Classic Headcrab (Evolution)

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Throughout the development of Half-Life 2, there were a large variety of different "Classic" headcrabs present, from the initial removal of them in favor of fast headcrabs that didn't stick, to the reddish headcrabs, to bloody, to, finally, non-bloody headcrabs.

Version 0: None

V0 head.png

Several factors suggest that the fast headcrab originally replaced the classic-style headcrab.

  • Both the model texture paths and the models themselves refer to the fast headcrab as "Headcrab", and the normal headcrab as "headcrab_classic". This is also present on the brickbat model for the headcrab, which is shaped identically to the final fast headcrab with thin, long legs and a smaller main body.
  • All three of the "old" headcrab zombies' textures use headcrabs that are much more akin to the fast headcrab, and share similarities with the fast headcrab's textures (particularly the side).
  • The texture sheet for the fast headcrab also appears in the classic headcrab's texture folder, with some coloring differences[1] between the two. This would appear to indicate that the classic headcrab's model would have used earlier-completed composite-sheet fast headcrab's model before moving to Version 2.
  • Concept art dated to 2001[2] for the headcrab zombie shows a fast headcrab on top of it, with an appearance that significantly resembles the "old" zombie's textures, with rips near the elbows and knees.
  • The Brickbat (BB) headcrab model reuses two textures[3] from Half-Life 1's headcrab, albeit in a modified state, and has a polygon count that implies that it was around much earlier than even the later fast headcrab model.

However, this did not last, and even before the first set of zombie models were fully out, the classic headcrab had come back to Half-Life 2.


BB Headcrab Viewmodel Renders

This model can be found at "/models/Weapons/v_BB_headcrab.mdl". Despite the implied age, it can be opened with the stock HLMV included with the leak.

BB Fast Headcrab Textures

This includes the pre-sheet textures in the fast headcrab's texture folder that are not used for the "squashed" models. These same textures are also included in the "v_BB_headcrab" texture folder, albeit at a lower resolution.

Pre-Separation Zombie Textures

These can be found at "/materials/models/Zombie". They appear to be before the separation of the zombie into 3 different classes, since clones of these textures appear in the three other zombie folders.

Concept Art

Version 1: Placeholder Headcrab

V1 render2.png

While the classic headcrab had been implemented, it had not yet had its own model created, and evidence remains of an odd period where it existed without an independent model, as both a zombie and individual headcrab.

As a zombie, it reused the "old" zombie model and only retextured the headcrab head's texture. The textures of these relatively simply-differentiated models still remain. Since there is a distinction between the classic/fast headcrab in the textures of the old zombies, the decision to re-include the classic headcrab may have been made during the period where the old zombies were in use, and when adding the new zombie model they just recolored the headcrab used by the pre-classic headcrab zombie as a placeholder.

As a headcrab, it (may have) reused the fast headcrab model, evidenced by a leftover texture sheet still kept in the classic headcrab's folder, which remains in the final version.


"Old" Zombie Head Textures

The head textures for the "old" zombies. The part used for the side of the headcrab is reused from the pre-sheet fast headcrab.[5]

Miscellaneous Classic Zombie Textures

Various miscellaneous classic zombie textures, where the version affiliation is unclear.

Version 2: Red Headcrab

V2 render.png

Eventually, with the transition from the old zombie models to the fat zombie models, the headcrab went from reusing the fast headcrab's model to using its own, which at the time still held plenty of differences compared to its Half-Life counterpart.

The headcrab this version refers to has both screenshots and textures available for it, which provide a decent idea for what it is short of model availability. It has a reddish appearance, with a similar (though bulkier) profile compared to later versions, and is noticeably bloodier even compared to Version 3.

The zombie of this version has a bloated appearance(hence the nickname "fat"), and appears to be based on the blue-shirted citizen model, with a traceably based-on[6] sleeve texture still in use. In the Leak, this zombie's separate torso and legs models are still present, as the zombie that succeeded it has not yet had the models replaced. The torso has a headcrab model attached to it, however it appears to have already adopted Version 3's headcrab and the headcrab used has some rigging issues.


  • Oddly, in "/materials/models/Zombie_Classic", there are two torso textures, "torso.vtf" and "torso2.vtf". The first's VMT has more settings, however the second is used on the leftover torso model.
  • The torso of the fat zombie still uses the arms of the Version 1-2's old zombie model, albeit assigned to a renamed "hand.vtf" instead of "arm.vtf".
  • The textures of the separate headcrab model and the headcrab intended to be used on top of the zombie's head slightly differ, with the separate headcrab being noticeably bloodier.
  • Unlike the zombie headcrab, the separate headcrab possesses 512x normal & height[7] maps for "backlegs_CL" and "head_CL", although not for "mouth_CL" or "teeth_CL".



Headcrab Textures

Zombie Textures


Version 3: Bloody Headcrab

V3 sideimg2.png

The version shown at E3 2003 and that came along for Half-Life 2's leak. While more similar to the final classic headcrab design, it retains a bloodstained appearance, with nearly its entire front covered in it. While the texturing and animations differ, the UVing is final and the mesh's design will remain the same.

As a zombie, this version's model is a major change from the previous, being more visibly based on the blue-shirted citizen, re-adding the opened chest not present in Version 2, and substituting a head for a stump of one. The textures have also been moved to a singular sheet, and the mesh is noticeably higher quality than previously.


  • This version of the headcrab has blue speckles on the bottom of the two front legs, which are far less prevalent in the final version.
  • The texture for the opened chest is reused for the final zombie, albeit with some modification.
  • Unlike the final and previous models, this version doesn't seem to have any remaining head besides the lower jaw. This "head" would later be re-used on the Zombines in Episode One.





Version 4: Non-Bloody Headcrab

V4 sideimg.png

Relatively obscure, it appears in a small set of Ravenholm screenshots released after the Half-Life 2 leak. It appears to reuse the same body as Version 3, and the zombie is identical to Version 3's.

The primary difference between it and Version 3 is that it doesn't have any blood on it (and has a slightly lower contrast), but also doesn't have the more uniform brown color present on Version 5.



Version 5: Final

V6 sideimg.png

The final version of the headcrab that shipped with Half-Life 2. It appears in a few of the last screenshots, and of course with the game itself. It possesses a uniformly brown look, with comparatively minimal blood stains oriented around the mouth.

The zombie again gets another new model, this time based on the retail citizen models and re-using Erdim's facemap. It retains the chest opening of the previous versions, but does not keep the miscellaneous leg/arm wounds scattered around on the previous versions.


  • The front chest texture is reused from Versions 3 & 4, and has some coloring on the sides that reflects this.


Renders (Headcrab)

Renders (Zombie)


Version Misc-1: Zombie_Assassin Headcrab

An oddball classic-style headcrab model that comes with the Zombie Assassin's model. It appears to be an upscaled version of the Leak headcrab model with a number of modifications, including the welding of the back legs onto the assassin's body, the lengthening of the teeth around the headcrab's "mouth", and the adoption of a completely different texture for just it that manages to be 256x.


  • The decompiled reference mesh of the zombie assassin is named "Zombie_assassin_referencev3.smd".
  • The mouth of the headcrab is not present and isn't textured, implying that the headcrab was not intended to be removed from this model.
  • Although the rest of the zombie model is normal-mapped, the arms don't have any, causing a grid effect.





Used to prove connections between textures.

BB Headcrab / HL1 Headcrab Texture Comparison

Old Zombie / BB Fast Headcrab Comparison

Fast Headcrab Sheet Comparison

Version 2 Torso Comparison

Zombie/Separate Headcrab Texture Comparison

Sleeve Texture Comparison

Later Headcrab Sheet Comparison


  1. See Fast Headcrab Sheet Comparison
  2. Check Ted's signature
  3. See Old Zombie / BB Fast Headcrab Comparison
  4. Appears to be unused, since it also appears on this version's headcrab texture.
  5. See Old Zombie / BB Fast Headcrab Comparison
  6. See Sleeve Texture Comparison
  7. Used for a similar effect to normal maps before they were adopted, they occasionally appear in the Leak.
  8. Used, strangely, for the shirt fragments hanging off the it's arms.
  9. Unused, but possesses an additional alpha channel and slight texture differences. See Version 2 Torso Comparison
  10. Later version of blue-shirt citizen, used as blue-shirt sleeve is not present in the Leak.

Other Thoughts?

Know anything about this I didn't include? Edit it in, and let everyone else know. It's a wiki, after all.