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This is a tutorial made by Tilanus Commodor. It will explain the basic aspects of texturing based on a unit from the mod The Ancient Age (TAA).

= Links

Required Tools: AoE3Ed , Photoshop, Notepad, Photoshop Bumpmap Plug-In , Targa File Format (+Alpha Channel, Photoshop 7.0 only)

Basic Knowledge:

Unit Creation Tutorial
Before you start texturing, you must know how to create a new unit. This Tutorial by Lord Tahattus should give you all answers you need:

Photoshop Layer Working
If you are new Photoshop and the work with layers, check out this tutorial first. It's rather old and most things can also be done with right-click menus, nevertheless it explains the essential basics.

AoE3Ed FileConverter
Two important things about the FileConverter you need to know. Most beginners get errors when they try to convert tga-files back to ddt. Mainly this happens cause they forgot to add the number signature. Keep in mind:
  • Colour Textures need to be named like this: Hastatus.(0,1,8,5)
  • Bumpmap Textures need to be named like this: Hastatus_b.(6,0,9,1)
Note: Hastatus is only the optional unit name in this tutorial.

Photoshop 7.0
The Targa files of this version are not able to save targa files with alpha channels. Therefore you need to download the new Targa File Format, check the link on top. Once downloaded, open the installation directory of your Photoshop, delete the old targa file and extract the ZIP paket in this directory: ...\Photoshop\Plug-Ins\File Formats. Changes will occur after a restart of your Photoshop.

If you still have problems understanding the tutorial, ask here, I'll add it to the main post.


Main Part

I. Size & Structure

Okay, you adequately understood how to create a unit. An opened texture in front of you and you have absolutely no idea how it works.
Well, every texture is divided into parts. Unfortunately you can't just texture the model. The difficulty of textures is to find the parts in the texture on the ingame unit.
There are some textures which have an identical structure, but most of them are different.

So your first job is always to find out where the parts of the texture are shown in-game. There is a special method for that, the so called "colour method". Here the current texture of the Roman Hastatus and its previous original texture, the Age IV Longbowman:

As you can see the Hastatus texture has the double size (128x128) of the Longbow texture (64x64). Larger textures allow you to make more detailed skins, be aware that you should enlarge the image just with x2 or x4 but not with x3 or x5 cause otherwise you will most probably mess up your texture and it won't work. If you think it's necessary to enlarge the texture (and that can be quite often), I recommend you the double size.

You can see the numbers and letters outside the texture I added. They'll help you to understand the parts of this unit:

1. Column
A/B - arms and hands
C/D - legs and feet

2. Column
A - helmet
B/C/(D) - upper and lower body
D - obviously for weapons & shields

3. Column
A - head/face
B/C/(D) - upper and lower body
D - obviously for weapons & shields

II. Layers

In Photoshop you work with Layers (if you don't know how that works, go to the top of the page and check the second tutorial). Probably you won't finish the texture in one move, often you will improve your texture a few times. So it is be advisable to save your texture as .psd (Photoshop-Format). Even if you think you finished your unit (and you might be right), never ever merge all layers of the textures to one layer ('Flatten Image' function), later you won't be able to edit special parts of the texture anymore or reuse parts if you want to.

The Hastatus psd-file has several layers: background, helmet, breast plate, belts and also layers which help me to find out where things of my texture appear in-game. These layers should not be too large and have a different colour so that you are able to distinguish each of them ingame. This is called the "Colour Method".
I did that with my unit when I wanted to find out back and front part of the body, thus I created two squares: One red, one green, saved and converted the Targa file back to DDT and later on - ingame - I saw red and green parts on my unit. The colour method helps you orientating yourself in the texture. You can use this universal method for all parts of the texture.

III. Alpha Layer [Player Colours]

Now let's continue with the Alpha Layer. It's actually pretty easy. Open the window 'Channels' and create the Alpha layer like this . A new channel will appear, it'll be completely black.

From the tutorial of Tahattus you should know that black will be replaced ingame with the playercolour. So it's your job now to have the right relation of white and black parts. Grey parts are half-playercolour and half-original texture. It's important to know that texture colour and the brightness of tones in the alpha layer are adding each other. So a black part in your texture darkens the player colour in spite of the fact that this part in the Alpha Layer is 100% white. Therefore player colour parts in the texture are mainly white or have only bright colours.

There is an easy way to get only special parts white. For the Hastatus I selected every layer that is not supposed to have playercolour later on. It'd be very time-consuming to select every layer with the selection tool, so luckily there is an easier way: Layer Masks make it possible to select the layers in their original form. In the window 'Layers' you select any layer which is not supposed not to have playercolour, right-click on this one and choose 'Select Layer Transparency' - in most cases you'll have to select more than just one layer, this can be done with 'Add Layer Mask'.
After you selected all the needed parts you switch to the alpha channel and just press the delete button of your keyboard (note: secondary colour must be white! ), now I got something like this . The important black parts are just the body and the shoulders in this example, all other black parts are superflous test parts. In the alpha channel you should avoid using Antialias tools, make sharp outlines, otherwise you'll have half-playercolour/half-texture parts ingame, which look spongy.


This chapter is about making bumpmaps (following: bumps). They are making textures shiny and give them heights and depths ('bumps'). Bumpmaps are own textures, which means that they also need an own file Therefore you need to create an own targa file and also a photoshop fil. The photoshop file is rather of practical use, but essential. The coloured texture should always be available in layers. However, for a bumpmap you need all these layers merged into one layer. Later on you'll see why. It's very important to stick to this rule. The worst thing that can happen is that you can't edit your normal texture anymore because it only consists of one layer.

There's a little trick to avoid that: 1.) If you're done with your normal texture, merge all layers to one, copy the layer, 2.) Open a new psd file and paste the merged layer into this, 3.) Go back to the psd file with the normal texture and undo the merging step and save.

There is a common system to name these files to see the difference between the normal colour textures and the bumpmap which belongs to it. You just attach a _b to the file name which it's based on, in this case: Hastatus_b.tga for Hastatus.tga and even the shield texture which we will create later on would need an own bumpmap, which would be Hastatus_shield_b.tga then.
Bumpmaps may be own textures, however, you do not have to create any new things, because bumpmaps always base on the textures you already made. Take a look on these two bumps, Hastatus_b.tga and Hastatus_shield_b.tga:



You know one of them. However, both are made of textures which you can see in part I and V. I deleted all the parts which are not supposed to be shiny, as you can see I changed the opacity of the shoes - so it's partially shiny.

There are two colours you should pay attention to in bumps: red and blue. I can say that the way of shade of these colours is important. Take a look on already existing bumpmaps and try to immitate their style.

To be able to make bumpmaps you need a Plug-In for Photoshop. Download it here:

After you installed the Plug-In in your Photoshop directory, you'll find it in Filters NVIDIA Tools NormalMapFilter....

Now you are gonna learn how to work with it, therefore I made a little overview which I'll explain :
  1. Before we start, make sure all has is merged into one layer, otherwise the plug-in will just change one layer into a bumpmap. After you merged your layers into one, copy and paste it into a new photoshop-file (don't forget the trick).

  2. Open the Plug-In, now let me explain the most relevant functions:

    • Height Generation
      • Filter Type: Intensity of blur.
      • Scale: Strength of contrast. The higher the value is, the harder are the contrasts between soft and shiny. A good value is for a soft texture is '2'.

    • Alternate Conversions: Attention! This is the place where things can go easily wrong, cause here you choose the method how the plug-in is supposed to 'treat' the texture.Here some examples:

      If you're looking closely to them you can find some distinct differences. 'Biased RGB' looks inverted, while 'Max (R,G,B)' and 'Colorspace' look quite similar concerning the way of lighting. Nevertheless even the last two methods are different. While 'Max R,G,B' has rather a hilly texture, 'Colorspace' has a clearly smoother appearance. So when you have a unit with wrinkled clothes 'Max (R,G,B)' would be the best choice. Hitherto I always took either Colorspace or Max.

    .. for 3D View Options read Step 3.

  3. This third step is not a must. Actually you can leave it out, but since it gives you the possibilites to see the effect of the bumpmap on the other texture without starting the game it might be in your interest to use it. Let me explain, it's really easy:

    3D View Options:

    • Use Decal Texture - activate it if you want to see your texture together with the bumpmap. Then put the button with the three dots and select your coloured texture (tga-format!). Texture loaded, nice.
    • Brighten Decal - well, makes the entire texture + bumpmap brighter.
    • Animate Light - activate it, cause without light the entire action was senseless. The light will circulate around your texture to show you the bumpmap from different angles.
    • Alpha Blending - will show you the playercolour in blue.
    • Filter - relates to the Filter Type Options in 'Height Generation'

    Press '3D Preview' - happy watching, you can change the angle via mouse/keyboard.

After you finished your settings, agree to them with pressing 'OK'. Make sure that you closed the 3D Viewer, the changes won't be approved before the Viewer was not closed (if you used it).

That's it.

As I said bumpmaps are own textures, so the way of incorporating them is exactly the same as with basic textures:

By the way, even Bumpmaps have an Alpha Layer. Why? Well, if you just use the bumpmap as it is now, your unit will have a glow over . You need to set lighting priorities to specify reflecting parts.
It's already explained in part III how to create Alpha Layers, for bumps obtains this rule: black parts are the less shiny, soft parts - white parts the opposite and grey again in between. I recommend using white only for metallic things and (dark) grey for leather for example - things which still reflect a bit of the sun light. There are also units who don't need any white or grey, but just a black alpha layer. Here the Alpha Channel of Hastatus_b.tga:

Totalling the amount of textures you should get a 6. Inside your folder there should be 2 psd-files (normal colour texture + bump), 2 tga-files ( " ), 2 ddt-files (converted tga-files). Right? Fine, then let's open the last chapter.

V. Attachments

Let's say your unit is using a shield, a hat or anything else from another unit. Of course you have to texture this too. I had to do that with the shield of the hastatus and it goes like this: Since the shield of the Hastatus is originally the shield from the bolas warrior the texture of the shield is logically inside the bolas warrior texture. What you do now is simple: You make a copy of the bola texture and rename it to what it is supposed to be, in this case: Hastatus_shield.tga.
Then you start editing the texture, blacken all parts which are not needed for the shield. Since it's just another texture and not another special type, you can do the same things with it as with the first texture, enlarge it for more details, use an alpha layer etc. - the shield of the Hastatus looks like this:

You don't know how to give unit attachments? Check Lord Tahattus Tutorial again.

V.Final Result

Just enjoy.

Hope to see some textures next time, good luck!

Note: This texture is very old, it's the first texture I ever made. ;-] The new Hastatus can be seen here.