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Manual Mod Install Tutorial



Some of you have been trying to use my awesome mods for Femshep and don’t know how … well, it took me a while to fumble my way through it as well with the scattered tutorials I’ve found on the internet, but none of them really dumbed down the process for texture and mesh replacing enough.  So here I am sharing my limited findings so you can make your Shep as badass as mine :)

You will generally encounter three types of mods (and the programs you need to use them):

1.  .tpf (Texmod)

2.  .upk/.dds (ME3 Explorer)

3.  .mod (ME3 Explorer)

Texmods are really easy.  You just download the Texmod program and run the .tpf through it – very simple and there are some good tutorials out there so I won’t really go into it (check here and here for instructions on how to use .tpf and create your own using Texmod).

I’m going to focus on how to use .upk and .dds files to replace meshes and textures in the game because it’s a little more advanced and there aren’t a lot of tutorials out there on how to do it.

First, you’ll need ME3 Explorer.

Got it?

Then you’ll need the to download the modding files that you want to use.  If you download one of mine, you’ll see that each folder comes with a .upk file and at least three .dds files with “diff,” “norm,” and “spec” in their names.

Step 1.  Open up ME3 Explorer and navigate to Meshporer:

2013-10-20 11_19_41-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider

2.  Open up Meshplorer.  It should look something like this:

2013-10-20 11_19_51-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]

3.  Load the PCC if you know what file you’re looking for in the CookedPCConsole folder or select Load from Database to populate a list.  If you’re replacing one of Femshep’s textures, you will be looking for BIOG_HMF_ARM_CTH_R.pcc (casual clothing) or BIOG_HMF_ARM_SHP_R.pcc (armor).  Let’s select the former so we can replace Shepard’s black dress with something else.

2013-10-20 11_20_15-Open

4.  When you load the pcc, you should see a screen similar to this (except the mesh model on the right should look like Shepard’s black dress – sorry, I took this screencap after I’d already replaced it!):

2013-10-20 11_20_23-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer] 5.  Select the last choice in the left hand column (as seen in the screenshot) ending in CTHk to replace Shepard’s black dress.  Once that is selected, go to Transfer > Import from UDK.

2013-10-20 11_20_28-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]

6.  Go to File > Open UDK Package and navigate to where you saved the mod you want to upload.  Select the .upk file.

2013-10-20 11_20_35-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [UDKCopy]

7.  You should then see a screen like the one below.  Select the item on the left column and you should see LOD 0 appear in the right column – select it.  Go to “Import LOD” at the top of the screen and click it.

2013-10-20 11_20_53-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [UDKCopy]

8.  You should get a “Done” popup.  Close the window (not the big red X in the upper right hand corner but the little x below it) and you should see the mesh screen again.  Select a different mesh and then go back to the CTHk mesh – you should see that it has changed into the armor you uploaded.

2013-10-20 11_21_01-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Meshplorer]

9.  Ok, you can close out that window now.  You should be back on the home screen.  Time to upload the textures by going to Developer Tools > Texplorer.

2013-10-20 11_21_11-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider

10.  The database will need to populate and this takes a few minutes, but luckily it only needs to be done once.  Once it is finished, you should get a bunch of folders in the left hand column.  Navigate to the folder that says “CTHk” to replace the black dress texture.  When you click on the folder, a bunch of images should appear on the right.  You’ll see the HMF (female) and HMM (male) textures – if you’re modding Femshep, you only need to change the files that start with HMF.  Right click the image > Easy > Add Biggest Image.  Find the folder that your mod is in – replace the Diff, Norm, and Spec files accordingly.

2013-10-20 11_21_39-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Texplorer V1.3]

[optional] Some notes about this – when editing and uploading your own mods, Diff files need to be in DX 1 format when you’re saving as a .dds.  Norm files must be in V8U8 and Spec must be in DX5.  Also, the spec map is different for each armor/clothing – the easiest to replace is Shepard’s black dress (the one we’re doing in this tutorial).  Most other armor/clothing will give you a weird orange glow to your textures that you must correct for in your Spec.dds file.  Another armor that is easy to replace is the Defender Armor (FDBa texture).

11.  Ok, so you’ve replaced the diff, norm, and spec files.  Go to File > Save Changes.  You should get a little notification when it is finished.

2013-10-20 11_22_05-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [Texplorer V1.3]12.  Close out the window and you’ll be back at the main screen.  This step may or may not be necessary – I usually do it if I’ve replaced the mesh, but not if I’ve only replaced textures.  But yeah, maybe do it just in case :)  Go to Tools > TOCBinUpdater.

2013-10-20 11_22_14-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider

13.  You should see a screen like the one below.  Go to File > CheckPCConsoleToc.bin.

2013-10-20 11_22_24-ME3 Explorer by Warranty Voider - [TOC.bin Updater]

14.  The PCConsoleTOC.bin file is in your Mass Effect 3 folder > BIOgame folder.  Select it – the program will check if there are any changes automatically.  If you get a popup that says there were changes found, click “yes” to update.  If it doesn’t find any changes, just exit the program.  You’re done!

2013-10-20 11_22_39-Open

Ok, so those are all the steps you need to install most of my mods.  Now, when you go into the game, you should see the new outfit replacing the old one!

Disclaimer: I am by no means a modder.  This is my very amateur modding tutorial for people who want to do some basic (but awesome) modding of the game.  If you want to ask some experts questions or find some truly amazing mods, try these wonderful “real” modders:

Otte’s workshop



Was that helpful?  Have any questions?  Let me know in comments!

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  1. Hey, not sure if you still check these posts or not, But Everytime I try to add a mod, ME3 always crashes when it’s checking DLC. any Idea why?

      • hmmmm no idea. maybe we have different DLC’s installed from one another? thought I don’t think that should matter … anyway, I have all the DLC installed in mine, how about you?

  2. Hi hi GPG :) I am following this tutorial and have managed to replace the black dress femshep has just as I wanted. Now I want to try and replace femshep’s default armor but get stuck as I come to mark 5. in the tutorial … Where is the file for the armor? I’ve been looking around but can’t seem to find it, haha.

  3. Is there any other armor you’d recommend replacing? Because I don’t have the Defender Armor and I don’t think you can get it anymore… :(

    • Okay, nevermind, I got it XD I should google first and then ask. Anyway, the texture is replaced now as well as the mesh, but I still got that orange glow and … she’s wearing the helmet xD Is there any way to turn that off? I’m so sorry for bothering you so much.

      • It’s no bother at all! Which mod are you trying to use? The spec map for armor is notoriously wonky – if you read through all my tutorials you can see why, and if you read the FAQ, you can learn how to fix it. :D Let me know which one you’re trying to use and I might already have a fix to share with you?

      • Thank you so much for your patience <3 I fixed the helmet issue, so that's fine, but the glow … it's Miranda's catsuit, the simple black version! Also, the legs always look like they're wet. Pretty funny actually, she always Looks like she waded through some pond. :D

      • If you’re using a mod replacement for armor, the “shine” of the armor will apply to the mod. I haven’t figured out how to get rid of that spec function with anything other than the Defender armor.

  4. Yeah the DLC thing happens with me as well. The DLC’s are checked and then they are unable to load. I have the citadel dlc, the extended cut, and the alternate appearance pack 1 all of which don’t work with the Femshep_EDI_LessBusty mod installed.The installation process went fine though. I also have the game installed through origin if thats whats messing things up?

  5. Heya. I know this is how to replace most of your mods. But I’ve downloaded the Bandoleer outfit mod and I can’t replace the norm, diff, and specs. i think it’s because it’s under .tga. Help?

  6. Me again. I had to do a repair on my game for some reason, and it removed my mods. So I went back in, put them in just like this tutorial said, but instead of replacing the dress outfit, it leaves the shape of the dress and just covers Shepard’s whole body in the outfit texture? Did I do something wrong or.

  7. Hey, may i ask for a request? Could you upload the original BIOG_HMF_ARM_SHP_R.pcc file? I’ve mess up with it but forgot to make a back up. Silly me! Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Karasu! I’ve been slammed at work and haven’t checked on this blog in a couple weeks – do you still need this file? I don’t have a vanilla install of ME myself right now but I can get a copy of the SHP_R for you from a friend …

      • Thank you for replying my cmt. I re-installed my ME3 but thanks for your concern. Hope the best for you.

  8. >.> hmm why cant we just put in the bio’s and meshed
    s in the appropriate files <.< Trying to follow the tutorial as a mod i put in was half there. I hate feeling dumb but I usually use a mod manager or have my bro put the files in… lol perhaps you should make a vid so I can hear you as well as see you work on your comp….. God I feel so dumb….

  9. Hi. I was following this process and when I got to the step with going into Texmod an error popped up and when I hit continue nothing ever happened. So I tried doing it with a different mod and I kept on getting a different error. Do you know what problem I may be having?

  10. Hi. I was following this process but when i was scanning the files the scan stopped at 1720/2420. I tried rescanning multiple times but the same thing came up each time. Do you know why this is or how to fix it? Thanks

    • Hey, I was having the same problem and I uninstalled and reinstalled ME3, so everything was vanilla, then went into texmod and scanned and it finally worked. I don’t know if there’s a certain mod that conflicted with mine but hopefully that helps.

  11. I hope you’re still replying the comments :’)
    First of all i thank you for sharing the tutorial, it was very helpful!

    But i’ve encountered a problem on the 11th step, replacing the diff, norm and spec file.
    I did Right Click > Easy > Add Biggest Image, but everytime I click it an error popped out.. It says:
    “an error occurred while replacing texture:
    System.IO.FileNotFoundException: Texture archive not found in (F:…Mass Effect 3BIOGameDLCres0CookedPCCConsoleCustTextures0.tfc”
    along with another line that looks similar.

    I still haven’t found the answer and I wanted to wear the Aria armor, did I actually miss something? And this is my first time on modding ME3, i didn’t expect this would be very very confusing :’)

  12. You know what this page needs?
    List of armour set names and FBD names
    N7 Defender is FBDa but what about the rest? You can google it you’ll never find a list.

  13. Thanks for the great tutorial! I do have one question however. I am trying to replace one of Femshep’s casual outfits with the “Modded Casual Outfit N7 Shirt by KurauAmami_Kitsumi”, but the only files given are .pcc and a .tpf. Would I go about installing this mod the same way as in your tutorial? Or do I just drag the .pcc into the cookedpccsonsole folder and then install the textures? THANKS! (:

  14. You can ignore my previous comment, turns out there were install instructions within the download. Stupid me, I should have checked there first. ;)

  15. Hello! Is there a way for you to send me the original BIOG_HMF_ARM_CTH_R.pcc file? I saw that you were willing to do that a while ago for someone else. I would be very thankful!

  16. Hey, do I do the exact same steps if I want to change an outfit other than her dress or do I select different files? I’m a little confused…

  17. Hey! Love your mods, they’re all top quality. I have a question though, I keep trying to install your Ava’s outfit, and I’ve done just about everything I can think of from replacing the textures to doing the .upk and all that, and I followed the directions exactly, but I keep getting this bizarre mix of the original CHTi outfit and the modded one. Wondering if you had any advice?

      • I did, yeah. But whenever I try this replacing any of the original outfits it ends up with the shape of the modded one and the pattern of the original one. Would you happen to know where I fucked up?

  18. hi, i have a problem with the ashley casual wear mod, i do everything right but when i get to the game my shep has the ashley casual dress, but it’s all black. it’s a giant black hole. and i notice i didnt get to pick between the black or red file in the mod? did i miss something? i remember modding mirandas catsuit and having to select the colors i wanted, but i didnt encounter this passage this time…? thanks!

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