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Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#1 Old 17th Jun 2010 at 9:02 PM Last edited by CmarNYC : 12th Jul 2010 at 12:56 PM.
Default For alpha testing: Ambitions tattoo packager
In Ambitions tattoos are an additional type of CAS part, and hopefully Delphy will update CTU to support them at some point, undoubtedly better than I can. In the meantime, since I love the idea of custom tattoos, here's a quickie tool to take a DDS image of a tattoo and package it up for the game.

Extract Tattooinator.exe and the supporting .dll and put them in the same folder, then run the program. Give your tattoo a name and import the DDS file. Click the button to make a package. At this point it only supports black and white (single color, really) tattoos, but I'm working on full color and on the ability to specify the colors. Only runs on Windows, sorry.

DDS files are 512 x 512, no compression. In GIMP the game black and white files appear to have no visible image, but I was able to make a usable file by painting the alpha layer all black which makes the image appear, then modifying the red layer, then painting the alpha all transparent again. Maybe it's easier in Paintshop.

The Infinity tattoo I made with this program is shown below.

Comments, suggestions, and especially results of trying it out are very welcome!

Edit - new version added with support for color.

** The final (for now) version is in the downloads section:

I'm removing the downloads from this post.
Lab Assistant
#2 Old 18th Jun 2010 at 12:31 AM
I tried it quickly. It works for me. Great job.
We need colors now.
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#3 Old 19th Jun 2010 at 11:51 PM
I've uploaded a new version with support for color and sort order in CAS. In testing I wasn't able to get the alpha layer working properly, but that's probably my lack of skill with texturing, so the test shown below is 3-color. (It's not a very good example, but whatever.) If anyone who's better at it can test out the alpha channel, that would be great. You can pick colors for the R/G/B/Alpha channels for each of the three patterns for the tattoo. Later I'll add a way to save your selections, maybe make them default and/or read them from an existing package.
#4 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 9:45 AM
I've been using this lately and I really like it. I would offer a suggestion to have a preview window, so you can see what your tattoo will look like. It doesn't have to be 3d on a sim or anything, just thinking of what the TSRW pattern preview window has. Where it shows a 2d image of all the channels and the colors you chose for it.
Lab Assistant
#5 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 10:51 AM
I'm playing with with custom tattos with this little tutorial.
I use TSR workshop and convert .sim3package in .package with Sims3Pack Multi Installer.

I saw alpha channel is particular and important for tattoos. I hope this information help you to understand textures and help you to developpe your program.
Has a vampire viking fetish
retired moderator
#6 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 12:25 PM
Ack I don't know what I am doing wrong...
I have made a tattoo, saving it as dxt5 interpolated alpha (it has RGB and an Alpha channel). I made the package file but it isn't showing up in cas.
Am I saving the dds incorrectly?

I've probably done something stupid.
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#7 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 1:11 PM
LadyFrontbum: Sorry but the programming language I use doesn't directly have the capability to preview a dds image. I might be able to figure out how to interface with .net to do it, and it would be a challenging project. Could you upload the package you made that doesn't work so I could take a look, or pm me with it?

Silverfox: Thanks for the link - I've seen that page already. I know TSRW supports custom tattoos but some people don't like to work with it. Also I've looked at the packages it makes and some of the files are not constructed or linked properly. They work, though, so I can't really criticize. What I need is more knowledge of how to work with alpha channels in GIMP, for clothing as well as tattoos.
Lab Assistant
#8 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 1:46 PM
LadyFrontBum :
I tried with dxt5 interpolated alpha (RGB and Alpha channel), too. It works for me. Perhaps you haven't enabled channel Alpha. If it isn't enabled, it isn't showing up in cas for me.

CmarNYC :
I doesn't like work with TSRW, too. But with it, I saw structure of tatoos texture. If I understand correctly :
RGB channel have recolorable texture and background color black.
Alpha channel have overlay texture.

I tried to do this with Gimp, but I can't modify alpha channel without modify RGB channel.
I use Photoshop to do my texture.

But, perhaps you know already this.
Has a vampire viking fetish
retired moderator
#9 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 1:46 PM
Sending you a pm

Edit: Does the alpha channel need to be transparent / black? Will black/white not work?
I'm pretty sure I enabled the alpha channel. I will try again in a moment.
Lab Assistant
#10 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 2:28 PM
I think alpha channel need to be transparent.
Has a vampire viking fetish
retired moderator
#11 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 2:57 PM
Ok because I was making them how I make clothes.
Black/White alpha then RGB channels.

That said, I also made the plain rgb one too so I'm not sure why neither worked. I must have made a silly mistake.
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#12 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 2:59 PM Last edited by CmarNYC : 20th Jun 2010 at 3:10 PM.
Lady Frontbum: Yes, the alpha layer needs to be transparent - the opaque parts normally show up as black but can be recolored. It seems to be used for the black outlines of the tattoo. If your alpha is black and white it'll probably show up as a solid black square. Is that what's happening?

Edit: Remembered that when I left my alpha all black the tattoo just didn't show on the sim at all. Maybe that's what's happening. I got your pm and will take a look.

Silverfox: Yeah, my problem is with editing the alpha in GIMP since I don't have Photoshop. I vaguely remember there's a way to do this without affecting the RGB layers, but I have to try to find it again.
Has a vampire viking fetish
retired moderator
#13 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 3:16 PM
No, mine aren't showing up in cas at all. There are no new tatts.

I don't need to actually own ambitions for them to show up do i? Is having the latest patch enough?
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#14 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 3:52 PM
I see your tattoo in CAS just fine - it shows up as all black, but I think that's because the alpha has white over the actual tattoo and is masking the colors. From what I can find about the patch, it has only a 'limited number' of tattoos, so custom ones may not show up. I haven't been able to find any comments from anyone with just the patch saying that they can use custom tats.
Lab Assistant
#15 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 3:57 PM
This is another test.

Texture done with Photoshop and NVidia plugin :
DXT5 ARGB 8 bpp | interpolated alpha - no MipMap.
Alpha channel transparent with overlay.

Tattooinator :
all chanels enabled.
Has a vampire viking fetish
retired moderator
#16 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 4:11 PM
What do you mean by "with overlay"?

Ah thanks cmar, maybe that's why I can't see them at all, I don't have ambitions

I guess I will have to wait until I can afford to buy it. Damn, I got excited!
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#17 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 6:09 PM Last edited by CmarNYC : 20th Jun 2010 at 7:14 PM.
Silverfox: Wow, that's beautiful!

LadyFrontbum: I guess maybe the tattoos in the patch are just a teaser.

Anywho, I've found the method of editing the alpha in GIMP which Jonha told me some time ago and tested it with good results. Maybe it'll be of help to others:

1. Make a new 512 x 512 image in GIMP. I painted it with pure red, green, and blue. (If doing an actual image, fill it with black first to have a proper background.)

2. Right-click the Background layer in Layers tab in the Layers, Channels, Paths, Undo, etc. window and click Add Alpha Channel.

3. Right-click the Background layer again and click Add Layer Mask. Choose "Transfer layer's alpha channel" in the window that pops up. The mask will appear to the right of the base image.

4. Still in the Layers tab, right-click the layer again, and check 'Show Layer Mask' to see the alpha channel mask. Make sure 'Edit Layer Mask' is checked so you can edit it. You can switch between seeing/editing the main image and the alpha channel mask by checking and unchecking those controls.

5. Black on the alpha mask will let the RGB channels show in the game. (Transparency) Where you have white will be black by default (but is recolorable if you enable the alpha channel in Tattooinator) and cover the color layers. Where you put gray will be shaded.

6. When finished, right-click in Layers window and choose 'Apply Layer Mask'. You'll see that the black areas turn to transparency in the alpha channel and the white turns black. Unfortunately, in GIMP, transparency in the alpha hides the RGB layers, which is kind of the opposite of what you'd expect and VERY confusing.

7. Save with DXT5 compression or no compression.

You can see my test tattoo in GIMP and in CAS below - pure red, green, blue, and black selected in the pattern and all four channels enabled in Tattooinator.
Lab Assistant
#18 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 6:19 PM
thanks CmarNYC,
I used a shareware photoshop, so I have one month to do my custom tattoos. After...
This tutorial with Gimp is welcome.

Originally Posted by LadyFrontbum
What do you mean by "with overlay"?

Texture in alpha channel is superimposed on RGB channel. This texture can be semi-transparent, to create shadow or shaded tones.
Field Researcher
#19 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 10:22 PM
you are now my favorite person.

thanks! :D
#20 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 11:03 PM
CMAR, I'm trying to make a one channel tattoo? How would I go about doing that? It looks like your instructions are for 4 channels.
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#21 Old 20th Jun 2010 at 11:46 PM
Joninmobile - that set of instructions is for editing the alpha channel, a little of which you'll have to do for a one-channel tattoo.

What you need to do is make your image pure red with a black background so you're using only the R channel. Add the alpha channel as above, then either use the method above and paint the alpha all black, or use the eraser directly on the alpha to make it all transparency. (But be sure you have ONLY the alpha selected for editing.)

Below is a tattoo I just made by creating a new 512 x 512 image, filling it with black, writing on it with pure red, adding an alpha channel and then a mask from the alpha, painting the mask pure black, applying the mask, and saving. Packaged it in Tattooinator with only the R channel enabled. The game seems to add a black border around the color, which is nice.

BTW I tried it with no alpha and got no visible tattoo, and also just adding the alpha and saving without the mask procedure - got a solid black square. Apparently you need that transparent alpha channel.

Maybe later I can write a step-by-step tutorial.
#22 Old 21st Jun 2010 at 1:58 AM Last edited by joninmobile : 21st Jun 2010 at 2:11 AM.
I was able to make a successful tattoo with this following your instructions, it's CASTable exactly like it should be (unlike my others) only one problem, it's too blurry. Maybe it's the way the game renders tattoos because irl they are a bit blurry, not sure, but I wonder if there is a work-around to this. My channel texture is very crisp, not blurry at all.

In Game:


Field Researcher
#23 Old 21st Jun 2010 at 3:50 AM Last edited by Marcos_Edson : 21st Jun 2010 at 3:52 AM. Reason: typo...
Thanks, CmarNYC, your tools and tips are very handy.
Like many creators (me included) are used when making clothes, it´s also possible to deal with the Alpha and RGB/Base channels as different images.
Taking the attached images as example:
* make/open the RGB image in GIMP;
* add Alpha channel;
* add Mask;
* make/open the Alpha image;
* copy Alpha image;
* past over open RGB image;
* apply Mask to Layer on open RGB image;
* save as DDS.
I hope this is helpful.
Ms. Byte
Original Poster
#24 Old 21st Jun 2010 at 12:14 PM Last edited by CmarNYC : 21st Jun 2010 at 10:45 PM.
Joninmobile: I've had the same problem and have found it helps to increase the opacity of the tattoo in the advanced panel. Also there may be a general problem with shoulder tattoos - I saw blurriness and smudging in the game with the one I made, but haven't looked much at the EA tattoos to compare. Also something you could try is the technique Marcos Edson illustrates so beautifully just above - make the alpha layer with a thin outline around your tattoo (white in the layer mask, black after it's applied to the alpha) to define the edges.

Marcos Edson: Thanks, very helpful!

*Edited for my dumbness.
Lab Assistant
#25 Old 21st Jun 2010 at 5:59 PM
When I tested, I've had same problem too, But, in my case, the problem is DDS file.
Someone has had same thing ? Problem is format of DDS ? (DTX5 interpolated) or compression ?
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