Sprays are a feature of the PC version of Team Fortress 2 that allow players to "spray" (default key: ) their own images on surfaces within a game server such as walls, ceilings, or floors instantly.
Sprays are somewhat disabled on Casual Mode; while players can still spray their images, other players will not be able to see them.
The image file can be uploaded to your spray list via the Multiplayer menu by selecting the spray of your choice to be imported from your steam directory. The image file must be converted to a
.vtf texture file combined with a
.vmt material. The game can automatically convert
.gif files (though not animated gifs). The game will generate the material file for you if you don't create it yourself. All sprays must be no larger than 512 kb size wise, or they won't show up in game.
Sprays are automatically stored in the Steam cloud, but can, like all other Steam cloud files, be ignored by the client.
They can be either enabled or disabled in the game's Multiplayer options tab, but how many are displayed at once, if any, is dependent on the value that mp_decals is set to by the server you are playing on. The value must be above 0 to show sprays, and the higher the value, the more sprays that can be loaded at once. The
sv_pure console variable can also disable sprays from being displayed.
In-Game screenshots that have been saved using the games screen capture system (default key:) are already formatted to be used as sprays but will most likely have reduced image quality and be illegible to other players.
Sprays are used by players for many reasons including;
- To advertise clans or groups
- Lighten up the tension of a match with comical sprays
- To leave their mark on the world using it as a signature
- To entertain other players
- To distract other players
- To warn players
The practical application of sprays in-game is almost non-existent, although they can sometimes be used to distract enemies by making them believe that there are certain obstacles in their way that in most cases would want to be avoided such as distant Snipers, Sentry Guns, or Stickybombs.
Another use for sprays is for Spies to lay a trap for unwary opponents. A Spy equipped with a Cloak and Dagger can place a spray and then lie in wait for an enemy to stop and look at it, backstabbing them while their guard is down.
Another use for sprays is for advertising items for trading purposes. These sprays can serve to gather the attention of other traders in the server.
A more practical use of sprays is to warn players of location specific obstacles, such as a sentry or a Spy in the area.
There are sprays Engineers will sometimes put next to their Teleporter that denote which classes should use the Teleporter first. These lists generally put the Engineer himself on top, since he has to maintain his buildings, and the Scout on bottom, since a level 1 Teleporter charge rate would be about as fast as the Scout running to the frontlines on foot.