Create CSGO Skins with GIMP

Create Custom CS GO Skins with GIMP

I know my audience well enough to know that a large portion of you are gamers. Exactly how many of you are PC games who play Counter Strike: Global Offense is beyond me, but I figured I’d make this post anyway for potential search traffic, because there’s not many resources about this as it currently stands. In this post, I’ll be demonstrating how you can create custom skins for CS:GO weapons using GIMP.

Logo Design Guide

Curious about the creative process that inspires me to come up with design ideas and how I go about executing them? Be sure to check out my logo design guide for a look behind the scenes at my systematic approach to coming up with design ideas.

If you’ve never used a custom weapon skin before, you may be disappointed to hear that you’ll only be able to use what you’ve created in offline mode versus bots. In order to get your design into the actual game — where it can be used in multiplayer —  it needs to be voted in, unfortunately. But if you’re anything like me, you like creating things so much that the prospect of seeing something you created being used in a game (even if it’s just offline versus bots) is just irresistible.

Custom skin I made using my own logo

The *official* Logos By Nick AUG

Get VTFEdit

Before we can start designing, we’ll first need to download a free application that can both open and create a particular file format we’ll be working with, called VTFEdit. It can be downloaded at this link.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed VTFEdit, you’ll need to download the weapon templates for the game. Thankfully, some gracious soul uploaded them to a Google Drive, which can be accessed here.

For this tutorial, I’ll be using the one weapon I’ve actually designed a skin for already, which is the AUG in the Rifles folder. Go ahead and download the Aug.rar file and save it wherever you’ll be storing your custom made skins, then extract it there.

The Template File

Open the Aug folder and look for a file named rif_aug.tga, then open it with VTFEdit. It should look something like this…

Your Own Website

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As I’m sure you can see, what you’re looking at is all of the different textures for each individual element of the weapon that gets masked over the weapon’s object file in-game. In order to create a custom skin, we’ll have to place our own designs over each of these individual elements. I promise that this isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems though.

The next step is to simply copy the image as you see it in VTFEdit by right-clicking on it and selecting copy. After that, open up GIMP and paste it as a new image, and after that you’re free to close out of VTFEdit (for now.)

Working with GIMP

Once you’ve pasted the .tga preview as a new image, this is how it should appear in GIMP…

Weapon skin opened in GIMP

Now it’s time to start designing! To be safe, I recommend adding your design to the image as a new layer so it doesn’t completely erase the original design beneath it, just in case you need to go back and edit it later on. Bear in mind that the texture of your design doe not have to match the texture you see on this template. Here’s how my creation looks…

My tga file made in GIMP

You can compare my design to the original template to get a sense of what each element is. The part where my logo is situated is clearly the stock, and the white object is the grip. I just made everything else black because I didn’t feel like experimenting to find out what each individual element is, and honestly, I think it looks great in black. The stock and grip are what really matters.

Here’s how my rendered weapon looks with the skin applied…

The rendered weapon

I used Photoshop to create this mockup. If you’d like to do the same, simply open the .obj file that came with the templates and replace the texture

Once you’re finished making your design in GIMP, export it as a TarGA (.tga) file. Name it something unique that couldn’t possibly be confused with another file in the game, like my-super-freakin-awesome-skin-that-i-made-not-valve.tga.

After that, open your newly-created TarGA file with VTFEdit and save it is a .vtf file. Use the same unique name you used for your TarGA. The .vtf file is what you’ll be uploading to the game.

Uploading The Skin

Now that the design is complete and a usable VTF file has been created, it’s time to get this thing into the actual game.

What most people do is go into the game’s actual code files, search for the original skin file name, and replace all instances of it with the new file. I find this method to be a bit tedious though, and when you’re meddling with code there’s just too much that could possibly go wrong. For this reason, I recommend using Unkn0wn’s CS:GO Texture Installation Tool, which can be downloaded here.

The texture installation tool

Unfortunately, you’ll have to use the MediaFire site to download this application, which sets off all kinds of warning sirens with browsers like Chrome. I can assure you that it’s a completely innocuous file though.

Using the texture installation tool is pretty much self-explanatory. You’ll simply be uploading your VTF file and choosing the VTF file in the game that it will be replacing. If your skin is for the AUG, you’ll be looking to replace rif_aug.vtf.

For instructions on how to use this tool, check out this Youtube video.


Once you’ve replaced the file, fire up CS:GO, start an offline bot match, select the weapon you’ve re-skinned and enjoy!

Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.

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