Compiling a model

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This article explains how to use the Source SDK tool studiomdl.exe, located in the sourcesdk/bin directory. Studiomdl is used to compile source .SMD files exported from a modeling package, combined with a .QC script file, into a .MDL file that can be used by the engine.

Exporting and Compiling Models

Follow these steps to export a model from XSI and compile it with the Source SDK tools:

  1. Export the .SMD files somewhere under the SDK's modelsrc directory for the game being compiled for.
    For example, for a Counter-Strike Source model:
    C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\username\sourcesdk_content\cstrike\modelsrc
    C:\Program Files\Valve\Steam\SteamApps\username\sourcesdk_content\cstrike\modelsrc
    Where username is your Steam Login name.
  2. Create a .QC file in the same place as the .SMD files. Refer to the QC files that are already in the sourcesdk_content\cstrike\modelsrc directory for examples.
  3. Ensure the proper Current Game is selected on the SDK Launcher panel (eg. Counter-Strike: Source).
  4. Run studiomdl.exe on the .QC file. To do this, open a Windows command prompt, and type:
    cd "%sourcesdk%"
    bin\studiomdl -game <YourGameDir> ..\sourcesdk_content\cstrike\modelsrc\mymodel.qc

    Note:This makes use of an environment variable called "sourcesdk" to simplify things. This environment variable is created upon installation of the Source SDK.
  5. As an alternative to running studiomdl.exe in a command prompt window, a desktop shortcut to studiomdl.exe can be created. Model .QC files can then be "dragged-and-dropped" from a Windows Explorer window to the desktop shortcut to perform the compiling.
    Open Windows Explorer, navigate to the ..sourcesdk\bin folder, right-click on studiomdl.exe and select Send To.. Desktop (create shortcut).

    Note: Disadvantage of the shortcut method - It is difficult to view errors reported by studiomdl.exe during the compile process using the shortcut method as the compile window will close immediately after the error is reported. If the model does not appear to compile correctly, use the command prompt window method to determine if studiomdl.exe reports error(s) during the compile process.
  6. If there are no errors with the .QC file or the .SMD files, a .MDL file will be created in the location specified by the $modelname key in the .QC file.
  7. Model Viewer can now be run in the SDK launcher to open and view the model file.

Placing models

A model can be placed in a map with the Hammer level editor to see it inside the game.

To place a compiled model in Hammer:

  1. Open the Hammer Editor from the SDK Launcher.
  2. Add an entity with the Entity Tool (prop_static, prop_dynamic, prop_physics, prop_physics_multiplayer or generic_actor depending on the model type and game). In the Object Properties or World Model property for the entity, browse the model tree to view and place the model. See the Hammer documentation for information on how to use the Entity Tool.

Sample Models

There are a number of Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2 sample models in the sourcesdk_content directory that you can refer to for examples. They are compiled in the same way as models you create yourself. For example, you can type these commands at a command prompt to compile the lamp holder sample:

cd "%sourcesdk%"
bin\studiomdl ..\sourcesdk_content\cstrike\modelsrc\lamp\it_lampholder1.qc

Sample Models Compile Errors

If studiomdl displays the error: duplicate weightlist pelvisonly when compiling the male_06_sdk model, the problem may be the inclusion of the file Male_Animations_sdk/WeaponsAnims_Shared_sdk.qci.

That file contains a $weightlist pelvisonly line identical to a line in the included file male_shared_XSI_sdk.qci.

  • In the Male_Animations_sdk folder, make a copy of the WeaponsAnims_Shared_sdk.qci file.
  • Rename the copy to WeaponsAnims_Shared_sdk_X.qci (or other unique name).
  • Edit the WeaponsAnims_Shared_sdk_X.qci file and comment out the $weightlist line by inserting // at the beginning of the line.
//$weightlist pelvisonly ...
  • Open for editing the file male_06_sdk.qc.
  • Change the line $include "../male_animations_sdk/WeaponAnims_shared_sdk.qci" to
$include "../male_animations_sdk/WeaponAnims_shared_sdk_X.qci" //(or as otherwise renamed above)
  • Save the male_06_sdk.qc file.
  • Recompile male_06_sdk.qc to determine if the error was corrected.

Error codes


This is caused by having the $shadowlod's curlybracket in the same line as the command. Change:

$shadowlod {


  • Studiomdl simplifies a collision model with more than 20 convex parts into a single hull
Truncating model!!!!
Model has 1 convex sub-parts

To disable this behavior pass the argument -fullcollide to studiomdl.exe when compiling your model. This can be done in the command prompt, as

studiomdl -fullcollide "path/to/model.qc"

with a drag-and-drop DOS batch file, as

@echo on
cd "%sourcesdk%/bin"
studiomdl.exe -fullcollide %1

or with a tool like GUIStudioMDL or Studiocompiler.
Using any of these methods on a collision model that would normally be truncated should return:

Truncation DISABLED!!!!
Model has <xx> convex sub-parts
Collision model completed.

See also