Tutorial - steps to making a custom Monster


vcmi.antypika.aplus.pl/DefSorter.exe (needs .NET framework)

Ok steps to making a custom Monster for Heroes 3 from a 3d Model Using WOW model Viewer.

First things first – BACK UP YOUR HEROES 3 DIRECTORY – make a copy, always have the original files stored separately somewhere, since there is a BIG risk of you destroying your game files by doing this.

Ok now, onwards.

1:- find the monster whose model we want to replace – for example I will replace Pikeman with a Wow Stormwind footsoldier, therefore I have to find the PIKEMAN’s DEF file.

To do that you can use lodman.exe provided in the tools package.
Open the LOD manager application, then click the Open LOD button, then browse to your heroes3wog directory/data/h3sprites.LOD, because that’s where most of the monsters are held.
If you have no idea what’s what, just extract the whole thing to a directory of your choice – click ALL FILES then select EXPORT then browse to the directory you want to export to all the files, or just make a new directory for them.
It WILL take a while to export everything please be patient.

Ok now you have a directory with a pile of .def .msg and .msk files you have no idea what to do with or what’s what.
Copy Defsorter.exe provided with the tools in the directory with all the sprites, open it and click the only one button available.

What it does is that it copies all the .def it finds in their belonging directories – spells to spells monsters to monsters, giving some logic to things.

You can delete the surplus files that are still out of the directories, you are not interested in those anymore, for now, since Defsorter.exe makes copies of them, it doesn’t move them.

ALL moster animations are held in .DEF files
WTF is a .DEF you ask – it’s an archive of BMP’s in a sequential/logical order.
The tool you need to open .DEF files is Defview.exe that comes in the tools package.
You may also want to associate .DEF files with Defview.exe so when u double click a .def file it will automatically open it with Defview.
– when you first open a .def file windows will ask “What to open it with”, and you just browse to your Defview.exe’s location, select it, and then check always open this type of files with this application.

Now go to the 42Creature directory is where all the monsters are at.

Now go and find the creature you desire to replace – In my case it’s going to be the pikeman Moster, so I go to CPKMAN.def file. – Finding the right monster you desire may be a little difficult, thou the names do have some similarity to the overall monster’s name.

Now copy the file to a different directory, where you can start mutilating it without having to worry that you’ll destroy the original.

Open with Defview.exe.
Notice the frames with a “+” at the end like cpkman17.pcx+. What the plus means is that in that place ends one animation sequence.

To get the full list of animations, click save as, and then select DEF list from the dropdown menu instead of GIF.
What it will do is that it will create a file in your directory which is in fact the list of animations the monster has.
Associate .h3l files (heroes3 list) with NOTEPAD, checking the “always open with this” checkbox.

Open it and you’ll see a text list of the animations the monster does, with + being the separator.

Now just having the list is not enough, we’re going to have to export/extract the actual BMP’s as well, so hit the save button in Defview.exe(not the save as), and select save all pictures.

It will save all the pictures in the same directory as the .def file you opened.

Ok now we have a .h3l file and a bunch of bmp’s.

To get an idea what they do, open the H3DefTool.exe provided with the package, which is an awesome too which will do most of the work for you.

Now, in H3DefTool.exe hit the open button, it will ask you to browse to the .h3l file you want to use for your monster.
Browse to your mutilation folder, to the newly extracted CPKMAN.H3L file and open it.
It will open the list, associating each BMP with an ANIMATION sequence, like moving, attacking etc.
You MUST have the BMP’s you want to use in the same directory with the .h3l file.
And since we extracted the default ones here into our mutilation folder, all the bmp’s of the default animations should be here.

Now we have accomplished nothing except breaking down into pieces the original stuff, pieces that we can now start editing.

Now to have some fun with the original files.
Leave the H3DefTool program open, then go to your CPKMAN.H3L file again, and find the horizontal attack sequence bmp names.
CPKMAN32.BMP and CPKMAN33.BMP are the part where he stabs the enemy monster with the spear, so we’re going to copy those sequences over and over to make him jab-stab the enemy like crazy instead of stabbing him just once.
Copy paste the names in your CPKMAN.H3L file in the attack sequence about 10 times, then save the file.

Now go to the H3DefTool program, and open the CPKMAN.H3L again.
Now scroll down to where the attack sequence is, and see that instead of the default 9 or 10 frames belonging to attack now there’s more then 20, making the pikeman look like a lunatic jabber.
Since we want to see how this looks inside heroes, there’s 2 things we can do now.
-either export the whole thing into a .def file and slap it into the sprites directory of VCMI,
-or you can have the program actually replace your old h3 animation in the h3sprites.lod with the newly mutilated ones.

IF you use modified default files (aka paiting moustaches on dragons or changing colors to pink on pegasi), select the standard special colors checkbox.
In the SHADOW tab, select CONTAINED, because you don’t want the program to make a double shadow of your already shaded character.
Now back in the general tab, checkbox select def path, and browse to your mutilation folder, then either save it as a newly named .def, or just replace the CPKMAN.DEF in there.
Now click on the wrench button to make the new .def, overwriting the old one.
Copy this newly made def to your vcmi sprites folder, where vcmi will use it instead of the default animations.
OR as extra option

You can select the Add to LOD checkbox too, then browse to your h3sprites.lod file, which will insert the newly made mutilated .def file into the old heroes archive, totally replacing the old monster. AGAIN I must warn you, MAKE A BACKUP OF YOUR ENTIRE HEROES 3 FOLDER BEFORE YOU DO ANY DUMSHIT. I will not be held responsible in any way for you F#$%kin up your game files.

If you chose to insert your mutilation into h2sprites.lod, you can also see your mutilated unit in the original heroes 3 and wog as well – I actually prefer this over VCMI at this moment because of several annoyances that vcmi has when it comes to playing the animations – sometimes they are too jittery.

Better use the old one – if it looks well in the old heroes it will look good in VCMI as well.

NOW comes the hard part-

2:Replacing the default animations of the monster with a new monster/custom made character.

You will need a Image editing application – I like Photoshop Cs3 and Paint Shop Pro 12 for this kind of work – I’ll be mainly using Photoshop(If you don’t have it sucks for you go buy it it’s awesome).

Remember that you extracted a bunch of bmp’s that are the animations? Well we can use those as a starting point to see what we need –

First thing that is a MUST and the program will now swallow anything if different, is the PICTURE SIZE.

WIDTH must me 450 pixels, HEIGHT must be 400 pixels. For some strange reason, my Photoshop also shows a RESOLUTION of 1665 pixels/inch of the default files, which is HUGE compared to the usual 300.

All H3 graphics must use 8BPP palette, where first 8 colors are replaced with transparency and last 32 with current player color (that affects only interface .DEF’s)

TEAL (Red 0 Green 255 Blue 255) is for background, VIOLET (R255 G0 B255) is for SHADOWS.

Teal will get cut out by the game, shadows will be made black or transparent.

So whatever toon you’ll make you will slap in on a teal background in the center of a 450x400 picture.

Now you’ll have to choose a 3d model viewer. I will use WOW model viewer to import a Stormwind footman and replace the old pikeman with him. But you can use any type of application, from counterstrike model viewer, steam’s many model viewers, for the games it has, Milk shape 3d, 3dsMAx, MAYA, whatever you choose, there are MANY options out there.

As far as WOW model viewer and the WOW models they are all the property of Blizzard Entertainment, and they have full credit for making those. I will only be using these as an example of how to import a 3d model into Heroes, because they are so easily available and the animations fit very well in the whole heroes scenery, with no commercial benefit whatsoever (god I hate these freakin disclaimers, but they are necessary unless you want to get sued by Blizz for using their stuff).

Again, if you do not have WOW or the model viewer for it, you can download the WOW files off torrents and go to wowmodelviewer.org and get the dam thing.
NO you don’t need an account or know how to play the game to use these.

I will not stay and explain how to set it up and get it working here, that’s a brick wall you’ll have to bang your head against on your own.

Now, assuming you have a WORKING wow model viewer:

Open character-human-male

In the character menu, click Load NPC outfit.
Find a Stormwind guard’s outfit.
Take the HAIR off- deselect show hair, otherwise it will show through the helmet.
Now put a sword in his right hand – I chose Crystalforged sword.
Put a Stormwind Guard’s shield in left hand.

Now comes the tricky part:
there is a way to make thing very comfortable for you, when it comes to exporting animations.
Resize the viewport window with the mouse until it’s 450 x 400 pixels (it will take a few tries to get it right, just keep doing save screenshot and looking at file size – pixel wise, until is exactly the size you need it to be).
Why do this? Because you export picture of the exact size you need straight off the top without having to resize them in Photoshop and loose quality and get jagged edges around the monster borders due to resize etc.
You can just save screenshot the portions of the animations you want and move to the next.

Resize your footman until it’s just about as tall as a Pikeman, and face him sideways.
If you are not sure of size or placement you can click set background image, and browse to one of the pikeman’s bmp’s.
Center and size your footman until you think you have it right, then take off the pikeman background.

Now the footman has animations of his own – attack, take damage, defend – which are, on most parts, exactly like the pikeman’s.

There is no easy way to export a model – you will have to do it FRAME BY FRAME.

Click the STOP button to stop the animations.
The scroll bar lets you go to the desired frames on the animation, and that’s what we’ll use.

For example, the attack animation has 1000 frames – whoah ok too many no way no way heroes will swallow or play 1000 frames. No we only need like 10 frames for the attack, so we’ll skip from 100 to 100 frames, exporting a screenshot each time. The result should be 10 screenshots that we’ll use as the attack sequence.

Now if you were smart from right off the top, you would name each screenshot BY HAND with a descriptive name, like ATKFRONT01.pcx, ATKFRONT02.pcx or whatever.

If not you’ll have to rename them by hand.


So I don’t MIX UP the frames by slapping them in the same folder, I did 1 folder separately for each sequence, and moved the pictures there until I have every sequence finished/covered, but that’s overkill.

A good thing to do is always keep an eye on the DEFtool program, to see how many frames does each animation have.

You do NOT need each sequence to have the exact number the default ones had, it can be longer or shorter, but don’t overdoit, because it will be noticeable.
For example don’t put more then 2 frames on TURN ARROUND motions – I recommend you leave just 1, otherwise it will look like crap every time your monster turns from 1 direction to the other.

Also export more frames then you might think you’ll need – sometimes it takes extra, sometimes it takes less – that’s up to your sense of esthetics.

Once you think you have every frame covered, you will have to convert them from pcx to bmp. – use the batch convertor in paint shop pro for that is very fast and easy to use, takes less then 1 minute to process all the pictures.

Ok NOW we have a bunch of 450x400 custom made bmp’s on our hands, so now we have to squish them into a .def file

SO, go to the CPKMAN.H3L file, and replace the animation sequences with the names of the BMP’s you have just created. –for example if you did ATKFRONT01.BMP to ATKFRONT10.BMP sequence, then replace the old names from cpkman29,30,31,32, 33 etc with these new ones, then save it.

So now you have a custom LIST of animations to match your custom made BMP sequences.

Now we go to DEFtool application, and open this new list.
If you made everything right, and the pictures are the right size, match the names exactly, and are in the same folder as the .h3l, then you should see your custom made bmp animations as the new monster’s animations.

Go to MISC and where you see creature hint, select the creature from the list to match yours, in this case, pikeman.

Back up your new monster animations to a different folder.

Just remember that H3 uses a special PALLETE for these bmp’s and will sometimes not swallow the export from WOW viewer, which means you may have to adjust each image in Photoshop until it fits the standards.

The deftool program is not VERY demanding, it will adjust the pallete of the bmp’s to fit heroes3, but that means some of the colors of the monster you used might change, show darker/brighter or even worse show up as holes.

NOW, since we do NOT have any shadows on our footman, we’ll let the deftool make some for us – don’t worry it does that quite well.

Just select GENERATE in the shadows tab, and also have generate selection checked as well, then hit apply and save.

Now your character should have a violet shadow dropped below him, and on the mouseover animations, a yellow border glow around him.

If you think you miss-calculated the placement of the monster on screen, in the reposition tab you can move him in any direction you desire, until it fits the hexes accordingly. You can also move ALL the frames, or just ONE frame.

Once you are done with that, go back to general, point it towards your mutilation folder to your custom CPKMAN.def just like you did in the first place, maybe additionally have it insert the def in the old sprites lod, then click the wrench for create def.

If everything is ok, it will create the def file with your custom animations and monster and it will insert it in the old heroes, so you can check it out there.

DON’T use too long of a file names for animations, or H3wont play that sequence.
If you don’t like it how it looks, then Photoshop it more, add or remove frames, until it looks just right, like it belongs there.

Each time you correct your file you will have to redo your h3l, re-import it, and re-export the def file.

The SHADOWS part you only need to do ONCE. After you did it once, just treat the files like you treated the default ones.

Warning – when generating a new DEF file, if ur not carefull in WOG editor it’s going to display as the file’s name aka MONSTER instead of PIKEMAN.

This way of editing applies to all .def files

This tutorial is a work in progress, I will edit/add more as it comes in my head.

Attached is my custom made Footman.
pikeman.zip (110 KB)

1 Like

Wow. Impressive. There aren’t H3 creatures that come to my mind now that I’d like to change (H4 & H5 had some…:p), but this surely will be useful on the long term. When basic VCMI will be ready, perhaps those WoG Messengers will be the first on my list to change… and we’ll see what comes after. :slight_smile:

on VCMI there’s no need to change. Just make new *.def-s put it in proper place, extend lists to support more monsters and increase monster cap by changing about one variable

changing monster cap is not nice under wog, but under vcmi it’s much easier

also you may want to extend your h3wmaped.exe to support new features?
download original wog mapeditor patch (which adds unsupported wog monsters, where needed to UI), edit patcher list to support more monsters, and patch your h3wmaped.exe
WARNING: patched version can’t be patched again so backup your old h3wmaped.exe !

PS: I think too that messenge anims should be changed, but let they stay in messengers role (ie. wog-lore messengers with new cute outfit)

hi, ive been trying to make wow model viewer work. I downloaded the thing (version 0.8.5) and it had a ‘guide’ how to use it without WOW (wowhead url-s). However i when i a click view --> NPC it doesnt do anything, but when is click view --> item it finds the item, but when i click display it doesnt do anything. Obvoiusly i dont want to make objects, i’d like to make my ‘own’ creatures from the game. You said in you tutorial (as in the quote) that i can download the wow files off torrent. What files do you meant by this? Could you help me with this part of the tutorial (how to use the program easily)?

(i dont have the game world of warcraft.)

Thanks :slight_smile:

Go to blizzards website and download their client make an account and download wow. It should get it free, then get the latest build of model viewer

Thanks, it works fine now. My only problem is that i cant seem to put items on creatures. I can dress up the characters (like human-male), but the creatures seem to be uneditable (like putting blades into illidan’s hands. Do you know if this is possible?

You should be able to on model control

However not all creatures have the weapon node in their hands

yeah, that’s my problem, i’d like to put illidan in, but he doesnt have his warglaives’ equipped :confused: