Have you got what it takes?

For a while now, we’ve been adding items and hats to TF2 created by community members like you. Not only do these item-makers get to see their ideas come to life in TF2, but they've also received a split of their items' sales from the in-game store. That’s right, money.

The Steam Workshop now makes it easier than ever for you to submit finished 3D models of items and hats for a chance to have them accepted and incorporated to the actual game. To publish an item to the workshop for consideration, first read the FAQ below, then click the Steam Workshop button in the main menu of the game.

New to model making? The FAQ below is the best place to get started. If you have other ideas for the game, we encourage you to share them with the TF community in the TF2 forums.
Yes, we actually do read them.

Are you a model-maker but new to Team Fortress 2? Get the game for FREE on PC or Mac.

Disclaimer: Naturally, we will not accept items that contain offensive imagery or any copyrighted or trademarked material. So please, don’t waste your time.



Q: What are the steps to making an item?

A: Here are broad steps involved in making a 3D item:

  1. Concept: Come up with a good idea in words. Trust us, this is the hardest part.
  2. Design: Draw in 2D or 3D what it will actually look like.
  3. Model: Using a 3D program, create the clean polygon model that will actually be in the game.
  4. Pelt: Unwrap the 3D model like a bearskin rug (UVs) so you can texture map it.
  5. Paint: Using your UVs as a guide, pick a color. Paint a color. Repeat.
  6. Skin: Bind the model to a joint for articulation.
  7. Compile: Use itemtest and don’t forget to make an LOD!
  8. Test: Load the itemtest map and look at your item on the character.
  9. Publish: Upload it to the steam workshop!

Q: How does the item publishing process work?

A: Like this:

  1. You create an item that meets the submission requirements.
  2. You test your item using the in-game 'itemtest' map.
  3. You publish your item to the Steam Workshop through the in-game item publishing tool.
  4. We review your item and potentially select it to be added to the game.
  5. If selected we contact you then integrate the item into Team Fortress 2.
  6. We test your item.
  7. We add it to the game and split the money your item generates in the Mann Co. store with you.

Q: Where can I find good tutorials to learn 3D modeling?

A: Search for “speed modeling” on YouTube and visit the source developer wiki. There are a lot of digital art communities online with great information. Here are a few that we like to visit.


Q: What are some guidelines for matching TF2’s art style and improving the chances of my item getting in?

A: This is a tricky question we grapple with daily. When we started, the game followed an idealized 1950’s-60’s Americana look. Nothing too modern, hyper-realistic or overly “cartoony”. Clearly the art style has evolved over the years, but here are some guidelines that you should keep in mind as you create your items.


Q: What software tool should I use to make my item?

A: It varies depending upon the project, but this is generally what we use:


Q: I am a 3D artist, how do I get started?

A: First, you’ll need to install the Source Developer Kit (SDK).



Q: What are the polycount limits on my item?

A: Keep the polycount similar to what's already in the game. Try to keep hats under 1,000 polygons, and weapons under 6,500.



Q: What resolution should my textures be?

A: Texture sizes should not be larger than 512x512. For hats, 256x256 is usually large enough.



Q: Any tips on creating textures?

A: Maintain the same texture density of other models in the world (Nothing higher res or lower res than what's next to it. For hats, maintain team colors, if not - neutral colors. Character textures are less noisy/detailed than everything else in the game. Character items/hats should match that style.



Q: Where can I get the models of the existing characters so I can build my item in context?

A: Download this zip file which contains the reference head geometry for all the classes on the right locations.



Q: I've made an .obj file and .tga, how do I test them in game?

A: Use the itemtest wizard.



Q: I know how to work with source, do I have to use itemtest?

A: Since we tend to recompile items from the published source files, it's a good idea to use itemtest at first to setup all the directories and file locations. This makes it easier for us to review your item and increases its chance of getting in. Source power users should feel free to add additional .smd or .dmx files as well as edit the .qc and .vmt files as needed.



Q: My item just got rejected. Why?

A: Chances are that it didn't meet one, or several, or possibly all of the guidelines listed below:

Remember: Except in specific no-go areas (obscenity or copyright infringement, for example), these are not hard and fast rules. They are guidelines. We may select an item that breaks one or several of these guidelines, simply because it's too awesome not to include. However, these guidelines do dictate our selection process. Following them can only help your chances of getting your item in the Mann Co. Store.



Q: What are gold stars?

A: Gold stars are given to items submitted through the in-game import tool. This lets us know that the author has run the item through a verification process that conforms to a set of performance standards within the game.



Q: Why is it important to get a gold star on my submission?

A: Gold star items take much less time to review and integrate into the game. Reducing the integration time allows us to ship more items to the community in each update. Being able to ship more items per update means we can include a larger pool of authors who've submitted to the workshop. Cosmetic items without a gold star tell us that there may be difficulties involved with incorporating then into the game. Consequently, they have a very low chance of shipping.



Q: What kind of items does the import tool support?

A: Currently the tool only supports hats and miscellaneous.



Q: What if my item has features that aren't supported by the import tool?

A: Items can still be submitted using the browse button in-game. However, these items require a longer and more thorough review process compared to gold star items.



Q: Will you be adding new features to the import tool?

A: Yes. We will be gradually adding features to the tool. To reduce complexity and confusion, we have added base support for features that cover the majority of item types submitted to the workshop.