Anulaa89 has written a Polish tutorial available here and SimsZoo have written a German tutorial. Have you translated this tutorial or written your own in another language? Let me know so I can add your link!
Last updated: 10th September 2014
Before you start, you will need:
- A copy of The Sims 4 or The Sims 4 Create-A-Sim demo in your Origin account
- Photoshop (I’m using CS5) and the DDS texture tools
- A basic knowledge of your chosen photo editing software. Although I have tried to explain the Photoshop parts in reasonable detail, I haven’t gone into every tiny detail, so if you have never used Photoshop before, you may need to ask for Google’s help on some parts (or ask in the comments below).
- S4PE – I highly recommend that you extract this using 7-zip, as several people have reported that they are unable to export DDS if they unpacked it with WinRAR (myself included!)
- Color Magic – this tutorial uses version 0.8.0, and the latest version is always available for download here.
It should go without saying but I just want to make this really clear: modding for The Sims 4 is at a very early stage! The programmers who are spending their spare time working on the Color Magic tool and s4pe are not magical beings. They are still learning about the structure of The Sims 4’s files, and the structure of the files that we need to make. Some items might cause your game to crash, or make strange things happen, and for the time being, that’s the way it is.
If you experience any bugs with your packages, it’s always worth dropping the creators of the tool a line in their forum: http://sims4.the-prof.net/?forum=sims-4-modding. Make sure you include details like the item you were recolouring from and the settings you were using. Include a link to download the package file which causes the bug if you can. This will help them to identify the causes of these bugs, and ultimately improve the tool.
Step 1: Creating the .package file
First you need to create the actual .package file for your recolour. This is the file that you would send to other people to share it.
Open up Color Magic, continue to the first step and from the drop-down box, choose whether to use the full The Sims 4 game or the demo. This step is important because recolours made for the demo will not work in the full game. Also enter your creator identity – this will help to avoid you accidentally creating a file that’s named the same as somebody else’s.
Next, you need to find the item you want to recolour from. I’m going to start with the short ruched dress. In the left side of the window you’ll see a bunch of slightly complicated names for each item in the demo. The first letter is for the age group, “y” for young adult. The second letter is for the gender, “f” for female, “m” for male, and “u” for unisex. Next is the type of item, “Acc” for accessories, and the rest are fairly self-explanatory. After that there’s an underscore, then the name of the item, followed by another underscore and the colour name.
I’m looking for the ruched dress pictured above, so I filter by female, young adult and full body, and eventually find what I’m looking for: yfBody_DressRuchedParty. When you click on an item on the left side, it shows you what the texture for that looks like, and I can see this looks like the dress I was after. I’ve chosen to export yfBody_DressRuchedParty_GoldPale.
Click the “next” button. Here you can alter the swatch for your item. I want to use an image swatch for my item, so I click the “Add” button and a little C M icon appears – we’ll replace that with a custom icon later. I also changed the last part of my item’s name from _GoldPale to something a little more suitable _Leopard.
The “Edit Flags” button allows you to change your item’s tags in the game. This is where you select what ages it’s appropriate for, the colour, and the style. I’m not changing my dress that drastically from the original so I’m leaving this be for now.
Click Finish and a Save As dialog will appear. Navigate to C:\Users\[your name]\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4\Mods (or if you’re using the demo, C:\Users\[your name]\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4 Create A Sim Demo\Mods and save your package there.
Step 2: Extracting the DDS texture file
Now open up S4PE. You might get an error about updates when you initially launch it – you can ignore this and the software will load up fine. Go to file > open, and find the file you just saved in the Documents folder. My package contains 4 resources. One of these is just some general information about your package. One is thought to be the specular map, another is thought to be the bump map. One of them is the swatch icon which we’ll edit later on. Finally, the one that we are interested in is the texture itself. When you click on the resources in the left side pane, you should see a preview on the right. Click the resources on the left until you find the one that looks like a full colour version of the clothes texture, like the one shown below:
Right-click on this resource, and choose “export to DDS”. If you do not see this option, close s4pe now, re-download it from the link at the top of the post, and extract it using 7-zip. There are known issues with using some other programs to extract s4pe, such as WinRAR.
I made a new folder in My Documents to put all the texture files that I’m working on, and saved it there. It doesn’t particularly matter where you save it, but if you plan on doing a lot of recolouring then keep your “working” folder tidy, for your own sanity!
Step 3: Editing the texture
3.1: Making a pattern
Open up Photoshop. I’m going to be making this short party dress a whole lot classier by giving it a leopard print texture. If you want to put a pattern like leopard print onto clothes, it’s important to start with a pattern that repeats (tiles), so you don’t get any obvious “edges”. There are lots of websites that are a great resource for these kinds of patterns – one of my favourites is The Fat Strawberry and that’s where I’ve found the leopard print pattern I’m going to be working with. It’s on page 5 of “world & travel” as of the time of writing this tutorial if you want to use the same pattern.
First open up the pattern you’re going to use. I resized mine down to 256px by 256px, as the pattern looked a little large originally. Go to edit > define pattern to save your pattern so that you can use it with Photoshop’s fill tool.
3.2: Applying the pattern to the clothes
Next, open up the DDS file you saved in step 2. Hold ctrl+shift+N to create a new layer, and click “ok” on the dialog. Get the paint bucket tool out by pressing G (if you get the gradient tool from this, press shift+G to switch to the paint bucket). At the top of the window, choose “pattern” rather than “foreground”, and choose the pattern you created.
Click once to fill your new layer with the pattern. That’s a lot of leopard print.
Next, you need to blend this layer with the layer below it, so that you have the crinkles and details from the dress, with the pattern of the leopard print. To achieve this, I chose the “overlay” layer blending option at 70% opacity.
This looks ok, but the leopard pattern is overpowering the crinkles from the dress a bit, so you need to make them show up a bit more. Click on the background layer, then go to the Image menu, and choose Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. You can adjust this until you’re happy with how it looks, and of course change the blending mode and opacity some more (“soft light” is also a good option for this type of blending). I went for these settings:
3.3: Finishing touches
Finally, the leopard pattern all over is a touch unrealistic – it would look better if the bands at the top and bottom of the dress did not have the pattern. Hide the leopard layer by clicking the eye next to it. Press Z to get the zoom tool, and zoom in so you can see what you’re doing. Then press P for the pen tool. Click on the left side of the bottom of the band, and then on the next “sharp” corner, which I guess is between the boobs. Click half-way along the line that appears, then hold CTRL and drag it to match the line of the band more closely.
Click again anywhere that the line doesn’t quite match the line of the band, hold CTRL, and drag into position. When you’re happy with this section, click the next “sharp” corner of the band (just the other side of the centre line between the boobs here). This section is really short and doesn’t need adjusting. Then click the next “sharp” corner – I’ve gone for the next seam along, and adjust as before. Keep repeating this until you have a line that matches the bottom edge of the band. That was the trickiest part of this tutorial, so fix yourself a drink, you deserve it.
Now you need you complete your path, but you want it to go all around the outside of the top of the dress (when you get round to the start, click on the first point to complete the path). My finished path looks like this (the red is just to show clearly where the path is, yours won’t be red):
Above the layers panel in the bottom-right corner of your screen, there should be a tab called “paths”. Click on this, then hold the CTRL key and click the “Work Path” to make a selection from it. Click on the “Layers” tab again.
First, we need to delete the pattern on this part. Click on the leopard layer, and just hit the delete key. Looking better already. Next, I also want to make this band darker, so I’m going to copy this part of the texture onto a new layer to mess with it separately. Select the path again, go to your texture layer, and then copy (ctrl+C) and paste (ctrl+V) it onto a new layer.
Grab the rectangular marquee tool (M) and draw a rectangle around the band at the bottom of the dress. As before, delete the selection from the leopard print, and copy and paste the band from the texture to a new layer.
Finally, since you’ve removed the texture from the top and bottom of the dress, you should also remove it from those two blobs floating out to the right hand side of the dress. In CAS those blobs will be difficult to spot, but they will join up to the top and bottom of the dress. Draw a big rectangle around those with the marquee tool, delete the leopard print, and copy and paste the texture to a new layer. Now your full texture should look something like this:
Now you have 5 layers: the leopard print, 3 layers with bits of the top/bottom of the dress, and then another with the rest of the texture. Hold ctrl+E and click on each layer that is part of the top/bottom of the dress, then right-click and choose “Merge layers”.
With this new merged layer selected, press ctrl+U to bring up the hue/saturation tool. We’re going to make all of these bits into a rich black. An important thing to note about making “black” on these textures is that if you literally make it with no colour to it at all, it looks really flat. It’s better to go for something slightly dark blue than actual black. Tick the “colorize” box, and go for something like the settings below:
You could also make these bands dark brown, or bright pink, whatever you feel like! Here’s what my finished texture looks like:
3.4: Saving the finished texture
When you’re happy with your new texture, go to the File menu and choose “Save As”. Before you press the “save” button, make sure you choose “DDS” from the “format” list.
A huge dialog full of settings will pop up next, make sure that you choose DXT5 (Interpolated Alpha) and Generate MIP maps, then press the save button.
Step 4: Importing the DDS
Now go back to S4PE, which should still have your package file open in it. Right-click on the texture you exported earlier, and choose “Import from DDS”
Next, right-click on the resource which says _IMG. Nothing will show up in the preview pane for this with the current version of s4pe – that’s fine. Right-click it and choose Export > To file… then save it somewhere – this is your swatch file. Don’t change the name of this file, s4pe will later use this information.
Open your swatch file in Photoshop. A dialog about MIP maps will appear – choose “Yes” – I’ve found this is the best way to make sure the MIP maps are correct. You will now have this in Photoshop:
Create a new layer by hitting Shift+Ctrl+N. Using the rectangular marquee tool (M), select around the leftmost square Grab the paint bucket tool (G) and fill the square with your pattern, just like you did earlier for the dress itself. It should look like this:
Now copy (ctrl+C) and paste (ctrl+V) your square. This creates a new layer. Use the transform tool (ctrl+T) to resize your layer to exactly 50% of the original size. You can make sure it’s exact by entering in 50% for the new width and height at the top:
Move it to cover the second square. Now copy your smaller square and repeat the process to cover the next one. On the smaller square sizes you might notice some green creeping through from the background, due to Photoshop antialiasing when it resizes. To fix this, you can right-click any layer and duplicate it until the green disappears.
When you’re happy, merge all your layers (shift+ctrl+E). Mine looks like this:
Save your swatch over the file you exported (the long complicated name), and make sure you choose Use existing MIP maps in the save dialog.
Back in S4PE, right-click the _IMG resource and choose import > from file. Open the file you just saved. The long complicated name helps s4pe to rebuild the information about the file.
Go to File > Save to save your completed package file. Close S4PE.
Step 5: Test it!
Now we’re finally ready to check out the fruits of our labour! Open up The Sims 4 or the Create-A-Sim demo, and look for your dress!
Find the dress you cloned from, then look for your swatch:
Here’s my super-classy looking dress:
Please do feel free to share links to your own recolouring successes in the comments below!