Nikki's Marking Tutorials & Tips

  • Administrators

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    Hello friends, I am going to teach you to make markings. I am fully aware that some people may make markings differently than this or use different methods, but these are the ones I have refined to work the best for me.


    -Sims 3 Object Cloner (S3OC)
    -Sims 3 Package Editor (S3PE)
    -a version of Photoshop with 3D enabled (you can make markings without Photoshop but this tutorial won’t be very helpful for you)
    -the Photoshop DDS plugin
    -My 3D model with pink shading channels (Edited from Farai's amazing full body marking base. Download her original here.)
    -a 3-channel package to clone (here's mine)
    -a working folder to save your files for marking projects in


    • Open S3OC. Click File > Open Package. Find the base package you just downloaded and open it.
    • Select the item in the left panel of S3OC. Once it's highlighted, click "Clone or fix" on the bottom right of the window.

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    • You will then be taken to a window to select all the options for you new package. First, click all the checkboxes on the left. Under "Rename and number internally", you need to name your new package. I named mine "NikkiCalvaria_ZAnnella_markings"- the horse I'm making is called Z Annella and these will be her white markings. You can name your package literally anything. I suggest putting your name on it and the name of the horse or what type of marking you're making, but it doesn't matter. Next to "Unknown 1" I paste the name of the package to ensure it's unique.

    • Next, you need to tell the package which area of the horse to assign itself to. The package you downloaded from me will be in Back by default, but you can change it to whatever you prefer. I left mine in Back. The assignment will not affect how the markings show on the horse- a head marking could be assigned to the front left leg and it will still show up on the head when you add it to your coat.

    The areas highlighted in orange are the ones you need to edit.
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    • Once you are sure your package is set up the way you want it, click "Start" and then "Okay" when the dialog box tells you your package is ready. You can then close S3OC.


    • Open Photoshop. Open the 3D model you downloaded above.

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    This is my edited and personalized model with all 3 channels showing on the whole body. The green channel shows as yellow and the blue channel shows as white.
    • Looking at the Layers panel of the 3D model, double-click on the one labelled "ONLY REPLACE THIS". This is your flat map. You should see what looks like the grey skin of a horse stretched out flat. It's slightly gross, you'll get used to it.

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    Smashed horse on the flat map.
    • Now, look at your layers on the flat map. You should see a handful of clipping masks. These are what is going to give your marking it's channels- What shows as red on the model will be white in-game, the other two layers, blue and green, will be pink.
    • You should also see a layer which all the clipping masks are clipped to named Marking. You will see that when you draw on this layer, it will display the channels over the marking you draw. Only draw your marking on this layer.

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    BE SURE to do the actual drawing of your marking on the 'Marking' layer (the one that all the clipping masks are clipped to.)
    • Some tricks for using the 3D model:
    • Draw on the 3D model with the flat map CLOSED. Drawing on the 3D with the flat map open can cause them to become de-synced, which is super annoying. You can draw on the flat map with the 3D open without worrying about de-syncing.
    • It's best to just block out where you want you marking to be on the 3D and then do the majority of your painting on the flat map. Drawing on the 3D model can cause some interesting tears and blurring of the texture, but the flat map doesn't have this distortion.
    • Use the 3D model to figure out where the seams are going to be on your marking to avoid ugly sharp lines on your marking (the legs and chest are the most important places for this)
    • For this marking, I am only drawing a few small leg markings and a blaze. However, this method will work for any white markings you want to draw.
    • I will make a tutorial for getting realistic and interesting edges on markings at a later date. Play with your brush settings until you get the look you want for your marking.

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    Here is my marking- a sock, a coronet band, and a pastern marking, plus a face marking. The orange and white on the nose will later be the pink on the marking.


    • Now that your marking is drawn, it's time to save it. While looking at the flat map, click the little eye icon next to the layer named "Black Bakground" to make it visible. You should now see a red marking on a black background.

    • Select File > Save As. Find your working folder and save your marking image as a DDS with a unique name so you know which one to use later.
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    • When prompted, make sure your DDS settings match these.
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    • Now, onto the thumbnail. Open a new document in Photoshop that is 256 x 256 pixels.

    • Make your thumbnail! There is no right or wrong way to do this; however you want to make the icon for your new marking appear in game is up to you.

    • Once you've made your thumbnail, save it as a .png in your marking folder, again with a unique name. You can now close photoshop.


    • Open S3PE.
    • Go to File > Open and find your cloned package.
    • You should see something like this:
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    • Now we need to replace the files in this package with our customized ones with the marking on it.
    • First, select the item with the IMG tag. (It is the one at the bottom in the image above. It may be in a different place for you, that's okay.)
    • Right click it and select "Replace." Find the DDS with your marking on it in the window that pops up. (Remember, the DDS is the one with the black background with the marking on it.) If you are having trouble with the DDS not showing up, make sure "All files" is selected in the dropdown box on the right. (Highlighted on the photo below.) You should then see your marking image load into S3PE on the right panel.
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    • Now, for thumbnail, find the item with the THUM tag. (Third from the top in my package above.) Do the same process you just used the replace the DDS, except select the png that you made for your thumbnail. You should see it load into the right panel now.
    With IMG selected with THUM selected
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    • Finally, go to File > Save. Congrats, you just made a marking! Make sure to throw it in your game before you next launch it, and go make a beautiful custom pon.

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    Leave any questions you have below :)

  • Oh thank you! now I'm tempted to make markings again!

  • Thank you for this! I was going to try to learn how to make markings in the new year and this will make it so much easier!

  • I really look forward to seeing a tutorial (if you make one) on how you get nice crisp - but not pixellled - edges. This tutorial is very helpful :smile:

  • Administrators

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    Using Wireframes To Your Advantage

    The easiest way to ruin a beautiful marking is to pay too much attention to your gorgeous edges and striking patterns... and forget to pay attention to seams. Seams are any place the texture of the horse skin meets itself on the horse, and if ignored while you paint your marking, they can create ugly, jarring edges on an otherwise breathtaking marking.

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    Seam on a back leg Seam on the chest

    Fortunately, if you draw on the 3D model, its easy to see where you've created a seam, but when drawing on the flat map, how to you know where to draw to ensure your marking lines up? And if you can't use the 3D model in Photoshop, perhaps you've always struggled to make sense of seams. I have a very simple solution for both of you!

    If you use the 3D model in Photoshop, simply open the flat skin, then while viewing the flat map, go to 3D >> Generate UV Overlays >> Wireframe. Viola, the wireframe is automatically generated for you. You should be greeted with something like this:
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    And your horse has been transformed into a grid system, with lines that meet each other and make it obvious where seams will be. Furthermore, its easy to see where the texture will 'distort' around the 3D horse- places where the squares are larger are where your marking will be stretched, places where the are smaller are where details will be compressed. Now, if you want to be sure your marking will be seam-free, you only need be sure the edges of your marking meet each other at the same point by drawing the edges at the same point on the gridmap. Here's a visual example:

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    By drawing along the lines created by the wireframe on the flatmap... You can ensure the 3D rendering will be seamless.
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    You can begin by creating a seamless block... And then create your marking's texture within that area... To ensure the final result will be seamless.

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    BE SURE TO NOT DRAW YOUR MARKING ON THE SAME LAYER AS THE WIREFRAME. I recommend leaving the wireframe on the top layer of your document with its transparency locked so you can avoid accidentally ruining a marking.

    For those of you who use GIMP or otherwise don't have access to the 3D model, I haven't forgotten you- below is a transparent copy of the wireframe. Its resolution is 2048 x 2048, be sure to resize it if you create markings at a different resolution!

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  • Thank you! I'm going to be losing access to photoshop soon, (worst part about leaving uni is no longer having access to expensive programs!), and this will make the switch to making markings on GIMP so much easier!

  • Thanks so much. That wireframe will help me so much, since I use my iPad for markings.

  • Thanks so much!! Fixing seams in Gimp takes wayyyy too much time, but not anymore I guess! <3

  • Banned

    Thats so helpful and cool! Thank you! <3

  • Absolute legend :clap_tone2:

  • This is very helpful! Thank you for sharing your tutorial!!

  • Administrators

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    Mind Your Edges

    It is my personal opinion that when making markings, you shouldn't do anything the slow, manual way if you can make Photoshop do it for you. That's why I've put together a couple tips for making the edges on your markings pop - because really, a marking's beauty is almost entirely based on it's edges and how natural it looks on a horse's coat.

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    Here is a very basic tobiano shaped-marking that I threw together in about 3 minutes. It's got some potential, the shape is decent enough- but the edges are too smooth, it has some unnaturally-rounded areas, and it's missing character. You could spend an hour painstakingly going 'round the edges and adding some flavor to them to try and make this marking stand out- or you can spend a few minutes doing it a much easier way.

    Method 1: Shape Dynamics, My Very Best Friend

    Take a peek at your brush menu. Try to find a brush with some interesting edges- the basic round brush will take you far in the marking world, but today we want something with a bit more going on. deviantArt has a large catalog of brushes if you're stumped- get creative, just because something doesn't look like a marking brush doesn't mean it can't be used as one.
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    I'm using this brush- it's not thrilling but it has just enough character to add some visual interest to a marking. I also like my brushes to have a slight blurry, fuzzy, or transparent edge- markings on horses rarely have razor-sharp edges.

    After selecting your brush, navigate to the Shape Dynamics submenu on the brush panel. There, you have a lot of options for making your brush do some Pretty Interesting Things. A personal favorite of mine is Angle Jitter- and as you can see I've turned it up all the way. Go big or go home.
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    Some other things I've changed: Selecting the Flip X and Y Jitter boxes will allow your brush to do some real gymnastics. Size Jitter, Minimum Diameter, and Roundness Jitter can all add some excitement to how your brush will behave.

    Another submenu to use to your advantage is Scattering. I like to use this one a little more subtly than angle jitter, but that's just me.
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    The name of the game here is visual interest. You want your brush to be creating a unique-looking stroke as you paint (or erase) your edges to make them look natural and attractive. The combination of these brush presets can create a massive variety of effects, and you can adjust them to your needs depending on the look you're after for your marking.

    Returning to your marking, go along the edges with your new, exciting, dancing brush to add a lot more character to the flat marking you've already painted. My preference is to paint a rough outline of a marking and then erase away at the edges until I'm happy- but work in the way that best suits your pace and art style.
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    With only a bit of effort, your marking now has much more interesting, natural looking edges.

    The flavor of your edges can change pretty drastically by using different brushes and settings.
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    This brush has much softer edges and lower spacing than the settings used on the brush above- and it gives a smoother, almost mapped effect on the edges of the marking.

    Which brings us to method two:

    Using Outer Glow For Instant-Mapping

    Find the layer your marking is painted on. Right click it, and select 'Blending Options' from the menu that pops up. In the window that comes up, select Outer Glow from the list under Styles.
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    These are my basic settings for mapping, but I usually mess with them for about every marking I make- some markings I might want the mapping to pop a bit more, others I may want it to be subtler and thinner. I encourage you to mess with them and learn your own tastes. When you are satisfied with the outer glow on your marking, right click the layer again and select Convert To Smart Object, then right click again and select Rasterize Layer to finalize it.

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    And there you have it- a visually interesting marking with elegant edges in only a few steps.

    Enjoy and go make some markings :kiss:

  • Banned

    When I use Outer Glow at a blaze (with two channels), then the whole Outer Glow effect has a pinkish tone in CAS (because of the pink from the snip), how can I fix that?

  • I have always admired your marking skills. Thank you so much Nikki for sharing these with us :heart:

  • The last tutorial was the tutorial I was missing. Thank you for sharing <3

  • Administrators

    @Hilda-Wilson said in Nikki's Marking Tutorials & Tips:

    When I use Outer Glow at a blaze (with two channels), then the whole Outer Glow effect has a pinkish tone in CAS (because of the pink from the snip), how can I fix that?

    That will be because your outer glow is not on the correct channel. The best way to handle channels with outer glow is to use clipping masks- the model I linked in the first tutorial in this thread has clipping masks pre-built into it.

    When you first apply the outer glow, it will look something like this. On a 2-channel marking, that white will show up on the second channel if left white.
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    And your layers will look like this (if you're using clipping masks)
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    Clipping masks will not work on layer effects, so in order for your clipping masks to work, the layer effects need to be rasterized, or finalized.

    To finalize a layer effect so it will respond to clipping masks, you need to right-click on the layer with the outer glow, and select "Convert to Smart Object" and then right click it again and select "Rasterize layer". After doing that, your layer will look like this:
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    With the Effects list no longer showing up under it.
    After that, your marking should respond to the clipping masks, with the mapping showing up on the correct channels:
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    If you're not using clipping masks, you can now lock the transparency of your marking layer and paint the second channel for the snip, which will paint the outer glow along with it. (I very much recommend using clipping masks for channels!)

    Hope this made sense and helps you out :heart:

  • Banned

    Thank you Nikki! <3

  • I am having trouble getting the 3d effect on cs2. I can't find any information online. I tried to download the nvidia texture tool plug in and it comes up in filters but it doesn't look 3d and I can't rotate or do anything at all. Also, I get this notice when I start it up that a layer has been altered so i guess it is trying to make it work without the 3d.

  • @Eden-Matzner said in Nikki's Marking Tutorials & Tips:

    I am having trouble getting the 3d effect on cs2. I can't find any information online. I tried to download the nvidia texture tool plug in and it comes up in filters but it doesn't look 3d and I can't rotate or do anything at all. Also, I get this notice when I start it up that a layer has been altered so i guess it is trying to make it work without the 3d.

    I don't belive cs2 can do the 3D files, as it is a very very old version of the program.

  • Does anyone know if GIMP has a plug in to do this?

  • This tut has really helped me a lot, I used to really struggle with packaging and also mapping of markings but this straight forward tut has made a huge difference :) Thanks Puck <3

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