View Full Version : Po'noob Saber Tutorial v2.0

06-04-2002, 02:19 AM
For those of you noobs (i am perhaps the biggest) who don't know anything about modelling, have zero bucks to spend on 3dsmax, and want a saber hilt of your very own in the game, this tutorial is for you, me just having figured it all out. EDIT: Version 2.0 addresses several problems, i.e. the omission of a VERY important step to skinning saber models, and various clarifications. Here we go!

1. Download Gmax and Tempest from www.discreet.com If you don't want to download tempest, you can get just the plugins.
a. Get familiar with these programs, especially modelling. (POLYCOUNT, people!)

2. Using Tempest, import Kyle's saber.
a. How? Open assets0.pk3 (in base folder) using winzip. Select All (or just the saber) and extract somewhere using folder names.

3. Model your lightsaber next to Kyle's (so you can get the right size). When you are happy with it, delete Kyle's and move yours into the place his was (centered on the x,y,z origins).

4. As of now, it's possible to get this saber in game, but there would be 2 problems (i know from experience). Your saber will have no texture and emit no blade. The first problem we will solve is the blade.

5. Tags. You've heard about them, this is what they are. Small, one-sided right triangles. One side must be half the length of the other. How big they are in relation to your saber doesn't matter, they don't show up in game, but i made them fit within the hilt just to be anal.
a. So how does this triangle differ from any other? You must name it. There are 2 tags involved in saber hilts: tag_parent and tag_flash. tag_parent must be situated so that it lies flat, so that it's right angle (90 degrees) lines up with the x and y axes, and so that it lies where the top of your character's right hand is meant to go. i.e. the top of the grip. Edit: tag_parent is NOT necessary unless your hands are meant to go somewhere else than the 0,0,0, coordinates.
b. tag_flash, which emits the blade, goes where you want the blade to start, the emitter. It is situated so the short side faces down with the sharp, acute angle pointing striaght up. the right angle lines up with the x/y axis and the z axis. Standing on it's end as it were.
c. Edit: Tag elaboration, i've recieved numerous requests at a more in depth explanation of tags, here it is:
Time tags have nothing to do with what we refer to as tags. A "tag" is simply a brush, like any other on your model, with a few differences. To create one, simply create a PLANE twice as long as it is wide, with a height of zero. now using vertex editing, under the modify tab, simply delete one vertex. You know when you've done this right when you can only see one side and it is a triangle. This is the shape of a tag, now, to truly make it a tag, you just need to name it, this is the only thing that makes it a tag instead of just another brush. you must name it tag_flash. Position it where you want the lightsaber to extend from and when you compile make sure the tags are not attached to anything.

6. Skinning the sucker: I'm not going into detail about uvwrapping and unwrapping, there are far better tutorials elsewhere (polycount). Once you have a 2d image (.jpg, usually), that you're happy with in Gmax (use the materials editor), you can now get it in game and fully functional! Here's how. BIG FAT EDIT #1: To get a 2d Image: Select your model (w_saber) and UVW Map. position the gizmo correctly, so it covers everything, then UVW Unwrap. Click EDIT. This will show you your wireframe flattened out. Hit PRINT SCREEN. Paste this into your graphics editing program (if you don't have one look up paint shop pro, its good and free(ish)). Cut out the "box". The "box" is where the texture shows if you've applied one. it's the area of your skin that gets applied, just mess around with it. Then save this "box" as saber.jpg in you saber file. You can then apply it in Gmax (Material Editor thing), to see how it looks.

7. Compiling. Load your saber model and the tags. Select ONE BRUSH of your saber (not the tags), and select ATTACH LIST (under modify, if it's not there, convert everything to EDITABLE MESH). Select every other brush of your lightsaber, not forgetting to omit the tags. This will group them so they are only one brush. Name this brush w_saber.
a. UVwrap it and then Unwrap it (again, check other tutorials) assign your texture to it, so it looks exactly how you want it to ingame, cause that's what it's gonna look like. now select everything (w_saber, tag_parent, and tag_flash), making sure your skin is applied in gmax. Go to export and export selected as .md3. Under SELECTED FRAMES, enter "w_saber tag_parent tag_flash" without quotes, then uncheck the boxes. Name this file saber_w.md3 to save time.
B. BIG FAT EDIT #2: You must create a .skin file that is used in conversion. Simply copy a model_default.skin from a player model, put it in your saber folder, and rename it saber_w.skin. This file must contain only 1 line (unless you have more than one skin) this line is

"w_saber,models/weapons2/saber/saber.jpg" without the quotes.

c. MD3 -> GLM: Now open up MD3VIEW, a program that comes with the jediknight2 tools. Open saber_w.md3 and select View Origin, under View. This will show you your tags, if they are installed correctly. Everything good? BIG FAT EDIT #3: Now, under FILE, choose LOAD SKIN. Load your saber_w.skin. It WILL say cannot find bla bla bla. IGNORE THIS. Now, export as a .glm.
Take this .glm and the 2d image (usually saber.jpg) and pak them up ( a whole other tutorial. if you don't know, ask me ). And if everything went according to plan, Your saber will be ready to slice and dice stormtroopers and other noobs alike! SMALLER, BUT STILL FAT EDIT: Your pak need contain ONLY your saber_w.glm and saber.jpg.

Master Shawn
06-04-2002, 02:32 AM
Thanks so much snakeeyes, finally got my saber hilt to work!! I plan to start modelling a 2.0 version soon and make it look more like I had planned it to look like in the first place :)

06-04-2002, 02:57 AM
snakeeyes!! you're my saviour too!! waahahahah my saber's working finally... =) thanks a lot man!

06-04-2002, 03:55 AM
I thought you guys would like that. Okay, this should be the final version of the tutorial, unless there are any other glaring errors or gaping holes found, or unless someday this gets posted on a site somewhere. I also wanted to move the topic to a new thread, so new readers can get all the info of the other thread without wading through three pages of stuff. Thanks to everyone for their input and questions, which showed me what needed clarifying, and what was just plain wrong. If i undertake anything else (single player cutscene scripting, player modelling) which i doubt, cause i'm leaving soon, there'll be a Po'noob Tutorial as soon as I think I know what i'm doing.

P.S. If you release a lightsaber made with help from this tutorial, perhaps you would make a note of it on your readme, to point other noobs this way? Sometimes I get the feeling that, with a few notable exceptions, experienced modellers don't want to help inexperienced modellers. Perhaps it's the time, perhaps they don't want every poor noob making his own models. I feel Editing is for everyone, and in an anonymous setting like this, many of us get ignored. So, if you read a posted question you know the answer to, tell him, or at least point him in the right direction. Modelling isn't hard, it's finding out how to model that's hard.
While most of you would figure out how to model by yourself, where it not for this tutorial, it would have taken a lot longer. Pass on what you have learned. (This concludes my sermon for today) Long Live The NOOB!

06-04-2002, 02:55 PM
My skin is now working in 3rd person, thanks for the tip! i completely forgot about .skin files.

Lord -=[FBF]=-
06-04-2002, 04:07 PM
nice compilation, snakeeyesa27! just a quick addition tho: if ur looking for the gmax Tempest plugins i've uploaded them to the files section of my mod site here (http://www.btinternet.com/~howe_alison/brothers) so they're easy to find.
also, you mention ur leaving:
which i doubt, cause i'm leaving soon
where u going?

06-04-2002, 06:39 PM
I'm going to go visit my friends in michigan for the summer. Yes, thank you for the link, i didn't want to tell everyone to ask you for them, in case you didn't have them posted, or something.

06-04-2002, 10:07 PM
Hi I have gone through furrycat's custom sabre tutorial trying to get a saber to work before I actually make my own one. The only problem is I do not know how to export to glm. I would prefer to do it in milkshape but gmax would do to. I can do everything else except export to glm, please help me with this easy task. In other words where is the jediknight 2 tools?

06-04-2002, 10:09 PM
The md3viewer included with the first tools release will export your md3 to a glm for use.

06-04-2002, 10:21 PM
Where can I get the JK2 Tools from? Linky please :c3po:

06-04-2002, 10:24 PM
Oh come on. You know i must get a little upset when ppl ask these kinda questions. However did u find this forum.....


Look hard and long.

Master Shawn
06-04-2002, 10:26 PM
http://mr8472.netfirms.com/jk2/shot.jpg Heres a few pics of my new saber model in action, just a few minutes ago I fixed my plain texture and added a metal texture from Q3 over it, it looks much better than just plain old grey:D So, any thoughts :)

06-04-2002, 10:36 PM
Hey Master Shawn good saber I like it and I saw that you have been working hard and long at this well done!. Darth Cobra look at my number of posts 3 in a n00b so just lighten up!

06-04-2002, 10:46 PM
Lighten up huh... (well i did have a nice rant typed in here.. but i decided not to post it) But ill just say. YOU PPL NEED TO QUIT BEING SO LAZY! SEARCH THE FORUM BEFORE U ASK QUESTIONS OVER AND OVER AND OVER!!!!!

06-04-2002, 11:16 PM
Yeah I know what you mean DarthCobra, I am a member at many other forums and it really annoys me when people ask about simple stuff, when it is there if they look hard enough. I am sorry that I bothered you by asking you for the link, since then I have serached the webpage and downloaded the tools. The only reason I told you to lighten up is because you replied in such a harsh way ie. "However did u find this forum....." and "Look hard and long".

Thanx for your help DarthCobra, now can we stop this dispute?

06-05-2002, 01:37 AM
What can i DL so that i can open the JK2 files in my version of 3dsmax 4.2 ??? its the actual program...but i still cant open the saber files or any files for that matter :(

06-05-2002, 01:57 AM
Im mad, u need Quake 3 game to get tempest, that sux. I dont wanna buy quake, i just want tempest to make a saber :( any suggestions? here i am thinking the only game u need to make a saber for jk2 is jk2 :(

06-05-2002, 03:22 AM
Well, I'm doing pretty good with this tutorial, especially considering I'd never touched GMax before today :) I've run into a problem, though. When attempting to import Skin in MD3View, I get the following error:

Unable to find surface name "w_saber" in model C:\Program Files\LucasArts\Star Wars JK II Jedi Outcast\GameData\base\models\weapons2\saber_tauw\s aber_w.md3

Double checked in Gmax, the two things I have in there are w_saber and tag_flash. When I exported to md3, I put in the "The Following Frames:" box "w_saber tag_flash" (without the quotes). I unchecked everything else, then exported. Did I miss something?

Thanks in advance for any help, and thanks for the tutorial! :)


06-05-2002, 07:59 AM
I have come across a problem when I start upp jedi knight. My saber blade emits through the handel and came out the other end. I belive this has something to do with the tags? I have placed them as so: http://jk2.furrycat.net/modelling/sabre/images/2/tag_alignment.gif

I have made sure it is tag_flash etc? What is the cause of it emiter through the handle and out the bottom?

06-05-2002, 11:04 AM
hmm.. smut.. it probably does have something to do with your tag_flash not being aligned properly.. i for one never create my tags cos they usually screw up.. what i do is import the saber_w.md3 from assets0.pk3 (you gotta extract it urself with winzip), then i use the tags from there. it also gives me a reference as to how big my saber should be.. gmax doesn't really support importing md3s however.. there's a script for it. you can get it here.


how to run the script is on the page itself. after importing the saber_w.md3, merge your saber into the scene with File --> Merge, then align your saber with the default, and scale accordingly. that way, you only have to move the tags up or down. =) hope this helps..

06-05-2002, 03:50 PM
Bradfu, it says in the tutorial, though it must not be very clear, that you should ignore this. Your skin will show up in game anyway.

Smut, i can't tell from your pictures, but it sounds like your tag is upside down. Just flip it.

Note for everybody: When your blade emits erroneously (to the right, left, down, whatever) you simply must adjust the tag. See where it's pointing and where the blade is going. Then adjust where it's pointing to where you want the blade to go. It's really pretty simple.

06-05-2002, 07:06 PM
Thanks snakeeyes :) I see that now, missed it before. Got my hilt in-game, blade emitting perfectly, now I just gotta figure out why the skin isn't showing up, just grey :) Hope you'll forgive my questions, the "noob" part of the title of this tutorial applies 100% to me :)


06-05-2002, 07:23 PM
do i REALLY need the game quake 3 arena to get tempest?

Lord Darkblade
06-05-2002, 07:47 PM
ok, I have a problem with milkshape. I am making a Mace Windu EpII saber in MilkShape and I am working on the buttons that activate the saber on the model but I went to the edit menu and selected duplicate selection but nothing happens...what's the deal? Does anybody know what I'm doing wrong or does this feature not work or somthing?

Thanks for your help...

06-05-2002, 09:09 PM
Bradfu: If you do EVERYTHING in the tutorial, your saber WILL show up skinned in game. Tried and tested. Pay special attention to the development and use of the saber_w.skin file.

Adrian832: You don't need quake for tempest. If it doesn't work for some reason, just get the plugins from lord FBF.

Lord Darkblade: I'm only familiar with gmax, so i can't help you out with milkshape. The tutorial is directed towards gmax users as well, though someone else may be able to help you, and there is a tutorial on saber modeling with milkshape. (check my last thread: Tutorial: saber modeling for poor noobs)

Sidenote: I noticed the avatars are back up, anybody know why they were gone?

06-05-2002, 09:22 PM
Ok, i searched Lord's site and i couldnt find tempest anywhere, can you please supply a direct link, sorry

It says on the site discreet that i need the following:

gmax 1.1 installed on your system
id Software's Quake III Arena
gmax tempest game pack [540KB]
gmax tempest Installation Guide [PDF format]

It says right there that i need id sftware's QUAKE III ARENA, y does this sa i need if i dont

06-05-2002, 10:01 PM
go here for gmax stuff:

06-06-2002, 01:19 AM
You don't NEED quake. It's just that tempest is FOR quake. Just download it man! It won't ask you why you don't have quake. It will say where is quake, but you say screw you and it will shut up.

06-06-2002, 01:56 AM
thanx for the help Methuselah I will work on that now :)

06-06-2002, 02:17 AM
The tags worked really well! :) All i need to know now is how do I export this saber as a MD3? and do I have to generate the control file for it?

06-06-2002, 04:17 AM
I used the premade tags and thanks from all the tips from you people my saber is working! now all i have to do is build a model :rolleyes:

06-07-2002, 02:15 PM
I'm new to gmax, so can you help me with attaching? I modelled the saber, but it's made of 4 models. How do I attach them?

06-07-2002, 03:26 PM
click one of parts, click Attach under modifiers/edit geometry (i think), and click the other parts.
turn off Attach by clicking it again.

06-07-2002, 05:55 PM
Okay, I got the model in one piece. Now i'm stuck on the tags. I create a plane 2x as long as it is wide, but I can't get it shaped like a triangle. When I delete one corner vertex, the entire thing is deleted!

06-08-2002, 12:32 PM
Would this be the same method for creating player models too?

06-08-2002, 12:34 PM

06-08-2002, 12:38 PM
What do you need to create a player model?

Lord -=[FBF]=-
06-09-2002, 04:25 PM
adrian832: its not all that hard. you arent looking for Tempest on my site, ur looking for the tempest plugins, which interface with gmax and let you import/export as .md3 and .map, which is the only difference (other than the **** interface) between gmax and tempest. as u asked, the tempest plugins are just here: http://www.btinternet.com/~howe_alison/brothers/files/gmaxPlugins.zip

06-10-2002, 01:22 PM

This is chalked full of saber building goodness. So it needs to be bumped if not booked marked by everyone trying to build a saber :)


06-10-2002, 03:38 PM
I, for one, wouldn't mind terribly if it was made into a sticky.

06-11-2002, 12:30 AM
Originally posted by lightsaber6458
Okay, I got the model in one piece. Now i'm stuck on the tags. I create a plane 2x as long as it is wide, but I can't get it shaped like a triangle. When I delete one corner vertex, the entire thing is deleted!

i think what you're doing is selecting one corner of the rectangle and pressing delete right? you gotta go into vertex mode first.. go to your modifiers, select Edit Mesh, choose Vertex mode, and select one of the corners, then press delete.. look in your perspective view window to check if one side is shaded and the other isn't. if it turned out that way, you got it right. =)

06-12-2002, 03:05 PM


06-12-2002, 09:51 PM
Still having skin problems. Here's the exact steps I've been using:

Model saber in GMax. Throw on a cylindrical mapping gizmo, then do the UV Unwrap Edit. Move things around in there, print screen, open create my skin in Photoshop, save it as a 512x512 jpg. Go back into GMax, open the materials editor, add saber.jpg as a diffusion map. This is where I get a little confused. Is the diffusion map what it's supposed to be applied as? Or does it even matter whether I apply anything in GMax?

Next I select my w_saber and tag_flash, click Export Selected, save it as saber_w.md3 in my saber folder, and specify frames w_saber and tag_flash, and uncheck everything. I then open it in MD3View and apply the .skin file, which contains the following:


I get the error, click ok, then Export as GLM. I then pack saber_w.glm and saber.jpg into a models/weapons2/saber/ folder and pk3 it. I pop it in my Base directory and load up the game, but the saber is just varying shades of grey.

Any thoughts?


06-13-2002, 12:28 AM

06-13-2002, 12:29 AM
Are you putting your .jpg where the skin points to? in this case c:/models/weapons2/saber/saber.jpg before you pak it up? it needs to be in the location the skin says. If that isn't the case, i don't know what it is although it's almost certainly a .skin file problem.

06-15-2002, 01:59 AM
bump again.


06-15-2002, 04:05 AM
B. BIG FAT EDIT #2: You must create a .skin file that is used in conversion. Simply copy a model_default.skin from a player model, put it in your saber folder, and rename it saber_w.skin. This file must contain only 1 line (unless you have more than one skin) this line is

"w_saber,models/weapons2/saber/saber.jpg" without the quotes.

can you explain a little more on it needs one line? where do i go to edit the line, what program do i open it up with, if you even open it with a program, remember this tutorial is for noobs.

Master Shawn
06-16-2002, 10:36 AM
Grr, all the posts we added got deleted!!! Oh well, anyway, I got my saber UVW Mapped, but its this huge indecernable jumble of vertices and lines, can someone tell me what im doing wrong with this so I can fix it and skin this baby!

-[JO]Master Shawn Kenobi :yobi:

06-16-2002, 11:45 AM
hers a small avi vid file of a friend of mine meshing the handle of some gun, even though its not a lightsaber its all pretty much the same. and it does go a little fast you just have to pay attention.


sorry if it downloads slow its my free webspace i get with my cable modem.

Master Shawn
06-16-2002, 11:58 AM
That avi was WAY too fast for me, so anyone have any text advice for me to follow?

06-16-2002, 01:05 PM
Well, you open a default.skin with notepad, simply delete all the crap that's there already, and write that line, so that it points to where your skin will be when you pack it up. There is only one line. I'm afraid i don't know any other way to explain it. Also, I don't try to help people with UVW mapping or skinning because 1. i'm lazy, 2. It's just WAY too complicated, and 3. It's already been done by much better modellers than i.

06-16-2002, 01:19 PM
snakeeyes, i have done everything in the tutorial just as typed, and everything seems to turn out fine all but the skin, it shows up when i aply the .skin file in MD3viewer, but then when i get in the game, its just gray and white.

Master Shawn
06-16-2002, 01:21 PM
Wierd, that shouldnt happen, the .skin file fixed it for me, hmm, im confused:confused:

-[JO]Master Shawn Kenobi :yobi:

06-16-2002, 05:53 PM
md3 view wont allow me to convert my saber to glm because it has 3 frames intead of one

what does this mean and how do i fix it???

Master Shawn
06-17-2002, 12:56 AM
I dont have a clue what that means, sounds strange. Is anyone here gonna give me some info about UVW Mapping or not, im still stuck on it.:confused: :confused:

06-17-2002, 01:17 AM
Don't have the file point to where your skin is NOW, have it point to where your file WILL BE, when you pak it up. i.e. it should NOT show up when you assign the skin in md3view. it SHOULD give you an error message, like cannot find skin, etc. If you type it EXACTLY like it says, this error will come up, since you cannot have a file without c:/ as a header. If you are linking to where your file is now, change it. I don't see what else could be causing this problem.

06-17-2002, 01:24 AM
so have it point to jk2 base folder?
right now i have it as

and it does not work

06-17-2002, 02:01 AM
im afraid i dont understand any of this stuff. im new to gmax for about 10 minutes now. this stuff just goes straight over my head, but i want to learn how to do it VERY MUCH.

Master Shawn
06-17-2002, 05:01 AM
Im sad to report that my latest saber, Shawn Kenobi's Padawan saber got screwed up and deleted by accident and I cant get it back, so, im going to try and remodel it has best I can..:(

06-17-2002, 06:25 AM


Master Shawn
06-17-2002, 07:14 AM
Well, I got the UVW Map done thnx to a tut I found, but I cant make heads or tales of this jumble of vertices I have, can someone gimme some adivce?

06-17-2002, 08:11 AM
OK. New problem (sorry). I've got my model done and a crappy texture until my friend gets me a copy of Photoshop. lol. Anyway, how do I apply the texture in the material editor thing? IE How do I open it and apply it and stuff. Thanks in advance.

06-17-2002, 12:39 PM
Ok, I've got a wee problem with creating the triangle tag. I make a plane of dimensions 1 x .5, go into the modify tab, select edit mesh, select vertice mode, click a vertice, hit delete, and it just deletes the vertice without making it a triangle. It just shows 3 vertices, and when I deselect them, they disappear. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

06-22-2002, 07:09 AM

06-22-2002, 07:12 AM
this is a little off-topic but, who is Shawn Kenobi??

Master Shawn
06-22-2002, 07:38 AM
Me of course :D

06-22-2002, 09:57 PM
Originally posted by inbredyokel
Ok, I've got a wee problem with creating the triangle tag. I make a plane of dimensions 1 x .5, go into the modify tab, select edit mesh, select vertice mode, click a vertice, hit delete, and it just deletes the vertice without making it a triangle. It just shows 3 vertices, and when I deselect them, they disappear. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

Dude, it IS a triangle. go into perspective view and use smooth shading, rotate around the "triangle". you'll notice that one side is shaded and one side isn't, and it is a triangle on the shaded side.

06-23-2002, 01:05 AM
:chewie: thank you everyone for helping me out , iam going to realese it as soon as iam done , you can see what iam basing it on at http://www.parksabers.com/echelon.html :D

Have any ideas on how to make that chamber glow?

06-23-2002, 02:50 AM
I got my saber in game and my blade looks flawless when holding and swinging the saber. However when i throw it the blade is at a wierd angle any ideas why this is??

06-26-2002, 11:12 AM
bump once again.:evanpiel:

01-23-2003, 01:37 PM
Ok.... I have followed the tuts.... I have mastered UVW mapping... Which was an absolute pig.... I have finished my saber in lovely colours....I have turned it in to a GLM.... I have packed everything up... I even did Icons..... And It won't load in game because it has more then a 1000 verts....It has about 6000... Please don't tell me I am going to have to start again.... Or is it just something I missed..... Please please Please help me!!!!!!!!

01-23-2003, 01:59 PM
Yup your saber is WAY TO HIGH POLY, hack out a bunch of them or start from scratch. Either way will work. If you post some wireframe screen shots of your model I can help you find the areas where you can cut polys.

The most common mistake is with the stacks in the cylinders. If you have a straight cylinder with no bends make it one stack.


having a cylinder with 24+ sides to make it round. When 8 sides will make it just as round.


01-23-2003, 02:01 PM
Originally posted by Darth-Nasty
I got my saber in game and my blade looks flawless when holding and swinging the saber. However when i throw it the blade is at a wierd angle any ideas why this is??

I would wager to bet something is wrong with your flash tag? Does it stay bent after it comes back to you or does it go back to being straight.