Promo images

I’ve been asked for this one too many times. Today we’re going to learn how to create those hard and luring promo images for our items.

There are lots of ways to create promo images, but we’ll be trying only a couple of them today, i hope some of you will find this usefull.

First method involves the use of Xoliul Shader (, it’s a viewport shader that allows you to skip the rendering part and preview your materials in the viewport. Grab yourself a shader, install it and let’s get to the Max!

First of all we’ll position our item in the viewport, and find some nice camera angles.

001Then let’s get into the Material editor. If you installed everything correctly you’ll see Xoliul Shader Material. Create your material, assign it to your mesh and check out some neat presets.


After playing with the presets and assigning the Diffuse map and Normal maps we’ll see that our mesh looks way better with this sweet lighting. But it’s still not matching ingame look, and we want our promo image to look like the item will look ingame, right?


We’re going to use our red channel of mask2 to create spec mask, and we’re goin to decrease “backlighting” and smooth out the gloss. Play with the parameters until you’re satisfied with the result.


Once you’re done, you’ll need Grabviewport ( Nice little tool that’ll allow you to capture that sweet textured mesh in your viewport.¬†Download and install it!


Run the script after installing it, and it’ll show you this little dialog. I recommend you to turn off the antialiasing, and just oversample the image. Set the size of your capture 2-3 times of your monitor resolution. This will save you from cleaning up the background bleeding and still give you very crisp and smooth result. Press “Save” (Make sure you selected correct viewport!) and open your image in image processing software!


Note: You may want to drop a quick background in your scene for easier layering later.


Now you can just select the background color, invert selection and peel your mesh from the background.


Now we’re going to head into the extracted Dota2 files, to get some extra beauty. head to ..\root\materials\portraits_card\portrait_backgrounds and grab the portrait card background for your hero (They’re not always the ones you’reused to, because some of them are overlaying, some use animated textures and so on). Open it with the VTFedit and export/printscreen it and put it in your promo image!


Save it, and head in to your painting tool of choice.

Because our textures are just projecting details on our low-poly mesh there always will be some errors, sharp angles and maybe some stuff you’ll never see ingame, but the promo image shouldlook good, so we’ll fix some of the issues. First we’ll see what we should do.


There are some angles we could clean up, obvious mirroring of the texture and some minor errors we translated from our sculpt and missed. Let’s clean them up! Use the colors from your image, clone and clean the silhouette.

After that we’re going to add some hard backlighting, because Dota 2 uses it everywhere and it’ll help you to separate the item from the background. Use different strokes to accentuate the shape of your item.


You can duplicate this layer and blur it to add subtle glow.


And then we’re going to add underlying layer with some more glow. Fill the shape of your item and add the gaussian blur.



Now flatten it and resize to 512×512 (optional, but i’m used to saving the space)


And that is one way to do your promo!

Another, simple way of doing your promos will require use of rendering tool, someting like Marmoset Toolbag ( It’s easy to use and will save you from bunch of steps. Let’s look at it!


Loading a mesh is super easy.


Loading the material is super easy too!


You can add the background right away.


And even add some lighting and post-processing! Sharpness, bloom, DoF and even some  saturation and contrast!

And you can save your image with supersampling too! Now we’re going to repeat some step from the first method, like cleaning up the edges and adding backligting, and we’re done!


Both methods are pretty powerfull and flexible, so i suggest you read up some stuff on whichever one you’re going to use. Good luck with pimping out your stuff!

  • jake

    where do you get the portrait backgrounds from?

  • Technoviking

    I can’t find the portrait backgrounds anywhere either! Help please!

  • flashice2030

    well, it is surely exist.