Model Retexturing

Similar to the background image replacing, we can also use SCs MPQs to change the colour or texture of any of the games models. While this might be a bit simpler to access as we only need to use one MPQ rather than four or five for the backgrounds or having to replace five different folders for the collectors edition thor, this does require a small amount of photoshop knowledge. Nothing that can’t be learned with a few minutes of google.

The MPQ needed to be used for this is called base.SC2Assets and can be found at SC2 > Mods > Liberty.SC2Mod. After opening the MPQ with MPQEditor, go to Assets > Textures and this is pretty much all the stuff you’re going to be working with. This consists of every texture used for units and buildings by each race. Select anything and type out the first few letters of a unit you want to retexture. Whatever you choose, there’ll be a few .DDS files for each unit. The one you’re looking for is the one with “_diffuse” written after it.

After you’ve chosen one, extract it to where you want. Because of the .DDS format, you’re going to need the NVIDIA DDS Plug-In. Unfortunately this only works with x32 versions of Photoshop, and even with that, I can’t confirm that it works with CS5 at all as I don’t think it’s been updated recently. A fairly nice alternative is Paint.NET as it can still be used to retexture with a bit of practice and is fully working with .DDS files. If you really really want to use photoshop to recolour, you can just use Paint.NET to convert the .DDS to png, then do what you want in photoshop and then save again from png to .DDS with Paint.NET. jpeg won’t work.
(Update: After many years of incompatibility, the wonderful people over at NVIDIA have finally released the plug-in to work on all x64 versions of Photoshop, including the recent CS5 release! It’s a fine day for science. That said, if you can’t get your hands on Photoshop, Paint.NET still does the trick.)

After you’re done retexturing them, instead of replacing the old one inside the mpq, go to SC II\Mods\LibertyMulti.SC2Mod and create a new structure of folders here starting with base.SC2Assets, then a folder in that called Assets and another in that called Textures. Put your new textures in here. This solves the lag issue created from simply replacing the old dds files within the mpq, as well as being a lot simpler. Note that this method has been said to be troublesome on US clients.

For my example, I’ve chosen the Colossus texture. It’s 3am here so you’ll have to forgive my lack of effort put into the recolouring. If I’m honest, all I did was press invert.


This also works for buildings. I was feeling generous this time, so I added a nice teal tint. I’m not sure how though, because I don’t usually use Paint.NET. It was actually an accident but I just decided to roll with it.

Yes, mine looks rather dire, but that’s not the point.
After you’re happy with your modifications, I strongly advise you to start a custom game by yourself to make sure everything is loading properly. The first time I started a game after adding some custom textures, I was having rediculous lag spikes whenever I tried to make the modified units, and when I made a modification to a building, the game took a lot longer to load. So, make sure you go to the Unit Test Map and get your game client used to all your new textures.
Modifying the texture of units will also effect your opponents or allies units, but only from your perspective.
Team Colours

Lets say you wanted to make a brand new texture by yourself, or were using my tutorial on model swapping, focusing on swapping a model such as Zeratul or the Hero units. One thing you’ll notice is that these textures weren’t designed for team colours. If you swap a model that’s used commonly in team games, you’ll notice this can be quite distracting or could even cause you to A-move your own team mates.

The way team colours work on textures is with the transparency. The actual team colour itself obviously isn’t attached to the texture, else you’d need like 10 textures for every single section of each model. The colour is applied underneath the texture which will then be shown through the transparent parts of the texture.

Using the as an example again, take note of the grey and white chequered boxes. This is where my team colour will seep through the texture for others to see.

To show the effect, you can now see I’m using the eraser tool to remove the entire texture, turning everything to chequered boxes. Remember that the dimensions must always remain the same. Before you start, be sure to remove the lock icon in Layers on the bottom right by double clicking the layer to remove layer from background. Some of these dds files also have an alpha one layer which must be removed before saving.
To do this, click Channels next to Layers and the right click Alpha 1 and delete. Once you try to save, the NVIDIA plug-in will prompt you with a pop up. So far, I’ve found the best setting to be DXT5 ARGB 8 bpp ¦ interpolated alpha (The fourth one).

As you can now see the entire models texture is gone and the model is completely red as that was my teams colour. The light effects are still there because they belong to a separate dds file. You can change that too if you wanted, but it’s not going to kill anyone.

Obviously if you’re going to be remaking your own model and need to do a change like this, you’re not going to be doing a 100% reveal. This is just to give you an idea of how to make team colours more revealing, should you be using a model not designed to support multiplayer.

4 thoughts on “Model Retexturing

  1. What about a pack, that changes zerg colors into something, that will look more similar with zergs from sc1 and their color style.

    And what about TRON-Protoss buildings and other units? I mean dark textures and brightness colored and lighted borders?

    • A Tron building texture pack would be pretty awesome, but I’m not sure if I’d have the patience to redesign the texture for every building :/ Maybe if I get incredibly bored one day.

  2. Why didn’t I find this immediately? Damn google! Can only find it on my phone… Anyway, thank you so much! I’m using frozen zerg textures, edited some stuff, just wasn’t sure how to use team colours :p now I’m gonna remake protoss to be dark with strong team colour glows :D all thanks to you :) so yea, thanks! :D

    • Stronger team colours won’t work with any other texture replacement mods. It’s its own texture replacement. The two will just replace each other.

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