Hair Binning -- The Definitive Tutorial

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Many custom hair styles appear in the Custom hair color bin.  You may think the creator placed colors in one bin that would be better in another.  How do you fix this:  Learn to bin!  It's easy!  I won't say it's fun; it's tedious and nit-picky and no other tutorial tells you all the steps I had to work out for myself.

Note: Comments particular to my setup or the style I'm binning as I write this tutorial are in italics.

A definition: A context menu is the menu that pops up when you right click on certain things, such as hypertext links or some controls in dialogs.

Why do you want to do this?

There are two parts to binning...

1) Make the hair show up under its correct color. The Sim in the picture has brown hair from PeggySims2, which I binned a while ago. As you can see, binned hair retains its "custom" icon.

This process allows the children of a Sim with custom hair to inherit the color and a randomly selected style instead of being the child version of the parent's hair. The best way to illustrate is via the in-game CAS.

Give two Sims non-binned custom hair. Click the pacifier. Randomly generate children. The boys will have the child version of dad's hair. The girls will have the child version of mom's hair. Every time, exactly like the same sex parent.

Remember, the Storm sisters will pass on their cloud white hair to their daughters, but not their sons?

Now modify mom and dad to have custom hair that's already binned. Click the pacifier. The children will have hair color that's determined by Maxian genetics (black dominant over brown dominant over blond dominant over red) and a randomly determined style which may include binned custom styles in that color.

The Sim in the screenshot would have genetically "brown" hair. Her children would have genetically "brown" hair, not genetically "that-style-brown" hair.

In addition, the game adds binned hair to its list of "choices" available to it when creating a randomly generated Sim. This includes townies, downtownies, dormies, adopted toddlers/kids, etc.

My newly minted teen in my almost newly minted 'hood went to a community lot because he'd spun up the 3 "personal electronics wants" that most kids get when they have their teen birthday. The game helpfully generated a couple new teens for him to meet, and one of them had the same binned custom hair as his mom! :rofl: Ms. Custom Hair didn't hit it off too well with the playable teen; he's going steady with a girl named Betty with the Maxis wavy hair. I kind of wish he'd picked the girl with custom hair... I wanted red haired grand children!

You also don't get recessives in the kids if you've got 2 parents with hair from the custom bin. The kids end up homozygous with the same sex parent's hair. I love recessives! I wish the game created Sims had them.

I even create 2 temporary Sims in CAS, have them produce an offspring, and delete the temporaries, just so my CAS Sims will have a little surprise for the next generation.

2) Set the "family." If I were to click the Black or Blond button, the Sim would retain the style, but change to the black or blond version of the hair style.

Even hair which will remain in the Custom bin should be "binned" to set the family!

Points of interest: If you start SimPE first, BodyShop will run fine if you don't have any files open in the main SimPE window or in the color binning tool. SimPE will not run correctly if you try to run it with BodyShop already running. However, don't try saving any files from SimPE while BodyShop is running!

 

Set Up:

1) Download the latest versions of SimPE and Theo's hair binning plugin.

2) Install both using the instructions provided on those sites.

3) Create a text file on your desktop.

a) Right click the desktop.

b) Choose New, then Text File.

c) Give it a meaningful name, like "Custom Hair GUIDs.txt"

Personally, I use a CSV file, since it can be loaded into a spreadsheet or database, and I've got an "Edit" menu item set up to open them in WordPad, but it's up to you.

d) Open the file with WordPad or NotePad.

4) Download and install some custom hair, if you don't have any. You should keep the zip file as a backup if possible, or quickly zip the files for one hair style (without BodyShop running) together, just incase something goes wonky.

Being somewhat obsessive compulsive, I actually have mine installed in folders by creator/site and style. See screenshot below.

5) Have a piece of paper and writing implement handy. You can use WordPad if you'd like, but when I say "write it down," I mean "write it down." You will forget details and drive yourself nuts if you don't. I'm having great difficulty typing in this jacket with the extra long sleeves, so save yourself the experience and write it down.

Configuring the Color Binning Tool:

1) Open SimPE.

2) Choose Color Binning Tool from the Tools menu.

Let it load! The Color Binning Tool opens in its own window, and it is not a modal dialog. This means you can use the SimPE window to do other things while the Color Binning Tool is open. If you "lose track" of the window, just click on its button in the Windows Task Bar.

3) Choose Options... from the Package menu in the Tool window.

4) Click the Output tab.

5) This is the set of options I like best.

a) "Rename Files" adds the bin name to the file name. I don't like this because I tend to download duplicates. Retaining the original file name helps me know when I've got a duplicate.

b) "Make Backup" is not compatible with "Rename Files" turned off. Theo knows about it. He's not going to fix it, other than to disable this check box when "Rename" is unchecked.

c) "Remove Unchecked Recolors" is turned on to help reduce the size of my binned files.

d) "Make Single Package" is also turned off because of the duplicate download thing.

e) "Compress Textures" is turned off because I've heard that sometimes it's flaky.

6) Click OK.

7) Close the Color Binning Tool window if desired.

8) Close SimPE if desired.

For each style:

1) Open up the folder where the hair is installed. Right click in an empty area and choose View from the context menu, then Detail. This lets you see the whole file name. You may need to drag the end of the "Name" bar to the right.

This particular creator decided to number her hair colors instead of naming them. ARGH! But we can work around this.

2) With your paper and writing implement, write down a list of the numbers in the filenames of the recolors, or the color names if your creator was nice.

3) Choose one recolor and double click it to open SimPE (or drag it to the upper left window in an open SimPE window). Leave the folder window open.

I just happened to choose #10.

4) In the left hand column, click "Texture Image." You'll have 1 to 6 items in the right hand column.

5) Click on each item in the right hand column to get an idea of what's in there.

6) If your creator numbered the recolors or you disagree with the creator's designation, write down the main color (black/brown/blond/red) next to the number for the file. You may want some hair, such as pink or blue, to remain in the custom bin. Write that down too.

7) Whether the recolors are named or numbered, write down a note if the file includes a gray recolor that you like. Also write down a note if you think the toddler or child recolor looks like a standard Maxis hair. You'll quickly learn to recognize the styles that your favorite creators use as "placeholder" hairs for their child and toddler recolors.

My file has blond hair and a gray recolor, and nothing I recognize as a placeholder child or toddler hair

8) Go back to the Explorer window and drag the next file to the upper left window and drop it.

9) Repeat steps 4) to 8) for each file.

I found that my other files did not have a real gray recolor, so it's very important that I know which file or files have the gray recolor in them.

10) Choose File, then Close, or the close icon on the SimPE tool bar to close the last file, but leave SimPE running.

You now have a list of file colors or numbers followed by the color that you think it is and notes about gray, toddler, and child recolors.

My list looks like this:
1 blond
2 brown
3 brown
4 brown
5 brown
6 blond
7 blond
8 custom
9 black
10 blond/gray

You may notice that there's no red on my list. That's because #8, which the creator meant to be red, is sort of a pinky/purply/magenta color, not a real red. I prefer those stay in the custom bin. Someday, I'll make a real red for the styles that don't have one. My files also seem to include custom meshes for the child and toddler versions, so I'll want to keep the child and toddler recolors in all my files.

Choose one hair from each color group. If only one recolor has a gray recolor, make sure you include that one.

My choices are black 9, brown 2, blond 10 (because it has the gray recolor), red none, gray none (because the gray is in the blond file), and custom 8.

11) Optional Steps

a) If you have no gray, you can easily fix it with BodyShop. Simply create a recolor of the hair (probably using a pale blond as a base) using BodyShop, desaturate the elder hair, and import it back into BodyShop. Quit back out of Body Shop, name the file something clever like "Elder Hair Only for <style>" and drag the file from SavedSims into your open folder window. The unmodified non-elder hair in that file doesn't matter, since the binning tool will drop it later.

b) You may also make your own red while doing a). Simply colorize the child, teen and adult hairs to the red you desire and name the file appropriately.

c) Recolors which will remain custom and use the adult color as the elder color can also be fixed up with SimPE if you wish (export the real gray from the appropriate hair file as png, import into the custom recolor) or fixed with BodyShop as above. You'll want to disable or delete the original custom recolor if you run it through BodyShop.

d) Custom white/gray hair for all ages that you want to keep in the custom bin and use as the gray hair for all elders with that style is also a special case. You'll probably want to treat it as in a), but simply export and import the files without modification. Again, give it a clever name like "Elder Hair Only for <style>" and drag it into your open folder window.

You may leave SimPE running while using BodyShop. See Points of Interest at the top.

12) Go back to the SimPE window. Choose Color Binning Tool from the Tools menu.

Let it load! The Color Binning Tool opens in its own window, and it is not a modal dialog. This means you can use the SimPE window to do other things while the Color Binning Tool is open. I don't recommend doing anything other than looking at files with the Tool open, however. If you "lose track" of the window, just click on its button in the Windows Task Bar.

Take this opportunity to get comfortable. Get a drink, go potty, wiggle around in your chair. You're gonna be here a while, especially the first time you do this. You need to do steps 13 through 20 in one fell swoop. Don't say I didn't warn you!

13) Binning the black recolor:

a) The Black tab will be automatically selected when the tool window opens. If you are doing several styles in batch mode or your style includes several browns or blonds, you may have to click the Black tab.

b) Choose Open from the Package Menu, and select the appropriate file. Check off the file on your list.

c) Click the Materials tab in the lower part of the window if not already selected. Verify that the hair is indeed Black. This is a sanity check.

d) By default, the Elder hair will not be checked. If and only if the Black recolor has the gray you like, check the check box next to the Elder skin.

e) You may also uncheck child and toddler hair if they are standard Maxis styles and the recolor doesn't vary too much from the Maxis basic colors.

This hair style did include custom meshes for those ages, so I am leaving them in.

f) You should also click the Properties tab in the lower part of the window to verify that the hair will be available with all clothing styles and while pregnant.

Note: Make sure the Pregnant checkbox is checked! Otherwise, your Sim will change to a random hairstyle when she gets pregnant!

Remember the Storm sisters, whose custom hair may turn black during pregnancy?

 

14) Binning the brown recolor:

a) Click the Brown tab.

b) Choose Open from the Package Menu and select the appropriate file. Check off the file on your list.

c) Click the Materials tab in the lower part of the window if not already selected. Verify that the hair is indeed Brown. This is a sanity check.

d) By default, the Elder hair will not be checked. If and only if the Brown recolor has the gray you like, check the check box next to the Elder skin.

e) You may also uncheck child and toddler hair if they are standard Maxis styles and the recolor doesn't vary too much from the Maxis basic colors.

f) You should also click the Properties tab in the lower part of the window to verify that the hair will be available with all clothing styles and while pregnant.

15) Binning the blond recolor:

a) Click the Blond tab.

b) Choose Open from the Package Menu and select the appropriate file. Check off the file on your list.

c) Click the Materials tab in the lower part of the window if not already selected. Verify that the hair is indeed Blond. This is a sanity check.

d) By default, the Elder hair will not be checked. If and only if the Blond recolor has the gray you like, check the check box next to the Elder skin.

For my particular hair, that's the gray I want all the colors to use, so I checked it.

e) You may also uncheck child and toddler hair if they are standard Maxis styles and the recolor doesn't vary too much from the Maxis basic colors.

Again, this hair style does include custom meshes for those ages, so I am leaving them in.

f) You should also click the Properties tab in the lower part of the window to verify that the hair will be available with all clothing styles and while pregnant.

16) Binning the red recolor:

I skipped this step, since there wasn't a red recolor I liked.

a) Click the Red tab.

b) Choose Open from the Package Menu and select the appropriate file. Check off the file on your list.

c) Click the Materials tab in the lower part of the window if not already selected. Verify that the hair is indeed Red. This is a sanity check.

d) By default, the Elder hair will not be checked. If and only if the Red recolor has the gray you like, check the check box next to the Elder skin.

e) You may also uncheck child and toddler hair if they are standard Maxis styles and the recolor doesn't vary too much from the Maxis basic colors.

f) You should also click the Properties tab in the lower part of the window to verify that the hair will be available with all clothing styles and while pregnant.

17) Binning the gray recolor, if the gray hair is in a separate file, not included in one of the four basic colors:

I skipped this step, since the gray is in the Blond file.

Whatever you do, do not reopen a file under this tab if you've already chosen that file for one of the basic colors.

a) Click the Gray tab.

b) Choose Open from the Package Menu and select the appropriate file. Check off the file on your list.

c) Click the line for Elder in the upper area, then the Materials tab in the lower part of the window if not already selected. Verify that the hair is indeed Gray. This is a sanity check.

d) By default, only Elder hair will be checked. It's actually pointless to check the other ages, since they'll never show in the game.

e) You should also click the Properties tab in the lower part of the window to verify that the hair will be available with all clothing styles and while pregnant.

18) Binning a custom color:

Although this sounds pointless, it actually does have a purpose. In the next step, we will set the "family" based on the GUID from the Black file. This allows the hair style to remain the same as you switch from color to color in BodyShop, in-game CAS, or the Change Appearance screen from the mirror.

a) Click the Custom tab.

b) Choose Open from the Package Menu and select the appropriate file. Check off the file on your list.

c) Click the Materials tab in the lower part of the window if not already selected. Verify that the hair is the color you think it is. This is a sanity check.

d) By default, all ages will be checked. You want all the ages included, even if they are just recolors of the Maxis hair for the children and toddlers. This allows the custom hair to be passed to the Sim's same sex children.

e) You should also click the Properties tab in the lower part of the window to verify that the hair will be available with all clothing styles and while pregnant.

If you should make a mistake opening a file, you can fix it! Just right click on the upper part of the window to see this context menu.

a) Open will do the same thing as Open from the Package menu.

b) Move will send the file to a different color bin.

c) Clear will empty the current bin.

d) I believe that Load Mesh is used to help insert recolors of Maxis meshes for missing child and toddler hair in the Custom bin. I will update this when I learn more.

19) Setting the family and tool tip text.

a) Click on the Black tab. Probably not necessary, but I'm a little paranoid.

b) Choose Options from the Package menu. Be very careful not to select "Save As..." yet, although I'm sure you're impatient to be done with this! Click the Package tab if necessary.

c) Modify the text in the box to suit your needs. I like to add the style name or number to whatever text the creator put in there. This is the tool tip text that you see in Body Shop or CAS, so make it meaningful!

d) Drag across the long hexadecimal number in the GUID box. Copy this number to your clipboard with Ctrl-C, Ctrl-Insert, or right click and choose Copy from the context menu.

e) Click Ok.

f) Open up that text file you made so many steps ago if it's not still open.

g) Add a line to the text file that identifies this hair style and paste in the GUID.

Mine looks like this:

peggy,0001,c231a1bf-4a42-f9c7-7b74-6c8b473a7f57

peggy,0002,a0f9e911-47c2-7d0f-9eb2-a6972e1e9502

peggy,0003,163bfbd7-4a10-b28c-c53f-f49d5d325a84

peggy,0004,52bb6667-4e4a-f38d-b5aa-33b0f0999d77

peggy,0005,cc909da8-4a14-a9c3-d378-6eabe4bf9e35

peggy,0006,48c5cfb7-42e7-7db1-5fbf-44880725dddd

peggy,0007,c5a8cb36-4959-3b97-6899-0db5ff4e0448

peggy,0008,d6c31cac-46a6-50a5-b706-2488548c06f1

peggy,0009,fb72a763-4b4e-bc76-3f74-4cacadd09b7e

peggy,0010,b0d62002-4011-2df8-f56f-0d8a801c66f5

peggy,0011,25fe5359-46ba-9a76-759a-f19ba9979d6a

peggy,0012,0c9fddcd-481f-ce05-ad31-bba33ca9bee1

peggy,0013,9f09a2be-4360-c0e0-43e3-96a3d105333e

Exactly what you put on each line is up to you, but you want to be able to identify the style later on. I use the creator or site and the "style number" or name. You might want to include a note like "no red" if a family is missing a color.

h) Save the text file and switch back to SimPE.

20) Save the files! Choose Save As from the Package menu.

If your options are set the same as mine, your existing files will be renamed with the .bak suffix and new package files will be created. They should be slightly smaller than the originals, especially if you removed toddler, child or elder recolors.

21) Go get a drink, walk around, go potty... you deserve a break! If you only have the 4 basic colors plus optional gray plus one optional custom, you're done binning and can skip to step 24.

22) Next batch!

a) Repeat steps 13 to 19c for the next batch of recolors, skipping the steps for the colors you don't need. Don't rebin the hair you've already done and checked off!

I will only have brown and blond colors in my remaining batches, since the one black and the one custom recolor were dealt with in the first batch.

b) In step 19d, you'll paste the GUID from the previous batch into the GUID field. If you've somehow lost it from your clipboard, you can simply copy it from the text file. Yep, that whole file is mostly just a sanity check. I spent too much time reopening files with SimPE to get that GUID for the next batch! There's another use for it, which we'll talk about later.

c) Click Ok (step 19e), then skip steps 19f through h.

d) Perform step 20.

23) Repeat step 22 until all recolors for that style have been binned.

24) Sanity check: Run BodyShop to test your binning. You may leave SimPE running if you like. You should see the style in the correct color bin. Select the style and change to another color, and your Sim should keep the same style, just switched to the new color. Also check the age transitions to make sure the child and toddler versions really are new meshes, not just Maxis recolors stuffed into the package for completeness sake. Also verify that the elder hair is what you expect.

I still have to track down and repair a peggy 0008 blond file that I mistakenly binned as brown.

Now for the other use of that text file with the GUIDs. Say you download another artist's recolor of a mesh you've already binned. You can use the GUID from the text file when you bin those recolors (see step 22b), and the recolors will behave just like they were created by the original artist (except the tooltip text will have the recoloring artist's information). If you don't like that behavior, you can use whatever GUID was in the new artist's Black recolor as in the original step 19d or generate a new one by clicking on the word "GUID" in the Options dialog.

Making "no visible hair" hats show up in all 4 bins

Thanks to Almighty Hat at Garden of Shadows!

"In the Property Set of a fresh-out-of-Body-Shop custom hair, change change hairtone to 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000 (or just 'to all zeroes').  Turns up in all bins, works fine with the Seasons-and-above ability to change hairstyle by outfit-- but is townie-enabled, so you could get your hats randomly on new Sims, and won't show up in Body Shop, so save a custom version if you think you'll need more recolors.  I'm sure there's a simple way to tell the hair it's a hat (which means it won't pop up on townies), but offhand I don't know what that is."

Hat also recommended a couple other tutorials:

"You may also be interested in Quintcia's Ultimate Sims Genetics Tutorial, which is rather long but my go-to guide for geneticizing eyes and skins, townie-enabling clothes, and binning hair-- I love it because it doesn't just tell you what to do, it tells you why it works.  I also found this mini-tutorial by Phaenoh that's useful for tying custom clothes and hair to a specific expansion pack-- useful if, for example, you want everything on a Base Game mesh to show up in the Base Game section, or all your yukata recolors to end up in the Bon Voyage section.  (I haven't tried that yet, but I will be soon.)"

When not to bin!

In the discussion about Greg's McCain campaign hats, we decided that for "special purpose headwear" hair styles, you should do this:

  1. Leave the headwear unbinned.
  2. Create the Sim with a Maxis or binned hair style in the color you desire.
  3. In game, have the Sim use the mirror to change her hair style to the unbinned style.

This prevents both hereditary special purpose headwear (your grandchildren probably won't have the same political views you do) and having the headwear crop up on random Townies.