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Modifying patterns

Tools of the trade

To modify the patterns in the Dawn of War game you need a few useful tools - two specialised ones and one generic tool.

Firstly, to get the WTP files you need an SGA reader. You can use either SpookyRAT or Corsix's SGA Reader. I personally started with SpookyRAT and haven't found need to use anything else.

Next we need the WTP tool to extract the skin TGA images from the WTP pattern files. The only one I know of is Beroc's WTP Tool. The official download is at, but people have had problems with the site, so it is also available on this site.

Finally you need an art package to edit the TGA images. I recommend Adobe Photoshop, but for those with less money there is Jasc's Paint Shop Pro, the open source (and very powerful) The Gimp, or any other art program that fully supports Targa images.

The beginning - getting the pattern images

The first step is rather important, and not greatly obvious. Firstly we need to get the WTP files. Open your SGA reader program and then open W40k\W40kData-SharedTextures-Full.sga from your Dawn of War install directory. Extract the WTP files you want (either one or all of them) and make sure that the path matches (e.g. W40k\Data\art\ebpsaces\space_marines for Space Marine WTPs). If the paths don't match, then your new patterns won't be visible in the game.

Next, run the WTP tool and click "Extract WTP". Choose the WTP you want in the browser window, and several TGA images will be created in the same location as it (the exact files depend on the composition of the WTP).

Understanding the images

The files that make up the WTP are as follows:

[unit name]_default.tga
The underlying pattern for the skin. It contains basic shading, the base colour that the dirt layer will show through to and is a 32-bit TGA (24-bit colour plus 8 bit transparency)
[unit name]_default_badge.tga
An 8-bit greyscale TGA that should only contain two colours - mainly black with a single white square (64px by 64px) where the badge should be shown.
[unit name]_default_banner.tga
An 8-bit greyscale TGA that should only contain two colours - mainly black with a single white square (64px by 96px) where the banner should be shown.
[unit name]_default_Dirt.tga
An 8-bit greyscale TGA that acts as an inverse Alpha Channel for the overlays. Anything that is white on this layer will show the underlying _default.tga image. Anything that is black will show the overlay colour. Anything that is black on both the Dirt layer and the overlays will show as black.
[unit name]_default_Primary.tga, [unit name]_default_Secondary.tga, [unit name]_default_Weapon.tga, [unit name]_default_Trim.tga, [unit name]_default_Eyes.tga
The rest of the TGA files from the WTP are the overlays. Each TGA holds the team coloured areas for one selection (the names should make it obvious which section). The files are all 8-bit TGA images, again in greyscale. The lighter the shade in the image, the lighter the overlay colour you will see. Pure white will show pure white, black will show pure black, and any shades inbetween will show a luminosity of the main colour. This is then also affected by the default_Dirt.tga image described above.

Working with the images

Now you have the images, you can work with them in exactly the same way as you would any other image. Paint on it, flood fill it, use effects, do whatever you want (as long as you don't change the mode or layers of the image).

Part of the challenge with some of the patterns is always trying to work out what the obscure shape in the corner is. The easiest way is often to paint it a specific colour, compile the WTP (see later) and then view the model in the army painter and find it there.

One important thing to remember is that the textures will be wrapped around a model, and so a straight line might not look so straight and perfect when its wrapped around the model.

Seeing your models in-game

Once you've finished making your changes to the TGAs, its time to see what it looks like in-game. The quickest (but least representative) way is to use the "Compile TGA" option of the WTP tool. This creates a [unit name].tga image that uses the tool's specified colours to provide a flat output with colour overlay. This is useful for checking for overlay, but not the final result.

To import the new skin into the game, use the "Make WTP" button. Select the WTP that you want to recreate from its component TGA images, wait for it to build and then run the game. If the file is in the correct folder, then the new pattern will be visible in game.

Final touches

The final touches are entirely optional, and not actually much to do with editing the WTPs. If you plan on making several different variations of patterns, move the WTPs and TGAs into a separate folder somewhere else (like pattern\ in your Dawn of War install folder) and download the Dawn of War Pattern Switcher to load the patterns you want and track what is currently loaded.

Once you're happy with your creation, either host it somewhere for everyone to admire and use, or contact us about hosting it. Please note that we probably can't accept pattern files in the first email - even when zipped, they tend to be too big for us to receive them unexpectedly!

Note: Some of the points in this tutorial apply only to patterns extracted from WTPs and not patterns that have been created by 3DS Max's "Max Exporter".


Help Us!

Are you artistic? Do you know your real Warhammer 40,000 races? Skins@Hive World Terra needs pattern files, colour schemes, badges and banners for any pre-existing chapters, craftworlds, clans and legions, plus any fitting home made contributions.

If you want to help, then read the Submitting Your Work article