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 [Tutorial] How to customize your character's appearance with the DAO toolset

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PostSubject: [Tutorial] How to customize your character's appearance with the DAO toolset   Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:56 pm

First you'll need the DAO Toolset which you can dowload here.

The purpose of this short tutorial is to explain as simply as possible how to make a face with the toolset and use that face with a savegame so it overrides the original face. Due to potential memory allocation errors it works better if you modify your save early on as its size may cause the toolset to crash.

With this out of the way I'll assume we'll be making a new character.

We have to make a face using the toolset (the face that we will be using later in game):

First, let's create a new morph


We have to choose a base next (it should match the gender and race of the character we want to replace in game) let's start with HM (human male)


So far so good, now a face should appear. Let's play around with the Object Inspector, there are many tabs that we can use to make the face look the way we want.

01 Material

you can blend different textures (base skin textures) change skin colour and add makeup (even for guys)

02 Part selection

eyes colours and textures, hair, beard, tattoos

03 Feature selection


Here is a tip, if you press ctrl+right click (maintained) you will turn the face around, mouse wheel can be used to zoom in and out.

Here is what I've done:


Once you're done save as "hm_[name]" in the override folder (should be documents/bioware/dragon age/packages/core/override)


The first two letter should match the base you've chosen:


Then right click in the middle of the screen select "post to local"


Close the toolset, we're almost done.

Now we have to start a new game make sure the gender and race match, save the game in a new slot with a name that we won't forget (I used "test").

Make sure you put the points where you want them, choose the soundset that you want and customize the portrait (sliders and background colour, the new face will use the same expression and the same settings for the ingame portrait).

Here is the Human Male that I've made and saved right after talking to Duncan. His name is Pup and I've just used the All in the Family - HM Cousland Preset but any Human Male preset will do as we won't be using this face for the character anyway.

That's how the character looks in game.


I saved the game and used "test" which is a rather convenient name for a save.

Ok, so now we have a new game and we've made a face in the toolset, what we need is to edit the save so it will use our custom face instead.

In order to do that we'll have to open the toolset.

Select open file (CTRL+O) browse dragon age/characters/[character name]/saves/slot_1 and open the .das file

In my example it's test.das in dragon age/characters/Pup/saves/slot_1

Here is what the .das file look like in the toolset:


We need to expand some lines:




We're almost done!

Let's type the name of our mrh file at the end of the line:


One last thing to do: save the changes we've made to the .das file


Now let's open the game and see how the character looks like:


The original was prettier... But we're done here.

What now? Well we can play the game with that face and if we want to modify it simply open the toolset and edit the mrh file, saving and right click post to local will apply the changes.

You can change everything to make the face look like you want without having to modify your save game files.

Last but not least you don't have to worry too much with editing the chargenmorphcfg.xml file to get modded scars, hair and tattoos in game.

Regarding scars and tattoo here is what you can do:

1) scars can be found in the Object Inspector:

->in the first tab 01. Material, scroll down to section 02. Skin Texture, in this category you have:

-01. Base Skin Texture which will be the first skin texture you just have to click on the box on the right and select one among the many textures that are available (more of them with mods like Dr.DJ's Bandit Emporium - Toolset Files) once you've selected the new texture it will show up on your character's face.

-Now you can use the 02. Blend Skin Texture to add another texture (if you want a different set of scars to blend or simply enough another texture to apply (like Bidelles Makeup Studio if you don't want another scar), you can use the sliders under skin texture and skin type to mix both textures for your character.

I did it in my example to get two different sets of scars on that character. Vanilla files already allow for some variety as you can make a very sick looking character (by choosing uh_hed_sica_0d or uh_hed_infa_0d for instance).

2) Tattoos can be found in the second tab of the Object Inspector, 02. Part selection. Scroll down to 3. Tattoo.

->First you have to choose a Tattoo in 01. Tattoo mask.

For a tattoo to show on your character you'll have to choose colours in 02 Tattoo Channel 1 Colour and select the colour intensity with the slider 03. Tattoo 1-R Channel.

Only parts of the tattoo will show up but you can add other colours by selecting Tattoo 2, 3 and 4. You don't need them all for every tattoos, just select colours for the parts you want to show on your character's face.

In that respect the toolset is not as limited as the in game Character Creator as you can decide to have only parts of tattoos, use different colours for different parts or give different parts a different intensity. The great thing is that the toolset is the only way to actually add modded tattoos that can't be used with the ingame character creator (for instance Simple Tattoos).

You can also "RP" the tattoo part by starting out without a tattoo and edit your mrh file later on, giving your character a scary tattoo after giving this character the Reaver speciaization or giving a Dalish tattoo to your character after completing the Brecillian forest part of the game. As I pointed out earlier you don't have to edit your save (the .das file), just open the mrh file in the toolset, apply the tattoo, save and export to local. The changes will show up in game. By editing the mrh file you can also remove tattoos or change them if you want to (the same thing can be done with hair, facial structure, scars, hair colour, hair type, make up, beards, etc).

Last but not least, don't forget to save when you like the face you've made (even if you're not done). Sometimes the toolset crashes (it happened to me only twice but it's annoying to have to start from scratch).

You can also make a Qunari sized main character.

I've tested it in game and it works really well.

Besides, the way that you switch between files and use a custom .mrh is great if you want to change the appearance of a character during a game.

All you have to do is create the character, define the portrait (not the appearance) pick a soundset and wait until you can make a regular save.

Then open the toolset, make a new morph that matches the race type of the character you want to replace. Customize as many things as you want. Save (with the right heading for race) and right click export to local.

Then open your save, find the appearance line and type in the name of your custom file in the value box.

Save, exit the toolset, load the game and Bob's your uncle.

The real advantage is that this way all you have to do is edit the custom .mrh file that you've created to change your character's face, give him or her a scar or glowing eyes or even add a tattoo. Smile

I've been changing my character's appearance with toolset. With a Qunari type body you're stuck with Sten's haircut, balding hair, receding hair, the buzz cut or being bald. The game still considers you to be human and it works in dialogues and cutscenes as well. Ser Gilmore and Iona do look small in comparison to a Qunari sized character. It's also funny for your character to be called "little brother" by Fergus.

The same principle could be applied to other races, for instance a Dwarf character who would look like a Qunari but still be a Dwarf, albeit a giant sized one (funny idea isn't it). It should be possible to create a Mage who would look like a Dwarf but be considered Human by the game (that may introduce a few problems with gear as I'm not sure the Mage robes would work, I know the Chasind Robe does so maybe they will work but that will require some testing just to be sure).

I've made some tests and gave a Dwarf a Qunari look, now he is the biggest Duster in town. Very Happy

I've also made a new Human Noble modified to look like a kid (the reference for savegame appearance is 38). The "little brother" comment makes a lot of sense, I'd suggest sticking to daggers to avoid a ludicrous look. Armours don't show but the bonuses still apply.

I've tested this on a Dwarf made from a Human Mage, the character is still "human" but he looks quite good. Spells and Mage gear are working by the way (only the appearance is changed and the game support robes for dwarves).

Although bear in mind that Shapeshifting such a character will result in distorted members and appearance. Better to skip the Fade and avoid the Shapeshifter specialization.

"Growing old is inevitable but growing up is optional."
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PostSubject: Re: [Tutorial] How to customize your character's appearance with the DAO toolset   Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:13 pm

thank you so much for this. but.. i cant get the tool set i do not own the game. i use my bothers copy -_- i had so many ideas for this too!!!(really pretty men XD)

thank you so very much!
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[Tutorial] How to customize your character's appearance with the DAO toolset
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