Monday, January 10, 2005

Creating an animated signature using HLMV

In this tutorial we will create an animated signature using the model viewer.

What you need

Photoshop (Or any other graphics editor)
Image ready (Or any other gif editor)
HLMV (The model viewer)

Getting the images

Open the model viewer and open the model you want in your signature. I'll use Alyx for this tutorial.

Position your model by holding SHIFT and dragging with the left mouse button to center it on the screen, set the FOV to 30 and check "Head turn" if you want the model to turn towards you instead of just moving her eyes.Also, change the light direction holding CTRL and dragging the left mouse button and the background color (Options>Background color...).
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Click on the "Flex" tab and mess with the options until you get the expression you want to start with.
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Take a screenshot (ALT+PRTSC) and paste it into a new image in Photoshop (CTRL+N, ENTER, CTRL+V).
Now, change the expression so that it changes the first one, but it's a logical transition.
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Take a screenshot (ALT+PRTSC) and paste it into the new image you made in Photoshop (CTRL+N, ENTER, CTRL+V). You should have 2 layers now.
Now, create a middle image that's goint to be the "tween" or the middle point between the beginning and end.
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Take a screenshot (ALT+PRTSC) and paste it into the new image you made in Photoshop (CTRL+N, ENTER, CTRL+V). You had 2 layers, paste it between them. Now you have 3 layers.
Crop and resize the image, making sure not to move the layers separately. Link the layers so they move together. It should look like this:
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Add your text and move it to Image Ready (SHIFT+CTRL+M).
In IR, you should have all the layers visible. Create a new frame.
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Turn off the top layer by clicking the eye.
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Create a new frame and turn off the next layer.
To finish, create a new frame and turn on the previous layer, so that the frames are 2,3,1,2. Click play. It plays too fast, huh? Let's tweak it.
Select all the frames by clicking the first one, holding SHIFT and clicking the last.
Click where it says "0 sec.". There's a tiny arrow. Choose 0.2 seconds.
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Now, select the first frame and set the time to 1 second.
Save it (File>save optimized as...)and that's it.
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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Creating a tga to import as a spray - HL2DM and CS:S

In this tutorial we're going to make a tga with transparency to use in HL2DM or CS:S.

What you need

Photoshop 7.0.1 or later

Set up

In Photoshop, create a new image 256 x 256 pixels.
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The background color doesn't really matter because it'll be invisible. More on that later.

1. Open the image you want to use and paste it in the new image you created. I'm using 2 images taken from the model viewer: One with a shadow and one without it.
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The background will be transparent, the shadow will be semi-transparent and the image will be opaque. Paste each image on a new layer.
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2. Hold CTRL and click on the shadowed layer. That will create a selection around your image.
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3. Create a new alpha channel.
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4. Fill the selection with 50% grey.
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5. Go back to your layers.
6. Hold CTRL and click on the other layer (no shadow).
7. Go back to the alpha channel you created.
8. Fill with white. You should end up with this:
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9. Go back to the layers and merge the layers (CTRL+SHIFT+E).
10. Save as tga, 32 bits/pixel.
11. Launch the game and export it.
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Friday, December 31, 2004

Normal Maps - Part 1

Are you familiar with height maps, bump maps, etc.? If not, normal maps will go right over your head.
Height maps and bump maps are greyscale images used to represent different elevations in a surface. In a height map, white (255, 255, 255) is the highest point, and black (0, 0, 0) is the lowest point. To see a quick representation of this effect, create a new file in photoshop and fill it with 50% grey, open the channels, create a new one and fill it with black. Then, using a white brush paint some lines and blur some of them using the blur tool.
After this, go back to the layers, click FILTER>RENDER>LIGHTING EFFECTS and using the default settings, at the bottom select ALPHA 1 and check WHITE IS HIGH.
You should see that, on your flat surface, all the lines you drew in the alpha channel are raised and project shadows. Move the light source and you'll see that the shadows move.
Practice doing this until you're familiar with it and then come back for lesson # 2.
The banding is due to the gif being saved at a low quality.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Static Background Tutorial

In this tutorial you'll learn how to replace the animated menu backgrounds with static images.

What you need

7 images 1024 x 768
Vtex tools
TGA Thumb Plug
Photoshop 7 with tga plugin, 7.1 or CS

Setting up directoris and files


Take your images and open them in Photoshop. Tweak them to your liking and then resize them to 1024 x 1024. DO NOT CROP THEM!!
Rename them to "background01" to "background07" and save them as tga.
Convert them to vtf.


Place the files into your "\user\half-life 2\hl2\materials\console" folder.

"I don't have that folder!!!"

Just create it. (Duh!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

TGA to VTF right-click shortcut

1. Open a Windows Explorer window (Windows key + E).
2. Go to Tools > Folder options.
3. Select the “File Types” tab and scroll down until you see the TGA extension.
4. Click TGA so that it is highlighted.
5. Click the “Advanced” button at the bottom of the panel.
6. You should now see the “Edit File Type” panel.
7. Click the “New…” button.
8. In the “Action:” box type “TGA to VTF”.
9. Now click the “Browse…” button and locate your vtex.exe file. (It will be in “bin” directory wherever you have installed HL2. For example c:\hl2\bin)
10. The “Application used to perform action:” box should now read something like “C:\...\hl2\bin\vtex.exe" (the path may vary in yours).
11. Click in the little box next to “Use DDE".
12. In the “Application” box type “vtex”.
13. In the “Topic” box type “System”.
14. Hit OK on all the panels to accept the changes.

You can now right-click on any .tga file that you have an existing .vmt for and select the “TGA to VTF” option and Vtex will recompile your texture. This is useful for when you make changes to a texture you have previously compiled.

I found out that this works better if your tgas are in


If you have them there, the vtfs will be placed in

user\half-life 2\hl2\materials\textures

("user" is your user name in the steam folder)

Originally posted in HERE

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Player Icons Tutorial

So, you just created a new player skin, but when you go to select it, it still shows the original default skin. How to fix that? Well, you can create a new menu icon so that your cool custom skin shows up in the menu too.

What you need

Vtex tools
TGA Thumb Plug
Photoshop 7 with tga plugin, 7.1 or CS
Knowledge of basic DOS commands and
Knowledge of alpha channels

The original texture is found in:
"user\half-life 2 deathmatch\hl2mp\materials\VGUI\playermodels"
Open the texture in photoshop, This will be for reference purposes only, since we will create a new one from scratch.
Create a new file 256 x 256 and fill it with 75% grey, create a new layer and fill it with black. We'll get back to it later.
Look at the original file. Notice how the player's picture is cut off at the bottom and right side? There's a 56 pixel margin that you need to take into account, since the window in the menu is 200 x 200 pixels. In the new picture, create margins to define your work area.
Make a screenshot of your skin, preferably with a solid background. Cut out your player (use the pen tool or the lasso to make a selection) and paste it on the new file you created. Resize it until it fits in the work area and delete everything that sticks out.
Duplicate the layer and, using brightness/contrast, make it white. Link the white sillohuette and the black layer and merge them. Select all and copy it, then open the channels. Create a new one and paste your image on it. You should have a black square with a white sillohuette. Go back to the layers and delete the black and white picture. We won't need it anymore. Flatten the layers and save it, using the same name as the original, convert it to vtf and that's it.

Skinning Tutorial

HL2 Skinning Guide
By Fragger


Intermediate to advanced

What you need

vtf2tga converter
TGA Thumb Plug
Photoshop 7 with tga plugin, 7.1 or CS
Knowledge of basic DOS commands and
Knowledge of alpha channels

What you'll do

In this tutorial you will:

Set up your directories and files
Extract the original textures from the gcf
Convert the textures to tga so you can edit them
Edit the textures (you need to know how to do this already)
Convert the edited textures back to vtf
Set up your skins to be published

Setting up your directories and files

Start by creating a new folder in C:\ and name it "vtex".
Open "vtex" and create more folders in it using the following structure:


Install tga thumb. This will allow you to see thumbnails of the images in the folder before you open them. Less guess work. Make sure to have thumbnail view enabled (right-click a blank area of the folder and select "view>thumbnails").

Extracting the textures

Run GCFscape
Extract all files from “source materials.gcf” into “C:/HL2”
That will place all your textures into a new folder named "root/hl2/materials".

Converting the textures

Open the "vtf2tga" zip
Copy all the files in it
For this tutorial, we will use the pistol. Open "C:\hl2\root\hl2\materials\Models\Weapons"
In it, open "v_pistol" and paste the files you copied. Run "vtf2tga.bat". When asked if you want to delete the originals, press "y" and "enter".
Open "w_pistol"and repeat. You should now be able to see the textures and work with them.

Editing the textures

Well, only you know what you want to do to the textures. Make sure to edit both textures, or it will look dumb if you see a black gun on the floor and have it magically change when you pick it up. The v_ texture is the first-person view (in your hand) and the w_ texture is the 3rd person view (on the floor and other players hands).
Do NOT save the textures in the same folder! Doing that would overwrite them and then you'd have to extract them again. Save the finished textures as a tga, 32 bit and put them in the "C:\work\hl2\materialsrc\textures" folder.
Follow the instructions to convert the textures using right-click and convert the textures. Your vtf will go into "C:\program files\...\user\steamapps\half-life 2\hl2\materials\textures"
You can save your tgas into a new folder or delete them.
Once converted, create a new folder and name it "mynewskin" or whatever you want. In that folder, create the following folders:

For MP

half-life 2 deathmatch

For SP

half-life 2

Recreate the original folder structure with "materials" as the root folder and put your vtf files where they belong.
Put "materials" in hl2mp (hl2 for SP), make a new zip (compressed) folder in "mynewskin" (XP users: don't use any programs, just use the defaul windows program) and drag the "half-life 2 deathmatch" folder into it.
Test it. If it doesn't work, go through the steps again and make sure you didn't mess anything up.

Well, I guess that's it. Make a cool picture showing off your skin, write a good readme file and submit it to your favorite site.

Hope you found this helpful.


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