Skip to content

How to use custom portraits (BG1, BG:EE, BG2, BG2:EE, IWD, IWD:EE, IWD2)

SystemSystem Administrator Posts: 199
edited November 2019 in General Modding
This discussion was created from comments split from: How to use custom portraits (BG1, BG:EE, BG2, BG2:EE, IWD, IWD:EE, IWD2).


  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    edited July 2018
    Welcome! In this guide I’m going to show you how to create and select your own portraits for all Infinity Engine games (Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series, Original and Enhanced Editions).

    In the Infinity Engine games, portraits are shown in the Record screen (large) and in the sidebar (small). To give your character a custom portrait, you will need either one or two image files, depending on the version of the game you’re playing (original or EE) and on whether you want the small and large portraits to look different from each other.

    Please note that whenever I mention “the originals” this includes Icewind Dale II, since it doesn’t have an Enhanced Edition.

    For the original Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale games, you need two images (large and small).

    For the Enhanced Editions, you need only one image (large), unless you want the sidebar portrait to look different, in which case you need the small one as well.

    There are five easy steps for using custom portraits:
    1. Crop your images to the right dimensions,
    2. Save them in the BMP format,
    3. Make sure the file names are correct,
    4. Put them in the Portraits folder and finally,
    5. Select them in the game

    1. Crop your images to the right dimensions

    The dimensions of your portraits (width x height, in pixels) should be as follows:
    • BG, BG2, IWD (Original): 110 x 170 (large), 38 x 60 (small)
    • IWD2: 210 x 330 (large), 42 x 42 (small)
    • BG:EE, BG2:EE, IWD:EE: 210 x 330 (large), 54 x 84 (small)
    • To tell the truth, portraits with dimensions other than these will work in the EEs as long as they’re not over 1024 pixels wide. However, they will be squeezed (or stretched) to fit (or fill) the portrait area if the aspect ratio is not right.

    2. Save your portraits as BMP images

    Your portrait images need to be in the Bitmap format (BMP file extension). This shouldn’t be a problem – pretty much any image editor will let you save in that format.

    Remember: simply changing the file extension by renaming it (from PNG or JPG or whatever) will not work. You must save the image as a BMP.

    3. Name your portrait files properly

    For your portrait files to appear in-game, you need to follow some naming conventions:

    For the original games:
    • Filename can’t be longer than 8 characters
    The Enhanced Editions are finicky about portrait filenames, so there are more rules:
    • Large portrait files always end with an L
    • Small portrait files always end with an M
    • Filename can’t be longer than 7 (seven) characters (including the L or M size letter)
    • Avoid special characters (underlines are okay, though)
    Due to a bug in the EEs, filenames can't be longer than 7, instead of 8 characters.

    Remember that in the EEs, in order for a character to have a different small portrait, the name needs to be identical to the large one (except for the L and M letters, of course).

    4. Put your portraits in the “Portraits” folder

    Now that your custom portraits are ready to go, you have to put them in a folder where the game can find them. This folder is always named “Portraits” and its location varies depending on the game.

    If you’re playing the originals, go to your game installation folder. If you don’t know where that is, check out the tips inside the spoiler tag.

    GoG version
    If you have used GoG Galaxy, you can go to the installation folder by selecting your game in the client and clicking More, then Manage Installation, then Show Folder.

    If you have used the Classic Installer, the default install location is a folder named after the game, under C:\GoG.

    CD/DVD version (original games)
    The default install location for the CD/DVD versions is a folder named after the game under C:\Program Files (x86)\Black Isle.

    By the way: if you’re using Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 10, I strongly recommend you to reinstall the games anywhere outside of the Program Files folder. These modern versions of Windows (excuse me for calling Vista “modern”) have User Account Control, which will make your saved games hard to find (tucked away in a hidden folder) and cause problems when installing mods.

    If you still can't find your game folder:
    There’s a last resource - use the search function of your operating system to look for a file named CHITIN.KEY. Any folders that contain that file are Infinity Engine game installation folders. If it doesn’t find anything, make sure it’s looking inside system/hidden folders.

    If you’re playing the Enhanced Editions, find the folder named after the game you’re playing (“Baldur’s Gate – Enhanced Edition”, “Icewind Dale – Enhanced Edition”, etc.) inside Documents (Windows), Libraries\Documents (MacOS) or ~/local/share (Linux).

    Create the Portraits folder in there if you don’t see one and place your portrait files inside it. Make sure the game is not running when you do it. If it’s too late for that, just restart the game.

    5. Select your portraits in the game

    When creating a new character:

    In the originals, once you get to the portrait selection menu, click the Custom button to open up a window in which you can select your large and small portraits from a list.

    In the Enhanced Editions, your custom portraits are placed along the stock portraits, at the end of the list. All the custom button does is to pop up an incomplete explanation that’s probably got you googling “baldurs gate how to use custom portraits”. Click the left arrow to see them right away. If you have included a small portrait, it will show up automatically on the sidebar.

    When you have a game in progress:

    Go to the Record screen and click the Customize, then Appearance to bring up the portrait selection menu. Then follow the steps from “When creating a new character” above.

    When you have an exported character:

    When you start a new game with an imported character (or add them to your party while playing the original IWD), there’s no way to change their portrait from the Character Generation menu. You’ll have to start the game and then follow the steps for “When you have a game in progress”. After that, you may export the character again so you’ll have a copy that uses your custom portrait.

    Alternatively, you can use a game editor such as EEKeeper to open your exported character and change their portrait. If playing the originals, you need older editors: Gate Keeper (BG), Shadow Keeper (BG2) and Dale Keeper (IWD) or Dale Keeper 2 (IWD2).


    Help! My portraits don’t appear in-game

    Check again - does the filename have 8 characters or less? In the EEs: Is one of these characters the letter L or M? If you only have a file ending with M, it will not show up in the portrait selection screen.

    As I said earlier, the Infinity Engine is often finicky with filenames. I’ve seen people say they’ve had problems with using spaces, special characters, numbers and even mixing uppercase and lowercase letters. Try using only uppercase letters.

    The BMP files also need to be 24-bit. That’s usually the standard when saving BMP files, but depending on the image editor you’re using, you may want to double-check to see if there’s a prompt that lets you save it as 32-bit. If there is, save it again and make sure to choose either 24-bit or a lower value.

    Finally, if you’re in the EEs and using an image that’s bigger than 210 x 330 pixels, make sure it’s not wider than 1024 pixels.

    I don’t know how to crop or resize images. Can you help me?

    If you don’t know how to crop or resize images using an image editor, don’t worry. You can do that online in just a couple of minutes, no experience required. The site I recommend is ImageSplitter because it’s easy to use, requires no registration, doesn’t ask to use Flash and most importantly, already lets you save your image in the correct format (check step 2).

    I don’t know how to save or convert images to BMP. Can you help me?

    As I said in step 2, pretty much any image editor will let you save your image as a BMP file.

    If that’s not the case, or if your files are already in the correct dimensions but in a different format, converting an image is easy:
    • If you’re on Windows, open the file in Paint (or Paint 3D) and use Save As to save it as a Bitmap.
    • On MacOS, it’s even easier – you can Save As from the image preview or the Photo app.
    • If you’re on Linux, there must be a Microsoft Paint equivalent, such as Pinta or gnome-paint. In any case, you can always use an online converter such as this.
    That’s it! Let me know if you have any questions. Happy adventuring.
    Post edited by Kilivitz on
  • kilroy_was_herekilroy_was_here Member Posts: 455
    Also, I think they have to be 24-bit bitmaps. At least that was the way it was in the original.
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    The resolution should be set to 200 dpi for best results. Otherwise, you've got it.
  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    I tried adding bitmaps of the proper size to "C:\Users\Administrator\Documents\Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition\override" but I didn't see them show up with the default picture selections and I see no button to access custom portraits. Am I missing something? Has anyone else been able to get custom portraits working? If so do share how you did so!
  • CorianderCoriander Member Posts: 1,667
    @Nic_Mercy You need to create a folder called Portraits. It's step 2.
  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    edited November 2012
    er sorry I meant to say I put the pics in C:\Users\Administrator\Documents\Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition\Portraits

    And it didn't work

    Same goes for voice sets added to C:\Users\Administrator\Documents\Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition\Sounds
  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    edited November 2012
    Make sure they are Bitmaps (.bmp) - I never had issues regarding resolution, but JPEGs, GIFs, etc. won't work.

    Changing the file extension won't work either. You need to save the image as a bitmap using MSPaint, GIMP, Photoshop or a similar program.

    Also check if the filenames stay under 8 characters. That would 7, plus the final letter (L, M or S).
  • CuvCuv Member, Developer Posts: 2,535
    Sounds need to go in your language directory at the location of the dialog.tlk your game is using. You will find a sounds folder in there.
  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    Adding sound sets to the specific language directory "sounds" folder did not make them show up in game.
    My pics are bitmaps and still don't show up
    For those of you replying have you ACTUALLY gotten either to work yourselves? Or are you telling me what "should" work?
  • el_Maestroel_Maestro Member Posts: 7
    edited November 2012
    There is no in game access button to the custom portraits (or at least i can't find it).

    edit: I found it
  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    Look under the portrait:

  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    And here's the selection screen (although I got some dimensions wrong):

  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    edited November 2012
    Now see my game does not have that button for some weird reason... should I try to reinstall? Or is it something I have to enable?
  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    edited November 2012
    here's a screenie:
  • Eddie_KaspbrakEddie_Kaspbrak Member Posts: 29
    I have L, M and S all the right dimensions and bit depth and they're showing up under Custom - however when selected no picture appears... What am I doing wrong?
  • LordLeviathanLordLeviathan Member Posts: 97
    I have already a custom portrait, I wanted to know how to adjust it to the right size.

    If anyone can tell how to do it, I will be very thankful.
  • SableRhapsodySableRhapsody Member Posts: 38
    Anyone know where the NPC portraits are located now? I'd like to replace a few of them.
  • kilroy_was_herekilroy_was_here Member Posts: 455
    FYI: I've noticed that when the small sized portrait is sized correctly (54X84), it will look wrong in the custom portraits preview (there will be empty space at the bottom and right of the small box) but it is the correct size and will display correctly in-game.

    I would post a screenshot but for some reason every single one of my custom portraits violates forum rules... I'm sure it's a coincidence. :P It is visible in Kilivitz's last post above this one.
  • kilroy_was_herekilroy_was_here Member Posts: 455
    edited November 2012
    @LordLeviathan to adjust the size of a pic, open it with MSpaint (it comes with windows so everyone has it)

    Under Home, click on the 'resize' tool. Click on Pixels and change the size to whatever it should be (ie: 54 horizontal 84 vertical for a small portrait). Make sure 'Maintain aspect ratio' is unclicked so you can get the exact size.

    Then click OK and save the file. Make sure the file type is set to 24 bit BMP or it will not show up/display correctly.
  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    I still don't see the custom button under the default portraits and I don't know why. I created a portraits folder in the correct location and added portraits of the correct format and dimensions

    C:\Users\Administrator\Documents\Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition\portraits



    I tried with and without the underscores in the file name. I don't know what else to try.
  • Eddie_KaspbrakEddie_Kaspbrak Member Posts: 29
    your folder title needs a capital P for Portraits (or so it says above)
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Also, the file name (minus the L, M, or S) needs to be seven characters or fewer. What you've got there is eight characters long. The underscore is also unnecessary.
  • LordLeviathanLordLeviathan Member Posts: 97
    I have window vista but I can't work it properly with paint, I don't know how to adjust it correctly.
  • LuigirulesLuigirules Member Posts: 419
    I'm having the same problem Nic is having. No custom button.

    Little help here, people?
  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418

    your folder title needs a capital P for Portraits (or so it says above)

    tried that didnt work

  • Nic_MercyNic_Mercy Member Posts: 418
    edited November 2012
    Aosaw said:

    Also, the file name (minus the L, M, or S) needs to be seven characters or fewer. What you've got there is eight characters long. The underscore is also unnecessary.


    Now if only you could tell me how to make custom sound sets show up! I tried putting them in:

    E:\Program Files\Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition\Data\00766\lang\en_US

    but that didnt work
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    @Nic_Mercy Make sure the file's name (including the M/L/S suffix) is eight or fewer characters long. The example you gave was 10 (with the underscore; 9 without).
  • LuigirulesLuigirules Member Posts: 419
    Mine still isn't working. Troubleshoot?

    C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition\Portraits

    Saved them all using paint, 24-bitmap, tried running in admin mode, nothing.
  • LuigirulesLuigirules Member Posts: 419
    Nevermind, got it to work.

    So, for custom sound sets, do we need to create a folder called "Sounds" in the same place we put our custom portraits and put the .wav files in there?
Sign In or Register to comment.