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[Tool] TFMV v1.2.6 - Easily load & preview TF2 loadouts, take screenshots, test paints, create backpack icons, test clipping...
This tutorial shows you how to use TFMV, a tool created to make it easier to load items and attach them to a TF2 character in HLMV (model viewer) and more.
TFMV 1.2.6 features

TFMV downloads the TF2 item schema and backpack icons so its always up to date to load any recent items added in TF2.

You can then select any wearable item for a class and it will add the model of the item to the loadout list (up to 4) which you can then load into HLMV to preview the items for the TF2 character.
You can also paint items, change styles, take screenshots, save/load item loadouts, drag and drop Zip or VPK files containing models and materials to be loaded for preview in HLMV.

This tool was originally intended to help modders, but it seems that players also find it useful to preview loadouts.

The advantage here for modders is not having to guess item model paths, being able to attach multiple models to a character in a few clicks (you can add custom models paths to load), paint items in a click without needing to edit any VMT file, TFMV also enables normal mapping in HLMV by default, you can also set the background color, or toggle the background and more.

If you too hate to search models through the HLMV folder browser or can't bother to guess TF2 items model paths or taking the time to do the tedious manipulations to add multiple model attachements in HLMV, this tool is for you.

Features list:
  • List and select cosmetic/weapon models by class and item slot type.
  • Download the TF2 Schema and icons to have all the latest items for loadout previews.

  • Easily attach item models to a TF2 character to preview and test items combinations.
  • Save & Load items loadouts for TF2 characters.
  • Drag and drop ZIP or VPK skins mods to load for preview.
  • Drag and drop TF2 wiki item icons TFMV magically searches by name from the wiki icon filename and loads the model!
  • Load custom models too.

  • Easily test and preview paintable items and materials styles.
  • Easily take screenshots, create backpack icons or images of your item sets for the workshop.
  • Automatically set default HLMV settings for every model (background color, camera position/rotation, character pose...)

  • TFMV can force the HLMV anti aliasing to be enabled as it isn't by default.
  • TFMV temporarily disables the fire overlay on HLMV.

Download & Installation
You will need to download and install the following in order:

Installing and Running TFMV for the first time

Extract TFMV zip file contents into a directory of your choice, make sure you have the "resources" folder in the same directory as TFMV.exe.

After installing NetFramework, the first time you will load TFMV it will prompt you saying you need to set the steam directory.

On the first launch, TFMV should be able to detect your steam folder and the TF2 folder, if it doesn't you can always manually set the path with "select directory" in the settings tab.

You should be ready to use TFMV if the SDK tools (in Team Fortress 2\bin\) are properly installed, if problems come up see the "Troublshooting" section of the guide.

[Videos] Using TFMV
Here are some quick examples demonstrating how to use TFMV in video, different ways to load items, custom models and more.

Loading items, using paints and taking screenshots:

Load a model as main (alone), take screenshots at set resolution with different paints in a few clicks

Drag and drop workshop importer generated zip files to load your models and take screenshots, test paints, clipping, or create a backpack icon

You can drag and drop a ZIP or VPK file containing models and materials to be loaded

Special feature for dragging and dropping icons from the TF2 wiki
In forums players can post requests to have someone else use TFMV to make previews of loadouts they want to see before they get the items, requests can be made by simply posting images of the TF2 Wiki items icons.
This feature lets TFMV users drag and drop the TF2 Wiki icons from the web browser to TFMV and it will try to find and load the item, few items may not load as they have different names than the icons.

Using TFMV
Many buttons! but fear not, its not as complicated as it might look at first.

TFMV has 3 main tabs "Items" "Paint items" and "Settings".

Items Tab

Selecting the TF2 character class and items

When you load TFMV the icon list will be empty, you first need to select a class (Scout, soldier, pyro...) and then an item slot.

In this image the pyro class was selected then the hat slot, you can then see the items loaded, you can double click icons or click the checkbox to select an item.
When an item is selected it will be added to the models list, you can remove the model by unchecking the box or double clicking the item icon again.

You can switch between item slots without loosing the selection and add other item types.

Check or uncheck the "Do not load all class items." on the bottom left of the icon list to show or hide all class items.

Managing selected models
This section has the list of models that are going to be loaded in the model viewer and where you can add or remove them individually or all of them as well as save/load the loadouts.

  • 1- Is the list of models (items) selected, these models will be attached to the "main model", which by default is a TF2 character of your choice.
    Up to 4 models can be loaded which is what the model viewer allows.

  • Add / Remove
    Items an be selected and removed from the list with the button "remove" or all be removed with "clear list".

  • Save / Load loadout
    The list of models and its class can be saved by clicking "save loadout" its saved to a text file that can be then loaded to load the class and its model selection.

  • Add
    2- You can manually add custom models by giving a model path in the textbox to the left of the Add button, then just click "Add".
    The model and its materials must be present in the "tf" directory, or the "tf/custom/yourfolder".

    Alternatively you can drag and drop ZIP or VPK files containing your models in the models list (box on the left of the "Remove" and "clear list" buttons), it can be from a workshop generated zip to any zip files that has the models & materials folder structure, TFMV will scan and extract models and materials for you, so you can then load the model of your choice.

  • 3 - Override main model

    With the "override hlmv main model" textbox you can define a model path to use as a main model, by default TFMV will load whatever player-class model you pick when you pick items, this lets you load any model instead of a player and attach other models to it.

    The "Use as main" button will pick the first model in the list and set it as the "main model", which means it will load that model alone instead of attaching it to the selected TF2 character/class.
    That model will be then loaded instead of a Tf2 character, you can sitll attach models to that main model.

Loading your item selection to the model viewer (HLMV)

You have selected a tf2 class and its item models to be attached to it, now its time to load it in the model viewer.

  • Loadout to HLMV (F1): loads the TF2 character and the items in HLMV without paints.

  • Loadout to HLMV + Load Paints: loads the TF2 character and the items in HLMV and switches the TFMV tab to "Paint Items" and loads the paints editor so you can set the item paints and update them.

  • Screenshot (F5) takes a screenshot of the HLMV model preview, make sure to have TFMV selected when pressing F5 and not in HLMV.

  • Set HLMV window size: define the dimensions of the screenshot to be taken by pixels then click Update the HLMV window will be resized and when you take a screenshot it will be cropped in these dimensions.
    This is very useful to take screenshots without the need to crop them manually later on, for example for backpack icons 512 pixels by 512 pixels.
    Gotcha: note that the HLMV window has a height limit, the max height for screenshots that can be taken from TFMV on a screen resolution of 1920x1280 is 796pixels in height.

  • Pose sequence: set the character default animation pose.

  • Background checkbox: set HLMV background on by default.

  • Background color: set HLMV background color by default.

Paint Items Tab

Once you have loaded your items selection in HLMV you can load the paints, unless you already loaded them click "load paints" or the shortcut F2 key, the first time it will need to reload HLMV to make sure it reloads the paintable materials.

There are 4 models slots to edit the item paint settings, only paintable items will be loaded.

In this case I have only loaded one model, the pyro fireman helmet, and loaded the paints, TFMV reads the model file and looks for paintable materials and then lists them in the "paint items" tab inside its model group.

fireman_helmet.mdl is the model and the group.
fireman_helmet.vmt is the material (if you click that, it will open notepan to edit the material manually)

And under is the paints list so you can pick a color:

Pick a color and then click "Update Paints! (F3)" or use the shortcut F3 key, if HLMV is open and with the model loaded, which you should have, it will refresh with the paint color you selected.

That was easy, but wait, there's more!


Some models have styles, TFMV so far handles materials styles, not models styles, maybe in a future version ;)
When a model has several materials, TFMV will load them, up to 4, so you can select the style you want to use and then the paint color.

In this case I loaded the pyromancers mask on the pyro as well as the fireworks bag model.
That's why you see two models, "pyro_pyromancers_mask.mdl" and "pyro_fireworksbag.mdl".

The pyromancers mask has 3 materials styles ( ignore the fourth material "pyromancer_horn_texture.vmt", in this case its just a secondary texture for another part of the model which uses paint so TFMV loaded it anyways).

As explained previously, you can select the paint to apply, but this time since there's 3 styles, you can also select the style, simply check "use this vmt style" under the material you want to use and click "update paints!" to apply the changes, it should refresh in HLMV.
Updating the items list
Every time there's a TF2 update and new items are added ingame, you will need to click "download schema", TFMV will download the new list of items and icons so that you can load all the new items.

If you are trying to update when the update is coming out, it is possible that the server is too busy may not respond sometimes during the update, TFMV will throw an error, just wait a moment until the server is back up online to download the schema and icons.
Using HLMV
This part of the guide is mainly aimed at users who are not creating items and just want to preview items, this will only cover some basics of what you need to move a bit around HLMV.

For information on how to use HLMV see the SDK wiki article:

Camera controls:

LMB drag in the center of the viewport will orbit the camera.
LMB drag on the edge of the viewport will roll the camera.
Ctrl+LMB drag will orbit the light source.
RMB drag will dolly the camera back/forward.
Shift+LMB drag with pan the camera left/right up/down.

Hide/Show bodygroups
In HLMV the original hat of the character still appears and is clipping with the hat I loaded.

TF2 player models have "bodygroups" which let you toggle on and off the visibility of certain parts, such as the hat, feet etc depending on the classes.

Go to the "Model" tab then click in the drop down box on the left to select the bodygroup, in this case "Hat" and then select the submodel to toggle on or off the bodygroup visiblity.

Changing the character animation:

1- Go to the Sequence tab.

2- Select the animation.

3- Set the animation play speed.

4- Scroll through the animation frames and stop at a frame.

  • TFMV crashes when I start it!
    Make sure you have NetFramework 4[www.microsoft.com] installed.

  • TFMV crashes when I click "loadout to HLMV"
    -Make sure you have the proper steam and tf2 directory paths set on the TFMV settings.
    -Make sure the sdk tools are properly installed and setup:
    Go to your steam directory and "Team Fortress 2\bin" directory (example: D:\Steam\SteamApps\common\Team Fortress 2\bin)

    There you should find many files if the sdk tools are installed, find and run "HLMV.bat" a windows command prompt should show up, follow the instructions, press enter twice, it should load HLMV if all goes well.
    Close HLMV and try running loading from TFMV again.

  • HLMV loads without a model
    TFMV cannot fully control HLMV, hence the user has to manually load the model, press F5 once HLMV is loaded, it will load the most recent model.
    You can also load it like so: File > Recent Models > first model in the lines.

  • Paints are not working
    If you have mods installed in the TF2 custom directory some mods can interfere with the paints, this seems to happen mainly with player models custom lightwarps.
    Simply go to your Team fortress 2 directory and temporarly rename the "custom" directory to something else like "custom_" and create an empty "custom" folder, then run TFMV, if paints then work the problem is coming from one or some of the mods you had installed.

  • In HLMV the original hat of the character still appears and is clipping with the hat I loaded, how do I remove it?

    See guide section "Using HLMV" - Hide/Show bodygroups.

  • The models in HLMV have aliasing (pixelated edges)
    Close HLMV go to the TFMV Settings tag and check "force HLMV antialising" load HLMV again from TFMV and the anti aliasing should be enabled now.

  • Can't find the newest items
    You need to download the schema to get the latest items, click "download schema".

  • How can you load Unusual effects?
    Unfortunately its not possible, Valve's HLMV model viewer, doesn't support particle effects aka unusual effects.

  • Problem/Solution is not listed here?
    Check the comments and threads for solutions, if you still can't find it, post about it and I will try to help you, once a solution is found I'll add it to the troubleshooting section of the guide.

    If you found a bug and you see that it hasn't been already pointed out in the comments, post about it too!
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Speedy In Training 49 minutes ago 
Okay. So I extracted both TFMV.exe and resources to a new folder like you said. But if I click the .exe, nothing happens.
BANG!  [author] 1 hour ago 
@Speedy In Training

You don't run TFMV from the zip file, you extract its contents to a folder first (on your desktop for example) and then you run the application from the folder.

@Dr. Loki Skylizard
These types of items are an additional item that goes on top of the weapon, its not handled it it would also take up 2 slots weapon + attached botkiller/festive/
The australium is a skin variant, not sure how its loaded.

@ Capshall

They seem to be there, just not a tthe bottom of the list: http://puu.sh/8fbly/61120a93f5.png
Click "download schema" to get the latest item list.
Speedy In Training 3 hours ago 
Hello BANG! When I click TFMV.exe, it goes to the extraction process. Thas good, but the extraction window deletes itself when it's around 90% completed. I don't know why this happens.
Dr. Loki Skylizard Apr 17 @ 6:54pm 
hey man, I was wondering if there is a way to load botkiller/festive/australium variants.
Capshall (Rare and Seared) Apr 14 @ 3:43pm 
Hey, BANG! I can't find the Thief cosmetics, can you help a guy out?
BANG!  [author] Apr 13 @ 4:46am 
Cheers and thanks!
ⓖⓔⓡⓜⓑⓨ Apr 10 @ 5:14pm 
Ok, after a long day of no internet, I got it to work. Thanks for your dedication, and time towards me getting this to work. BTW, I can't believe I was able to talk to you! You have done alot for the TF2 community, making a ton of hats. I personally think the Tartan Shade is one of the best hats (I wear it 24/7) :)
BANG!  [author] Apr 8 @ 11:38pm 
"Error: recources/tools/HLExtract.exe is missing."

Like the message says, files are missing, redownload TFMV and make sure you put the "resources" folder (which comes in the ZIP file) in the same folder as TFMV.exe
ⓖⓔⓡⓜⓑⓨ Apr 8 @ 7:29pm 
Well, I have looked through the files, and have seen that all of the notepad files are just plank, paint_list, pose_names, ect. Does this have to do with anything? Because through installation, I didn't see anything that told me to edit files.

Also, whenever I try to load paints, it gives me the error:

"Error: recources/tools/HLExtract.exe is missing."

And yes, it still is broken w/o TF2 running.
BANG!  [author] Apr 8 @ 1:21pm 
Do you have the "resources" folder with TFMV.exe?
There should be more folders in "resources" and in "tools" there should be three files there too.

What path are you running TFMV from?

Make sure TF2 isn't running when you use TFMV/HLMV so it can access the game files.