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Merging equipment icons with Gimp - A Tutorial for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.

Hi, in this guide I will show you how you can merge equipment Icons in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. using Gimp.

What you will need:
Gimp (and basic knowledge on how to use it)
.DDS Plug-in for Gimp (provided below)
Texture files
Config files

This guide is universal you can use what you learn here with other S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games.

The way that UI icons (and others) are stored looks like this all the icons are stored in one .dds file. 
If you are downloading multiple mods with UI icons in it you need to manually merge them together. Else you will have inventory icons of the last mod you installed.

First you need to download .dds plug-in (this is the one I'm using, also here is other link where you can download it).
Go to the directory where the gimp was installed and paste the plug-in into the plug-ins folder.
Directory to plug-ins folder should be this by default X:\Program Files\GIMP 2\lib\gimp\2.0\plug-ins (where "X" is the drive you installed the program on)
Once you do that you will be ready to open and save/export to .dds

Next you need your file(s) with textures. (Important: What I noticed is that [for me] gimp does not want to open files located in the far/long directories and if you get an error telling you that gimp can't open the file simply copy the file on your desktop and open it from there [it's what I do])

Once you open your texture file(s), you will see all the icons. And now how does the game picks those icons? It is quite simple. For each item in the game there is a config file and that defines which icon/image is picked from the texture file you will be looking for 4 lines in the config file:

inv_grid_width  (how many squares the icon takes from left to right)
inv_grid_height (how many squares the icon takes from up to down)
inv_grid_x (position X in the texture file) [left to right]
inv_grid_y (position Y in the texture file) [up to down] 

About squares:
Each 50x50px square in texture file means "1" value in the config.
50px = 1
100px = 2
150px = 3
For "X" and "y" you only need to input coordinates of the first square the icon takes (upper left square /red square)
Width and height are counted as 50x50px squares and you input amount of them to the config not their coordinates.
You need to correctly input all those 4 values else icon will not be correctly picked form the file. 

Usually when you download a mod it should (but doesn't have to) come with a config file, but if it doesn't then don't worry too much, it means that nothing in the config file was changed. 

If you are lucky you will not need to mess around with the config file(s) but if icon is not what it is supposed to be (an ak-74 icon looks like a barrel) then you will need to correctly input/fix coordinates in the config. 

To get correct coordinates you need to open the texture file with Gimp, find the correct icon and get the correct coordinates. The config file should be in one of the mods you downloaded.

Armors are in one config file: outfit.ltx (gamedata/config/misc)
Each weapon has its own config file: w_"weapon name".ltx (gamedata/config/weapons)
Ammo is in one config file: weapons.ltx  (gamedata/config/weapons)
Consumables, meds, misc items are in one config file items.ltx  (gamedata/config/misc)
Unique items (upgraded) are in the one config file unique_items.ltx  (gamedata/config/misc)
I think those are all the files responsible for equipment icons in the game.
(this may vary depending on mod and game soc/cs/cop/coc/)

Now once you know how things work, open a setting in Gimp to turn on the grid. (not necessary but it helps a lot)

To do so: 
Select "View" and then "show grid" (you can also turn on "snap to grid")
Then go to "Image" and "configure grid"
In the next window that shows up set spacing of the grid to be 50x50 pixels then confirm it with OK.

Changing the texture is as easy as copy delete paste. 
I usually work with layers but you can work with 2 separate files if you want.
You just need to replace the icon(s) you want. 

Once you are finished simply make sure that texture is one layered (this is important, else it will mess everything up) and then export it and paste it into the correct directory in the game folder.

If you don't know what directory you should paste it you can find it in the downloaded mod folder.(it's usually Game folder/gamedata/textures/ui/ [for this file])

That's pretty much how you do it. 
(Merging icons from this mod with this mod)

Compressing the file:
Once you are done exporting the texture you can notice one thing.
The file is ~4 times larger now, it is because it was not compressed.
I personally do not compress my files unless it is necessary.
But if you want to compress your files you can use BC3 / DXT5 (while exporting the file) compression but be aware that each time you compress the same file the quality of the image gets worse.

If you want to make your own icons you should probably know that with default UI no inventory icon should be bigger than 6x3 squares, weapons 6x2 and armors 2x3, all the icons must fit in a square or a rectangle, make sure that icons are kept within the "box". 

database unpacker comes in handy at this point. (again I am providing one that I use. Short explanation on how it works) Please notice that there are other database unpackers but you are on your own to find them.

Well that's it for this tutorial, I hope I didn't make it too complicated. 

Please report any broken links to me, also feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

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