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A Starter Guide to Modding Pokemon Sword/Shield

A Tutorial for Pokemon Sword & Shield

A Short How-to Guide on Modding Pokemon Sword/Shield!


This tutorial will teach you the basics on modifying the textures in Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. If you're new to switch hacking, read this guide which will help you install CFW onto your system and you can be on your way into installing some cool modifications :)

1. Introduction

1.1. What you need

You will need all of the following in order to follow this guide successfully:
       - An unpatched Nintendo Switch with custom firmware installed
       - prod.keys dumped from your Nintendo Switch (you can obtain this by running Lockpick on your Switch and it will dump it to the atmosphere folder on your SD card.)
       - The Pokemon Sword/Shield NSP or XCI, which is also dumped from your switch (tutorial here)
       - A XCI/NSP/NCA convert program, which you can download here
       - Switch Toolbox
       - Photoshop (Or any image editing software)

2. Extracting the game files

From the XCI_NCA_NSP_v2.zip that you downloaded, extract it and place your prod.keys in the ztools folder. From there, take your XCI, or NSP and drag/drop it into the file named Drag_XCI_NCA_NSP_HERE.bat. This could take a while as it is extracting the entire game into an NCA file. Once it's completed, the NCA will be in the xciDecrypted or nspDecrypted folder depending on which file you inputed. In most cases there will be multiple NCA files, so just select whichever one is the largest and copy it from there into the XCI_NCA_NSP_v2 folder and it will unpack it once again into a folder called ncaDecrypted. If you did it right, then there will be a bin folder inside. You just dumped your game, congrats!

Alternatively to doing all that, if you have the game installed in yuzu emulator, and it's installed in your games list, you can just right click it and select Dump romFS.

3. Modifying the textures

3.1. Finding your textures

The file structure in Pokemon Sword and Shield is slightly complicated. Luckily, however, user Miguel92398 has created this thread that explains where every file for every model. Find the model you wish to edit from that, locate it in your romfs folder, and then come back here!

3.2. Exporting the textures

The process for editing each file will be the same, so you can follow this guide for any edits whether it's for trainers or pokemon alike. Once you have found the gfpak file you want to edit, open up switch toolbox and drag it in. Press the + icon next to the folder and you will see the files expand. Then press the + on the textures folder. Some bntx files will show! Those are your texture files for that model and that is what we will be editing. 

Select each .bntx and press Control + A . I would reccomend creating a new folder, naming it to what the model you are editing is called, and saving them all in that folder so it's easier to access and cleaner. Then, it's going to ask you how it's going to be saved. Select .png, make sure both boxes are checked, and hit 'Ok'. Do this for all of the .bntx files. It's not necessary to rip the actual model itself unless you're going to do model importing which is impossible as of now, because there's no method to import models in Pokemon Switch yet. If this changes in the future I will edit this guide. (Edit: mesh editing seems to be possible, I have seen it done by a couple of people. I'm not too familiar with it, so if you're interested in editing the actual model, you're on your own for now until I can research and experiment with it a little more.)

3.3. Editing the textures

Open any of the png files you exported in any image editing program. Some I would recommend are Photoshop, Paint.net, Gimp, etc. This part is all on your own! Go, be creative! Change it to your heart's content! 

3.4. Repacking the textures

Once you're done editing the textures, and it's saved, open up switch toolbox again and drag in the original gfpak file. Find the name of the bntx from earlier that you edited that is now a png. For example, if I edited a texture called pm0470_00_Body_col.png, I would find the pm0470_00_Body_col.bntx. Once you find the bntx you need to replace, double click it and it should let you press the + on it. When it drops down, there should only be one file that is the same name. Right click it and select 'replace'. Select the png file you edited and it will open a window. Change the compression mode to Fast (Lower Quality), change the format to BC7_SRGB, surface dimension as Dim2D, and the tile mode as texture. Select Ok. After that, press the save button in the top left. 

Now close out of switch toolbox, re-open it, and select your .bntx that you just edited. If the model shows up with the newly freshed texture, then you edited it correctly! Move on to the next step. If not, try the above steps again to try and see what went wrong.

4. Loading it into the game

Take your gfpak, and place it somewhere for easy access. Now, find where you originally found your gfpak in the game files. Look at the directory and copy that exactly on your desktop, making new folders to copy the structure exactly. 
For example: If I had a pokemon model in the game files in romfs>bin>archive>pokemon, I would make a new folder, called "romfs", then inside that make a folder named "bin", then inside that make another called "archive", and then another called "pokemon" and then put the gfpak inside there. It will change depending on what the structure of where your file is. 

Now on your switch's SD card, go inside the atmosphere folder, and make a new folder called 'titles' if not already created. From there, create another folder with the name corresponding to the game you have. If you have Pokemon Sword, name your folder '0100ABF008968000'. If you have Pokemon Shield, name your folder '01008DB008C2C000'. Then, open up that folder, and take the new romFS folder you just created, and plop it inside there. It's a lot of folders, I know!

From there, boot up atmosphere and launch the game! It should work just like that! 

Have any questions? Join the Pokemon Sword/Shield Modding Discord server and there are lovely people there who can help you with any problems you might have (this invite link is also on the Pokemon Sword & Shield homepage): https://discord.gg/PJ6eYUV

5. Credits

I'd like to thank the following people for their work in making these wonderful tools for us to use. Please let me know if I miss someone.
 - PRAGMA
 - Bigjokker
 - KillzXGaming
 - SciresM

Please also don't hesitate to let me know in the comments if I missed anything. I tried to make this guide as friendly as possible! This is my first tutorial I've made on GB so I'm probably bound to mess something up.
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  • Haru84 avatar
    Haru84 Joined 4mo ago
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    22d
    I downloaded the keys files and dragged both prod and title keys to the ztools. then i tried loading up the nsp converter but it says missing keys. Am i missing something or is it just glitching?
    Bananite
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  • I think this has the info I'm looking for. But now let's say I'm not looking to make any mods myself, or just do texture mods. What all of these steps are necessary just to mod my Switch so I can install already-made SwSh mods?
    Bananite
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  • MrGriffith avatar
    MrGriffith Joined 3mo ago
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    3mo
    Hi, thank you for this guide! It was really helpful, but I do have some questions if anyone could help please:

    a) I followed all the extraction steps and got the "bin" folder. Now I'm really confused as to what i need to do with this folder, and how I need to install the game after that. I used an XCI of Pokemon Sword to get the NCAdecrypted & bin folders. So do i just use the same Pokemon Sword XCI and install it with tinfoil? And where should I put the bin file?
    b) Could we please clarify whether the folder in atmosphere needs to be called "titles" or whether the modded files need to go in "contents" with the other atmosphere folders? 

    Really appreciate the help! Thanks
    Bananite
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  • hi! thank you for the tutorial. I just followed it and it worked!
    but now that the DLC is out, do you know how to extrac the gamefiles from the DLC? I've tried with the nsp from the update but it doesn't work :(
    -It worked with the base game-
    Bananite
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  • Ningyo avatar
    Ningyo Joined 1y ago
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    1y 1y
    Thanks for the tutorial.

    In case someone needs this info: i had to rename my "prod.keys" to "keys.dat" for the conversion program to work. (I'm using the "experimental latest" version of the Toolbox)
    Bananite
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  • Nidsec avatar
    Nidsec Joined 1y ago
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    1y
    So I'm on the part where I should be getting the bin folder in the ncaDecrypted folder, but when I put the nca through the .bat again, I put in the titlekey then it completes instantly and I don't get the bin folder. Am I doing something wrong?
    Bananite
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  • SparkyDerry avatar
    SparkyDerry Joined 1y ago
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    1y
    Hi, i have installed CFW onto my switch and done everything with modding it but when i boot my pokemon shield in cfw it crashes when i open the menu in game - i cant for the life of me figure out why (was hoping anyone could help)
    Bananite
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  • DarrynYT avatar
    DarrynYT username pic Joined 2y ago
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    1y
    helpful thanks
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  • BurgerKingRei024 avatar
    BurgerKingRei024 username pic Joined 4y ago
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    1y
    when I load the game it gives me an error and reboots atmosphere, can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong?
    on jah?
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    alpha13 Joined 2y ago
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    1y
    I'm having problems getting the data from my NSP dump. I drop my NSP onto the program, and the nspDecripted folder appears successfully, but when I drop the biggest NCA onto the program, I get an error saying "section 0 is corrupted" and "section 1 is corrupted" before it says its done. In the ncaDecripted folder is only the Nintendo logo and Nintendo Switch gif that appears when loading the game. Trying the other NCAs aren't successful either, any idea on what I should do?
    Bananite
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