DO’s and Dont’s of Skinning

– what every Sim artist should know.
by Desdemona

Rule no 1: You don’t use other peoples bitmaps. The bitmap is the actual drawing of the face or body, the file type is .bmp. Most artist don’t like their work being changed or bits and pieces taken and used on another skin. So only use Maxis skins and heads as bases for your own skin.

Rule no 2: Give credit. If you use a mesh , a picture or anything else not made by you, you should give the original artist credit. Make a note saying e.g. ‘mesh by Fionn’ and a link to Fionns site. And remember to put the credit and link in your readme file too. If you’re not sure who made the mesh, here’s some lists to help you out: Master Mesh List and Sandshifter’s Identify. If you still can’t figure out the original artist, it’s OK to say so. Just make it clear that this was not your work. And be sure to provide your e-mail somewhere, so people can get in touch with you if they know the correct credit.

Rule no 3: Read the read-me! Most artist includes a text file in their download. This contains important information from the artist. You should always read it, especially if you’re planning to use the mesh. Note that some artists want you to include the original readme in the download, if you use their mesh. So – read it and save it on your disk so you can find it later.

Rule no. 4: Ask! If anything is unclear to you about using stuff from another artist, just ask them. E-mail them or post at their forum. Some artist don’t mind you using their bitmaps, if you give credit AND ASK FIRST. So don’t be shy. Better to ask than to piss of that artist, right?

Rule no. 5: Use your own bandwith. If you get permission to use a picture or even a download from another site, you should upload it to your own server. Do not just use the original URL from the site.The same goes when you use a site’s banner on your links page. The reason for this is simple: most sites have restrictions on their bandwith, meaning the amount of traffic on the site. Each time a picture is loaded or a zip is downloaded, this takes up bandwith. So if you don’t upload the pictures or whatever to your own server, you’re actually stealing the bandwith the other site is paying for. Bandwith theft sucks!

– Make a read-me text and include it in your zip file. Put your URL, e-mail, name and anything else concerning the download e.g. that you don’t want other people to change or redistribute your work without your permission. Or get inspiration from other artists read-me files. It’s generally a good idea to keep it simple and small in size – you don’t want people downloading 10 KB of read-me with every skin…
2-Put your initials in the filename. This way it’s easier for other people to see who made the skin/head. Be sure your initials are not taken (check Sandshifter’s ID) and then remember to e-mail your initials to Sandshifter.
3-Name the zip after the skin. If the filename of the zip and the head/skin is the same, it make things a whole lot easier, especially as your site grows.
4-Let other artists inspire you. While its a big no-no to use parts of other artist bitmaps, it’s a good idea to be inspired be them. If you open a bitmap that you like in a graphics program, maybe you can get a clue as to how this or that great effect was made. Studying other artists techniques can be very educational. Just as long as you remember: Just look – no thouch 😉

Desdemona 🙂