I want to get into modeling, what programs should I use?

I want to start making models for Source. I went to the valve developer site, and they listed a couple different modeling programs, with one, the Softimage Mod Tool, being the one they recommended. However, the Softimage Mod Tool was discontinued, and it can only be downloaded from various “unofficial mirrors”. The developer site said that models have to start as an .SMD and a .QC that has to be compiled with a program called StudioMDL, which is supposed to come with the source SDK. However, I don’t know what the Source SDK is or how to use it, so i’m kind of lost. And I don’t think that the other modeling programs they mentioned can make models that are compatible with source…

And then there’s creating the textures and materials. Models in source use .VTF texture files and .VMT material files, and the developer site mentioned several programs that can create these; however, I don’t see how you can use these in third-party modeling software.

I expected most of this software to come with the source SDK, but as I mentioned earlier, I have no idea how to use the Source SDK. PLease help!! I want to learn

If you want something (somewhat) basic, go with Blender. It’s free.
Although, if you want something a little bit more advanced, and expensive, go with 3DS Max. I would suggest Blender if you are on a budget.

Can you use VTFs and VMTs in Blender? And how do I turn the model I make into a source-compatible MDL?

You don’t choose modeling, modeling chooses you

I second 3DS Max. 3DS Max and Maya are among the most powerful tools out there. To get a model into Source, you’ll need to compile it by making a .qc file and using studioMDL.exe (that is included with Steam games) or GUIStudioMDL (external third party program that makes it more user-friendly)

If you are going to be compiling props, I highly recommend 3DS Max with Wallworm tools. It allows you to compile models, textures, almost everything directly from 3DS Max without a fuss.

So how do you use valve content such as valve texture files and valve material types in third-party modeling software other than 3DS Max? And are the models produced by 3DS Max and Blender usable by StudioMDL?

For valve textures, you’ll need a program called VTFEdit. Blender cannot open vtf files, but that’s what VTFEdit is for: converting your texture (whether it be png, jpg, bmp or whichever you’re using) into vtf. More info in the link provided.

Yes, I can confirm that Blender models are usable by StudioMDL. This program, GUIStudioMDL, is what I use to compile my models. Blender alone cannot import/export smd files, but you can use the SMD Import/Export Addon. Apparently you can compile in Blender, but I’ve grown used to using GUIStudioMDL.

Another thing to tackle is learning the interface, which there are resources like this here and this there for you.

There are VTF plugins for 3DS Max. I wouldn’t recommend using VTFEdit for VMTs, though. Better off using Notepad, for the most part. I’ve had issues with it at least.

Thank you sooo much!! Your reply helped alot!!! But just one more question; if blender can’t open VTFs, then how do you do UV mapping in blender? Do you UV map the image onto the mesh before you convert it to a VTF?

Yes, you UV map the image to your mesh beforehand. When a compiler looks at your smd it will use the name of your assigned material(s).

Thanks again for your help! I can’t wait to start trying some stuff! :smiley:

Its not easy for sure I tried doing things like porting serious sam from reading some tutorials here in the end i didn’t do shit and just uninstalled everything all together. Same goes with valve’s mapmaker hammer.

[editline]19th July 2013[/editline]

broke de automerge

Blender all the way, user-friendly,easy to get your hands on, can do all the basic things from my knowledge. You can make flexes, jiggle bones, objects, ragdolls, basically anything that comes to mind :smiley:

Noticed you disagreeing there, Dean.
If you still think Blender’s a half-ass program for modeling or porting, I strongly recommend taking a look at just about anything I’ve done in the last year.
And it’s still more stable than 3DSMax.

I was looking at blender too… but can you do normal mapping, bump mapping, phong exponent, and stuff like that in blender??

Yes, you can bake your own normals (they’re the exact same thing as bump maps), you can do high poly sculpting, rigging, animation; just about anything and everything involved with creating models and scenes with those models. It’s more than robust enough to be used by professionals for professional projects.
So far the only thing I’ve found lacking for it are hard-surface sculpting tools, but that’s okay.

Phong exponents and speculars, however, are something that you should always do personally in an image editor like Photoshop regardless of your modeling program, but you can still use Blender’s painting tool to make them if you must.

Awesome! Thanks! :slight_smile:

I’ve been interested in 3D modelling for quite some time and I am surprised that I stumbled across this thread.

Blender is the best thing in the world because you can do everything@@@@@ By the way, all those textures properties are done in the texture portion not modeling. lolz. So both of them can do it, but I think blender is much more user-friendly. I learned how to use it in like 1-2 hours, while in 3dsmax. The user interface is much more advanced and you probably only need to learn like 5% of what you really need, but no one is nice enough to actually make a decent tutorial because they are bad bunnies.

So the normal maps and phong maps and stuff are just other VTFs that are referenced in the VMT, and are not included in the modeling process?

Blender!