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A detail texture (noise_detail_01), and its effect when applied to a material (left).

$detail specifies a greyscale texture with which Source will add high-resolution detail when the material is viewed up close, by darkening the albedo appropriately. It is very effective for increasing the apparent resolution of a texture, and was used extensively in Episode Two.


$detail <texture>

You will probably want to use at least $detailscale (see below) as well.

Additional parameters

$detailscale <float>
Fits the detail texture onto the material the given number of times. Generally around 7 or 8 for a 128px detail texture; default is 4.
$detailblendfactor <normal>
Intensity of the detail's darkening of the albedo. Effectively an $alpha value.
$detailblendmode <bool>
Enable to make the detail texture darken the albedo more.
$detailtint "<RGB matrix>"
Modifies the colour of the detail texture.
$detailframe <int>
The frame to start animated detail texture on. Requires DX9.
$detail_alpha_mask_base_texture <bool?>
To do: Something to do with masking $basetexture with $detail's alpha channel? Requires DX9.

Valve's detail textures

Valve's stock detail textures (available in OB only) are best used with the following pre-configured values:

$detail detail\noise_detail_01 // e.g. for brickwork, concrete...
$detailscale 7.74
$detailblendfactor 0.8
$detailblendmode 0
$detail detail\metal_detail_01
$detailscale 4.283
$detailblendfactor .65
$detailblendmode 0
$detail detail\rock_detail_01
$detailscale 11
$detailblendfactor 1
$detailblendmode 0
$detail detail\plaster_detail_01
$detailscale 6.783
$detailblendfactor .8
$detailblendmode 0

There is also detail\wood_detail_01, but no stock material seems to use it.