Using custom tattoos with Dragon Age character creator

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There are many mods created by users that add custom tattoos to the game but that can only be applied to your characters using the toolset. This tutorial shows how to make those custom tattoos available to the in game Character creator.

Required tools

Make your tattoo file

1st selected tattoo
2nd selected tattoo
Tattoo file for the Character creator
Tattoos in the Character Creator

These are the most important things to bear in mind when working with tattoo files for the Dragon Age Character creator:

  • Unlike what can be done with hairs, eye colours or skintones, you cannot add new tattoos files to the Character creator, only replace existing ones. That means that any change you make will affect all characters that were using the tattoo that's been replaced.
  • Each tattoo file contains 3 tattoos that are stored in the image channels, Red, Blue and Green. In the Character creator you will see them as 4 different tattoos: the 3 independent ones and the combination of all of them.
  • If the alpha channel is not black (i.e. if the background colour of your file is not transparent) you'll see the face of your character either shining or changing colour when applying your tattoos in the Character creator).

The steps to follow are:

  1. Select the custom tatoo images you want to include in your dds file. Bear in mind that the Character creator will combine them, so select images that don't overlap. For this tutorial I've selected the two tattoos that are shown in the pictures from the Wyld tats mod by Wyldsong.
  2. Change the black background colour of the original pictures to transparency (in GIMP select the option Colors -> Color to alpha, and then select black or 000000 as the source colour).
  3. Copy all the images tattoos as layers into one file.
  4. Select each part of the tattoos you want to see as individual ones in the Character creator and set one to red, another to blue and the last part to green (in GIMP select the option Colors -> Map -> Color Exchange and set the source and destination colours accordingly).
    Note: If you want one part of the tatto drwaing to be seen in more than one of the individual tattos, paint it with more than one colour. For example, if you want part of the tattoo to appear with the blue and the red individual tattoos, paint this part in pink (blue+red).
  5. Merge all layers without loosing the alpha channel (in GIMP select the first layer and then the option Layer -> Merge Down. Repeat the process until all layers are merged into one). Once done you should have got a picture similar to the one shown in the image Tattoo file for the Character creator (the background colour is transparent although it doesn't look like that in the picture).
  6. Save the file as dds and select DXT3 or DXT5 compression and mark the Generate mipmaps flag.
  7. Next step is to rename the file you've just created with one of these names:
    1. For humans: or
    2. For city elves: or
    3. For dalish elves:,, or
    4. For noble dwarves:
    5. For commoner dwarves: or
    if you want to use your dds tattoos file with more than one race, make copies of it and rename each copy accordingly.
  8. Create two folders in your Dragon Age override folder, one called high and another called medium, and put a copy of your dds file in each of them.
  9. Launch the game, click on New Game and check that your tattoos appear correctly, as shown in the Tattoos in the Character Creator image :)