Pick up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling. Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the wrong he unleashed back at Black Mesa. And a lot of people, people he cares about, are counting on him.

This tutorial will show you how to replace a Half-Life 2 skin with your own. You must know how to draw with Photoshop or another image editing tool and save as a TGA.

Posted by Mauritz on Aug 4th, 2005
Intermediate Skinning.

Do you have a cool skin that you want Alyx to use? Or have you got the mission to make a cool skin for your clan? Don't worry, Mauritz will help you.

[page=What you need]
To edit a skin, you need GCF Scape, VTF2TGA and VTF Tool.
GCF Scape is very useful if you want to look in the GCF files that Steam uses.
VTF2TGA will be used to make the VTF files (skins) to TGA files that you can edit with an image editing tool, such as Photoshop.
You need VTF Tool to make your finished TGA files to VTF files.
Place you files in a folder, so you can find them easily.
You must have Source SDK installed properly to use VTF Tool.

[page=Let's start!]
When you are ready, start GCF Scape and browse for "source materials.gcf" by pressing "File" and after that "Open".
The GCF files are in your "SteamApps" directory, e.g C:\Valve\Steam\SteamApps.

The window should look like this now:
Tutorial Image

Click on the small icon that says "root". A lot more icons should appear now. Press "hl2" and after that "materials". Click on models.
If you have done it right, the window should look like this.

Tutorial Image

Then do as the image shows you; right click on the "Breen" folder and choose "Extract".
Choose which folder you want to place the files in, e.g C:\My Skins.
When it's finished, go to the folder where you extracted the files. There should be 17 files
there. If not, extract the files again.
Now, it's time to make the VTF files to TGA files. To do this, you have to unzip the Zip file that contains VTF2TGA (vtf2tga.zip). Extract the files to your skins folder.
When you're finished, it's time to open the file vtf2tga.bat. It will make the VTF files to TGA files.
When it asks if you want to delete the originals, choose "Yes".
The VTF files should have been replaced by TGA files.
It's now time to edit the skins.

[page=Editing and making the skin appear in-game]
Open the file "breen_face.tga" with your favourite image editing tool and draw something on it. I made some glasses for him.

Tutorial Image

Save the image over the old image.
Now, it's time to convert the TGA file to a VTF file. Do this by using VTF Tool.
VTF Tool must be placed in the sourcesdk\bin directory (e.g C:\Valve\Steam\SteamApps\*your_account*\sourcesdk\bin)!

Start VTF Tool. It should look like this:

Tutorial Image

It's time to set the directory where your TGA file is placed and where you want the VTF file to be placed.
Do this by using the first two fields in the program. To make this easy, I'll write C:\My Skins in both fields.

Tutorial Image

Press "File" and "Convert to VTF". Then choose "File...".
It's now time to choose your TGA file. Press "OK" when you have chosen the file.
Click on the "Let's Go" button that's placed down in the right corner. When the program says

"Converted: OK!" your VTF file is ready.
There are only a few thing remaining.

Copy the VTF file to hl2\materials\models\breen in your Half-Life 2 folder. If the directory doesn't exist, you have to create it manually.
Don't forget to take the VMT file, which is needed for the skin to work, with you. In this case it's "breen_face.vmt" (the VMT file is in the folder where you have the TGA files)!

Start Half-Life 2 and look at your work.

Tutorial Image

[page=The End]
It's almost the same for Counter-Strike: Source and all Half-Life 2 mods.

This is my first tutorial ever, and I hope you like it.

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 51)
Stuffie Aug 4 2005, 4:02pm says:

Also for those with Photoshop too lazy to use VTEX get nems photoshop plugin in and save vtf files like you save any normal files.

It can be found here


+2 votes     reply to comment
RSNoon Jan 18 2010, 4:49pm replied:

Thanks. Really needed that. I don't really feel like downloading a load of crap when I have photoshop x3

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mauritz Author
Mauritz Aug 4 2005, 5:31pm says:

Great Stuffie. Didn't know that (I don't use Photshop :P).

+1 vote   reply to comment
Mr.Frie_Frie May 16 2015, 8:45pm replied:

If you don't use it you can use Microsoft paint. I prefer photoshop unless it is a joke or your trying to make it like that on purpose

+1 vote     reply to comment
NakedSnake Aug 6 2005, 11:20pm says:

when i try to run GCFscape it says required dll missing or something like that, what the hell am i supposed to do?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Stuffie Aug 9 2005, 4:31pm says:

Install .NET

+2 votes     reply to comment
hip_hop_x Sep 10 2005, 7:37pm says:

Good tutorial!! Now i know how to skin!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
leilei Sep 22 2005, 10:35pm says:

Dr. Breen is so emo!

-1 votes     reply to comment
methy Sep 25 2005, 2:41am says:

Yeah, his existance is worthless! He might aswell kill himself... well, he don't need to, because Gordon Freeman is in town!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mauritz Author
Mauritz Sep 25 2005, 9:41am says:

No, he doesn't need to because he has teh ├╝ber cool Harry Potter glasses!

+1 vote   reply to comment
Kaka Sep 26 2005, 10:59am says:

oh.....Dr Breen in my game's Naked

+3 votes     reply to comment
chaosdufis Oct 16 2005, 5:39pm says:

every time i try to run "source materials.gcf", on GCF scape, it tells me "This proccess cannot access the file beacuse it is being used by another proccess", what the heck do i do?

+1 vote     reply to comment
R0CKET_B0MB Apr 20 2009, 6:50pm replied:

Disable Steam (go to the bottom right corner, find the steam image, click right and then exit).

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mauritz Author
Mauritz Oct 17 2005, 12:03pm says:

You must exit Steam before running GCF Scape.

+1 vote   reply to comment
bladeeta21 Oct 28 2005, 10:53am says:

where do i get the sourcesdk??

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mauritz Author
Mauritz Oct 29 2005, 11:08am says:

Start Steam, and in the main window, click on "Tools". Then you'll just have to double-click on "Source SDK" and follow the instructions.

+1 vote   reply to comment
AkinderSurprise Jan 3 2006, 3:56pm says:

Ummm I followed all your instructions and it was going great but with the last bit and putting the edited files back into the game I cant make it work because everything is in a wierd format which I can only access using the GCFScape and I cant find how to paste files into the folders! HELP ME PLEASE!!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Klemmer Feb 13 2006, 1:45pm says:

You dont actuly need to get the VTF2TGA and VTF Tools. All you need is a programe called VTFEdit. This does the job of VTF2TGA and VTF Tools. And was breen such a gimp in Half-life, coz i havn't played it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
dy1an0 May 5 2006, 3:08pm says:


0 votes     reply to comment
stahlsoldat May 20 2006, 10:11pm says:

I seem to have the same problem as AkinderSuerprise does.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mac-daddy Jun 29 2006, 1:26pm says:

In the image where you say to extract the Breen folder, well, I can't find it? Help please

+1 vote     reply to comment
L0NGSH0T Jul 20 2006, 3:29pm says:

This has helped me made a skin for Dr.breen, and now hes an albino

+1 vote     reply to comment
MAULS_APRENTICE Jul 25 2006, 10:35am says:

can you plz show me how to transfer the tga file to vtf file BY using VTFEDIT

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mac-daddy Jul 28 2006, 1:22pm says:

Does it show up like this in gmod?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Secretbox Aug 30 2006, 11:49am says:

ok i did all the stuff that said on it a problem though i try to click the breen face for the next step and it says "Failed to shell execute C:\DOCUME~1\Rob\LOCALS~1\Temp\Breen_Face.vmt File Type has no default program associated with it. ... like what should i do i've already tryed a few things but still nothin..

+1 vote     reply to comment
S.Sgt.Maverick Oct 19 2006, 5:47pm says:

I get as far as this part

"Press "File" and "Convert to VTF". Then choose "File...".
It's now time to choose your TGA file. Press "OK" when you have chosen the file.
Click on the "Let's Go" button that's placed down in the right corner. When the program says

"Converted: OK!" your VTF file is ready.
There's only a few thing remaining.

Copy the VTF file to hl2\materials\models\breen in your Half-Life 2 map. If the directory doesn't exist, you have to create it manually.
Don't forget to take the VMT file, that's needed for the skin to work, with you. In this case it's "breen_face.vmt" (the VMT file is in the map where you have the TGA files)! "

Then I get this error

The file or folder your trying convert isnt located you 'materialsrc' folder or one of its sub-folders.
Beacuse of this, the correct folder layout cant be re-created uder the 'materials' folder.

To avoid this error, either uce the "Output to same folder" or "To 'Materials' only" option.

+1 vote     reply to comment
KaptianKrunch Nov 7 2006, 9:38am says:

i am not really sure how to put it ingame could u elaborate a little more on that part?

+1 vote     reply to comment
omiwrench8k Oct 31 2010, 7:22am replied:

Guys, you're not supposed to put the final VTF file in the GCFscape thing, you have to go to steamapps/Username/Half Life 2/Materials/Models and then make a folder with the same name as the folder in GCFscape.

+1 vote     reply to comment
hyperscope Mar 7 2007, 10:48pm says:

I Have a Skin Its a .vmt file how do i add it to half life?

0 votes     reply to comment
Mauritz Author
Mauritz Aug 29 2007, 2:20pm says:

Just continue. Breen apparently has more files than Odessa.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Mauritz Author
Mauritz Jul 30 2007, 5:08pm says:

I noticed there were a lot of spelling mistakes in the tutorial, but I have hopefully fixed most of them now.

+1 vote   reply to comment
KIDCHRONIK Jul 16 2007, 1:07am says:

**** this this is so hard to ******* even relate to wtf you smart ******** are even talking about how about you try to make it a little more dam simpler so we're not here for 5 ******* hours trying to find some godam free programs that let us make some ******* ****

-4 votes     reply to comment
TheSporeGA1 Jul 14 2010, 3:00am replied:

Skinning is so ******* easy. I have skinned every single model in tf2 in one week.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Odessa_shot_you Aug 17 2007, 11:28pm says:

my Odessa FIle only has 16 things is that a prob or should I continue?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jackass4life Sep 28 2007, 3:11am says:

does anyone know how to Add skins? this method replaces old skins.. i want to keep both!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
ThaWall Nov 8 2007, 10:26am says:

How do you get the .vtf inside the sourcemodels.gfc?
And by the way, my VTF tool is not working, when i try to start it a error message that says that some strange thing is missing pops up, How do i fix that?

+2 votes     reply to comment
a01killer Mar 2 2008, 1:32pm says:

i made gman a purple suit case! and hair!

+1 vote     reply to comment
plopytop May 24 2008, 8:02am says:

how do i make custom modles for guns? not just skins

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jakebitezz Jul 2 2008, 9:32am says:

Nice tutorial man

+1 vote     reply to comment
Uopii Aug 27 2008, 9:22am says:

All of the files in the Breen folder are .VMT files?

+1 vote     reply to comment
tymaxbeta Jul 19 2009, 3:54pm says:

Thanks for the help, I will use this for my mod, ;-D

+1 vote     reply to comment
tymaxbeta Jul 29 2009, 1:26pm says:

bad news guys, this method gives you the old checkerboard, I'll try and figure out the problem, till then, you guys try and help out...

+1 vote     reply to comment
tymaxbeta Jul 29 2009, 3:38pm says:

Oops, sorry for the scare guys, yes, this all works fine, but I would recommend using vftEDIT, vftTOOL is out of date...

+1 vote     reply to comment
Themodderofmods Oct 5 2009, 10:54pm says:


+1 vote     reply to comment
LTU-PNWZ-MODS Jan 28 2010, 6:52am says:

Thanks! Very useful for mods! Realy easy!

+1 vote     reply to comment
thegentleman Mar 6 2010, 6:30pm says:

I followed this whole tutorial, but I spawned the model I edited (it was for his face) and when I spawned his ragdoll in Gmod, the head (not the body) was in wireframe form. Anyone else get this problem?

+1 vote     reply to comment
RakashiJ Jun 3 2010, 4:36pm says:

grr, i tryed to make a skin on breen, i wanted to start simple so i did glasses aswell but i couldnt change the file back again! and... to make things worse i couldnt even put it back in the Source Files file again! luckily for me though... i had copied the files of breen so it didnt effect the mod.

+1 vote     reply to comment
steemguitardude Nov 6 2010, 7:36pm says:

Plz help ME!!! I want to try this with a zombie classic but when I extract to my skins from gcf scape I get a huge error on gcf scape. but it does extract to my skins. when I extract the VTF stuff and open the vft bat I get a microsoft error: VTFTGA.exe has stopped working. PLZ HELP ME!!!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
thunder57 Aug 29 2012, 7:03am says:

nice tutorial

+1 vote     reply to comment
victorianAlpaca May 16 2013, 4:39am says:

ugh. Now I just know I'm going to waste my summer away making Half Life skins. Ah well.

0 votes     reply to comment
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Half-Life 2
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