Help:Model Viewer

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The Half-Life Model Viewer (HLMV) is a program used to view and manipulate Source engine models.


As of the update integrating SteamPipe into Team Fortress 2, HLMV is included with the TF2 installation. However, the VPROJECT environment variable must be set to Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\tf in order for HLMV to function properly for TF2. There are three ways to do this, only one of which is necessary:

  • Set the "VPROJECT" environment variable using your operating system's standard procedures
  • Replace Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\bin\check_sdk_env.bat with the following (this option will set VPROJECT properly for all of the other TF2 SDK tools, e.g. FacePoser, as well):
@echo off
CD "%~d0%~p0..\tf"
	if exist "%~d0%~p0set_sdk_env.bat" (
		call "%~d0%~p0set_sdk_env.bat"
	) else (
		echo WARNING: VPROJECT not set, and set_sdk_env.bat file not present.
) else (
  • Replace Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\bin\HLMV.bat with the following:
@echo off
:: Batch file to launch Half-Life model viewer with proper environment

:: Launch HLMV
echo Starting HLMV...
echo Executing "%~d0%~p0hlmv.exe" %*
start "" "%~d0%~p0hlmv.exe" -vproject ../tf %*

After performing one of these three options, navigate to Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\bin, and run HLMV.bat. This should automatically open hlmv.exe.

A number of options and settings need to be tweaked in order to achieve best performance from the Model Viewer. The program has no GUI-based video settings like the game, so several other steps need to be taken.

Graphics card settings

For ATi/AMD cards, under '3D' in Catalyst Control Center's drop down menu, uncheck "Use Application Settings" in the "AA" section and move the slider to 8x.

For NVIDIA cards, open the "NVIDIA Control Panel" and navigate to "Manage 3D settings" or similar. Add a program-specific setting for hlmv.exe. The location of this file is: Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\bin\hlmv.exe

Ensure that the following settings are enabled:

  • Anti-aliasing set to "override" and on highest setting possible
  • Texture filtering quality on highest setting possible


The Model Viewer also pulls settings from the config file 'dxsupport.cfg'. If the graphics card settings above do not work, then this method should still force the Viewer to output with high settings.

  1. Navigate to this directory: \Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\bin\
  2. Open up dxsupport.cfg in a text editor of your choice. If you do not have this file, create it with the content from here.
  3. Find your graphics card within that file.
  4. Add or modify the following lines in dxsupport.cfg within the section for your graphics card and save it, the Viewer should now be using high settings.
"setting.dxlevel" "99"
"ConVar.mat_antialias" "8"
"ConVar.mat_forceaniso" "8"
"ConVar.mat_picmip" "-10"
  1. If your card isn't listed, go to Control Panel, open Device Manager, find your graphics card under Display adapters section, open Details tab of its Properties and select Hardware Ids. The IDs are 4-character hexadecimal numbers. The Vendor ID is located after VEN_, and the Device ID is located after DEV_.
  2. Navigate to the bottom of the file, and find the Unknown sections. Choose the one that refers to your graphics card, which will be ATI Unknown if you're using an ATI/AMD graphics card, NVidia Unknown if using an Nvidia graphics card, or Intel Unknown if using an Intel graphics card.
  3. Once you have located this, change the lines of the one that match, so that looks like the following:
"VendorID" "0x[Vendor ID from step 5]"
"MinDeviceID" "0x[Device ID from step 5]"
"MaxDeviceID" "0x[Device ID from step 5]"
"setting.dxlevel" "99"
"ConVar.mat_antialias" "8"
"ConVar.mat_forceaniso" "8"
"ConVar.mat_picmip" "-10"
"ConVar.mat_motion_blur_enabled" "1"
  1. Only if your card is an AMD Radeon HD5000 series or above, you may enable "Super-Sample AA" under "3D" in the drop down menu in Catalyst Control Center to further increase image quality when used with the above settings. It is advised to revert "Super-Sample AA" back to "Multi-Sample AA" when you are done using the Viewer, as performance in games will be reduced significantly.


Pictogram comment.png Note: Directly viewing some models will ignore the $colortint_base attribute (which provides the texture's normal color tint to the model), forcing the model to appear grey or washed out. This can be worked around by extracting the model's VMT and adding a new attribute $color2 with the same value as $colortint_base. Pictogram comment.png Note: To load models, use the (Steam) Load Model... option. This allows HLMV to access the game's VPK files. Using the other Load Model... option allows you to load models that are located outside of the game's directory, however.

Model locations

Most models have standard names but others have vague or confusing names. All item model file paths can be found by searching "items_game.txt" (\Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\tf\scripts\items\items_game.txt) for the item's entry and checking the value of "model_player".

Pictogram comment.png Note: You may get issues with HLMV saying it can't find a directory. To fix this, navigate to \Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\tf\ and create the folders that are needed to get to the model you are attempting to get to. Alternatively, you can download and extract this pack, and copy the contents to \Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\tf\. This will add all the folders to load weapons, cosmetic items and player models correctly, without having any errors (this pack does also contain the Fire Overlay fix and the Cubemap fix).

The locations for weapon models are as follows:
  • w_models – holds world models for some of the Stock weapons.
  • v_models – holds view models for some of the Stock weapons.
  • c_models – holds models for most newer weapons.

Pictogram comment.png Note: There are some discrepancies regarding c_, v_ and w_ models. Previously, all weapons had a world model and a view model that were kept separately. Most newer unlockable weapons, and a number of stock weapons use a single model file (c_model), which is used for both the player's viewpoint and for what other players see you holding. Any weapons that have switched over to the c_model format have mostly had their w_models and v_models versions removed.
Pictogram comment.png Note: Some weapons, such as the 2011 Festive weapons and the Botkiller weapons have parts of the models located in inconsistent places. For example, the older Festive weapons have the attached lights in \models\player\items, and the Botkiller weapons have the attached heads in the \models\player\items\mvm_loot.

Cosmetic items
Most of models of any cosmetic items that were added before the Robotic Boogaloo update are located in \models\player\items. Any cosmetic items that were added in or after that update are located in \models\workshop\player\items.
The Crate, Paint Can, and Name Tag models are not present in the game files. Efforts to reproduce them in a model form are ongoing.
Player models
Player models are stored in the directory of \models\player. There are HWM models (or hardware morphs) stored in \models\player\hwm. These models are higher-poly versions of the standard models and were used in the creation of the Meet the Team series. For more information about them, see this thread on the Steam Users' Forums.

Model + Lighting Controls

Holding the following keys and moving the mouse will allow you to move the model or lighting in the screen.

Action Key/Button More Information
Rotate model LMB in centre of the screen. Rotate the current model in all directions.
Turn Model LMB at edges of the screen. Turns the current model around from the viewing angle.
Pan Model Left Shift+LMB anywhere. Pans the model around the screen.
Zoom Model RMB Zooms the current model in and out.
Rotate Lighting Left Ctrl+LMB anywhere. Rotates the light source around the model.
This should generally only be used if there is a lot of glare from a certain part of the model such as Pyro's lenses.


HLMV stores model positionings and settings inside the registry in separate keys. You can open the registry editor by going to Start > Run and typing in "regedit.exe". HLMV's directory is "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Valve\hlmv".

Pictogram comment.png Note: Changes made to values in the registry editor will be overwritten if the model is open while the changes are made. You will need to either close HLMV or load a different model while editing values. The values can also be updated while viewing by refreshing the registry editor ('View' > 'Refresh' or 'F5').

Key values

Inside each key are several values, and their uses are listed below:

Value Description Type Default
aColor Ambient color (0.3 0.3 0.3 0) #4C4C4C
bgColor Background color (0.25 0.25 0.25 0) #3F3F3F
cclanguageid Integer 0
enablenormalmapping Normal map Integer 0
gColor Ground color (0.85 0.85 0.69 0) #D8D8AF
lColor Light color (1 1 1 0) (white)
lightrot Positioning of the light source (X Y Z) (0 180 0)
merge0 – merge3 Attached models ("weapons" in HLMV)
overlaySequence0 – overlaySequence3  ?
overlayWeight0 – overlayWeight3  ?
playsounds Toggle sounds being played Integer 1
Rot Model's rotation in the world view (X Y Z) Model dependant
sequence Animation sequence Model dependant (most commonly idle or ref)
showbackground Integer 1
showground Integer 1
showillumpos Integer 1
showshadow Integer 1
speechapiindex Integer 1
speedscale 1
thumbnailsize Integer 128
thumbnailsizeanim Integer 128
Trans Translation of the model (X Y Z) Model dependant
viewermode Integer 0

Program limitations

Fire texture
HLMV applies a fire overlay material to most models. Although not noticeable under most circumstances, it can become particularly apparent when working with models that have dark or black textures.
There are two methods to remove this effect:
  1. The more preferred option is to download and extract this texture replacement, and copy the contents to \Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\tf\custom\. This will replace the default file texture with a 512x512 black material, effectively nullifying the effect for all models.
  2. Alternatively, setting $detailblendfactor to .00 in the VMT file(s) for the model will achieve to the same end; however, this setting must be enabled manually per model.
HLMV handles reflective surfaces by using a texture to fake reflections. The default texture is that of a sunrise -- nice, but not quite clean enough for good, readable photos.
To rectify this, download and extract this texture replacement, and copy the contents to \Steam\steamapps\common\Team Fortress 2\tf\custom\. This will replace the reflection with a morose grey, making for more readable photos.

See also

External links

  • Model Viewer on the [[vdc:Main_Page|Valve Developer Community]


  • GCFScape – tool to extract files out of the game's VPK files
  • HLMV Positioner 1.2 by Netshroud (needs steamuser to be set in Presets.ini)
  • Category:Third Party Tools on the [[vdc:Main_Page|Valve Developer Community]
  • TFMV – special model viewer for TF2, easier to use than hlmv, automatically creates paint charts for painted variants.