with a brush set to 'Clear'. You can also highlight areas with the Marque and Lasso tool and delete them with the Delete keyboard key in case you need to trim down areas in a straight line or particular area. It may make more sense when you use the tools, but using Layers is an incredibly handy way to work. You can also paint whatever you want on a layer and then change the Layer Mode. Essentially the same as altering the Brush Mode, it allows you to set a layer to an Overlay, for example, or a 'Soft Light' setting and so on. The more you play with them, the more you'll work out what each are for.
We have our choice of skin, choice of colours/camouflage, we have an idea of how we're going to skin it, we know which tools we're going to use and we have the file ready to editted along with the original backed up in two versions [.dds & .jpeg]. Now you are ready to be let loose on painting it.
3.2: The Basecoat
The basecoat is about taking the basic skin and applying your 'Basecoat' colour to it to turn it from its regular Panzergrau...
...into the colour you will be working up from.
Overlay & LayersThe first thing to do is to create a new Layer. This will allow you to paint whatever you want without touching the actual skin itself, thus making it a lot easier to rectify any mistakes you make. Name this new Layer 'BASE'.
Select your basecoat colour, make sure the brush is on the biggest size and is set to Normal. Then paint across the Layer 'BASE' until it's fully coated. Moving to the Layers window, set the Layer 'Blend' to Overlay.
This will make sure everything is coated thoroughly, nothing will be missed. Now you can go back and start to 'clear' the parts that should not be basecoated. These can include;
- Tool heads & handles: spades, picks, cutters, axes, extinguishers, wooden handles
- Headlight glass & any 'optics'
- Tracks, lower hull, running gear, tyres
- Anything you do not want/think should be basecoated
Caution! As you 'clear' part by part it is worth checking the skin to see if it has had an effect anywhere else on the skin. I have been caught out several times on skins where parts have been used twice in different areas.
To do so, save your work as a .jpeg and convert it into .dds format. Place it into the vehicles folder inside the World of Tanks folder and check it inside the game. This can save time and effort should you accidentally 'clear' an area you had not intended to and are not sure which part it is when you return to paint it.
The Basecoat can take quite a while to do, as you will find yourself going backwards and forwards between the editting software and the game to check on your progress. Finding some of the parts on the skin can be an absolute pain, such as very tiny hinges that are near invisible on the skin, or parts in a shape you would not expect. It's just a matter of trial and error, and eventually you will know by looking which bit is which, due to common similarities on the vehicle skins.
3.3 Creating the camouflage pattern/textures
Amade has rather come to my rescue here with his own thread on creating textures for intermediate skinners. This guide is absolutely fantastic and will show, in far more depth than I'd be able to, how to go about creating fantastic looking textures/patterns for your skins. I'd thoroughly recommend having a read of it!
Link is here