Speed Mapping

by | December 29th, 2009 | Tutorials | 10 Comments »

There are a few things you can do to greatly improve the speed at which you map. I’ll be going through a few of these things, point by point, but you must use them in practice in order to get faster!

  1. Plan while not at hammer. Idle time spend at your keyboard adds up; know what you want to do before you sit down. All your time in hammer should be spent at maximum speed.
  2. Compile very infrequently. These take too much of your time that you could otherwise be spending working. Complete your daily task sheet and compile at the end of the day; take note of issues ingame and prepare to fix those tomorrow.
  3. Cordon compiles: Don’t lazily seal your map; do it methodically and strongly according to optimization practices. Until then, use the cordon method to test your compiles.
  4. Use your keyboard shortcuts wisely and swiftly! Proper hammer hand position is not on ASDF but on SHIFT Z X C V. Use your X finger to shift up to S. You should not be wasting time pressing buttons with the mouse, when you can do it in microseconds with shortcuts.
  • Shift: When you grab a brush, hold shift and drag it to duplicate the brush. Don’t bother making a new brush, this wastes your time! Grab the nearest, closest shaped brush and duplicate it into place
  • Shift+S: In a tool mode, but want to go back to selection? Shift+S hops you into the selection mode. CTRL Q releases your current selection.
  • Shift+X: Have a brush you need to split? Shift+X brings up the cut tool. Press again to cycle through modes.
  • Shift+V: Vertex editing; this should be your #1 used tool. Press again to cycle through modes.
  • CTRL C: Copy, duh! But use it with right click -> Paste Special to duplicate large selections onto the original’s position.
  • [ and ]: Use these to quickly alter grid size.
  • CTRL B: Snap to grid!
  • SHIFT A: Bring up the texture applicator.
  • ALT ENTER: Brings up entity window.
  • SHIFT O: Overlays
  • CTRL+T ties to entity, usually func_detail. CTRL W will bring it back to world.
  • Shift when rotating takes you off 15 degree increments for fine tuning.
  • CTRL+M allows you to scale selections, rotate and more.

5. Set up your displacements properly. A little vertex manipulation here will save you time down the road.
6. Paint displacements face normal. Face normal is by default on the Z axis; alt+right click on a face or displacement vertex to shift the plane of displacement alteration. This will vastly speed up your displacement painting.
7. Use viewgroups wisely. Turn off tool textures whenever you’re not working with them; likewise brush ents can often get in the way. Remove everything but world brushes when optimizing and func_detailing.
8. When working with symmetrical maps, center an enormous skip brush around the center of your map; you can then duplicate pieces of one side and select the brush to rotate them cleanly to the correspondent area on the other half of the map. CTRL L flips horizontally for bilaterally symmetric maps.
9. Make use of your fellow mappers’ tools! These can eliminate painful processes that take too long but have to be often done. Examples:

Full List of Hammer Shortcuts

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10 Responses to “Speed Mapping”

  1. Acegikmo says:

    Nice guide! I should really learn to use these shortcuts, the clicking on the left hand side toolbar is a bit slow.
    However, the hand positioning and the camera control is rather different for me.
    My hand is promarily on ctrl/shift, alt and the spacebar. The reason for this is simply because I use an other way of controlling the camera, which I don’t think is very common. It is, however, much faster than most other methods! (Which is why this is related to Mangy’s article).
    I move my camera by holding the spacebar and different mouse button combinations, while moving the mouse around.
    Here’s a short guide on the spacebar+mouse camera movement:

    Spacebar + LMB -> This enables a pivot look mode. All you do is turning the camera by moving the mouse, just like in any fps game.
    Spacebar + RMB -> This makes the camera traverse on a plane parallel to the 3D viewport as you move the mouse around. (I personally never use this combination)
    Spacebar + LMB + RMB -> While both mouse buttons, your camera will move forward and backwards, as you move the mouse up and down. Moving the mouse sideways, will pan the camera in the same direction as you moved the mouse.

    The good thing about this system, is that the camera speed is variable. When you want to move fast, you can move fast. When you want to look at little brushes on the smallest grid, you can move the camera carefully.
    The speed is just limited by the speed of your hand! (And the size of your desk, the length of the mouse coord among other things. You see what I’m trying to say anyway!)

  2. Three key shortcuts that everyone should know, that make it very quick for me to navigate around the map when mapping are:

    * “Z”, which toggles the mouselook/WASD movement in the 3d view
    * “space”, which if you hold it lets you pan around the 2D views
    * Ctrl+mousewheel, which zooms the 2d views in sync.

  3. Tapp says:

    Another thing that I think you should add is that tapping z puts you into ‘noclip’ mode, I thought you knew that one because you told us to put a finger there, but never explained it. Also, using ctrl+e and ctrl+shift+e can minimise the amount of time needed to find brushes. By holding ctrl and scrolling, you can also synchronise the zooms on the 2d planes.

  4. MangyCarface says:

    All good suggestions!

  5. Ravidge says:

    I use Alt + a/s to adjust the grid size. I find that this hotkey combo fits really well with all the other nearby shortcuts!

  6. […] And to round everything off: Learn the shortcuts for all the tools, they’re listed here: Two posts ago. […]

  7. #1 is probably the most useful. I tend to spend a lot of time in Hammer trying to decide what to do next.

  8. DaC says:

    still relevant 2016 great guide thanks for this.

  9. Lemon says:

    Cool guides here, some should be updated to CSGO new standards and all the bollocks bugs brought with it, helpful in 2018

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