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David Johnston


Twee Texturing Tips

A bunch of simple considerations when texturing your maps. Take notes if your latest map looks like something from 1995.


Selecting the correct texture for a particular surface has always been tricky, but at the same time the most important aspect. At the simplest level, it's about choosing the texture that looks best, or selecting one from a number of textures that are as good as each other.

The material is important - with a game like Counter-Strike players expect to be able to shoot straight through wood, and you must try to meet these expectations. Similarly, wood should look like wood and metal look like metal.

One of the more common mistakes is over-using a texture, simply because it's such an easy thing to do. Generally, if a texture is easily-identifiable, it's use should be limited. Textures that merge well with the environment should be used often. Don't be afraid to re-use textures for different purposes, provided it makes sense.


This is where the aligning and straightening and tiling of a texture comes into play - something that is learned best through practise and looking at how others do it. This is also where you have to consider the geometry, it's shape and how two sets of geometry collide or combine, and how to best manipualte their textures to make any seam look natural.

As an example, consider the perimeter buildings on the CS:S Dust maps - the buildings all use a variety of textures, generally consisting of a top, middle and bottom. They also jut out whenever the building (and thus texture) changes, which helps to hide the seam.

This is also where you consider lighting - if geometry needs to be changed to get the look right, it's worth imagining how the light will behave after the change and whether it will actually negate the effort. A strong shadow, for example, can make a seam look very ugly.


Remember, the real-world isn't always pretty. It has its eye-sores. It's all very well trying to add similar flaws to a map if they help with the atmosphere, but it doesn't work the other way. A surface that is blatantly a tiled texture sticks out like a sore thumb, so mask repeats either by choosing better textures, or through cunning use of shadows and stain decals. Anything to break up patterns without drawing attention is good.

Also consider the 'dirtiness' of the environment. If a wall is covered in dirt, rust or mud, the floor below it is likely to be pretty dirty as well. If a wall is rotten and broken, then make sure that adjacent surfaces match. There's nothing worse than seeing a really nice, shiny metal floor being supported by dull, dirty and broken wooden supports. Keep it all consistent.


This seems to be the more difficult bit these days. Getting the texture and geometry looking 'real' requires consideration about the architecture, lighting and even some structural engineering. For example, a corrugated-iron wall is not going to have a platform bolted onto it without some form of extra support. A thin brick wall is not going to be 50 metres high. A thin 10m plank of wood will not hold the weight of a human. All very simple things, but easy to forget when desperately looking for that elusive "perfect" texture. The thinking should be about real-world building materials rather than textures in a fantasy 3D world.

Special consideration should be given to the thickness of certain elements - a thick wall is unlikely to be made of solid wood, and a paper-thin wall won't be made of concrete or metal. What was acceptable in the Quake days is barely suitable for placeholders these days!

We also need to consider pairs of textures more than ever before - using the same texture on all sides of some structures can often look out of place (consider bricks, which really need two textures, one for the side and one for the top.) Again, times are a'changing... but that should have always been the case.


Performance often comes last, although it really shouldn't. That wonderfully shiny, reflective texture may look great, but it'll halve your FPS if you put it on everything. Similarly, getting tiling wrong (excessive use of scaling) can sometimes kill the framerate as bad as the reflection map...

...but unless your map is called cs_blingbling, that shouldn't bother you.


  1. Nice write up. It'd be nice if you were to show us a few texturing tips for getting the most out of the textures (you mentioned one method for stacking textures and making seams look good). Also, is it Costness or Costliness?
  2. That reminds me, I forgot to put Loch Ness in. Damnit.
  3. Good read. I find it hard to imagine what the textures will look like in game with lighting. They look plastic/fake in Hammer, and then in the real thing it looks better. I don't know why I'm writing this, I just wanted to make my post seem like it's related with the article before I write something like this: I'm having some problems with making my map at the moment. I'm remaking cs_mansion for source (because I'm sure Valve won't make one) and I really want to try and spruce it up, like the cs_militia official remake. That was breath taking. Anyhoo, it's difficult getting the balance between realism and gameplay. The original mansion was very empty and hardly a 'mansion' if you really look at it. The rooms were empty except for a few book cases. Perhaps a table or two. Now, more realistically, a mansion would have curtains, beds, bed side tables, carpets, shelves, a kitchen, a computer or two, chairs, etc. But all that clutter will affect the gameplay and make it harder to move around quickly enough to dodge the bullets. Also it would add pressure to the framerate too. So... I don't know what to do, really. I don't expect an answer made of gold, nor do I expect an answer at all. Just saying hello. Oh and, nice articles, really helping the mapping community, not just fo Hl2/CSS but for all other games. Keep it up :)
  4. Gregor: If I were you, I'd check out how they handled the indoor areas in de_inferno, or any of the buildings in Day of Defeat Source.
  5. I really like this blog. I think I know most of the tricks mentioned but it's always good to read how someone would sum it up. Always learning new things. Are there any other blogs/places where I can rummage for articles like this one?
  6. *runs off to replace hardly visible steel textures with their cheap version* kekeke, that should raise the fps a bit.. average of 40 with 8 bots is just to low...
  7. Addicted to Morphine: Thanks, I will check de_inferno's interior out.
  8. Pardon me, but wasn't it called CS_Estate?
  9. cs_estate and cs_mansion is looking like the same. but there's some small differents.