I actually haven’t really talked much about Garry’s Mod before. I wrote a brief article on the perils of posing in Garry’s Mod, but otherwise it’s a mostly unspoken subject. Which is weird since a lot of the Daily SPUF’s images are made by me in said game.
Really, I could have moved on to Source Film Maker ages ago. I originally couldn’t because it ran so slowly on my old laptop, and my current laptop isn’t actually much better. The problem with SFM is that the program is a beefy one, which needs to run both a version of TF2 and a video editor and a posing thing and a ton of SFX stuff. You need a bit of space to run it. Garry’s Mod on the other hand is no more computer-intensive than TF2 or Half-Life or CS:GO, unless you’re doing something stupid. But if you spawn a million traffic cones into any of the above games, they’d all probably crash anyway.
Difference is, Garry’s Mod is a sandbox game. You can do a lot of stuff in it, and even more if you have knowledge of LUA. Combine model-making, animation and scripting together and you could make anything as long as it doesn’t break the engine. The base game itself though doesn’t actually come with much unless you have other Source games (Counter-Strike: Source, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2, Episodes 1 and 2, Portal and a handful of Source mods). I don’t think you actually need a Source mod installed any more, since Garry’s Mod has its own engine. You always get the props from HL2 with the game, even if you don’t own HL2.
The main game mode of Garry’s Mod is the sandbox mode. You have access to everything you have installed, mods and otherwise. This is what I mostly play. Other game modes are generally linked to maps, like zombie survival, while the most popular of these, like Trouble in Terrorist Town, Prop Hunt and the like, generally require maps and server plugins. The reason I don’t really play other game modes is because, like any heavily modded TF2 server, I have to download a million mods and sounds and plugins and bits and pieces. Garry’s Mod though has always been pretty slow to load in the first place, so you could spend twenty minutes trying to get into a TTT server only to realise everyone there is a cunt and have to leave. Sandbox multiplayer servers are even worse, since there’s often no rules and everyone there is guaranteed to be a cunt who will spawn-camp you and destroy everything you make.
When I play Garry’s Mod, most of the time it’s to make pretty pictures, mainly for the Daily SPUF. The most useful thing for this is the Animated Prop Tool, an add on from the GMod workshop, I can just make TF2 characters pose as they do in-game and leave it at that. The taunt animations are very useful. Everything else is posed by hand with the Phys-Gun or with the Ragdoll Mover tool then made into a statue afterwards if I need to move things around. I use the Advanced Particle Control mod and the Easy Body Group/Bone Merge tools, as well as a second Bone Merge tool for attaching objects with particle effects on them (e.g. guns and unusuals).
There’s other things I do too. Sometimes I like to grab the default vehicles available and turn them into flying machines. But most of the time, I find myself making NPCs fight one another. Amusingly, out of all the NPCs I’ve tried, among the strongest are the TF2 bots, who all have various working weapons and all sorts and for reasons unknown just seem to have a lot of health compared to other human (and non-human) NPCs.
Of course the best NPCs are SilverIan’s SNPCs, which include NPCs for Fallout 3, Half-Life and Skyrim, although the latter seems to have disappeared for some reason. The Skyrim NPCs are among my favourite GMod mods ever, ranking alongside the Animated Prop Tool and the Bohrok ragdolls addon. I love Bohrok.
Really though, unless you want the myriad of game modes, all the posing and almost the entirety of Half-Life 2 (which you can actually technically play via Garry’s Mod!), if you just want to make pictures, you might as well just use SFM. Assuming your computer can run it, of course…