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Creating your own decals - A Tutorial for Counter-Strike 1.6

Something useful I learned over the months of mapping with VHE.

Introduction

Over the months of mapping, I've learned some neat tricks that you can use to make your maps look really interesting. There are many things that can do this, but for the moment I'm going to talk about the use of decals. Decals are useful for adding character to your map as you can paint dirt, cracks, grime and lettering onto a wall turning it into something cool to look at.

This tutorial is classed as "Intermediate", as you should be able to already place decals in your map.

What defines a decal? 

A decal is really just a semi-transparent texture, drawn on-top of another texture, to make it seem like it was painted on. Now how does GoldSrc know to make this texture semi-transparent? What it does is, sets all textures in the "decals.wad" WAD file, that have the prefix "{", and turns any whiteness in them, into transparency.

Sounds complicated maybe, but once I go through how to create your own decals, it'll hopefully make sense to you.

Creating decal textures, step-by-step 

1

The first you think you want to do is draw out the decal you'd like to add in your map. Use any program you like to do this (I use the image editor from an application called "Game Maker"). The most important part about this process is that you have to make sure your image is entirely gray-scale (No colour what-so-ever) and the name has prefix "{". Here's an image of the decal I will use called {lol:



Remember that the darker parts will be more solid than the lighter parts (White = invisible)

2

 Next, you want to save this file as a BMP image. If your software doesn't support this type, use Irfanview to convert it, while keeping it at best quality.

3

Then, open up Wally texture editor, load "decals.wad" and import the image -- if you do not have this program, you can download it here. Now, open up your decal to start editing in Wally.



4

This step is critical for your decal to appear normally in your map: If you open up other decals in the "decals.wad" file, you'll notice their colour palettes will be different from the one you just imported. What you must do is save the palette of any other decal, and then load it into your decal (Colors -> Load Palette.../Save Palette...). The difference will look something like this:



5

Finally, you may choose what colour you would like your decal to be by changing the colour of the last palette index. Open your decal image and go "Colors -> Edit Palette..." and then click on the bottom-right block to select it. I'm using yellow in this example:



Now just save your WAD file and voila, you can add your decal to your map!

We're not done yet though... 

The final issue - an annoying one at that - is that decals may appear to be reversed (or flipped horizontally), when on certain faces of blocks in your map. This is what I mean:



It may seem like an impossible thing to solve as decals can't be edited with the texture editor in hammer. However, there's a trait that decals have, which is that they will mimic the properties of the texture that they're drawn onto. So, if you scale you texture, the decal will too be scaled; if you rotate it, the decal will follow suit. You see where I'm getting at? No? You just gotta scale the wall your decal is on by -1 (i.e 0.75 goes to -0.75). This is what I did, here's it working now: 



And this is how a wall may look with a few custom decals: 


If you're having problems, check the following:
  • your decal's image name starts with "{"
  • your decal is absolutely gray-scale
  • you're using the same palette as other decals
  • your decal is saved in "decals.wad" 

Thanks for reading! 

-Glock18
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    You shouldn't mess with decals.wad unless you are making your own mod
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    When i make this in my map looks like this http://prikachi.com/images/750/7730750l.jpg How to fix this from the far the text is with a background black if you are near the text the text is (black colour) How to fix this !!
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    7y
    > **Posted by Anonymous** > > Hi, I like your idea, but... > What if two mappers do this with different decal.wad? On the server there can be only one decal.wad, am I right? Well if you include the res in both, it may download the latest version of each one, each time. If not, then yeah it is a little tricky. I just found a file called "tempdecal.wad" in cstrike. I guess you could add your own decals to this and simply update everytime.
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    Hi, I like your idea, but... What if two mappers do this with different decal.wad? On the server there can be only one decal.wad, am I right?
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    > **Posted by OsirisGodoftheDead** > > Really good tutorial. I was wondering how GoldSource engine games decided the color of decals. One problem though. Won't each server have its own decals.wad, preventing you from distributing it with your map? Unless this works with compiled textures. Well, actually if you provide a .res* file and add decals.wad to it, it should download the latest version. I'm not sure if admins would be happy about overwriting everyone's file though. *A res file is a text document that lists all files included in your map. When admins play a server the .res file will download all necessary files into each players computer. Thanks for your comment, btw bro!
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  • Really good tutorial. I was wondering how GoldSource engine games decided the color of decals. One problem though. Won't each server have its own decals.wad, preventing you from distributing it with your map? Unless this works with compiled textures.
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    been looking for a tut like this that actually works! thanks a million for teaching us.
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    Definitely a good tutorial for those who want to create decals for Counter-Strike maps. Good work mate. :)
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    helpful tutorial :D
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    **Pros:** - cool
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