The idea behind colourable textures is pretty simple, it's just an alpha mask where visible parts (white) can be coloured and invisible parts (black) keep their original colour. Both .VTF and .PNG (up to 1K) textures support alpha masks.

Original texture

Alpha mask

End result, texture coloured in PAC


Below you'll find a tutorial on how to make such texture using Paint.NET

Before you start you'll have to download some tools.

Paint.NET - free image editing software

Paint.NET VTF Plug-in - VTF file support for Paint.NET

Paint.NET Alpha Mask Import Plug-in - lets you use any image as an alpha mask.


First, download Paint.NET and install it following the instructions on screen. Once done, you will have to install downloaded plug-ins. Head over to your installation folder, by default C:\Program Files\Paint.NET, then:

VTF Plug-in

  • Open downloaded .ZIP archive
  • Copy all files info ..\Paint.NET\FileTypes\

Alpha Mask Plug-in

  • Open downloaded .ZIP archive
  • Copy all files info ..\Paint.NET\Effects\

Once that's done you can start working on your texture.


For this tutorial I'll be using in-game .VTF textures but you can follow the same steps for .PNG files.

  • Go to File > Open and select your file or drag & drop your file onto the program window and select Open.

Since there is no way to edit existing alpha channel data (or I don't know about it) we'll have to reset all alpha information.

  • Go to Effects > Alpha Mask, uncheck Paste from Clipboard and press OK.

That should leave you with the original non-transparent image. At this point you're free to paint your own alpha mask. Because an alpha mask is fully white by default we only need to add the black (non-colourable) data.

Press F7 to open the layers panel and add a new layer, then press F5 to open the tools panel and F4 to open the colour palette. Pick the Paintbrush tool and set the colour to black.

Now your goal is to cover everything that you do NOT want to be colourable in black (on the new layer). Once you're done:

  • Press Ctrl + A to select the entire black layer.
  • Press Ctrl + C to copy it to clipboard.
  • Hide or delete the black layer and go back to the original one.
  • Go to Effects > Alpha Mask, check Paste from Clipboard and press OK.

Now all the black parts should become transparent. That's it, your alpha mask is done.


As .PNG

  • Go to File > Save as
  • Change file type to PNG
  • Type the file name, select a location and click Save
  • In the next window leave everything at default and click OK

As .VTF

  • Go to File > Save as
  • Change file type to VTF
  • Type the file name, select a location and click Save
  • In the next window change Image Format to DXT5 and click OK

Upload your texture and be happy. :)

A quick example on how to use an colourable texture in PAC. I decided to make colourable pants for Alyx.


  • Add Experimental > :entity: Entity
  • Set it to your model (models/player/alyx.mdl in my case)
  • Under that add Experimental > :material: Material3D
  • Set material override to the material that you want to replace (plyr_sheet in my case)
  • Clear envmap field
  • Paste your texture link into basetexture field
  • Check tint by base alpha
  • Change color2 to whatever colour you want

Download this example: colourable_texture.txt

End result as seen in PAC

Textures can't be colourable and transparent at the same time.

  • tutorial/colourable-textures.txt
  • Last modified: 3 months ago
  • (external edit)