Spacebuild Mapping: A Comprehensive Tutorial


My goal for this thread is to provide for you a comprehensive, centralized source for information on Spacebuild mapping. This thread will attempt to cover as many aspects of mapping for Spacebuild as possible such as planet design and structure, environments, gatespawners, skyboxes and even planet models in XSI. In this tutorial I will assume you have a decent understanding of hammer and HL2 mapping principles.

Software Required
Hammer (Source SDK)
XSI Mod Tool
VTF Edit
SB Tutorial Mapper’s Kit

Anyways, down to business…


“According to myth, the Earth was created in six days. Now, watch out, here comes Genesis! We’ll do it for you in six minutes!” -Dr McCoy

First, lets start off with basic planet creation. Before we get started on the process, open up the mapper’s kit extract the folder containing the planet prefabs to wherever is convenient to you. Ready to go? Good.

  1. Create a new map in Hammer

  2. To start working on a planet, we’re going to use one of shanjaq’s prefab planets. For this example planet, we’re going to open up planet4096x3.vmf

  1. You should see a very basic half-sphere shape. This is what you will be making your planet
    out of. Go to EDIT>SELECT ALL and then EDIT>COPY. After you’ve copied the shape, go ahead and
    close the planet4096x3 window.

  1. Go ahead and paste the planet base into your new map. You may position the planet wherever
    you’d like, however I like to wait until I have a few more planets on the map before I make
    the final decision on how the planets will be placed. *note: Hammer seems to have issues with
    moving complex brushwork. Try to have your planets arranged before you get into any heavy
    brushwork, as moving this may cause your map to degrade on future loads. More on this later.

  2. Now that your planet is down, you can go ahead and slap some different textures on it.

  3. Now, your planet needs some edges. If you were to load it up in gmod as it is, you’d be
    able to walk right off the edge! By putting down some invisible walls around the planet,
    you can keep players from accidentally dropping off the face of the earth!

  4. Let’s make those edges. Select the brush tool, and set it to Arch. Make sure the sides are
    set to 12. On the editor screen, make a box around the edges of the planet and extending 128
    units from the top of the planet. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE ALIGNED WITH THE SURFACE OF THE
    PLANET! Once you’re ready, hit enter. The Arch Properties dialog will pop up. Set your Wall
    width to 32, Sides to 12, and arc to 360 and press OK. your border will be generated. While
    the border is still highlighted, set its texture to NODRAW.

  1. You may want to add a sky to your planet. Skies are optional, but can add nice atmosphere
    (no pun intended. seriously.) and can even be made to fade from day to night, and vice versa!

  2. Ok, First thing you need to do to build to cone is to make the top. Make a 512x512 cylinder
    with a height of 32 centered to your planet. Now, the height you want to place this cylinder
    at will be half the diameter of your planet. Since we’ll be using the 4096 unit planet here,
    our cylinder will be placed at a height of 2048 units from the planet’s surface.

  3. Next, highlight the border ring you made in step 7. copy and paste special them, and move the
    duplicate ring off to the side. you’ll need it later.

  1. We need to now make the sides of the cone. This step is time consuming, but it pays off.
    Create a regular ol’ block shaped brush next to your cylinder. Since you’ll be manipulating
    the vertices directly, the size of the block doesn’t really matter.

  2. Switch to the Vertex Tool. What you need to do is match up one side of the block to the a
    side of the cylinder, and then the other side of the block to the top of the border. It’s
    a bit tricky, and you have to make sure you only have one vertex selected at once. Here’s
    what the finished result should look like:

  1. Whoo. I’ll admit, that was a pain in the ass. Eleven more to go, right? Wrong. Neat trick
    inbound: Each side has an opposite. So once you build one of these things, all you have
    to do is flip it around 180 degrees and match it to the opposite side! And to make things
    better, to start on a new side, you only have to copy/paste a side, and then match up the
    vertices to the empty space next to it! That should save you loads of time. Just keep on it,
    you’ll be done before you know.

  2. The end result:

  1. Next, highlight the entire cone- the top cylinder, the sides and the border. click the
    toEntity button, and change its class to func_brush. There’s a bunch of options we’ll be
    customizing in this window, but for now just assign it a name. For this example, we’ll go
    with planetSky. Click Apply and close the window. Finally, change the texture of the inside
    of the cone to sky_fake_white

  2. Remember that border we copied and pasted off to the side? Since the border that stayed with
    the planet is now being used as part of the sky, we’ll need that copied border back in place
    to stop things from falling off the edges. Drag that sucker back into place on your planet.

  3. Ok, now lets set up the sky to fade in & out. With the sky cone highlighted, bring up
    it’s properties dialog. Change Render Mode to Additive, Disable Receiving Shadows to Yes,
    Disable Shadows to Yes, and Solidity to Never Solid. FX Color can be changed to whatever you
    want, such as a plain ol’ blue sky to neon pink. FX Amount is basically how transparent your
    sky will be. 255 is solid, 0 is completely invisible. I’ll be going with 245 in this tutorial

  4. To cycle from day to night, first create two logic_timers, named planetDay and planetNight.
    set the Refire Interval to 300, or to make longer or shorter days, increase or decrease
    this number. Next, go to the outputs tab And add a new output named OnTimer, targeting
    planetSky via the input Alpha. Now, the Parameter Override box controls the FX Amount you
    specified in the last step. Reduce this number by 20. Next is the Delay, which we will start at
    .25 seconds. Keep making outputs, reducing the parameter override by 20 and increasing the
    delay by .25 seconds until your parameter override reaches about 10 or so. Finally, make
    an output disabling the planetNight timer and enabling the planetDay timer

  1. Next, switch over to the planetDay timer, and repeat the process, except in reverse. Here
    you’ll be increasing the Parameter Override back up from 10 to 245, incrementing by 20, and
    then disabling the planetDay timer, and enabling planetNight again.

    OK! Now, we have our planet’s structure finished. Now it needs a model. Let’s move on to
    the next part of the tutorial: XSI Mod Tool


  1. Ok, first off, let’s make sure we have everything we’ll need to proceed through this next
    part of the tutorial. You will need XSI Mod tool installed and updated. You’ll also need
    VTFEdit and GUIstudioMDL, all of which you can get from the links at the top of the thread.
    You’ll also need a texture for the planet and the sample QC file to compile the model with,
    which I have included in the SB Tutorial Kit also at the top of the page.

  2. Let’s open up XSI, shall we? Now, we’ll need a sphere for our planet. On the left hand side
    of the screen, click on the objects button, and then in the new window that pops up, click the
    sphere shape.

  1. Now we need to make this sphere into our planet. On the window that has popped up, lets set the
    radius. The radius of our planet is 2048, however I like to add some space between the edges
    of the planet and the shell, just to make sure the edge doesn’t poke through. Let’s make this
    value 2100. Also, in the same window we’ll need to set the subdivisions to 36. This will make
    the planet much more smooth.

  1. Now, the planet is as big as a, well, a planet. Let’s zoom out and see the whole thing. Press
    ‘S’ to access the track-dolly-orbit tool, and by holding down your mousewheel, move the mouse
    and zoom out. Press ‘S’ again to get your regular cursor back. If you haven’t done so, you can
    close out any extra dialog boxes you have open.

  2. Allright, lets texture this bad boy. On the top right of the sphere’s window, click on the
    little drop down labeled Shaded, and choose Textured Decal

  1. Next, let’s get rid of that spotlight thing. Press ‘8’ to bring up the Explorer. Right click
    on Light and choose Delete.

  1. Make sure you have the mars texture from the tutorial kit extracted. Select the planet, and
    then click on the textures button on the left hand side of the screen. Click Image to bring
    up the next dialog box. Click the button that says New just above the rainbow colored square,
    and then choose New From File

  1. Once you’ve picked out the mars texture from the kit, move down to the texture projection and
    click on New, and select Spherical. You can now close out the remaining dialog boxes.

  2. Almost there! If your model isn’t selected, select it, and then click Modeling under the
    Freeze History heading on the right hand side of the screen.

  3. Click the ValveSource dropdown at the top of the screen and choose Export SMD. Using the dialog
    box, find a place to save the file and name it ‘planet’ Click OK to export the model.

Stay Tuned for the rest of the Planet Modeling tutorial which will come within the next day or so. I’ll be covering compiling your model with GUIStudioMDL, and
importing your model into hammer.

Thanks, I never knew how to properly make the cone. And horay, you’re gonna make a step by step tut on the modeling stuff. Modeling confuses me :open_mouth:

This is nice but are there any premade models to use if you don’t want to model the sphere?

In his opensourcified new worlds, he releases the models as well.

Sure, I can probably do that. Planet modeling is actually pretty easy though, once you’ve done it a couple times.

Looks like took down that mapper’s kit. I’ll find another host for it. Just as well, I have more stuff to put in it anyway.

I’ll have more of the tutorial up this afternoon, still going through the modeling bit.

I have a great source for planet base textures. It’s the genetica viewer, anything that’s under terrain you’ll need to make clouds and ice caps, but still.

I see the file got deleted from

I could host it at my own site (I pay for unlimited dl/space at Lunarpages)

Don’t do the skies like that, I don’t use it in mine I use models and it can still change from day to night.


I guess a Skybox that good requires a lot of skill?

Mr. bynari, how do I go about making those smexy cloud overlays for the planet textures?

If anyone wants, I’ve got 9 or so planet textures to use.

(And associated cloud overlays, rotating. :slight_smile: )

They need to be re-compiled, I used too high quality of a sphere and it would never compile with the models in.

The textures are done (mostly).


From left to right, top to bottom:
Eson (Has Clouds), Earth (Has Clouds), Aeolus, Mars, Moon 1, Moon 2, Sun, Venus.

Some seems in a few, but mostly okay.

Could you make me a saturn with a ring lord ned?

The new update to the tutorial is up. I’ll be posting more within the next day or so.

I love you.

That’s just as simple as adding a flat plane and a ring texture.

Well… can you? at least just make like a 6144x3 sphere with a saturny texture and then model a ring (pwease?)

The one in the centre is Moon4K?

You know, you could do the atmosphere in the modeling app as well. Saves a lot of time later.


Also, LordNed, I found some of those textures on the net the other day. Albeit, only 3 of them. (Namely moon, mars, and venus) Sometimes they can be hard to find. :frowning:

You found them, because they are our solar systems planets.

And people have taken pictures of them.


Actually they are all made up of 3 base planets, then re-mixed a bit, etc. I wanted a Sol like system, but not. I just never finished the associated map. :frowning:

Lord ned, can you at least give me a model that’s like 6144x3 (i’ll texture) and a ring. (PLEASE???)

If you’re going to do that, why not borrow models from an already released map, there’s got to be something close to that already.