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Skin Modding FAQ
By: avey2904
Published : July 3, 2003
Updated : August 14, 2003
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Contact Links : avey2904

Introduction by Ruin

avey2904 was kind enough to write up a list of Frequently Asked Questions by most skin modders. I think most of your answers can be found here.

Avey's Skin FAQ


What are RSB's?
These are the texture files of Ghost Recon. RSB is an acronym for Red Storm Bitmap. These textures include anything from Character skins, Map textures, Kit Icons and Weapon Textures.

How can I see them?
There are multiple ways of seeing the RSB's outside of Ghost Recon. You can use the RSB Editor that comes with Desert Siege (DS) and Island Thunder (IT). This program is located in the X:\Extras folder on your Disk. (Where X is equal to the drive the CD is in). RSB Editor is very simple and lets you see, not edit, RSB files. The other way is to purchase either Jasc's Paintshop Pro (PSP) or Adobe Photoshop (PS) (both have free trials which are available here) These programs let the user both see and edit RSB files when the correct plug-in is installed.

What is a plug-in?
Plug-ins are software programs that add features to main programs like Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. As you have probably already guessed we need a plug-in to view RSB files. This file can be found on the Island Thunder disk. Please bear in mind that the plug-in found on the IT disk is more up-to-date than the one found on the Desert Siege disk. Don't worry if you don't have Island Thunder, you can download the plug-in here.

Will this plug-in work for Paintshop Pro?
Yes. The plug-in is compatible with both Photoshop and Paintshop Pro.

What do I do with this Plug-in?
This step couldn't be any easier. All you have to do is put the file in your plug-ins folder. For Photoshop your directory should be something like this: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop 7.0\Plug-Ins. Just place it inside there, start up your graphics software and load up an rsb. The same goes for Paintshop Pro, just place the plug-in inside your PSP folder.

How do i make a skin?
After you have met the following requirements above you can start making custom skins for Ghost Recon. A basic knowledge of Photoshop would be advisable to anyone planning on making a new skin. Go over to the Recon Section of the site to find more detailed tutorials or just follow these direct links:
Ruin's Basic Guide to creating new Skins
Ruin's Tutorial for making a new Sniper

Whenever I try and loadup my skin, GR crashes?
This may be due to numerous reasons like the game couldn't find the model file (the CHR file could be in a different mod folder that isn't activated) or there may have been an error in the ATR file. Take a look at ike.log (load it up in a text editor) in your root GR directory (Typically C:\Program Files\Red Storm Entertainment\Ghost Recon) and look at the last few lines of the document which should tell you why the game has CTD (Crashed to Desktop). If you cannot work out the answer then head over to the forums and post a question there.

Why buy all this expensive software when I can just download a converter?
Converters convert RSB's into file types that most basic graphic programs can read like Bitmaps. These converters have been tried by most people at various stages of 'modding history' and have caused more bad than good. Basically they destroy the Alpha Channel and the textures are hard to get back into GR. Because of this Ghostrecon.net does neither host nor link to a converter file.

What are ATR files? What do they do? How do I edit them?
ATR files, or Actor Files, are what the game reads when it wants to load up a particular actor. For example, each regular rifleman will have an ATR file and so will every enemy as well as civilians or hostages. These ATR files provide vital information for the game. They provide the name of the actor, his speciality (Rifleman, Support, Sniper or Demolitions), and his skills. (Weapon, Stamina, Leadership, Stealth). The file also 'links' to other types of files. For example, it tells the game which face texture to load up as well as what model the actor will have.

Editing/Viewing the files couldn't be easier and there are two ways of going about it. Firstly you can use IGOR; the game editor that came with Ghost Recon. It is found in the root directory. (Typically C:\Program Files\Red Storm Entertainment\Ghost Recon). Load it up, and select tools at the top of the program followed by Actor Editor. This is fairly self-explanitory but if you are having trouble take a look at The ATR section of El_oso's IGOR for Dummies

The other method is to load up the ATR file in a text editor like Wordpad for example. (Notepad works as well). This is also self-explanitory and is just a case of replacing what is already there with what you want to add.

What is GR Skinner?
This program allows the user to decide which texture goes over which part of a model. The Original version was designed just to reskin characters but the 1.1 patch let the user reskin weapons and maps. Using the skinner basically streamlines the process of skinning a character by skipping Hex-Editing. Using the program couldn't be easier; just pick the part of the body you want to reskin and press the 'browse' button to select another texture. In simpler terms, this program dictates what texture goes on which model.

What is a CHR? How do I make them? Can I make them with the Skinner?
CHR files are player models. Every Actor in Ghost recon (Enemy Included) has to have a CHR file. This is basically just a model file type that GR can read. You can only make them using 3D Studios Max as this is the only program that GR supports for 3D design. Unfortunately you can not make them with the skinner utility as that only puts textures on models, it doesn't create them. For more information on making new characters please visit:
Ruin's Character Tutorial
Piggyson's Exporting Tutorial

What is 3dsm?

3D Studio Max is the only program that is supported for Ghost Recon in the field of 3D design. This can include new maps, Rifles and Characters. Please note that 3d Studio Max is not required to skin characters. It is only required to make the shape of a particular character. For more help on Character modeling for Ghost Recon please try Piggyson's Ghost Recon site and Ruin's excellent tutorial.

Can I use work from other mods in my own? What if it's personal?
My advice would be get in contact with the author of the modification. Ask him/her if it is okay for you to borrow texture x or model y. In most instances authors will permit you to take there work if you have made contact with them. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER TAKE ANOTHER PERSONS WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION.
If the mod is for personal use only then I see no harm in 'compiling' a few mods together. If this mod is only going to be used by yourself then that would be fine. If you and a few others were going to play Multiplayer with the mod I would advise that you make some effort to contact the authors of the mods used.

How do I make my Character have a different skin for each different Terrain?
This is quite simple to do. If you look through the Origmiss, Mp1 (DS) and Mp2 (IT) you will find that there are only actor (ATR) files in the original Origmiss folder. This is because there is no need to have different ATR files for IT and DS. They all follow a very simple ‘extension’ rule.
If you look at a rifleman actor file you will find that it uses ‘ica_us_rifleman.chr’ as the character file. The rifleman, in this case, would use that particular model file in all ‘woodland’ type maps. (Basically all the maps that shipped with the original Ghost Recon). The .ATR file does not directly tell the user what file it uses for the desert and the jungle maps. If we look in the MP1\Character\Allied folder we can see that this folder contains more model files that have practically the same name as the ones found in the Origmiss folder. The only exception is that it has ‘_desert’ on the end of the file name. So when you load up a desert mission on Ghost Recon this is what model the game will load up. Basically the game refers to the actor file, sees that it needs to load up ‘ica_us_rifleman.chr’ and then tries to find a file with the exact same name but with ‘_desert’ on the end. This rule also works exactly the same for IT maps but with a ‘_cuba’ extension. This way you can have your ghosts equipped for woodland, desert and jungle combat very easily.

Does this work for other files?
Yes, it does work for other types of files but not all unfortunately. This method works with faces that the Ghosts use. If you load up the icg_wht_cmo_02.rsb file you will see a soldier with a chinstrap on. This is all very well for the woodland environment where the Ghosts wear a helmet but not for the jungle where the ghosts wear boonies. Now if you load up icg_wht_cmo_02_cuba.rsb you will see that it is the same ghost but without a chinstrap. This is the file GR would load up when in the jungle. This would also work with camouflage on the face. By adding the different extensions the faces can have different camouflage for desert, jungle and woodland. Sadly, this is where the extensions stop working. You can’t add ‘_cuba’ to a model/gun file to make that rifle only show up in the jungle, unfortunately.

Can I make my own extension up like, ‘_urban’?
Well, technically it can be done because RSE do it every time a new expansion pack comes out but it would be unsuitable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would take quite a lot of skill to hack into the ghostrecon.exe file and edit that. This would most probably be unstable and cause a lot of technical problems. Secondly, the hacking of the gr.exe would be outside the mod folder and therefore would be overwriting a file. Basically, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.


Conclusion by Ruin
All in all I'd say that avey2904 is dead on. The only thing I can add regards other modder's work. What he has said is true, but I recommend out of respect for the modder and their work that you always ask permission no matter the reason for using their work. Even if you're the only one using it. It shows that you respect their work and their wishes. Nine times out of ten they (the modder) will say yes if you go to them first.

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