How to Edit Materials in Any Source Game.




Every single thing I make is from trash, I can't throw anything out! Well, most things are. Do yo...

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!

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

Feedback is lovely!
Please rate and comment!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

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:

A program used to open GCFs "Game Cache Files", which are actually folders containing all the games files.
Get it here:

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:

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

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.

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!

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

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?
And you're done editing it, and want to cram it into the game?

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.
"program" might still be "programs" or "program files". You should know this.

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!

Be the First to Share


    • Home Decor Contest

      Home Decor Contest
    • Furniture Contest

      Furniture Contest
    • Reuse Contest

      Reuse Contest

    63 Discussions

    "I use mspaint, but photoshop is probably better."
    Probably? lmao

    Anyway, nice instructable, well written.
    Hopefully it gets a few people into skinning.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    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.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    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.

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

    I'M at C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\bigbrainkid\portal\portal, but there doesn't seem to be a materials folder.


    3 years ago

    Found it, it's changed since this guide was made, the files are now in



    3 years ago

    There are no such files in my steamapps..? Help? Btw, I'm also Swedish :3


    3 years ago

    Help! I bought and downloaded Portal, installed it probably, but i can't find Portal/Portal/Materials/Models/ anywhere!?


    3 years ago

    I went to steamapps, but there is not a single thing exept for some folders!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yeah, the guy who made this is a bit on the dumb side in terms of leading you to where you need to be.


    From there, where-ever the files you need are stored.

    Whovian Gamer

    4 years ago

    Can somebody please help me. I do not seem to have any of the GCFs for any of my source games, but I have run them all multiple times and I acquired each game from Steam. Why do I not have them and how do I correct this problem?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    dude after we have edited the jpg image what has to be done do we have to change it back into VTF or what

    Could somebody help me? The files with the blue cube icons are not showing up in my steam apps folder.


    Can someone help me? The files with the blue icons are not showing up in my steam apps folder. Is there any way to fix this?


    Can someone help me? The files with the blue icons are not showing up in my steam apps folder. Is there any way to fix this?