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Using Tools Textures: Part 1 - A Tutorial for Counter-Strike: Source.

Using Tools Textures - Part 1

You either came here out of interest or you have no idea what to do with tools textures and that's why your reading this. Either way lets just get on with it shall we. I'm going to be starting off with one that rarely gets used at all but is so handy even to the most basic of mappers out there. What is going to be covered in this tutorial will be the following: ~Toolsskip/Hint - Use alongside other Tools Textures (Hint in this tutorial) ~Toolsskip - Use in precise model placement

Toolsskip

This tool is in actually fact, nothing, absolutely nothing at all, it doesn't effect anything ingame, doesn't appear ingame ( Unless applied to a displacement of course ) or add any extra information into your bsp in the likes of vvis vrad or bsp. It is in all respects simply a mapping tool that only helps you in hammer. This is a very handy tool for those that optimize their maps and also like to use a lot of precision work with model placement as well. Its name is skip because that is what the engine does, when compiling it just skips over that face and completly ignores it, doesn't exist in its eyes. So how can a completly invisible and pointless texture be used? well I'll take you through some examples of basic use. I'm going to start with the most normal use of this texture which is the optimizing phase of mapping. When optimizing a map and building each vis group by hand you will need to use the toolshint texture to help the engine know where to cut up the vis leafs, now when you place a brush in the map entirely covered with this texture, thats bad, because it will slice up the leafs along all the sides and make things messy and complicated, so to help keep things clean and tidy and ultimately perform smoothly, we are going to have to start using the toolsskip texture So lets say we have a door into a room here, as in this screenshot. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us And since we have a distrust of the engines ability of building vvis on its own, we are going to force it to make vis leafs for this entrance. I recommend creating an entire block using the skip texture that touches all the edges of the doorway and then using the texture application tool to select the front and back faces of our door and applying toolshint to the brush as such: Image Hosted by ImageShack.us So now there is a face flush with both the front of the wall and back of the wall textured in toolshint. This allows the engine to just cut the leafs without having to think on its own on whether or not to do it itself. This also helps in the end as an automated vvis is rather chaotic at times and leaves things rendered when they shouldn't be and just a single one of these in the right place can make all the difference in the world. Placing these on all doors, hallway corridors, windows, and any other sealable areas will make compiling a map much faster, but ONLY if you use toolsskip will it work properly, DON'T use nodraw as nodraw WILL cut up your bsp and be solid. Texturing the entire brush in hint as well may cause more damage than what you intended. *Note - This is just a very basic intro to the Hint brush, more detail will be given to it in the later tutorials, Alternate use for Toolsskip: Model Placement, You may not have thought much about it much but I'm sure any mapper that has gotten used to handling props of any type before has hit this problem. Models are not exactly lined up or fit perfectly to the grid in hammer, nor will they ever be I suspect, as even a perfect 64x64x64 model crate still overlaps the grid around it. While yes you can move the models along each axis in the units that you have set, when trying to get them to line up with your world geometry you have to struggle at times to not have them inside a wall or floating somewhere. And using this texture once again we can help this problem. the model I'm going to be using in this example is models/props/cs_assault/fireescape_bottom.mdl the hammer dimensions for this particular model is 133.4x65.9x193.7 Not the best of sizes to be moving around in hammer to place one walls. So lets say for example that your making an urban area along the lines of cs_assault, now most realistic buildings have fire escapes as they are required by law, so most of your buildings are going to be needing them somewhere and they are cheap and easy eye candy to add to your map. Now, this is where that wonderful problem comes into play, you cannot line it up with the wall of the building quite right, it will either be floating off the wall or sunk into it a bit, so if your a perfectionist ( or close to one anyways ) and want them all to be the same. Selecting each model and moving it as required dozens of times for each model to get it just right can be painful. So lets make our job a bit easier to copy and move props in hammer. First off, I'm just going to add in the prop next to my building face like so, and I've moved it normally in hammer view to as close as I can to the wall, Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Now even though it looks like its perfect, its not quite, its sunk into the wall a few units, and I don't want it to be. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us So using a trick from making surf maps and the like, Hold down your ALT key ( Doesn't matter which one ) and then zoomed in as much as you can, move your prop until its lined up alongside the grid line you want. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Now the placement of the model is done, this is the only fine editing your going to have to do, so for the countless other copy's of the model you do not need to do that work. So lets get onto the how shall we. Make your grid size larger than you would normally use, I set mine to 32 as we can move it around easier afterwords and quicker to use. What we are going to do is make sure we have the toolsskip texture selected and then create a big block brush that is larger than the models bounding box in all directions, should look something like this. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us With this selected use your camera view to go inside the brush and select the model. in grid view right click and select "Group" Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Congratulations, you now have a model that will be perfectly flush along a brush face AND you can move it easily now without having to worry about it moving away from that surface. This is also very handy for light models as well to line a hallway and have them perfectly spaced between each-other Using this specific grouping I can hold shift and move another copy higher above and give it the next model in the line of the fire escape without taking the steps required to make it line up perfectly because of the use of the toolsskip block. I only had to move it up 4 grid spaces at 32 setting and it lines up vertically with the previous one, so I also did the top model as well really quickly. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us So something that could have been painful to get those three models to line up on just that one building face just became a whole lot simpler. This can be extremely useful if you apply it to the right places, some models are fine to move about hammer with no problems but some are touchy, ie Dust windows, and could use this technique to make the map easier to build and less frustrating. Now, you can compile your map with all these blocks around your models that needed them and it doesn't complicate anything or add length to the compile, but if you prefer to not have them and delete them/add a visgroup and hide them for compiling then go right ahead, its all personal preference. That concludes the main uses for toolsskip, in the later tools tutorials I will be stepping back now and again to this texture as it is quite handy and required to use alongside others.
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  • Logan Dougall avatar
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    Posted by SGT_kick_ur_ass Some images are missing here.
    ah, thanks for noticing, these ones I do have backed up, will upload to dropbox when I get back tonight.
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    Some images are missing here.
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    StoneBlood Joined 15y ago
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    Notes: Well written I needed to know what toolskip was because I seen many zps maps use it and I thought it might help improve fps and compile times.
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    Posted by abominable37 I don't see how using Skip for model placement helps over any other transparent texture, but ok, and also just a tip about the fire escapes, you could just use the "Paste Special" command and then raise it up by an estimated value (most likely 128 for those fire escapes). Hot key for Paste Special: Ctrl + SHIFT + V
    The invisible texture would be solid, cut up visleafs and therefore not usable, Nodraw can cause holes/lines to appear in other brush's where they intersect and generally doesn't help you in hammer view when trying to get a good idea on how things are set up. Also the nodraw texture cuts up visleafs, which we don't want in this case as it would make the compile longer and messy. Trigger could perhaps be used but generally leave those to entity and action events for organizations sake and troubleshooting later on. So its still my belief that skip is the only appropriate texture to use in this situation because it doesn't have anything at all to do with the finished map. It simply does not exist in a bsp in any way shape or form. It is more or less the Hammer Only Tool, all others effect the game. Granted, moving the model either via the transform tool by incremental values could be used, trail and error does tend to get annoying and lengthy, ALT is quick and easy for mappers imo. Very few models have perfect units after all, I could have picked a better model to illustrate this point more but I chose one to show off the prefab capabilities of toolsskip in the end. I'm not attacking you in any way, you have valid points, I'm just voicing what I know.
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    abominable37 Joined 16y ago
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    I don't see how using Skip for model placement helps over any other transparent texture, but ok, and also just a tip about the fire escapes, you could just use the "Paste Special" command and then raise it up by an estimated value (most likely 128 for those fire escapes). Hot key for Paste Special: Ctrl + SHIFT + V
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    Very nice Tut!!
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    Posted by Buzzy Pros: Good enlish (most of the time) easy to understand USEFULL Improvements: Maybe a little more about cutting up VISleaves? I think there is an pretty well written explenation of how VISLEAVES work on the sourcesdk website.
    This tutorial isn't about any vvis editing at all, its all about toolsskip, I'll be getting to the other textures shortly, I only used hint quickly as its the most common texture to use alongside toolsskip and the most known as well. All the other textures are going to get their own moment in the sun, just be patient. Lost,
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    Pros: Good enlish (most of the time) easy to understand USEFULL Improvements: Maybe a little more about cutting up VISleaves? I think there is an pretty well written explenation of how VISLEAVES work on the sourcesdk website.
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    Yeh! n1 keep making tuts like this and i will be a egg head lol! ty
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    Very well written and useful. I always like seeing tutorials which teach me something new.
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