The Basics of Team Fortress 2 Skins
Put away the knife and scalpel, chief. We're talking about custom skins in Team Fortress 2, and all it takes is a little time and an archive extractor. With a little know-how, and the ability to follow some basic instructions, you too can have a hot and sexy female spy ready to crab down 2fort!
Although the art direction for Valve's Team Fortress 2 is absolutely fantastic, sometimes you might want to spruce it up a bit with some of the amazing community-made TF2 skins. Whether it be the ever popular female classes, or just simply a HUD reskin, there's a whole lot out there for those interested in changing the look of their game. This guide will go over some of the more popular skins, where to find them, and how to install them.
Finding Interesting TF2 Skins
While some of the community-made skins are incredibly popular and easy to find, it's always nice to be able to look over some of the less popular skins available. This is where custom content communities come into play. Through various community websites, you can find a treasure trove of custom skins to download and play with. Sometimes you can even be the brave pioneer who is first to test out a brand new skin!
Game Banana - The custom skins section of Game Banana
Team Fortress DB - Custom weapon skins.
Check out community forums for skins that are being tested and worked on currently. These can be rough designs, but content creators need your critique to improve on their work, so be sure to try out some rough around the edges content.
How To Install Your Skins
Installing skins is a fairly simple process that simply involves extracting and archive or copying and pasting files. Remember to back up your game files before doing this, as something may go wrong, or you may want to revert back to your standard skins. Take the archive that you've downloaded, and extract it into the \steam\steamapps\<yourusername>\team fortress 2\tf2 folder. Your archive should contain any combination of these folders, and should be extractable with any common archive extractor:
If it contains more than that, read the readme supplied with the skin pack. It will instruct you on how to install the other content included with the pack.
Be aware though that doing this does not show your custom skins to any other player. This is simply client side, and only for you, the installer. Some servers may run custom skins that are server-wide, but again, that is server specific. Try out many different skins, as they're all very different and can do some really interesting things. For a guide on some of the more popular custom skins out there, check out the very best TF2 skins.
If there's something specific that you want, don't be afraid to open up your image editor and learn to skin yourself! Become a part of the TF2 custom content community, and spread your creativity to other players!