The softimage Mod tool is the free modeling program used by Valve to create their models for HL2. I don't like it and much prefer 3D Max, but that ISN'T free - so assuming you are like me and want to try the FREE one, get ready to start pulling out your hair and swearing a lot. Preparation:
You will need to have Steam installed, as well as the Softimage Mod Tool version 4.2, which you can download from soft image Or search for it:
look for "softimage mod tool" or "setup\_XSIDEMO\_Mod\_Tool\_7\_5\_203\_win32.exe" Here it is on Download.com Don't bother with the downloading the documentation. It's all online and mostly useless - if you want, you can always go back and download it later and then find out how useless it is for yourself. From that page, you need to download and install the Softimage Mod Tool v.4.2 Software AND the Mod Tool Add-On for Valve Source I also suggest you download the image editing program Gimp, from http://www.gimp.org/ It does just about everything Photoshop does, but its free (I also like it better, but that could just be me). It also allows you to convert just about any file type to the TGA format you will need to get your custom textures into the game. Assuming you can get that installed, start it up. Tutorial:
- Your newly installed softimage takes a while to initiate so be patient. When it first opens there is a "Netview" window that is mostly white. Close it using the X in the top right corner of the "Netview" window.
- You are now faced with a main display made up of a standard windows style menu bar along the top (File, Edit, Application, etc.), a series of buttons down the left side under a purple tab labeled Model, toolbar buttons along the top, a main central section split into four views (top, camera, front, right) and another series of buttons and stuff on the right, under a grey tab-like thing Layers. Select is just below that, with a green arrow in a circle. Big note here: This is not the selection tool tip button I reference in the rest of the text. The Selection Tool Tip group are the ones right under the words Render, Simulate and Layers. They look like a triangle alone or with a dot or a line or a pink polygon. Those are the selection tool bar buttons (circled in RED in figure 1). Remember that. You use them ALL the time.
- To start with, I'm just going to make a chair. Later on I'll give more info on something more complex (a police car). So, on the left side purple menu Model, you will see "Get" and below that buttons for Primitive, Camera, Light, and so on. Choose Primitive-Polygon Mesh-Cube (circled in YELLOW in figure 1). It looks sort of like this (left side of the screen, top half): Model
- A sub window pops up. Here you can adjust the initial size of the cube and how many divisions it has and so on. Just ignore all that and click the close the sub window X.
- You should now have a white outlined cube in the Camera view, and white squares in each of the Top, Front and Right views.
- Now for some important set-up stuff. From the top drop down menus choose View. Go all the way to the bottom of that very long list and choose Display Options of All Cameras. Go to the Performance tab and check the Backface Culling box (you want it selected). Close that Display Options window. What you just did will make sure what you see in the camera view matches what you see in the HL2 engine.
- Go to the Camera view window pane and click on the Wireframe drop down list (it says Wireframe with an arrow pointing down right under the second e in textured). Choose Textured Decal (circled in PINK in figure 1). The cube should now look see-through grey. Time to play with the camera views.
- The camera controls are in the tool bar at the top of the screen. There are two that look like playstation controllers, a camera, some recycle arrows, a down arrow, a hand, a magnifying glass and another arrow circle. Choose the recycle arrows to the left of the down arrow. This is the Camera Orbit Tool (circled in GREEN in figure 1). When selected your mouse pointer looks like the button picture. In the camera view, click and drag the left mouse button around to rotate your cube. That will most likely be the only camera button you will use.
- In softimage, press the 'Z' key. Your mouse cursor will change to a magnifying glass with arrows around it. If you click and hold the left mouse button you move the cube around in the view. Clicking the right button will zoom out, but be careful, it does it really fast. To zoom back in, use Shift+Z to drag a selection box. When you release the mouse key, the view will zoom in to the area you selected.
- Now to "Transform" the cube. Click on the select tool button. It is the triangle pointing up and a bit to the left, just under the Render top drop down menu (circled in RED in figure 1). A tool tip pops up is you hover over the button a bit (that works with almost all the controls - as a way to find out what something is - just don't expect it to be very helpful). Click on your cube and nothing should change. It should still be outlined with white edges. Under the "Transform" section on the lower right side of the screen are nine text boxes with x, y or z beside them (outlined in yellow in figure 1 is the scale section of the transform thing). For each grouping there is either an 's',' 't or 'r'. 's' is for scale, 'r' for rotate and 't' for translate (move). Now let's make the cube shorter. It looks something like this:
- Select the 's' (scale) transform button, and the 'y' button for that section (it's the first y under the transform heading - moving from top to bottom).
(The selected buttons are capitalized and doubled)
Transform 1 x SS 1 YY (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #You are now going to scale the cube along the y axis. In all the views, the y axis will now be colored green. Click your left mouse button in any view with a y axis in it and move it up and down. The cube will scale along the y axis, becoming shorter or taller, depending on what you do. Note that it does it symmetrically, that is to say, you aren't just moving the top edge, both top and bottom are moving.
- Now try it in along the x axis. Click on the 'x' just above they y you currently have selected.
- Perhaps you want to scale the cube in all directions at once. To do this, instead of choosing x, y, or z, choose the "Scale tool with 3 axis" button, which is just to the right of the scale section 'z' and just above the rotate section 'r'. Now all three axis will be highlighted and the cube will scale in all three directions at the same time.
- HUGE note here. To undo anything, use Ctrl+Z. You will use this all the time, so get used to it. If you mess something up, it's better to undo it than to try and correct it. Undo it and try again. You can also undo quite a ways back, so be careful how many times you use it in a row without checking what is going on.
- Now you can scale your cube, try rotating and translating it! Translating moves the object about in the grid, and both controls work the same as the scaling one. They can operate in along a single axis or all three at the same time. Go ahead and play with it.
- Now, you will notice that your scaling, rotating and translating show the appropriate numbers in the text box next to the axis selection. You can enter numbers directly here, so you could put in 0.5 if you want something half the size it was (in the scale section).
- Once you have the cube or object where you want it and oriented how you want it, you have to do one more thing. With the object selected, choose
Transform - > Freeze All Transforms
from the main window drop down menu (just under the top of the window's blue title bar). What you will notice is that the rotation and translation settings are now set to zero, and the scaling factors are set to one.
Transform 1 x s 1 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #If you fail to do this, when you export your model to HL2, it will not have the object in the location you wanted it (even if it looked like it was in the correct place in softimage). The object will most likely be in its original position, or some other unwanted place. Remember this, because I guarantee you that you will back checking this again after you first view your model in the HL2 model viewer and say to yourself "Why is it all messed up? It looked fine in softimage?"
- Here's something to play with. Change the y translation value to 4 and press enter. Transform 1 x s 4 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z # The cube will move 4 grid units up. Now change the value to 2. The cube moves down 2 units. It is taking its position relative to the last place it was zeroed at (Freeze All Transforms). It didn't move it 6 units from its start place.
- Let's copy our cube now. Click on the object selection triangle tool bar thing to make sure you are selecting objects and select your box. Go to the main edit drop down menu. Choose Edit - > Dupliate/Instantiate - > Duplicate Single Your computer will make a bit of noise and then things will look the same.
- Now choose the y translate button and drag your cube up. What you will notice is that there are two of them. The duplicate was exactly lined up with the original. With the two cubes separated from each other, click on the on that isn't highlighted with white edges. Nothing should happen. To select the other cube, you have to go to object selection mode (triangle in area circled in RED in figure 1). You can now choose either cube. The selected object is the one with the white highlights.
- You should be able to scale, rotate and translate either cube, provided you are careful about which one is selected.
- Now, select one of the cubes and hit the delete key. It will be deleted, leaving you with one cube. Delete the remaining cube and start again. Go back and make a polygon mesh cube with the default size. Your camera views and such will remain where they were, they don't automatically re-set.
- With the new cube selected (which it should be by default), enter 0.25 in the y scaling text box.
- In the Selection Toolbar Button collection, choose the "Edge" button (the arrow pointing to a red edge in a unfilled polygon located in the RED circled area in figure 1). Your selected object will now have yellow highlighted edges.
- In the "Right"z view window, select the top edge of the box Note: you may have to zoom out to see it - remember, press 'z' key and then the right mouse button - and Shift+Z+left mouse button drag to zoom back in if you go too far. After you're done zooming, press the 'z' key again to go back into edge selection mode. The selected edge should now be red and appear so in all views where you can see it (including the camera). You can select edges in any of the views (usually you will usually use the camera view to find the edge you want). Also note that TWO edges were selected. To select only one, you have to use the Camera view.
- Time to learn the power key combination second only to Ctrl+Z Ctrl+Shift+A Repeat that to yourself over and over, it is now your mantra. This de-selects everything in the current selection mode. Now choose a single edge in the camera view. To do this you may have to rotate your cube so that you can see the edge you and be sure you only get that edge. This can be quite tricky, as it likes to select things behind as well - as long as they line up with your selection. Make sure of what you want and what you have selected. For a test, select some edge and then translate it in one axis.
- If you have selected only one edge, then your cube should warp into a wedge like shape. Use Ctrl+Z to undo this translation. I have found this is a good way to make sure you have the edge/point or object that you want.
- De-select everything (Ctrl+Shift+A) once you have your cube back to the ¼ height one it was before. Again, in the right view, select the top line. As before, you should now have two parallel lines edges selected on your cube.
- Press Shift+D to bring up the SubdivideEdge sub-menu. The subdivisions text entry is the number of pieces the edge will be split into. Leave it at 2 for this time. Close the sub-menu window.
- In the Top and Camera views, it should now be clear there is a new edge through the middle of the box. In your toolbar selection buttons, choose Point (the arrow pointing to a red dot in the RED circled area in figure 1). You are now in Point selection mode where you can see the points that make up this object - and it should be clear that the edge was sub-divided into two sections (circled in BLUE in figure 1).
- In the Right view, press Ctrl+Shift+A just to make sure no points are selected. Use the Shift+left mouse button drag to select the middle point at the top in the Right View. See how two points were selected - this is what you want.
- In the Transform area, set the z axis transform text to 2 and press enter. See how the selected points moved 2 grid units to the left (in the Right View).
- De-select everything (Ctrl+Shift+A) and switch to edge selection mode (the edge button in the RED circled area in figure 1).
- De-select everything again. Note that De-selection only affects the mode you are in, so de-selecting in point mode didn't de-select edges.
- In the Right View, drag select (press and drag the left mouse button) the top edge over toward the left side. It should now look like figure 2.
- Shift+D to bring up the sub-division menu. Leave the number at 2 and close the box.
- Switch back to point select mode. Use drag select to choose the two top left points in the right view.
- Change the value in the y translation box to 16. The points should shift up.
- De-select all (Ctrl+Shift+A).
- In the right view, drag select the third point on the top going right.
- Set the z value in translate to 2 and press enter. You should have an L shape in the right view window.
- Switch to Edge selection mode (edge button in RED circled area in figure 1)
- De-select all (Ctrl+Shift+A).
- In the Front view, drag select the middle line.
- Shift+D to bring up the sub-division menu.
- Change the number to 5 and close the box.
- You should now see the top section of you shape divided into 5 parts in the Top view.
- Switch to Point selection mode (point button in RED area in figure 1).
- De-select all.
- Drag select the middle edges two outermost points (front view) as shown in figure 3 (the selected points are the red ones).
- Set the y translation value to 8 and press enter.
- De-select all.
- Drag select the two points second from the bottom in the Front view.
- Set the x SCALE value to 3 and press enter.
- What you have now should look like a chair of sorts.
- Switch to object select mode and freeze all transforms (main drop down menu Transform-Freeze All Transforms).
- Note that you can free hand move all the points (rather than entering values in the transform text boxes) but I found this lead to some difficulties later on. What I suggest is to free-hand drag the thing into place, and then set the transform value to some round number. There is very fine precision in those, see how you can translate something 0.3477 grid units. I find it best to drag it to about where you want it and then change the value to a more reasonable number (whole numbers are best). So instead of shifting something 4.0015, make it 4. This will come in real handy when you are trying to line up another object. Try have:
- Speaking of that, let's try it. Add a new polygon mesh cube to your model. Just use default values. It should totally enclose your chair.
- Use your new found scaling and moving abilities to make a chair leg for your chair.
- Things you may notice. You original chair shape will now be de-selected. It's edges will be some other color - like black. Which can make them very hard to see.
- Take a look at figure 4 to see what I did. Notice how hard it is to see the black edges of the chair in the top, front and right views - if you can at all.
- Duplicate your leg and continue on until your chair has 4 legs.
- Note that you can select multiple object and then duplicate them at the same time. To select multiple objects, hold down the Ctrl key while selecting.
- When you are done, you should have a nice chair that looks like that in figure 4.
- Select one leg and the main chair body. From the left side of the screen, under "Create" with the purple tab-like background, you'll see "Poly.Mesh". Choose that and then Merge. Add another leg to the selection and repeat until you've got them all as one big object. You can try to do more at once, but I get a Java script error - so I do it a bit at a time. This is to merge your model into one piece and hopefully ensure it stays looking the same when you import it into HL2.
- When you're all done that, freeze all transforms again Transform - > Freeze All Transforms
- You can use Blend under that same menu to smooth out your model, but it will increase your triangle count and thus the impact it has on the HL2 engine and so on. If you are lucky, you will be able to make it look rounded by using a clever texture and thus avoid those extra polygons
Primitive - > Polygon Mesh - > Cube
Transform 1 x s 1 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #
Transform 1 XX SS 1 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #The x axis will now turn red. Just like the y axis, you can now scale the cube along the x axis. The same will be true for the z scaling as well.
Transform 1 x s 0.5 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #Rotations works on degrees, and translation works on grid coordinates. If you scale something negatively, you will mirror the object. If you want to re-set it, change the entry to zero (or 1 in the case of the scaling).
Transform 1 x s 0.25 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #Then press enter. Your cube should now be ¼ the height it used to be.
Transform 1 x s 4 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #Instead of:
Transform 1 x s 4.015 y (Scale section) 1 z # 0 x r 0 y (Rotate section) 0 z # 0 x t 0 y (Translate section) 0 z #