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Skinning Half-Life 2 models

A Tutorial for Half-Life 2

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Learn how to replace textures in Half-Life 2

0. What will you need

  • GCFScape - to open Source Engine Archives
  • VTFEdit - to open .vtf files which store the textures
  • GIMP or another graphics editor

1. Get the textures

The textures are stored inside archives of the .vpk format, which can be opened using GCFScape.

Open GCFScape and click File > Open, then go to located in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Half-Life 2\hl2 which is where the texture vpk is stored in. Inside is a file called hl2_textures_dir.vpk. Open it.

When you open it, the files inside the vpk will appear. Now you need to find the model you want to edit the texture for. For example most character models are in ../materials/models Please remember the folder structure, as you will needed for the installation of the new texture.

For the tutorial, I'll edit Alyx's body texture, that is in the ../materials/models/alyx folder and named alyx_sheet.vtf. In here we will find the .vtf files, which on double click open up VTFEdit we installed earlier. It will look like this:

But you can't edit it yet. You need to export it to PNG. You can do that by clicking File > Export and selecting PNG in the type select

2. Edit it

Now you can open the exported file with a graphics editor, I'm using Photoshop. Let your creativity run wild! As an example I created this:

3. Replacing the texture in-game

Now that you have your texture saved into a PNG, you can't just place it back into the vpk. First you'll need to make it back into a VTF. Open VTFEdit and click File > Import and select your PNG texture. When a dialog box opens, just click OK.

When the texture succesfully loads, select File > Save as and save the file with the same name as the VPK file from which you have gotten the texture. For example because my texture is from alyx_sheet.vtf I need to name this one alyx_sheet.vtf.

To make the texture appear in game, you need to make a folder named custom inside your ../common/Half-Life 2/hl2 folder. Inside the custom folder, make a folder with some random name. Inside it make the same folder structure like the one inside the original .vpk file from which you got the .vtf file. For example here is my file structure:

4. Test

Now you just need to test it! Launch Half-Life 2 and get playing!

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  • Reverend V92 avatar
    Reverend V92 username pic Joined 9y ago
    HL2 Manager
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    access_time 1mo
    Recommending MSPaint isn't really a good idea. GIMP is free and does that job better.
    • Согласен x 1
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    Source Engine Wizard
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  • johnyonghwang1 avatar
    johnyonghwang1 Joined 5y ago
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    Hey dude can you make a tutorial about how to
    replace map textures with differently sized textures, while maintaining the original alignment
    Shitpost Extraordinaire
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  • Asais10 avatar
    Asais10 Joined 2y ago
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    Here's a tip for some people:

    Some textures (at least for me) do not export properly and appear corrupted when you export them as .png, but .bmp works fine. So, if the texture you're using doesn't export properly as a .png, use .bmp.
    • Помог x 1
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  • Greig avatar
    Greig Joined 2y ago
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    Good thing I figured this all out myself
    I'm going to B-hop my way out
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  • Lambda logo avatar
    Lambda logo Joined 7mo ago
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    Although I know how to do all this, but the tutorial turned out great! It will definitely help novice users.
    URL to post:
  • tom avatar
    tom username pic Joined 18y ago
    Ripe Supporter TBS2 Manager Super Admin
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    test 1 2 3
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    Awesome tutorial, thank you!
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    testing 1234 222
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hernik avatar
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Made the tutorial


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