A few months back R.P.G. on func_messageboard asked me if I could put together all the info I’d posted on models for quake nicely. As I type, it’s the day before Qexpo goes live, but I’m gonna try to oblige with a series of tutorials. The basic plan is to spread them out over several days, post them as they are completed. The tutorials will present the way I make models for quake 1, going from making a basic globe with a spherically mapped skin right up to a model with a full walk cycle. Along with this, there will be snippets of discussion about how the model format works in quake, how to get around some of the restrictions, and what to watch out for in a model. The pipeline involves quite a few programs, but I feel it’s worth the work, as the models end up with much nicer skinmaps than the conventional way of working for quake.
However, the fact that we need an array of utilities to get things going means I’m gonna just use today to provide links to the required programs and get everything set up to work. Tomorrow(well, the second tutorial) we’ll look at using them.
The first and most important program in the process is gmax. This is a free program made by the people who write 3dmax, discreet. They have stopped supporting the product themselves, but have turned over distribution to turbo squid.
Visit http://www.turbosquid.com/gmax and look for the gmax download(it’s the big button that reads “free download”). You may also want the help or the tutorial files, but they are quite large, so I’d forgive you if you didn’t. Everything you’ll need to know will be posted here in any case. You will however want to download the Tempest game pack, a little further down. This allows you to save your work in md3 format. We will use the md3 format as an intermediate format between gmax and mdl.
The next two programs are for converting the md3 file that gmax exports into a mdl file. I no longer recommend this conversion method – it was so error prone and difficult to set up that I wrote a utility to perform the conversion instead. So download md3tomdl instead and use that
Quake 3 Arena
If you already have Q3A, then you can skip this step entirely. You lucky dog. The rest of us need a few files for Quark(coming up later) to work with. Firstly, download http://www.quaketastic.com/files/misc/models_shader.zip. Then, set up a folder called Q3A, one inside that called baseq3, and one inside that called scripts. By now the script should have finished downloading, even on dial-up, so put that inside the scripts folder. Finally, find any old exe file, an old quake engine, sol.exe, whatever. Make a copy inside the Q3A folder and rename it to quake3.exe.
The next tool we want is Quark. This handy program will do the conversion from md3 to mdl, assuming you treat it nice enough. There are quite a few things that can go wrong, but these tutorials should teach you the way that works, and what’s happened if you get an error message. The various versions of quark are available from http://quark.sourceforge.net/
The most recent version at the time of writing is 6.5.0 alpha 7, and this version works for what we are trying to do. Some earlier version also work, but not all of them, anything before 6.3.0 will not, and who knows whether future versions will keep the feature. So I’d recommend installing 6.5.0 if you possibly can. If you try a different version and it doesn’t work right, then that’s probably what’s wrong.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed that, there’s a little bit of set up we need to do. Run quark, and go to Games -> configuration. A big list of games appears, scroll down to “Quake 3”. There’s a box for “directory of quake 3”, click the … button to the right. Find your Q3A folder and select it, or the “Q3A” folder we created in the last step if you don’t own it. The quake3.exe we stuck in there is good enough to fool Quark, and the shader we put in there lets us open the model. Close her down, we’re now done.
Qme is an native editor for .mdl format files. If you’ve tried any modelling for quake you’ll probably have tried this program. You may not have had the full version, which is now termed abandonware. So, you can download the unrestricted version of QMe 3.0 from
You may optionally download Qme 3.1. A demo of 3.1 was released, along with a patch that would convert Qme 3.0 full to Qme 3.1 full. A lot of people prefer the interface of 3.0 to that of 3.1 – personally I quite like it. It’s totally a preference thing, which version you use won’t make any difference to these tutorials. The demo of 3.1 can be found here:
The instructions for applying the patch from 3.0 to 3.1 are included with in the zip, so I won’t replicate them here.
It’s obviously good to keep things organised on your computer, so we’re now going to make a folder to keep all the model files in while you work on them. This isn’t an entirely spurious step in the tutorial, Quark seemed to have problems with pathnames that contain spaces in them inside md3s. So make a directory called qmodels in your root directory, like c:\qmodels. Tomorrow we’ll make something to go in this folder, but for now we’ll call it a day.