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Making Texture Packs for Dummies

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avatar panhead86
Level 58 : Grandmaster Musician
Ah, texture packs. We all know and love them. Simplistic, realistic, HD, steampunk, RPG, the list goes on and on.

How do we make them though? It's a common and question, and the answer is far from simple. But alas, your friendly neighborhood Panhead is here to help you understand the magic.


First, to make a texture pack, you need to understand what texture packs are. In essence, they're nothing more than a few altered files from the inner workings of the game. The most commonly altered file is terrain.png. This is a big ol' image file full of the textures we are so familiar with. At a glance you'll see grass, TNT, stone bricks, the useless sponges, and so many more blocks. Once you alter this file, the blocks you have changed/redesigned/drawn-on-in-MS-Paint or what have you will show up changed in the actual game if you make a ZIP folder with the terrain.png inside and place it in your texture packs folder.

Whee, that's it! It's so easy! No, just kidding, sit down. That's far from all you can do. There are other files you can put in the texture pack's ZIP folder as well, including item.png, particles.png, and many other image files that the game uses. If I lost you and you have no clue what I'm talking about, you're probably really new at this. That's okay! But to save time I'm going to let you do a little exploring on your own. Download a nice texture pack (let's go with a 16x16 one for now) and then unzip it. What do you see? You'll notice a lot of the files I just mentioned. Check out what they are and maybe even play around with changing them, see what they do. After all, a lot of texture packing is trial and error!

Just always remember to ZIP your work before you put it in your texture packs folder to use. The textures are useless if they're just lying in a folder alone.

Still lost? Okay well remember, I'm not writing an encyclopedia. Google is your friend, use it! For those of you still with me, let's move on to the actual texturing part.


To alter the textures, you need an image editing program such as GIMP or Photoshop. I personally use Photoshop CS5, as well as a couple texture pack making apps on my iPad. Since everyone uses something different, I won't be giving any program-exclusive tips. This is all general stuff.

When it comes to making new textures, you have two options. You can take pictures you find on the internet and turn them into textures, or you can draw your own. For 16x16 packs, you pretty much have to draw your own, because at that point pictures are just pixellated messes. Besides, drawing is fun!

Now instead of a step by step guide, I'll give tips. You don't need instructions, it's pretty straight forward as long as you know how to edit images. If not, refer to Google (your friend) and your program's help files.

Tip 1: Make it look nice. No, this isn't obvious. You need to be sure to keep this in mind. No one wants to download something that's just solid colors or psychedelic disco pixels. Have a vision of what you want to create, and draw/design it.

Tip 2: Careful of bleeding. When you're working with the terrain.png or almost any game file it's easy to be drawing and start to make a mess of another block next to the one you're working on. Make sure you're only working on ONE thing at a time.

Tip 3: Color schemes are important. Be sure to ZIP up your pack and test it once and a while to see how everything looks together. Color schemes are an underrated factor in design, and if your pack's colors look good together, people will like the flow and come back for more.

Tip 4: Mind the tiling. Minecraft is full of blocks that are meant to tile. What does that mean, you ask? Well that means some blocks blend into other blocks without looking like there's a break in between the blocks. Take, for example, the stone texture. It blends with other stone blocks in the game to create walls and cliffs. If you have dark shading on the left side of a stone block and light shading on the right side, it's not going to tile. Now sometimes this is a desired look... But not usually. Make sure the block looks good next to itself if it's supposed to. Be sure to decide on that before hand, and not just after you can't seem to tile things and you're getting lazy. Don't give up, make sure everything looks the way you want it to!

Tip 5: Shading. Yeah, you heard me. That's a scary term to people like me who aren't artists. A lot of programs have built-in shading features however, and for those who don't have that luxury or prefer to do it themselves, look up some tutorials. It's pretty simple, you just give the texture dimension by starting dark in one area, and shading it to light in another.

Tip 6: Try try try, and when all else fails, try again. Not sure if a texture will tile properly? ZIP it up and try it in Minecraft. Not sure if that TNT looks dangerous enough? ZIP it up, load it and blow that sucker up. Often I ZIP a pack into 20-30 different versions as I work on it, testing it as I go through. It's important to see the pack as how it looks in the game, not how it looks on the terrain file.

Got the hang of basic texturing? Good! Now let's move on.


Wait, what? Yeah, a "model" is a 3D object in digital space. Minecraft is obviously full of those, but fortunately for us, most of those are just perfect cubes, easy as pie to re-texture. If you looked inside the guts of any old texture pack you'll see some folders, named GUI, armor, art, mob, and a bunch of others. Some packs have different combinations, some have none at all. These are all other internal game textures, and while you don't HAVE to texture them (leaving the files out of the pack will tell the game to use the default files) it can really help fill out your pack to texture the rest of the game beyond the blocks you've already worked on. The trick with these textures though is that a lot of them aren't square... Take mobs for example. Like all Minecraft characters, they have skins. To re-texture a mob you have to draw a new skin for it, and it's not all that easy because the skin doesn't look much like what it will in the actual game. Let's take a look at a creeper skin:


That doesn't look much like a creeper, does it? It kinda does, but it looks like it was run over by a steamroller. What the game does is it takes this texture here and "wraps" it around the creeper's model, to make it look like the mob we see. The hard part is figuring out what wraps where... Obviously, there's the creeper's face there in the middle. But what about all that other stuff? What does it do, and does it even matter? That's something really only trial and error can answer. Sure, there are full tutorials and templates for you to follow. After you learn how to do it though it's quite easy... It's just like skinning a character, just a different shape. After you get to know the textures for the game's models, you can check out and draw your own textures for chests, minecarts, boats, enderdragons, and more. Sounds complex? It is, but over time it's something you can learn. The trick is knowing what you're dealing with, and that's what I hope to aid you with.


Well, first, if you've actually done any of the things I mentioned, pat yourself on the back! You've learned a lot I'm sure. Not from me, really, but from experimenting by yourself. Next you should take a look at some of the finalizing parts of any texture pack, the icing on the cake, if you will. If you load up a texture pack you'll see it has its own logo and short summary below the title. To make yourself a logo, just make a small square image (say, 200x200) and draw/design a logo in that space. Save it in your pack right next to the terrain.png, and name it "pack.png." Next, just open up a text editor and type a few words that describe your pack. Save that file as "pack.txt" in the same place. ZIP it up and see how it looks!

I hope you learned a little something from this guide, and if you didn't... Complain in the comments and I'll come cry in a corner with you. Making texture packs is easy once you get the hang of it, but it is by NO means quick. It takes time and a lot of effort, so don't rush it. It's possibly one of the most time-consuming product of the Minecraft community, second only to mods. Just learn the basics, try out some ideas, and have fun with it! Once you get the hang of it, put some time in and it can become a really fun hobby.

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  • Kevinbat
  • Level 1
  • New Crafter
  • March 4, 2013, 3:51 pm
Apparently i'm a dummy now for reading this xD
I don't have microsoft paint :c
  • albsies
  • Level 28
  • Expert Unicorn
  • March 5, 2013, 3:18 am
You don't need Microsoft Paint, because it doesn't enable transparency. Use photoshop, GIMP or Paint.net (all but photoshop can be downloaded - photoshop is paid for)
Thanks :D
  • albsies
  • Level 28
  • Expert Unicorn
  • March 5, 2013, 11:18 pm

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