ModMaker, Step by Step

In this tutorial, I'll show you, step-by-step, how to create a mod using ModMaker. The tutorial looks long, but it shouldn't take you more than ten minutes, if that. I don't have enough mods for the Spanish Daughter #2, so let's create a new look for her.

First, we fire up ModMaker. You can do this by double-clicking on the icon the folder in which you unzipped it. It should display a window similar to the one below.

Loading the Files

Now we get the proper background file loaded. Click on the Base Layer button. A file selection dialog opens, probably at the folder where ModMaker started. The images that are distributed with ModMaker should be in the 'content' folder. Double-click on the content folder. Then, navigate through the tons of files there to pick out 'daug_beau_bkg_s2.png'. That's the background file for the Spanish daughter #2. It's just a PNG version of the DDS file that came with Pirates.

Next we'll get the layer image files that go with the beautiful daughters loaded. Ensure that the folder specified next to the Layer Folder button is the one that has all the layer image files in it. If it's not, click the Layer Folder button and navigate to the correct folder.

Click on the Match Pattern drop-down box. You'll see a list of file matching patterns. Click on the one with 'daug_beau_lyr*.png'. Now click on the Refresh Layers button in the Available Layers area. ModMaker will look in the Layer Folder, and put a list of files that match the Match Pattern in the Available Layers listbox.

Showing the Background

We could selectively move layers over to the Working Layers list box, but let's just click the Add All button to move them all over. It's easier, although we'll have to wade through them all to find the ones we want. Then scroll down to the bottom of the Working Layers list box, and click the box next to the background layer ('daug_beau_bkg_s2.png'), so that a check shows up in the box (or we could double-click on the layer name). This 'enables' the layer -- makes it part of the image. The background image should display in the Image Preview. I apologize for the nude top, but that's what happens when you build mods up from the basics.

Adding Layers to the Mod

Now let's put a top on her. With all her dark coloring, she'd probably look good in white. There's a good white lacy strapless top called 'daug_beau_lyr_top_bustier_white_lacy.png'. Find that in the list, and enable it (click the checkbox to the left of the file name). The Image Preview should redraw, with a white top on the figure. Don't worry about the bit of flesh showing below the top, that will get covered up by the top of her skirt when the figure in rendered in 3D.

Next let's change the skirt and wrap. We could try an all-white look to go with the top. Find the layer labeled 'daug_beau_lyr_skirt_all_white.png' and enable it. Then find 'daug_beau_lyr_gloves_white_lace.png' and 'daug_beau_lyr_puffies_white_gold_trim.png' and enable them. The Image Preview should repaint as below:

Color Manipulation

Hmmm. Looks OK? Maybe a bit too much like a bride. Let's play with it some more. Maybe something darker? Select her top layer ('daug_beau_lyr_top_bustier_white_lacy.png'). By 'select' I mean click the file name, so that it is highlighted. It must also be enabled, so don't uncheck it. Then click the 'Color...' button. The Color Manipulation dialog window shows up, with all the sliders in the middle. Move the Saturation slider to the right a bit and see how the color increases? Now click Reset, and the image will go back to its original state. If you mess things up, you can hit Reset (or Cancel, which resets the image and closes the Color window). But once you click OK, the image is changed, you can't go back. Note that the Color Manipulation doesn't save the changes in the layer image file. So if you were to disable the layer, click Remove, and then re-add the layer to the Working Layers list box, you'll get the original version back (it reloads the file).

I'm trying for a look that has black with a lighter grey lacy pattern. So I'm going to lower the brightness a lot, which will keep the lightest parts white, but make everything else darker. Then I'm going to put just a bit of color in by raising the saturation slightly, and shift the hue from it's orangish tint to a dark blue. I raised the contrast a bit too, making the darker parts darker and the lighter parts lighter. Below is the result, showing the sliders in their final positions. Then click OK.

Wow! I like that so much I'm going to save it. It's a pain to reproduce color manipulated layers again and again if you reuse them, so it's better to save them. Plus, hard as it might be to imagine, ModMaker does have a few bugs in Color Manipulation (I'm working on them); so it's best to save our work. With the layer still selected, click on the Save Layer button at the bottom of the window. Navigate to your content folder, and save your layer file! It's best to adhere to the standard naming convention, so you can find things again.

Then let's select the all-white skirt, click on Color, and lower the brightness almost to the second-from-left tick mark. This will give the under-skirt a kind of dark silver-black look. I'll also select the puffies layer, and adjust their brightness down too. I also shifted their hue to the left so the gold trim ends up having a slight dark bluish tinge. Now let's see what we've got:

Looks good. But let's play with that wrap over the skirt. Let's make it more like the top - kind of black with a touch of midnight blue. Let's enable another wrap layer -- 'daug_beau_lyr_skirt_wrap_blue(f1).png'. (If it doesn't show up, it might be below the all-white layer in the drawing order. Thus the all-white layer is drawn on top of it. Select it and click Up until it moves above the all-white wrap layer in the list.) Click Color. This is a nice, clean blue wrap. But we want just a touch of blue, and this has way too much color. So lower the saturation about two clicks. Give it a bit of contrast to make the light patches show up a bit more. Then lower the brightness about three clicks to darken the entire wrap, while leaving some of the lighter areas a bit lighter. It should appear as below, where you can also see my color slider settings.

Saving the Results

That looks good to me. Click OK. Let's save the results. Click the Save Visible button in the Output section. Then navigate to somewhere to save it (I usually save directly into Pirates' Custom folder). Save the file as ''. It's very important to remember to save it as a DDS file, specifying the extension.

I created a test game in one of my saved slots using the Phalzyrian Trainer where I'm a duke with all nations, totally kitted out, etc. I checked out where the beautiful daughters were, and saved the locations using the trainer. That way I can easily check out my mods in the game, without really having to play the game at all to get to the right spot. Now after firing up Pirates and finding the right city, we'll see what she looks like. Here's a screenshot:

Hmmm... Not bad. The top looks good, and the skirts seem OK, although we could have put a bit more of the midnight blue into the under-skirt. But those puffies don't quite cut it; too much light grey on the highlights. I'll have to darken them up a bit. Oh well, back to ModMaker for a quick adjustment!

Hope this helps you all. Have fun using ModMaker, and post some results for everyone to see!