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ArmA 3 ReTexturing Tools Basics Tutorial

ArmA 3 ReTexturing Tools Basics Tutorial by Scarecrow398

For this i will only cover PBO to Photoshop, the rest is upto you, i won’t be covering Configuring as i only know the bare basics (and Stillman already covered that a page or two back) Nor will i cover techniques as they’re different from person to person and most people find my technique to be a little tedious…


First of all what you will need will be BI’s tool kit for reading .PAA files (BI’s proprietary format for texture files)

Mikero’s Eliteness (Version 2.95) & the Depbo.dll (Version 4.04) found here for DePboing Arma’s files and;

Photoshop or GIMP, for this i’ll be using Photoshop CS6 (Yes, i did buy it :P) but pretty much every version of Photoshop back to CS2 or even further back should be capable, as is GIMP, a Free alternative.

as should pretty much any Raster Graphic editor that supports layers, transparency and selections or paths, you don’t have to worry so much about getting the exact version or program used by others.

though Photoshop/Gimp’s layer styles helps


So, first off is to extract the PBO of choice, in the case of characters (referred to as units) we want the Characters_F.pbo, now we need access to this, to do that we’re going to need to open Eliteness, then navigate using the side menu to the Arma ‘addons’ folder, highligting the folder should show the PBO’s within


Then you need to extract said PBO by right clicking or double clicking the PBO:



So, Now that it’s extracted we need to navigate to the location of the extracted PBO, by default eliteness extracts it to the same location of the PBO:


Now dig through those folders until you end up here:


Now from here you can take 3 main paths (I assume this will probably become 4 in the future with independent), Opfor, blufor and Civilian, now i’m going to go with the one with i’m most i’m familiar with, there may be small changes but overall it should be the same files.

So lets go with BluFor, the first thing you will see is a list of Models (.P3D’s) and a Data Folder, the default Layout is for the textures to be in this Data folder:


As you can see i’ve focused on 3 key files but a basic look at the others is that there’s a .RVMAT which does a few things, primarily lighting based stuff which you shouldn’t need to worry about yet and a couple of .PAA’s all suffixed differently, being:

_Co - The colour map showing the colours that will be applied, this is the key file you’re looking for.

_Nohq - A Normal or ‘bump’ map, a funky coloured map that tells the game how light is supposed to hit the object, used to fake small details like bumps and scratches, in the blufors case, things like wrinkles, belt loops and velcro.

_Ti_ca - A red/grey alpha map that tells the game how an object is supposed to appear on thermals (From memory, the brighter the ‘red’ the stronger it will appear on Thermal)

_injury - Pretty self explaiatory, a file full of blood and such that is applied when a character is show.

_smdi - a Specular Map which tells the game how shiny a surface is supposed to be.

Conversion of texture file:

What we’re looking for at the moment is the Colour map or _co as highlighted to change the units camouflage, the three highlighted being Clothing1, Vest_rgr and Misc1 are for a different part of the body, clothing being clothing, vest being the vest and Misc being the helmet and some other bits and piece;

now obviously these files are in .paa which can’t be read by your graphic editor so we’re going to have to convert these to a file that can be read, the two most popular being .TGA and .PNG.

Although any format can be used it’s best to use one that supports transparency and a wide range of colours, my preferred being .PNG, so lets open these files in something that can read it, TextView2, a program created by BI Studios, which should be the default program:


Now what you’re looking at is all the colour textures of the unit’s clothing on a flat surface, now we have to convert these to a readable format, the easiest way being to hit Save As… under file and change the extension, save type and save location, here’s what i use:


Now once this is saved you should be able to find the file in the location you saved it, in my case the desktop, now we need to open this in photoshop to get some real work going:


And this is where i finish, now its upto you to find your own techniques, just remember you can’t delete sections of a model or change the bump map easily so you can’t remove a pocket or knee pad by painting over it, if you paint over the knee pad then you’re only going to get a camouflaged kneepad, likewise if you paint over the gloves at the bottom the gloves will change colour, so you have to work with the model, at this stage i recommend you select major areas like the undershirt, boots, gloves, knee/elbow pads, etc and make it inverted so you don’t paint over them and just leave them as the default texture.

After you’re done with the texture create a directory, like for example, P:/My_addon/Data and put the files you’ve changed in the data folder, follow the above mentioned tutorial by stillman to create a config and place it in the ‘My_addon’ folder and then pack it all up with BinPBO (using the directory P:/My_addon) and try the PBO in game

I hope the above was helpful to those trying to get their head around the initial steps

arma3/texturing/scarecrow398-retexturing-tools-basics-tutorial.txt · Last modified: 2013-04-20 12:41 by snakeman