Welcome to Models, Skins and Animations for Dummies. I am Thomas “Editor321” Rogers and I will be walking you through this helpful starter guide for those who have just discovered the world of custom content.
This tutorial is to only appear on PlanetPhillip. Before we begin, please familiarize yourself with the following terms because you will need them for the tutorial. They will also be useful when posting on forums and in general; so people know what you are talking about when you ask questions.
A model is a 3D computerized image. They are made out of polygons which are any three sided shapes. These shapes are combined together to resemble a character or a weapon in the case of HL (Half Life). The more polygons, the better the model will look. See the two scientist models without the “skin” or texture.
The default HL scientist is shown on the left, while a custom one is shown on the right. The one on the right has a modeled: tie, belt, pen, ID card and hands. The one on the left has none of those things. The model on the left has 740 Polygons, the right has 3294 Polygons.
A skin is also called a texture. It covers all the white parts of the model with a skin that looks like its real life counter part. Some details of the model, instead of being modeled are skinned on to save polygons. In the old days polygons were demanding on the computer. Let’s look at our scientists again.
Well, it seems that the default model on the left has a skinned on tie and lab coat. While our custom one has it modeled with a texture. Textures can be changed like the face plate on a mobile phone. Textures are stored inside the .mdl file as a .bmp. You can export these .bmp and change them. We might get to that later.
Animations are what cause a model to move. A model has a skeleton like a human being, except much more simple. Each bone controls a segment of the body or object like a hand of a scientist or a magazine of a weapon. A sequence like a walk or reload is animations frame by frame just like a cartoon artist has then put them all together. The more bones, the more detailed the movement. Let’s check out our scientist buddies.
Well the scientist on the left has some bones, but the custom one on the right has more. We can see that during the animation, the scientists tie on the right moves because it has bones. We can also see that the bottom of his lab coat also has bones and can move.
Sounds are simply that. Sounds. If you hear it, there is a sound file that is played by the game. Most of the sounds are saved as a .wav file as 16-bit mono quality. Some sounds are recorded in a lower 8-bit quality but other than that, it's personal preference when it comes to sounds. However, some models, mostly custom ones, may use specific sounds that come with it. These have to be used with that model or no sound will play during the use of that model. Sounds also need to be placed is specific folders in your HL install to work properly. More on that later.
If you have ever played Doom, you know what a sprite is. The demons were sprites and so were the weapons. A sprite is a 2D picture that acts like a 3D one. Here's how it works: It’s a two dimensional picture that will always face you directly. Yet again, if you played Doom, you know that you could only look at the dead bodies of the demons one way. It will always stay in front of you so it appears like its 3D but its not. High end games don’t use them as much because they depend on high performance machines. Examples of sprites in HL are muzzle flashes, explosions, the crosshair, blood and etc.
The screenshot above shows the muzzle flash sprite as well as the H.U.D. (Heads Up Display)
Now that we have some basic terms defined, let’s move onto to models in HL and what they are. Most models have obvious names for what they are. But most of them have a prefix on the file name. All the weapons do anyway, so here is an explanation of the prefixes found on models:
Remember all the models you replace on your computer are only seen by you and not by other users. Models, sounds and sprites are all client side as in, the server does not have anything to do with them. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to downloading and installing these bad boy custom models and sounds. Follow the steps below:
Find a model on the internet and download it. Make sure you have a program that can extract Zips and Rar files. I highly suggest WinRar (which I will be using for this tutorial) which can be found at www.rarlabs.com.
In this tutorial I will be installing this Custom Handgun found here: http://planetphillip.filecloud.com/files/file.php?user_file_id=303852.
So download it and follow along.
With the file downloaded, I double click on the shotgun.rar file.
Now this shouldn’t be confusing if you read carefully and use some brain power. Most releases will not be packaged with folders already made, lthough some will. Now to the models.
They are all v_shotgun.mdl but there are six of them. The suffixies bs, op4 and hl mean for what game they are meant for.
(BS=Blueshift, OP4=Opposing Force, HL=Half Life)
There is no set standard among the community, so use your head. The suffix stock and nostock means there is or isn’t a stock on the shotgun. I want a shotgun with a stock just like the default. So I drag and drop v_shotgun_hl_stock.mdl onto my desktop.
Now, I need to change the name of the shotgun model name for it to work properly to v_shotgun.mdl. Now open Windows Explorer by holding down the Windows key and hitting E on the keyboard
Now go to where your Steam is installed and navigate to the following directory:
You should see a folder called valve. Open this folder. Inside the valve folder create a folder called “models”. Put the v_shotgun.mdl into this folder. Done. That's it. If the custom package includes a P or W model, you also put it in there.
Some releases come with a directory structure already, like so:
In this case, you can extract (or drag and drop) into the following directory:
You can preview your models before you get inside the game. Go to http://www.wunderboy.org/apps/jhlmv.php and Download Jed’s Half Life Model Viewer. With this you can view the models you download.
Just click the Weapon Origin and you can see exactly what it will look like ingame. From this tab you can click on the drop down menu where it says Animation Sequences and preview all the animations on the model. This is useful if the model has new animations that you are not sure you want to use.
This about concludes your crash course on Half Life Models, Skins and Animations. Please be advised that this is not a hold your hand tutorial. This is meant to educate you for the HL Custom Community so you know how to look for and install models, skins and sounds.
Thomas “Editor321” Rogers