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Mass Effect Modding Tutorial: Hair Modding


Ottemis already has a comprehensive and easy to follow tutorial on her website for how to port hairs to Mass Effect. Go check it out! That’s where I learned to make hairs for my Shepard.  Here are some additional tips from me, meant to be a supplement to Ottemis’ tutorial:

How to Make Long Hair Mods:

If you make long hair mods, be ready for clipping. It just can’t be helped (unless you’re already way more advanced than me in 3DS Max, in which case, why are you reading my tutorial?!). Usually, I mold my long hair for slim-fitting uniforms so that there is no clipping unless Shep is wearing bulky armors, in which case, the hair just disappears under the armor as though it’s tucked in.

Long hair mods require you to weight the hair differently. Here is how I do it:

  1. Import the hair in 3DS Max.
  2. Import the Femshep head.
  3. Import the hair you intend to replace (ex: Allers’ hair) … then promptly delete it. This step ensures that your hair will have the same number of bones as the hair you plan on replacing.
  4. Import any form-fitting uniform mesh (ex: black dress).
  5. Make sure the long hair sits pretty flush to the uniform, but floats a little above it:
    2013-12-01 10_21_37-glam2.max - Autodesk 3ds Max 2012 x64 - Unregistered Version
  6. Create skin modifier and add the bones. For this particular style, there is long hair in the back AND the front over only one collar, so I’m adding the Chest 2 and Right Collar bones in addition to the Head bone.
  7. Now paint the weights onto the hair. The long hair in the back should be painted to Chest 2. The long hair in the front should be painted to Right Collar.
  8. When you’re done, it should look like this when you switch from Head to Right Collar to Chest 2:
    2013-12-01 10_19_19-glam2.max - Autodesk 3ds Max 2012 x64 - Unregistered Version2013-12-01 10_19_30-glam2.max - Autodesk 3ds Max 2012 x64 - Unregistered Version2013-12-01 10_19_37-glam2.max - Autodesk 3ds Max 2012 x64 - Unregistered Version
  9. Basically, in game, the long hair you “weighted” won’t move with the head and will instead move according to the Chest 2 and collar bone. This will make sure that the long hair doesn’t clip into the body all weird.
  10. Here is how it looks in game:

Importing Long Hair Mods to Mass Effect:

When you save a long hair .psk from 3DS Max, you MUST import it to UDK and export it as a .upk in order replace a hair mesh in ME3 Explorer. Replacing a hair mesh directly using a .PSK will work (ie. your game won’t crash), but in some scenes, your hair will behave very strangely (like stretch across the whole screen). Do not forget this step!

  1. Open up UDK (download it here free)
  2. View your Skeletal Meshes:
    2013-11-30 16_51_37-Content Browser
  3. Right click anywhere in the preview box and import your .psk
    2013-11-30 16_52_02-Import
  4. Name it whatever you want
  5. Now you should see the mesh in the window. It should tell you how many triangles and bones beneath the thumbnail of the mesh. You don’t care about the triangles, only the number of bones – they must be the same in the new mesh as the number of bones in the old mesh. FYI, for Femshep, there will almost always be 110 bones required.
    2013-11-27 15_10_51-Content Browser
  6. Now right-click and save. It will save your file as a .upk.

Remember that new hair will need to have the same number of bones as the old hair or ME3 Explorer will not let you import the .upk!

Resources for Hair Mods

Porting hair to Mass Effect obviously requires having a base file to use.  Here are some sources of hairs that are easily ported into Mass Effect – pick the ones you like and get to work!

SG 268 Hairs for Skyrim

Apachii Sky Hair for Skyrim

ZZShop Hairs

So, hopefully this tutorial helped you in some way.  Giving Shepard custom hair is the most fun part of modding, IMO.  Use your new superpowers well!  Ready to read more modding stuff?

Please read the FAQ if you have any questions – they may already be answered there!


    • Do you use the .tpf with Texmod to replace textures, or are you trying to manually replace it with ME3 Explorer? The former is much easier to do :)

      • I really want to do it with ME3Explorer because I haven’t quite gotten TexMod running correctly with ME3 because of Origin. I can link the files I’ve worked on if it will help!

        And sorry it took so long for me to respond; holidays and school have been a killer. =)

  1. i don’t know if you’re still reading this, but i keep running into a problem: whenever i try to replace the cute hair mesh with my own, it tells me that the number of bones is different although i made sure it’s the same? :/

  2. Hello. I love playing Mass Effect and i love the hair mods you create. I’ve been using a whole lot of hair mods lately, but i kept wondering, is there anyway to create headscarves instead of hair mods if i ever wanted to create one myself? See i’m a muslim woman, but i love Mass Effect. I always wondered whether i could create a badass Ninja Shepard if you will XD Do you think it’s possible based on the mechanics?

    • Hmmmm, I think maybe the closest you could do is try wearing Kasumi’s hooded armor; I think the hair texture style makes it hard to create a headscarf replacer for hair – you could get the shape right but it would look like it was made of hair XD Really excited and happy to see a question like this though!!! I wish I had a better answer for you!

      • Kasumi style hoodie is perfect! I loved her hoodie. Man, someone needs to make a mod out of that :/

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