How to Make Skins on MW2

Written by nick grimes
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How to Make Skins on MW2
"Modern Warfare 2" allows players to fill soldiers' shoes. (Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

The first-person shooter "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" places players in a series of highly realistic warfare environments to resolve a plot involving international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The game contains a number of weapons and items, all of which can be given new "skins" or graphical representation by editing the game files. This requires digging into the game's file structure with very particular software tools, so it's not recommended for beginners, as it can damage your game--necessitating a reinstallation.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Unarchiving program such as WinRAR or UnRAR
  • Hex editing program
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2 or later

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Download Iwi x DDS, DDS2IWI and the DDS plug-in for Adobe Photoshop from Resources. Copy the first two programs to your desktop and double-click the plug-in to add DDS compatibility to Photoshop.

  2. 2

    Open your "Modern Warfare 2" program folder, located by default in "C:/Program Files/MW2/Game Files." Copy the files "lw_07.lwd" and "lw_08.lwd" to a new folder on the desktop. Rename this folder "Skins."

  3. 3

    Double-click the LWD files to open them in your computer's unarchiving program, revealing two "Images" folders. Navigate through the folders until you find the "IWI" file named for the weapon or item you wish to make a new skin for.

  4. 4

    Hold "Ctrl" and drag the file to be edited into the "Skins" folder twice to create two copies. Leave one copy unaltered and name the other copy "Backup.IWI." Drag the unaltered file onto the "Iwi x DDS" icon to create a new version of the file with the suffix "DDS."

  5. 5

    Double-click the "DDS" file to open it within Photoshop. Use the program's image editing tools to apply any changes you wish to make to the weapon's exterior appearance. Changes can be anything from lightening the tone of the gunmetal in the "Brightness/Color" window, to copying and pasting decals onto the weapon's skin, all the way to drawing a totally new exterior using the "Shapes," "Paintbrush" and "Pen" tools. Don't draw outside the guidelines of the original image or your changes won't show up in the game.

  6. 6

    Open Photoshop's "File" menu and choose "Save As." Open the "File Format" drop-down box and choose "D3D/DDS" and click "OK." Drag your newly saved "DDS" file onto the "DDS2IWI" icon to convert it back to the "IWI" format used by "Modern Warfare 2."

  7. 7

    Open the "Backup.IWI" file within a hex editing program such as Hex Workshop or HxD. Select the first two lines of hex code, right-click and choose "Paste." Open your edited "IWI" file in the hex editor, highlight the first two lines and choose "Paste" to replace the file's opening code with that of the original game file. Add the hex code "00 00 00 00" to the beginning of the third line of the file's hex code, then scroll down to the end of the file and delete the last eight digits of hex code. Save the file.

  8. 8

    Copy your edited file into the "Images" directory still open within your archiving software. Close the software to lock the new file into the "LWD" file, then copy the file back into the "Game Files" directory for "Modern Warfare 2." The edited weapon or item will be playable the next time you start the game.

Tips and warnings

  • You may wish to back up the "lw_07.lwd" and "lw_08.lwd" files before replacing them with altered versions, so you can always return to your original game installation.
  • Edited weapons are against the rules of online play. Any players found using altered weapons in the game's multiplayer mode will face a ban from the service.

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