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How to edit materials in any source game.

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If you've ever played a source game (hl2, css, portal), you have probably seen one or more materials that just wasn't good enough. It is also likely you have thought "What if i could edit this?" With these steps, you can!

note:
It doesn't have to be steam, as long as it has a .gcf library and uses the source engine
Also:
First instructable!

Feedback is lovely!
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Step 1: You need programs.

Neither can you find, nor can you edit the materials without any additional programs.
These are your saviors in that matter:

GCFscape:
A program used to open GCFs "Game Cache Files", which are actually folders containing all the games files.
Get it here:
http://nemesis.thewavelength.net/index.php?p=26

VTFedit:
While browsing the gfc, this program is used to open VTFs "Valve Texture File" These are the materials and sprites used in your game of choice.
Get it here:
http://nemesis.thewavelength.net/index.php?c=178

Step 2: Working GCFscape

Run GCFscape, and click on the "open" button. (under file...)

A new window pops up saying "open package". Here you browse your way to
C:\Program\Steam\steamapps

note: where i wrote "program", on you computer it might say "programs" or "program files". On Windows 7 64 bit, it's "Program Files (x86)"

When you're there, you'll find several files with blue cubes as icons. These are the GCFs.

Now, if you want to edit portal files, double click "portal content" (if you have portal,that is. It will work with any other game, yet portal will be my example)

At this point you will find folders. Click on the folder with the game's name, and then the materials folder.

Browse around until you find a VTF (not vmt) file that seems interesting, and open it with VTFedit.

Important!
Memorize the path!
Such as: Portal/Portal/Materials/Models/Props

Step 3: Working VTFedit

Despite the name, VTFedit does not edit.
It merely turns your materials into regular image files. Then you can go on an editing rampage!

Note
converting a .vtf into .jpg or whatever does not remove the vtf, but creates an image file with the same name!
Next step!

Step 4: The editing

Finally!
I get to edit it!
Open the converted image and do your thing!
I use mspaint, but photoshop is probably better.

Step 5: Making the texture possible to use

So you exported a texture?
Good.
And you're done editing it, and want to cram it into the game?
Alright.

Now go open up VTFedit one last time.

Click on:
File > Import
Then browse to where you saved the edited texture and click "Open"
A window full of various settings will pop up. Click "OK"
Don't change anything here unless you really know what you're doing

Now you should have your edited texture in VTFedit.
Click on:
File > Save as
Save it as a VTF texture.
Remember to keep the original name of the texture!

Bam, now you have an edited VTF texture ready for use.
On to the next step!

Step 6: Using your texture

Remember step 2?
Where I, while using GCFscape, wrote "remember the path"?
That was important.

Now, if your GCFscape path was
"Source Materials.gcf \hl2\materials\props_borealis\bluebarrel001.vtf"

You must put your finished texture here:
C:\Program\Steam\steamapps\ [Your steam account name here] \half-life 2\hl2\materials\models\props_borealis
If that folder does not exist, make a new folder with that name.
note:
"program" might still be "programs" or "program files". You should know this.

Congratulations
There. You can now open, edit, use and abuse any source material file!

Another note:
Animated, bump-mapped, glowing and transparent materials are all much more complex, and i don't know how to work with those.

Step 7: Update

I've found that the free and ever so lovely image editor paint.NET can be used to edit VTFs directly, making VTFedit somewhat obsolete.

For this to work, however, you need to download a VTF plugin for paint.NET, which can be found here.
Also, paint.NET can be found here.

Man. Things are so easy nowadays, there's barely any fun to it!

Anyways, happy smurfing!
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"I use mspaint, but photoshop is probably better."
Probably? lmao

Anyway, nice instructable, well written.
Hopefully it gets a few people into skinning.
dude- you have to use a program that recognizes transparency: MS paint doesn't
do that.
Kirbsome! (author)  anonymousrandomguy4 years ago
Thanks for the feedback!
YouDucks322 years ago
There is no 'Steam' folder in my Program Files. ?
it might be program files / 86 or something like that
Kirbsome! (author)  YouDucks322 years ago
What operating system do you use? On Windows 7 64bit, it's in
C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam. I'll add this to the instructable now.
Also, if you're using a pirated game you might not even have steam.
bigbrainkid4 years ago
It's a nice instructable, but I have one question. I'm editing the metal_box.vtf texture so that all cubes look like companion cubes, but I can't figure out where to save it to. I followed the destination and everything.
Kirbsome! (author)  bigbrainkid4 years ago
...\portal\portal\materials\models\props
I'M at C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\bigbrainkid\portal\portal, but there doesn't seem to be a materials folder.
Kirbsome! (author)  bigbrainkid4 years ago
so make a new one
SG MarA6 months ago

Hello, i tried to create a skin for the portal gun, but I can't load it in my game like he doesn't exist. All of tutorial i see say you must create a folder 'materials' or 'custom', but still doesn't worked, so if you can help me with that :)

Have a nice day (sry for my bad english)

Kirbsome! (author)  SG MarA6 months ago

Did you save it in .VTF format?

Galore430610 months ago
Can someone help please? I have portal but there's no portal content. Can someone help?
Kirbsome! (author)  Galore430610 months ago
Have you installed, and played the game via steam?

Did you actually buy the game?
Hey can you find me the jel and the jel dispenser from portal? and possibly an .avi or something? i want to use it for a movie. if you cant its ok..
THANKS!
Kirbsome! (author)  megadarkwood2 years ago
I'm guessing you mean the mobility gels from portal 2?
.avi is a video format. All in-game textures are in .vtf (and possibly .tga) format.
You'd probably be better off just recording the game with fraps or something.

If you really want to find those files, look for them yourself. I don't mean to be rude or anything, just consider it a learning experience.
Yes and ok. Thanks for ur reply tho and sorry for my late one
GLaDOS V32 years ago
How do I do this to The Orange Box for xbox 360?
Kirbsome! (author)  GLaDOS V32 years ago
I have no idea. As far as I know, The Orange Box was ported to X360 by EA, and has loads of differences from the PC version.
could you do this on any xbox 360 game?
Kirbsome! (author)  GLaDOS V32 years ago
What?
I just said I don't even know how the Source engine works on 360.
Now you're asking me about all the other games?
GLaDOS V32 years ago
what file is that?
Kirbsome! (author)  GLaDOS V32 years ago
If you mean the Weighted Companion Cube, it's located in
materials/models/props/metal_box_skin001.vtf
Garys mod rocks and who is that smily face guy
his name is the awesome face
no it's epic face
Kirbsome! (author)  albylovesscience4 years ago
garrysmod owns indeed, it is awesome smiley

(if you liked it, download is www.garrysmod.org/downloads/?a=view&id=74574)
for the people who don't own Garry's Mod:



sorry, you have never expiericed awesomenesss before
Spencer . D2 years ago
Can you do this in mine craft
Kirbsome! (author)  Spencer . D2 years ago
Actually, it's much easier in minecraft. In the minecraft.jar file it's just a plain PNG file. There are plenty of tutorials on making "texture packs", just google it.
that helps with my plans.also- to find your .minecraft file click on run in you thing that says windows & type '%appdata%
bkidwell2 years ago
how do i add my .vtf pic back to the game immmm sooooo confused but ur great maybe you can help
Kirbsome! (author)  bkidwell2 years ago
You need to be more detailed be fore I can help you. Do you have the .VTF? Are you confused about where to put it? Is there a problem with exporting the file from VTFedit?
mkarafiat2 years ago
can you do this in need for speed undercover
Kirbsome! (author)  mkarafiat2 years ago
I don't know anything about that game. If it's a Source game, the process should go smoothly.
TekoMuto3 years ago
snooPing as usual I see....
zigzagchris3 years ago
Defacing Companion Cube...
Kirbsome! (author)  zigzagchris3 years ago
Well, what are you going to do about it? Threaten to stab me?
milospalic14 years ago
wich file i must put in, the jpg i tried it but i cant put it in this folder :( i'm totaly confused
Kirbsome! (author)  milospalic14 years ago
So am I, you really must be more descriptive.
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