Models - Creating and editing a SC2 model

Tutorial by Zwiebelchen

Note: This tutorial is NOT meant to tell you anything about modeling in general. There are plenty of other tutorials on the web that teach you the basics of modeling, animating and mapping. This tutorial was written only to tell you how to make your model work in SC2.

Additional note: There is currently NO tool on the web that allows actually converting .3ds files to .m3. All you can do until now is preparing the model for SC2, so that you can convert it once StarTools, the build-in model editing and converting program of the Release version of SC2 comes out ... or some crazy russian is writing another maxScript to actually expert .3ds into .m3.
EDIT: Okay ... I lied ... there IS an export script for 3ds max, which can be found here: ... however, its far from working correctly, so I can not recommend using it yet ...

So let's begin ...

1. Importing a SC2 model to 3ds max

1.1 Required tools:
- LadiK's MPQ Editor:
- .m3 import script for 3ds max:

1.2 Installing the .m3 import script:
- Put the extracted import-plugin folder into your Scripts folder in 3ds max. ... you can basicly put it anywhere, but by default, 3ds max goes into this folder, so you will find it faster

1.3 Extracting the SC2 files:
- Open LadiK's MPQ Editor
- The options menu will pop up now ... if it doesn't, then you can access it manually by clicking the Tools tab and clicking on "options"
- Select a work directory ... this is the directory where all your exported models, skins, etc. will be extracted to
- Select your SC2 folder as the listfile directory
- Now go File/Open MPQ
- Go to your SC2 diretory /mods/Liberty.sc2mod
- Select "Base.sc2assets" ... this file contains almost all art files that exist in SC2
- On the diretory window on the left side, right click on "Assets" and click extract

The editor will now extract all files in the Assets archive to the extraction directory.
Note: The complete extracted Base.SC2Assets file has a size of 3 GB, so make sure you have enough hard disc space.

1.4 Importing the model to 3ds max:
- Open 3ds max
- on the "MAXScript" tab, select "Run Script"
- Select the m3_import file
- Click on the hammer icon "utilities" on the top right corner of 3ds Max
- Click on the "MaxScript" button and it expands
- On the bottom of the utilities tab, select "m3 import" from the expandable field
- Click "open" and select the model you want to import from the extracted SC2 mpq folder, then click "import"
Note: This may take a while, depending on the number of animations and polys
- You will now encounter an error that tells you that 3ds max couldn't find the textures used by the model ... Click "no" and write down the names of the files
- Copy and paste those texture files to your "maps" directory of 3ds ... if you are too lazy to do that for every model you want to edit, just move the whole textures folder there
- Try to import the .m3 file again and it should work now
- The m3 sequences script will run and fire automaticly now, which allows you to browse through the animations of the model
(On older 3ds max versions, you may need to also install a .dds plugin in order to make it display .dds files correctly. You can download it here:

Note: Remember that this .m3 import script is far from being perfect ... it may mess up some meshes and can also produce weird animations, but for simple objects, it should work fine.

2. Importing a .dds texture to Photoshop

2.1 Required tool:

2.2 Installing the .dds import script for Photoshop:
- This is different and depends on the version of Photoshop you have ... simply try on your own ...
- You should now be able to import and export .dds files to photoshop

3. Special things you need to remember when making models for SC2

3.1 Animation names:
Always remember to add Key-notes containing the name of that animation in ""'s to your starting and ending notes of your animations by using "Track View - Dope Sheet" under the "Graph Editors" tab in 3ds max ... remember the naming convention for SC2 (which is very similar to WC3). Also remember to write Looping or NonLooping to the note below the name (without ""'s). I don't know exactly wether this note command is still the same as with MDX files, but I doubt they changed it.

The naming convention of SC2 seems to be quite the same as in WC3 - except that you do not write "Stand -1" anymore, but "Stand 01".
But basicly, you can write any name for your animations you want ... as the data editor of SC2 allows manual setting of "standard" animations for actors' models.
There are also two new "standard" animations you might add to your model: "Stand Left" and "Stand Right", which seem to be turning/sidestep animations ... you should really make those, because lots of custom maps will use keyboard unit controls that allow sidesteps which would look weird without those animations.

3.2 Nodes
Remember to add attachment nodes to the bones of your units. Nodes in SC2 are basicly just additional bones named after a certain naming convention, which is:
Example: Ref_origin is a static point between the feets of the unit.

If you need more than just the ordinary attachment points "head", "origin", etc. then you should name them "Ref_Hardpoint XX" with XX being a number between 1 and 20.
This should be done because GUI only allows those names to be accessed in the trigger editor.

Note: It seems that there are no more refpoints for "Hand" anymore. Instead, you can use "Ref_Weapon Left" and "Ref_Weapon Right" or simply "Ref_Weapon".
Also, the chest node is gone. It seems that "Ref_Center" has taken its place.
Sometimes, there is also "Ref_Target", but not all units have it (For example zealots don't), so I suppose it can't be that important.
Also, it seems that "Ref_Hardpoint" without a number is always near the Center of the unit. Dunno if that is important or not. You should add this uncounted Hardpoint to the center too, just to go sure.

Also, there are some more special points that I couldn't figure out what they do:
"HitTestTight", such as "HitTestFuzzy", which are always below the feet of the unit, "HitTestFuzzyXX" with XX being a number ... dunno what they are there for. They don't have "Ref_" before their name, so it could also be just helper bones for the specific unit that have no real effect on gameplay. Or they somehow have an effect on collision detection of missiles.
Click here to comment on this tutorial.
Tutorials submitted by users are copyright of the original author. All other content on this site is copyright
Copyright is secured automatically upon creation, and does not require registration