This is something that's been on my wish-list for a looong time - being able to use the vanilla models for our custom models. Well, this is how I partially achieved that. The result is a 3d model with correct UV maps for textures, but none of the fancy stuff to skeletons, or opacity for textures or things like that (ie - far from a perfect copy)
Disclaimer: Obviously this process will net you a Stardock owned model, in a format we can manipulate. Clearly, using these models for anything else than Elemental mods, or limited personal use, is illegal.
1) Make sure everything is installed in order. Both Havok tools and 3d ripper DX needs to be installed after 3ds max.
2) Fire up 3d ripper DX. Enter the path to the havok app "ToolsStandalone.exe". Set 3d ripper dx to capture textures, and make sure "disable shader model 3.0" is checked in. Set Capture to F12 (or whatever you choose). Make sure you choose a destination folder for all the bottom things that you can easily access. Click "Launch" when done.
3) Havok Tools Framework is now loaded. Open your Explorer and go to the install directory of Elemental. In the GFX/HKB/ folder you will find all the maps for the different 3d files, named HKB. Filenames with Skeleton are useless, as are some other files. Choose one, and drag it into the Havok Tools Framework window. For this tutorial, I have chosen M_Warg_Mesh_01.hkb from the /Monsters/ folder.
4) When you drag the file over to the havok app, you will be prompted with a pop-up, select "Add for this asset". If you've done everything correctly so far, your screen should look something like this.
5) When viewing the mesh in the havok app, press F12 to capture the model. It shouldn't take more than a tenth of a second. The model is now saved to the folder you specified in the 3d ripper dx app.
6) Fire up Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 32bit. Go to File, Import, then navigate to the .3dr file that was created when we captured the model, in your destination folder. Load it, and set the popup up like the screenshot below. For the top values, you'll need custom values, NOT the ones in the screenshot. Click on the "recommended values" rolldown and select the first option. When done, click OK.
7) Delete all the tiny objects that aren't directly related to the big model. If you've followed every step accurately, your screen should look something like this.
8) Now the really tricky stuff comes into play, and it's important that you follow every step accurately. Open the Material Editor, and drag the Scene material (in the warg example, there is only one - but some models use two) to the empty sample slot. In the popup, select Copy. Apply the material to the object you are copying, select "replace it" in the popup. Doubleclick the material to bring it into edit mode.
9) Now, what we want to do with this material is to delete the connection between sub-material 1 and replace it with a connection to the map that is linked to sub-channel 5. Compare the screenshot above to the one below, if it is unclear.
10) While we are in the material editor, doubleclick the map for the black and white texture, so it appears in the right-most column. You'll need to change "map channel" to 2, and "U" to 180. Then, click the bitmap button and select your intended texture (keep in mind all textures must have UNIQUE filenames). For the warg example, this will be M_Warg_Texture_01.png. Now, since we've flipped the texture in 3ds max, the texture will appear off if we render it in 3ds max. Therefore, select your texture in Explorer, open it up in Paint or whatever, and flip the texture vertically. Note that this is only for 3ds max - you'll need to flip the texture back for use in-game.
If you've flipped everything right, you should be looking at something like this in 3ds max:
11) Next, we will export the model. In 3ds max, select the menu "Havok Content Tools" and click export. Set your screen up like this, then click Run Configuration.
12) Hook up your new model to XML, and view it in-game. If you've done everything appropriately, you'll end up with something like the screen below. If the texture is off, you've probably flipped it wrong (the warg will appear with paws on its head, for example).
And that's all there is, for now. In the future, I hope that we can manipulate the core colour of the item by some means, but for now, that's all there is to this.
Edit: In case it wasn't obvious, the POINT of this is that we can now base our models on the in-game models, rather than starting completely from scratch.