Dota 2
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Modding Dota 2: Episode 4: Editing Item and Skill Icons
By Kiaayo
In the fourth part of my How to Mod Dota 2 series, I explain how to edit the skill and item icons on the game's HUD.
Add Mana Costs to Item Icons

The method outlined in this guide is outdated, as -override_vpk no longer works and has been replaced by -enable_addons. Everything else remains the same, as far as I'm aware. Any input and requested changes are appreciated.

In my previous guides, I explained how to edit various parts of your Dota experience. Now let's dive into item and skill icons!
Starting Out
Recommended Tools
In this guide, we will be editing images. I will be using Adobe Photoshop, but many free alternatives can be used to achieve the same results. I recommend or GIMP[] if you are on a budget and not an artist. If you are using Windows, the default Paint program may be sufficient for our purposes, but will likely make it difficult due to the lack of features available in other programs.
A useful tool for viewing images and not necessarily editing them is IrfanView[].
If you would like to dig through Dota's file structures to see what you can edit on your own time, I recommend using GCFScape[].

As always, run an unfamiliar file that you've downloaded from the internet through a virus scanner before opening it.

VPK Override
We'll be replacing files in Dota's file structure, so first we'll need to go into Dota 2's launch options and enter -override_vpk so the game knows where to look.

I also use -novid to remove the Valve logo at the game's startup. It's not needed for this walkthrough.

File Locations

Dota 2 is programmed to look in pak01_dir.vpk for all of its resources, but if we turn on -vpk_override, it will instead look in its default file structure before falling back onto the VPK. When replacing icons, we will place them in \Steam\steamapps\common\dota 2 beta\dota\resource\flash3\images , and the appropriate folders inside. If they do not already exist in your folders, simply add them.
Our first example: item icons
After you've decided which icon you'd like to replace, open up GCFScape, find it in the file structure, and extract it to give yourself an easy template to work off of.

Have you noticed how the default tango icon still has 3 orbs, even though the recent buff to it gave it 4 charges? Let's fix that.

By default, item icons should be 88 x 64 pixels, with 36 x 64 pixels blank immediately to its right. We will be editing within the 88 x 64 pixels, while leaving the 36 x 64 blank.

Special thanks to lerobotsexy for the 4-orb tango design. Download it here[] and rename it to tango.png

After you've put the finishing touches on it and it fits within the designated workspace, save it as a .PNG file, and place it in \Steam\steamapps\common\dota 2 beta\dota\resource\flash3\images\items . Then, load up Dota 2 to check if your mod worked. Don't forget -override_vpk!

Notice that the number 4 in the bottom corner is placed there by the game, and is not editable. Remember to leave space there so you can see it!
Skill icons
Skill and spell icons work on the same basic principle. When you extract the skill icons, notice that they're 128 x 128 pixels in size, with no blank space.

After you've edited it as you please, save it as a a .PNG and place it in \Steam\steamapps\common\dota 2 beta\dota\resource\flash3\images\spellicons

The Chinese game client icons as well as many other mods can be downloaded here[].

Again, check Dota 2 to see if it worked.

Notice that the mana icon in the bottom corner is not editable, and is placed there by the game. Remember to not put any important details where it would be covered up. Certain abilities also place the skill icon above the health bar as a status indicator, such as Ancient Apparition's Chilling Touch. Some of those abilities will place a number on it, take notice of which ones so you can make the numbers more noticeable if you wish.
All screen captures were created by me.
Awesome Ursa picture made by Spacedad.
Steam and Dota 2 made by Valve.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or constructive criticism, please leave a comment.
If you're someone with an expertise who would like to collaborate with me on this project, or would like personal help at a fee, message me on Steam.

For more support, check out

If you work for Valve or otherwise have some manner of grievance with this guide or its contents, please contact me through official channels and I'll see if I can edit it to your satisfaction.

Other guides in this series:

Modding Dota 2: Episode 1: Editing the In-Game Text
Modding Dota 2: Episode 2: Editing Sounds and Testing Custom Announcers
Modding Dota 2: Episode 3.1: Editing Loading Screens
Coming soon (Valve time): Modding Dota 2: Episode 3.2: Editing Character Textures
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PavoolonD Dec 20, 2017 @ 2:33pm 
is there a way to replace certain hero models/textures with low-violence equivalents?
Melancholy. Jan 10, 2015 @ 9:59am 
hi , Can u Please give me the download link of your person icons
Fm.Nameless Jan 3, 2015 @ 2:16am 
Please help.
I did all of the above. It worked with items, but it doesnt work with spellicons.
ps. i didnt make any of the pictures i only downloaded some which i found. I did it for items and for spells, but it worked only on spells
? Nov 17, 2014 @ 3:28am 
Please help!
I did what you did in the ability icons....I did those stuff,edit them,and save them as a .PNG but it never works. I've been trying this for the last 3 hours..
alexsyr Aug 26, 2014 @ 6:18am 
Guys from Valve want me to add some manifest.txt file in to my zip archive with my loadingscreen work for Sven. They give me an example:

"import_version" "3"
"import_type" "LoadingScreen"
"name" "drow_wyrm_loadscrn"
"steamId" "0x03420d3f"

What I should put in line with "steamId" "?"
Where I can fined that number?
My steam ID is not fit STEAM_0:0:54767055
Desblat \ Обломов Aug 26, 2014 @ 3:40am 
Next guide will be on item remaking I suppose?
POCBAME Aug 21, 2014 @ 10:51am 
Yeah, figured that out, thanks. I'm making skill icons for each individual hero now.

Great guide.
Kiaayo  [author] Aug 21, 2014 @ 10:47am 
Kamina: You have to add new folders yourself.
POCBAME Aug 21, 2014 @ 8:57am 
How come the only thing in my Flash3 folder is dotacomponentlibrary.swc?