Multi Chan Hax- It’s all kinds of awesome!

January 19, 2011

If you are relatively new to making clothing or skins you might turn to a more experienced content creator with what you belive is a simple question. The most common replies are:

“Just keep at it, you’ll get there eventually.”
“Wear the templates to understand where things go.”
“It’s trial and error.”
“Seams are difficult to match up.”

This can be discouraging but it shouldn’t be. The truth is they’re not hiding any secrets from you. There really isn’t a magical answer, and yes, you should run around in a template suit even when you’re experienced! That advice is fantastic advice…

But Multi Chan Hax is all kinds of awesome!!!

Why is Multi Chan Hax all kinds of awesome? Because it gives Second Life clothing and skin creators a whole range of different template layouts to choose from! With Multi Chan Hax you are no longer limited to texturing the standard head/upper/lower UV layouts.

“A mapping channel is basically UV data. It’s how a 2d texture gets translated onto the geometry of a 3d model. What MultiCH does is give Photoshop the ability to translate a texture to and from any single combination of the channels.”

This type of feature is usually limited to 3d software but Multi Chan Hax manages to blur that line and make the same features available in a 2d image editing programs. How cool is that?! For anyone who has ever complained about wanting a different layout to texture, this is basically the answer to your prayers! All you need is the MCH filter and the MCH files and you can make something respectable in less than half the time it would take to manually match it up pixel by pixel.


Before you get too excited there are a few things I should mention. Multi Chan Hax is a 32bit Photoshop filter so it won’t be available from the filters menu if you choose to run a 64bit executable of Photoshop. Multi Chan Hax is also limited to Windows, so Mac and Linux users are out of the loop.

The Multi Chan Hax filter works with any program capable of loading the 8bf filter format so that means a handful of programs other than Photoshop should be able to make good use of it. PaintShop Pro is one of them and GIMP can too, with the help of a PSPI which is a GIMP plug-in that runs 3rd-party Photoshop filters, such as this one.


If you want to follow along you will need to grab a few things:

Chip’s Templates or Robin’s Templates

Multi Chan Hax- Filter

Multi Chan Hax- Files

Flaming Pear’s- Solidify filter


Now that we’ve covered the basics please enjoy the following two part video tutorial!

Please note that both these videos are available in HD format on Youtube.


Multi Chan Hax Part I- Introduction

Multi Chan Hax Part II- Using the Filter


33 Responses to “Multi Chan Hax- It’s all kinds of awesome!”

  1. Kristen said

    Great tutorial I was able to follow along in GIMP up until the Alpha Channel and the solidify filter. I was wondering if you could make a tutorial for this in GIMP that would be so helpful.

    • claireharford said

      Watch the video tutorial for using Multi Chan Hax up until I mention the issue of the pixels stopping at the edge of the avatar mesh- then have a read through the following text. At the time of writing this reply the Solidify filter appears to be incompatible with the latest version of GIMP (sorry- I’m sure it worked in the past!). The steps I’ve detailed below is as close as I can “translate” for now.

      Duplicate the “texture” layer and rename the lower layer “texture bleed”.

      Make sure you’re working on the “texture bleed” layer and go up to Filters >>> Blur >>> Blur. Duplicate this layer then merge the two “texture bleed” layers together. You might have to repeat the last two steps a few times (4-8 times depending on canvas size). So blur, duplicate, merge down, blur, duplicate, merge down and so on.

      (That is pretty much all the solidify filter does by the way- it just does it much more aggressively using a few different algorithms and it works a helluvalot faster for an entire canvas).

      The process of blurring and merging down is a great tip for getting rid of the white halo effect in GIMP. Even with the “texture bleed” visibility turned off it should sample the colour from the layer beneath- but you want to leave it ON because we want more than just the 1 pixel anti-aliasing buffer. You want a decent and deliberate bleed area in this case. So we’ve solved the dreaded “jaggies” and created a decent bleed area on the seams but you will still need to go in and manually clean up the upper edge to maintain any hard lines. So from here on you can just mask or erase what you don’t want to see.

      One way to do it would be to select the “texture” layer in the layers palette, right click and from the list that drops down choose “Alpha to Selection”. This will give you the same “marching ants” selection as what you can see in the video. With this selection active go up to Select >>> Grow >>> 4 pixels.
      Then switch back to your “texture bleed” layer, right click and select “Add Layer Mask”. A popup window will appear asking you what kind of mask you wish to create. Check the box for “Selection” then click the “Add” button. Now go up to Select >>> None (or control+shift+A) to deselect.

      Here comes the more tricky part to explain. GIMP works as a “what you see is what you get” editor when it comes to see through stuff. It doesn’t have the same kind of alpha “channels” as Photoshop does, rather, it makes use of the layers transparency instead. I’m tempted to call it “visible transparency” but that seems a bit redundant, a bit like the phrase “free gift” (haha- sidetracked! sorry!).

      Moving along… all you need to do now is turn off all the layers you don’t want to see such as templates/backgrounds and leave your sock layers visible. If you can see the grey checkerboard- you’re good to go!

      (Yeah- this probably deserved a post of its own but at least it’s answered in the same place!)

      If I haven’t been clear let me know. Ask a detailed question, get a detailed answer. 🙂

      Other than that- good luck and HAVE FUN!!!!

  2. […] mapping channels into Photoshop, further blurring the line between 3d and 2d software flows.…-of-awesome-2/ So much awesome on so many levels. Rock […]

  3. QT said

    I followed this tutorial quite well, got the results the way I was supposed to. However, when I tried this same method for say SL_mucho23chans, I get a Wireframe of the entire front, back, partial thigh, Head etc. After a little tinkering, I was able to get my texture on it seamlessly. Now I know this texture will not work right, in other words, this will not be able to be saved as a targa then uploaded in SL. There is no way for it to wrap around the avatar in that way.

    So I was wondering, how exactly do you get this particular thing to work. The socks are easy and it’s easy to follow along, but that is not what SL_mucho23chans is. *laughs*

    • claireharford said

      SL_mucho23chans is awesome but nowhere near as simple as the example shown in the video. That MCH file contains 23 (!!!!) different channels.

      Channel 1 is something like a “master” channel. The head is in the upper left corner, the torso is in the lower left and the legs are in the lower right corner. If you leave the first channel as channel 1 you will need to crop the canvas into quarters before you can use them in-world. It always needs to go back to the default UV layout before you upload them to Second Life.

      A better way to get each body part out individually is to switch from the master channel (channel 1) to 21, 22 or 23. Channel 21 is the default head, channel 22 is the torso and 23 is the lower body. If you’re working on channel that spans across two sections of the avatar mesh (neck or waist seam) you will need to duplicate the layers so you can repeat the process for the two relevant body sections.

      I’m attaching an image to this reply which you can use as a reference for SL_mucho23. It should help a few people to make sense of it. 🙂 Hope that helps!

      mucho_23 table

  4. Gracie P said

    Goodness. I just watched the youtube videos, the multi chan hax site seems down for the moment- but in the mean time THANK YOU.

    This looks amazing. I hope it works for me.

  5. […] Hartford in the comments on the article Multi Chan Hax- It’s all kinds of awesome!, got me started down the right path. Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 « EVE […]

  6. Torley said

    I enjoyed the tight cuts and punchy presentation! AHHH YOUR PASSION SHINES THROUGH. Thanks for making this tutorial — because of you I’m aware of Multi Chan Hax (I get a similar vibe to when I found out about Filter Forge for seamless textures on builds) — and I look forward to more, Claire!

    • claireharford said

      Weeeeeeee! Torley is all kinds of awesome as well! (Torley amplifies your awesome- even! ROFL)

    • Wait, what? Seamless textures on builds??? Please do share! I tried downloading filter forge but couldn’t make sense of it.

      btw- great job Claire!! I got all kinds of excited when I watched your tutorial. MCH is freakin awesome!

      • claireharford said

        Multi Chan Hax is avatar focused (clothing, skins) whereas Filter Forge is more suited to texturing prims (parametric, sculpted). While they’re both awesome tools for texturing there are significant differences in what you’re setting out to achieve. You can use them both together to create clothing, but you wouldn’t use MCH to make carpet or a wall covering *giggles*. I hope that makes sense. 🙂

  7. Great tutorial, Claire; I’ve read about the Multi Chan Hax filter in the past but never understood it. This has gone a long way toward making it clearer.
    My only issue at this point is clearly identifying work areas on the Multi Chan wireframe. You talk about being able to identify the toe and other areas “clearly;” while I’ve become intimately and painfully familiar with the standard SL UV templates and placement, I can’t for the life of me discern where the Multi Chan Hax wireframes would “lay” on the avatar just by looking at them. I don’t suppose anyone has created labelled overlays for Abu’s wireframes?

    • claireharford said

      Some of the wireframes are obvious (bewbies!) but quite a few of them are a doozy to figure out.

      Here’s a thought for figuring out what goes where- operate in reverse. 🙂

      Grab the standard template, duplicate the template as a new layer (or just the edge guides)… and reverse them. You can skip the step of creating a new wireframe with MCH and use the template layer in its place. Use the reverse checkbox to shift the old layout to the new one. You’ll have all the markings from the template you’re familiar with- and if it spans two body parts, you’ll be missing half a layer until you do the same to its match.

      Clear as mud? Let me know how you get on. 🙂

      • DOH! Brilliant idea, Claire, thanks. That will teach me to watch tutorials without my thinking cap on (ie before the first pot of coffee) 😉
        Looking forward to playing around with these, and thanks for the time you took to create and post the tuts. Very excited to give it a try!

  8. Cat Cuttita said

    Hi, I’m trying to download the Multi Chan Hax, but it keeps saving as a photoshop icon rather than an action icon, can you help pls? It doesn’t seem to be creating a folder either, as shown in your You Tube tut. o.O?
    I managed to do the solidiy one as that was a compressed zip folder doing it all for me LOL

    • claireharford said

      Multi Chan Hax and Solidify are both Photoshop filters so they will both show the associated “plugin” icon telling you where it belongs.
      In the video I had created a folder for the MCH filter and the additional .mch files to keep things organised. The filter and files will still work fine without being in a folder of their own so long as they’re in the filters sub-folder wherever you have Photoshop installed.

  9. Desini said

    Hey, thanks for the tutorial on this!
    Just one problem i’m having…the file is saving as a .rar instead of .8bf :O
    This is really confusing me. Am I supposed to save this in the plugins folder with the solidify or make a new folder?
    hehe, thanks 😀

    • claireharford said

      Hey Desini,

      A .rar file is similar to a .zip file. You’ll need to extract the contents to find the .8bf filter. 🙂 You can do it with winrar, winzip, 7zip and so on. Good luck!

  10. Zee said

    Amazing, just simply amazing. I fiddled with the filter a bit and BAM, the alignment of the seams is practically perfect! (Well not 100% but my goodness, the minor tweaking that it takes to finish off the piece is nothing compared to the effort it took before I tried Multi Chan Hax)

    I ♥ Your Tutorial Claire!

  11. windflower said

    thank u so much for the great tutorial..
    but i have question pls
    what is channel B for?

  12. Scarlet said

    Maybe it’s because I’m scandinavian, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how to use the other templates. I couldn’t find one for the female upperbody either, just male? o_O I’m sure it’s me missing something, which I have a tendency to do, but I also keep my fingers crossed for more tutorials from you on how to best use this plug-in 🙂

  13. i give up… idk what to do!!!!
    is not working for me.. i did the same as you did and nothing, im just tierd to try. the MCH files are not showing on my filters when i open ps :(((
    im just sad cuz i need this so bad for my skin 😦

  14. Sabz said

    Wonderful tutorial, ty
    I seem to have a problem i have followed exactly as u have instructed but after i have pasted the 2 files in ps -> plugins->filters, i open ps and under filters i can only see the solidify option and the TechSlop- Multi Chan Hax is not there – iv removed and tried again numerous times and still no luck 😦 what am i doing wrong ? im using CS5 – appreciate your help.

  15. claireharford said

    Channels A & B are the two you’re swapping between. Sometimes you will swap to the default layout and other times it’s a jumble of other options Abu has thrown in.

    The SL avatar mesh is unisex- Adam is made from Eve. The only two MCH file that buckle that rule are SL_maletorsoplanar01 and SLarm_male_c6a. One tackles the male torso distortion, the other one the male arm.

    Rebeca and Sabz:
    Is your OS Windows? Mac and Linux can’t use the filter.
    Are you using 32bit Photoshop? On newer computers running a 64bit OS Photoshop will install BOTH VERSIONS. By default it opens 64bit Photoshop so you will have to check that you are indeed using the 32bit version for the MCH filter to show up.

  16. Rikku said

    This is wonderful i really hope you make more tutorials on how to use the other multi channels “jack layer???” hehe

  17. Keshi said

    second that on the jacket layer *tries not to pull out hair*

  18. Louise said

    Hello i noticed u said that the multi chan hax wouldnt be avalible in the filters on the 64 bit where would i find that or does it just not work

  19. when using the solidify on gimp it keeps telling me it cannot use image background as there is no transparancy.. Unsure what it is requesting when i click the active layer with the increase at the side. or the channels to make one alpha.. I am lost

  20. dorian lanzius said

    Is there ever going to be a 64 bit version of MCH? if i run it in cs4 32 bit it’s all choppy and laggy for some reason and i’d like to run it in 64 bit cs4 because no matter what i do in 64 bit PS i don’t have any kind of lagging or choppy-ness…

  21. obago said

    Do you have a mirror to download Multi Chan Hax- Filter and Multi Chan Hax- Files because the website is down.

    Thanks for your help !

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