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TF2 Workshop Import Tools : Gold Stars
By Napy Da Wise
How to properly use the new Import tools to improve your chances to get a item ingame.
Why use the Import Tools?
Originally posted by New Contributor:
Why aren't all theses great submission not accepted already? Why does Valve "keep the same contributors and don't want new ones"? Why isn't my well voted item ingame?

Well, most of the time, it's because your item isn't properly packed up. Wrong files, no sources, folder mess, tricount too high, too much texture files... All that stuff takes a long time to tidy up and compile into something usable by Valve.

Originally posted by New Contributor:
But Napy, how can I improve my packing skills? I don't know what to do!

Worry no more contributor! Valve have released a beta of it's Import Tools that will do everything for you.

This compiler introduce new controls for contributors as well as a few restrictions to help maintain rendering performance and keep the import process consistent. The goal being to reduce the time spent compiling and importing, so we can work more on our models. This will help valve add more content quicker, and with less bugs.

Now that you are convinced, let's get started!
Accessing the Import Tools
To access the Import Tools, all you need to do is load TF2, click on Workshop, then Publish a new item (or edit if you just want to repack an old model).

You should then be on that screen

Then you just have to click on the Import Tools button, and bam! You're there!
Now before we have a look at how this cool thing works, let's talk about restrictions.

Currently, the importer is in beta. I means it lacks some options, and is restrictive to keep the game optimized.

As of may 2013, the importers only support Hats and Miscs.

It doesn't support :
  • -Weapons
  • -Animations
  • -Animated textures
  • -More than 2 vmt per team
  • -More than 5 bones/jigglebones (character bones don't count)

The Import tools : the menu

1- This is were you write your item's name (obvious, isn't it?)
2- Check if your item is a hat or a misc
3- Change the equip region, so your item won't clip. You can find a list of all equip region on the wiki[wiki.teamfortress.com]
4- This is the class tab, where you can change the models and textures for each class.
5- Each class have a different set of bodygroup that you can hide. Don't forget to disable the hat bodygoup if you're making a hat!
6- Models/lods tab. Unneeded lods will be grayed out.
7- Open the tab to edit the QC, in case you need it (you won't most of the time)
8- This button allow you to load your session by importing a txt file that's made when you finish your item. Usefull if you want to improve it and don't want to reload everything by hand.
9- Preview button
10- Verify button
11- Finish button
12- Backpack icon tab
13- Materials tab
The import tools : Importing your models
To start importing you models, pick a class, and load your highest lod.
Load the rest, and you're good to go!
You can then pick another class if your item is multiclass.

Max triangle count is 1400, and the items require Lods depending on their tricount.
LOD 0 is max 1400
LOD 1 is max 1000
LOD 2 is max 700
So if you item is 800 tris, you'll need 1 lod. If it's 400, you won't need lods.
The compiler will grey out the non-needed lods.

When you'll be finished, it should look like that :
The Import Tools : The Materials
Now that your item is loaded, you can load it's materials.
Each lod should have the same number of materials. Each class versions should have the same number of materials. And you're limited to 2 vmts per team.

The importer will unlock the vmts slot based on the info your model uses.

The VMT editor looks like that :

Theses are the only options you have right now. You can't import a custom VMT, nor use custom parameters.
You can tick which VMT you want paintable in the main menu, and edit the vmt parameter individually for each material.
The Import Tools : Backpack icon
Backpack icons must be 512x512 and include an alpha channel outlining the cosmetic. The preview in the tool is the same aspect ratio as backpack VGUI. The cosmetic should not clip outside the preview. It is recommended to take large screenshots in HLMV and downsizing them to get antialiasing on the edges.

Here's a more comprehensive tutorial for backpack icons :
The Import Tools : Preview

Once everything is set up, you can preview your item.
Preview allows you to :
  • See how your item is rigged (and if it clips with the main animations)
  • Have a look at the uber/jarate/burning textures
  • Show RED and BLU versions
  • Test paints
  • View lods

Preview controls :
Left click : Rotate around the character
Shift + left click : Pan the camera around
Right click : zoom in and out
You can click the portrait to reset the camera
The Import Tools : Verifying and Finishing
Once you're happy with your item, it's time to Verify if everything is okay.

Hit the verify button to let the importer check everything for you.

If, for exemple, you forgot the backpack icon, here's the error you'll get :

Once you're done verifying, you can hit Finish.
It'll pack everything and takes you back to the first screen. You can now load your workshop preview, add a name and a description, and upload it to the workshop!

Congratulation, you have a properly imported item! This will up your chances of it getting added by a huge amount!
Was that useful? Do you have more questions? Want to translate?
If you found my tutorial useful, you can credit me in the valuable contributor section. You will not loose any potential money, as valuable contributor revenue is taken from valve's revenue.
You can also credit Mnemo or Helljumper, who both made awesome tutorials.

If you have questions or need help, feel free to add me, but don't forget to leave a comment on my profile stating why. I get a lot of random invite, and I'd prefer to filter the ones that actually need know why they're adding me :p

If you want to translate this guide to your laguage, add me so you can credit me, and so i can make a link to your translation!
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Napy Da Wise  [author] Nov 13 @ 5:24am 
It's an issue with the rigging i'd guess. Did you decompile your player models yourself when importing them in 3DS?
Unrival Nov 12 @ 10:50pm 
Ive been creating some TF2 items, some of which i have uploaded to the workshop over the past couple of days, but sometimes when im moddeling in 3ds max, ill import it into the tf2 item import tool and all the parts will be jumbled up or not sized. For example i made an item very large as i was building it up off an image, then i scaled it down for a class but the import tool moved all the parts around and had it at the original scale? Is there any way i can fix this?
Punch brb 1 week Apr 11 @ 3:10pm 
Edit: had to verify the cache alongside emptying my cusotm fodler. seems to work now.
Punch brb 1 week Apr 11 @ 2:59pm 
Doesn't seem to fix it, for me at least, unfortunately.
Napy Da Wise  [author] Apr 10 @ 3:48pm 
Alright everyone, if you still get the missing cloack error, just delete your tf/custom folder. There's something bugged in there that seems to fuck up the importer.
King Supa Dupa Apr 7 @ 3:53pm 
That's rather odd, I can still use an old txt item file and replace it with my new models and textures. I don't know how it works if the materials change or are added, but it works for me right now.

Anyone have this method work for them?
Napy Da Wise  [author] Apr 7 @ 9:40am 
I do, and using an old file doesn't work. I guess it's up to valve now.
Hobo on Fire! Apr 7 @ 12:43am 
I'm still getting the "vmt1 missing cloak error" even after verfiying cache. Any else still experiencing this?
DrSlowking Apr 4 @ 8:18pm 
Well they patched the last one... but now I have a new glitch in which an error message comes up telling me my Lowest LOD has the same number of faces as my highest LOD. And it doesn't. The error message is lieing. Is anyone else getting this? How is Valve so bad at this?
King Supa Dupa Apr 4 @ 3:32pm 
oh, they patched it. Oh well. Hopefully you lot can upload, never mind my crackpot soloutions!