Introduction: Start!

In this tutorial I will explain how to download and start Hammer. We’ll also make some changes to the default settings. Let’s start mapping!

Valve Hammer Editor is the level editor for the Source engine. But I’m sure you already know that. Let’s download the Source SDK, which contains Hammer, under the “Tools” tab.

When it has finished downloading, run it. After awhile you should see this:

You don't need anything else to be honest.

If you don't have Episode Two, use Half-Life 2. (or a game you DO have)

You may get this error:


Your game needs to be run at least once for Hammer to use it.

If you get this error, please make sure to have run your game at least ONCE so Steam can make the folders Hammer uses for some of it’s files. Click cancel and run your game through Steam first.


Some games use a different version of the Source engine:

Orange Box Engine (the newest)

  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Portal
  • Garry’s Mod

Episode One Engine (used in older Source games)

  • Half-Life 2
  • Counter-Strike: Source
  • Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One

I’ll be using Episode Two for most of my tutorials, but you can use them for all Source games.

First run

After Hammer has finished starting up you should change some default settings. (trust me, you’d appreciate this later)

Go to the options menu:


Clickety click

In the Options window you should change the following:

  1. In the General tab, change the Autosave Directory. (this directory is used to put autosaves in case Hammer crashes, don’t turn it off!)
  2. In the 2D Views tab, under Options, check”Default to 15 degree rotations“. This will make your work fit (more!) neatly on the grid when you rotate it.
  3. If you have a FAST computer (like at least a dual core), go to the 3D views tab, then under Performance, drag the “Back clipping pane“, “Model render distance” and “Detail render distance” to the far right.  (now we can still see our stuff at a distance in the 3D view)
  4. If you have a SLOW computer (like about 2 Ghz single core), in the General tab, lower the “Undo levels” a bit. (like, from 50 to 30) Else, Hammer might crash if you have too much going on.

Extra tips

If the model browser doesn’t work the first time or just looks weird (like, all the stuff is in a corner), just close and re-open the window. I didn’t encounter it in this first-run tutorial so maybe they fixed it awhile ago.

Press Ctrl + S (save) often. Hammer likes to crash at the strangest times. (it works fine most of the time though)

You should be fine now so head on to the next tutorial.


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