Species modding

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This article may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. It was last updated for 1.6.

Adding A Portrait[edit]

This article is about creating new species to add in addition to the ones already in Stellaris. We will cover the processes of portrait design, folder arrangement and more. As with empire modding some parts of this guide will describe fairly easy or even obvious things, however there are parts of species modding much more complicated or containing unexpected nuances. The only caveat I can really add is that this is the process I have used to successfully publish a mod with new portraits.

In order to effectively create your new species, you should have a few tools ready:

  1. 1. Photo editing software (such as Paint.net or Photoshop)
  2. 2. A picture or pictures of the species you want to add
  3. 3. A good txt editor (Notepad++ is highly recommended)

Step One[edit]

Open up your Stellaris Launcher and click on the 'Mods' tab.

  • Click on the Mod Tools box in the upper right hand corner.
  • Click on the 'Create Mod' tab.
  • Click on the line next to 'Available Mods' and type in the full name of your mod. (Use something unique, like the name for your new species)
  • Click on the line next to 'Directory' and type in a short-hand version of your mod name.
  • Don't change the 'Supported Version' line.
  • In the upper left drop-down menu under 'Mod Tags', select the category 'Species'
  • Click 'Create Mod' in the lower righthand corner.
Creating a mod.jpg

Some text should appear at the bottom of the window saying "Successfully created mod file in C:\somestuff\Documents\Paradox Interactive\Stellaris/Mod/yourmodname.mod"

File Uploaded.jpg

[NOTE: This is NOT going to be located in your main Stellaris installation folder! It is kept in a different location, for reasons beyond the scope of this tutorial.]

  • Open up your file manager (My Computer) and navigate to the location given.

If you don't see that text, you've done something wrong and should start over.

Step Two[edit]

You should now see the following:

  • Click on the text file that has the name of your mod and COPY that into the folder with your mod name.
  • Click on the folder with your mod name.

Your folder should be empty (except for the copy of the mod file) and ready to fill with the necessary files to create your new species.

  • Change the name of the .mod file to 'descriptor' - you do not need to change anything else about it right now.
  • Keep this folder open.

Step Three[edit]

In a new window open up your main Stellaris game folder. A Note of Caution: Always double check where you are moving files from/to during the modding process - you don't want to overwrite any of the main Stellaris files.

  • Create a new folder in your mod folder named 'common'
  • Create a new folder in your mod folder named 'gfx'

Pay attention to which window you're working in - we will be flipping between windows a lot during the next few steps!

  • In the main Stellaris window, open 'common' and copy the following folder to your Mod window:


There should be exactly one file in the folder you copied.

  • Change the file name from 00_species_classes to 01_species_classes.
  • Open 01_species_classes.

You'll see a lot of text in here that has some very specific formatting, don't panic, just follow the directions and keep your towel handy.

  • Decide now whether your new species is going to be a mammal, reptile, avian, arthropoid, molluscoid or fungoid. (This part of the guide will not cover adding a new species class.)

Let's say you've chosen to add a new Fungoid.

  • Scroll down through the file until you find the section that reads:
FUN = {
	portraits = {
		"fun14"		# Rendered, Not animated, Clothes Not rendered
	custom_portraits = {#add additional portraits when customizing species
		trigger = {	local_has_dlc = "Creatures of the Void Portrait Pack"	}
		portraits = {

	graphical_culture = fungoid_01
	move_pop_sound_effect = "fungoid_pops_move"
  • Now paste the following section in right ABOVE the line that says "graphical_culture = fungoid_01" and change myspecies1 to the name of your species:
	custom_portraits = {#add additional portraits when customizing species
		trigger = {	always = yes	}
		portraits = {

Don't worry about what "trigger = {always = yes}" means, it just ensures that you don't need any special DLC or other requirements to use this portrait.

  • Save and close the file.

Step Four[edit]

In your mod folder navigate to the main directory and open the 'gfx' folder.

  • Create a new folder named 'models' and open it.
  • Create a new folder (inside of 'models') and name it 'portraits' {'gfx\models\portraits'} - this is where you will put the picture of your species. We will come back to this.
  • Inside of the 'gfx' folder create a new folder named 'portraits' then open that folder ('gfx\portraits') and create ANOTHER folder named 'portraits' ('gfx\portraits\portraits') Yes, this seems like a strange way to oragnize things, but just follow the plan!
  • Keep the folder 'gfx\models\portraits' open.

Step Five[edit]

Open up the photo editing software of your choice (we will use Paint.net for demonstration)

  • Open up the picture or photo that you will use as your species' picture.

NOTE: You should use the highest quality image possible for this. If you have to shrink it down a bit you will lose some detail.

  • From the left hand side select the tool that looks like a magic wand (left column, 4th down)
  • Erase the background - this may take some experimentation on your part, using the various tools and making some adjustments.
Img example.jpg

TIP:Using the eraser tool (pink and white eraser icon, right column), set the 'hardness' to about 20% and fade the edges of your portrait so that no hard edges remain (edges without blending like this tend to look really harsh - you'll probably need to experiment with lots of different techniques to achieve something that looks good.)

  • Once you are satisfied with your portrait, resize it to a maximum of about 400 pixels in height (any higher and you run the risk of your portrait going out of frame in the game).
  • Save your portrait as a .dds with a memorable name (such as myspecies1.dds) in the 'gfx\models\portraits' folder.
  • Now save your portrait in your main mod directory as a myspecies1.jpg (replace 'myspecies1' with whatever your want, but make sure to save it as a jpg)
  • Now close the photo editing software and open up your 'gfx\models\portraits' folder to ensure that your species' portrait is there. If it is, excellent.
  • Check in your main mod directory. Is the .jpg there? It is? Great job! You earned three internets and a gold star!

Step Six[edit]

Open up your 'gfx\portraits\portraits' folder.

  • In your Stellaris window, open up the 'gfx\portraits\portraits' folder.
  • Copy the file named '00_portraits' to your mod's 'gfx\portraits\portraits' folder.
  • Rename the file as '01_portraits'
  • Open the file.
  • Delete everything and put in the following lines:
	portraits = {
		myspecies1 = { texturefile = "gfx/models/portraits/myspecies1.dds"	}

Save the file and close it.

Step Seven[edit]

Return to your main mod directory and open the file named 'descriptor.txt' Inside you should see something resembling the following:


Now add a line above 'supported version':


Obviously, change "myspecies1.jpg" to "hotalienbabe.jpg" or whatever you've named it. And no, it doesn't need to be bolded. In fact, that would probably make the whole thing not work, now that you ask.

Now open your main mod directory and open the YOUMODNAME.mod and do exactly the same thing as above to the text here:


Step Eight[edit]

Close down all of your windows and launch Stellaris.

  • Click on the 'Mods' tab in the launcher.
  • You should see your mod's name in the list. Click on it.

The mod should now be highlighted (slightly lighter colored corners than before)

  • Click play!
  • Create a new empire, then under 'Appearance', in the Fungoid (or whichever you picked) find your new portrait!

Once you've tested you portrait in game (you can always make changes to your 'gfx/models/portraits/myspecies1.dds' to get a better result) it's time to publish your mod.

Step Nine[edit]

Close all windows and programs - You don't want anything interfering with this next step.

  • Open up your Stellaris launcher.
  • Click on the mods tab.
  • Click on Mod Tools.
  • Click on 'Upload Mod' then find your mod in the list (it's a greyed out list) and click it.
  • Click on 'Fetch Info'
  • It should say "Mod does not exist on Steam. Will create new mod."
  • Click 'Upload' in the bottom right corner.
  • Wait.

If you've done everything right you will be rewarded with a message "Mod uploaded okay" If not, then you've committed a modding faux pas and will have to retrace your steps very carefully to find out what you did wrong. Or, in the words of a choose your own adventure book, "You've died. Try again."

Step Ten[edit]

Go to your Steam Workshop page. Click on your mod and then edit the description and tell the world how awesome your new portrait is, and why they should conquer the universe as weight-lifting alien chimpanzees, or whatever.



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