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The technique was first used in Day of Defeat: Source Day of Defeat: Source's snow maps, such as Kalt.
$lightwarptexture is a cornerstone of Team Fortress 2 Team Fortress 2's illustrative character rendering.
Posterized color can be achieved, but lighting must be tightly controlled.

$lightwarptexture (DX9+) is a material shader parameter available in all Source Source games since Source 2006 Source 2006

Obsolete-notext.png Deprecated: The deprecated template {{Game name}} (and similar) was used. Please recreate this icon template with {{Software}} instead.

 for VertexLitGeneric, LightmappedGeneric, WorldVertexTransition, EyeRefract. It tints texels depending on their brightness. It can be thought of as localized color correction.


Icon-Important.pngImportant:$lightwarptexture must be specified after all other textures, otherwise it will overwrite them.
Icon-Important.pngImportant:Make sure the texture is clamped in the VTF otherwise it will render incorrectly.
Icon-Important.pngImportant:$lightwarptexture on VertexLitGeneric requires a $bumpmap. If not specified, a default one will be used instead! It will be as if a $bumpmap is in the VMT!
Warning.pngWarning: This means that all parameters that don't work with $bumpmap also won't work with $lightwarptexture.
Note.pngNote:Does not work without $phong on VertexLitGeneric in Counter-Strike: Source Counter-Strike: Source and CS:GO engine branch CS:GO engine branch.
Note.pngNote:$lightwarptexture does not seem to exist at all for LightmappedGeneric in CS:GO engine branch CS:GO engine branch.
Icon-Bug.pngBug:Does not work when using $detail or $bumpmap2 on both LightmappedGeneric and WorldVertexTransition.
Icon-Bug.pngBug:Does not work when using $selfillumfresnel without also using $phong.
Icon-Bug.pngBug:Does not work when using $seamless_scale.

Lightwarp textures

A lightwarp texture is a one-dimensional strip of pixels. Dark texels will be tinted with the colour on the left-hand side, and bright texels with the colour on the right. 50% gray means no tint.

Tip.pngTip:Use an uncompressed BGR888 texture to avoid color banding on lighting gradients.


This is the lightwarp texture used in the Day of Defeat: Source Day of Defeat: Source screen to the right. It is designed to add a subtle bluish tint to darker snow without affecting brighter regions.
This is applied to all Team Fortress 2 Team Fortress 2 characters, not just the Pyro. It creates the high-contrast shadows with red-tinged terminators typical of the illustrative art the game apes.
Custom texture
This custom warp texture creates a posterized "line art" style. Enabling lightwarp alone isn't enough however: ambient lighting must be at 0 to make unlit areas black, and world lighting must become viewer-dependent to ensure that shadows are always cast.
Cel Shading
Custom texture
Cel shading can make objects look more cartoony by replacing the smooth lighting gradient with sharp steps.

Other possible uses of $lightwarptexture include contrast enhancement, tweaking vertex lighting shadow transitions, highlight softening, and more.

Cel shading in action.