I'm new, where do I start?
Making a new body mesh (shape) or hair mesh is not a simple thing to do. It is not impossible, but... even with tutorials, it sometimes takes more than one try to get something working the way you want. To quote one successful mesher - 'I made some monsters before I got things to come out the way I wanted'.
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If the picture above makes you quake in your boots and run screaming, you are not quite ready to take on this task. Work on recoloring existing outfits instead - you'll find help for that in the Bodyshop - Skinning Area
That said, welcome, and there are tutorials here to help you, and people who will try and answer questions - people of all ages, countries, and walks of life, who decided they wanted to make something for The Sims 2.
What you will need (the short form):
A graphics editor - something better than PAINT is highly recommended, such as Photoshop (buy), Paintshop Pro (also buy), Paint.net
(free), or GIMP
- this will let you collect the pieces you'll need from the game in order to make your own new mesh the game can access. Make sure to get everything you need, like the newest Direct X, etc, from the SimPE site.
A plugin/tool that will extract your mesh shape and get it ready for editing (Unimesh, Meshtool, or SimPE plugins)
A 3D program to edit the mesh shape. Most commonly used is Milkshape
, although there is also XSI Mod Tool
(free version), and a limited way you can use Wings 3D with Meshtool. An editor that can edit SMD files can also be used, such as 3DS Max.
Time and patience.
Be willing to read things several times and try them, eventually it will all make sense, even if it doesn't in the beginning. This is not a quick thing - plan on spending hours on a single project, especially when learning new tools.
If you don't have experience with your graphics editor, you should go find some generic tutorials to teach you the basics of how to use it from the web. Same goes for the 3D editor, you will find some help and tips on this site, but to get the most out of it and build complex things, you will need to learn how to use the editor to it's fullest.
It is a fine goal to say "I want to make cool things like (name your favorite creator)". You must realize that they have invested countless hours/months getting to the level they are at. There's no reason why you cannot also get there with hard work, but like with anything, you must start with simple/basic steps and then build up to more advanced topics. And realize that the creator you admire might have worked for days, weeks, and sometimes MONTHS on a particular project to get it just right. (no I'm not exaggerating)
If you have never made anything for the game before, I strongly suggest you start by changing the design of an existing piece of clothing - you can learn how to do that using Faylen's tutorials over in the Bodyshop - Skinning Area
You will probably want to make new textures or modify them for your new body mesh, and it's better for you to learn some of the basics (like how to use bodyshop) because you'll need it for this task also.
You will need to use SimPE
in order to gather the pieces of your mesh and then put your changed mesh into it. You might need OTHER things to make SimPE work, look at their site and get all the system stuff.
You will also need to choose which technique (there are several which can be used with different editors) you will use to extract your mesh to edit (Meshtool, Unimesh or SimPE plugins) and a 3D editor that you can use with them to actually make the changes to the mesh. The details are found here. http://www.modthesims2.com/article.php?t=131389
There are several tutorials on site that will take you step by step through the process. They will also list the tools you specifically need at the beginning of the tutorial. Body meshes have fewer pieces than hair meshes, and so please start by learning how to edit a body mesh.
Currently the body meshing tutorials are also the most complete, and will guide you through step by step. All the skills you learn in that process will apply to editing hair, if that is your final goal.
You can start with a beginner tutorial without knowing all the details, but if you want to know more about how body meshes are constructed, go and read Everything You Wanted to Know About Meshes But Were Afraid to Ask.
Be patient, read things again if you feel confused, follow the steps carefully, and ask for help when you get stuck, being as complete as you can regarding exactly what steps you did and exactly what happened.
I thank you for reading this far. You have a good chance of success, just please do keep on reading (and come back to sections and read again as your skills advance or you hit problems). As bits of information are shared online, they will be added to the various infocenter articles so they're in one place. I know it can be overwhelming to learn all at once, so come back again.
Oh, and btw, if you read something in the infocenter or a tutorial and you find it particularly helpful - remember to look for that 'thanks' button and click it. It's an easy way to let folks know the time they spent writing things up was well spent.