Saturday, April 21, 2012

New ground textures

I have been home all week with a nasty cold, but I tried to do something fun when I had the energy. The has resulted in 16 new 2048 resolution ground textures of leaves, needles, grass and some gravel. They all have a light and a dark variant, I can't decide which I like best so I'll probably keep both. I have lots of photos of moss and stones that I will keep working on.

Everything was working great, they were seamless and look really nice in the game. Then something happened when I saved new ones as dds, and now things are not so nice anymore...

So, when I save as dds (without alpha) as DXT1, there is an alpha created, and in this alpha the image gets a small black border. This will then be transparent in game, and result in a fine but distinct black line around the texture. This happens if I make my own totally white alpha layer and saves with DXT5 too.
I have no idea what changed... I will have to figure this out later when I have more energy.

Thanks to Ianuarius comment I now have textures that work :) Thank you!

Next week I will go to Ireland for 10 days, and I hope to take lots of nice pictures to use for the game, like ground textures, new flowers, bushes and trees. Vacation photos will never look the same again once I started to do textures :)


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beta Hoddminir world space

Some time ago I was asked if I could make a video of how my world space looked. I have been thinking on how to do this in a good way, the world is just so large there is no good way to show it all. Instead I decided to make the experience interactive by releasing the world as it is on Nexus.

The world space is completely empty, no objects, regions, weather or landscape textures. There is a esp that can be loaded at the same time as the main esm containing map marker for settlements and towns, all of these can be fast traveled to.There are only map markers where the humans live, to the rest of the world you will have to walk :)

I also released the raw file used to make the world. Anyone who wants to use it or part of it is welcome to. I like idea of others using this world and making there own story in it. There are a lot of interesting terrains that would work well as there own worlds if you want something a bit more manageable that 16x16 quads.

I suggest to change the weather using the console if you want something a bit more nice looking that default weather. Here are links to a list of Weather ID and a nice video showing them in game.

Enjoy a looong walk in Hoddminir :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Custom Landscape textures

For my purposes Skyrim has a very limited set of Landscape textures. What I need for the Hoddminir world is everything between desert, jungle, mountain rocks, moss and green grass. Some of these are present in the Skyrim landscape textures, but I need more variety. There is only one thing to do, make my own landscape textures.
I took my camera and went in to the Swedish woods to get some nice rock and moss pictures to start with :)

My procedure in short:

There are probably other and better ways to do this, but here is how I do. Any suggestion for improvements are welcome.
  • Make image seamless
  • Make normal (also seamless)
  • Save as dds files with the NVIDIA plugin.
  • Get in to Creation kit

Make the image seamless

1. Open your image in Photoshop. I use a image that is 1024x1024 pixels in size.

2. Under Filters, Other choose Offset. Choose to offset the image with 1/2 of the height and width. For a 1024x1024 image that is 512. Select Wrap Around.

3. Now you will have an image with distinct borders you need to fix. I usually use the clone tool to substitute the sharp borders with appropriate sections of the image until I have something I like.

4. Save as Use the DXT1 settings or DXT5 if you have added an Alpha channel.
An alpha channel will make part of the texture transparent. I plan to use this for some mosses where I want the underlying stone to show in patches.

Make a seamless Normal map for the texture

A normal gives the image a sense of depth even if it's a flat surface. Normal can be made in PS with the NVIDIA plugin.
1. Open your texture image in PS. Make sure there is only one layer, go to Layer and choose Flatten Image.
(Optional, go to Adjustment, Black white, choose default settings. For me it's easier to see if it's in black and white.)

2. Duplicate the layer and make the copy darker (-150 in Brightness). With the erase tool remove parts of the dark layer so the the light layer shows. Make sure that the removed parts of the dark layer is seamless by using the Offset tool (same procedure as with the texture), when you are happy, offset it again to get back to the original position. Merge the light and dark layer.

3. To make the Normal map go to Filter, NVIDIA tools, Normal Map Filter. Invert X and Y. Change the Scale, higher numbers give larger impact. I use a scale between 20-50. Too much scale will give weird artifacts in the texture.

4. Optional: Add an Alpha channel. No alpha channel in the normal map will make the texture appear more light and shiny.

5. Save as, Use the DXT1 settings or DXT5 if you have added an Alpha channel.

How to get the landscape texture in to your mod

1. Copy your landscape texture and normal to your Skyrim folder, under Data/Textures/Landscape

2. Open up the Creation kit and load your mod esp as active.

3. In the Object window, go to Miscellaneous and TextureSet, right click in the window and choose New.
4. Fill in the name you want for your texture set and add textures to Diffuse and Normal with the Edit button (browse to the Landscape folder). Press OK.

5. Go to LandTextures (in Miscellaneous), right click and select New.

6. Give the texture a unique ID, change the Material Type and Friction. Select the Texture Set you just made from the drop down menu. Press OK.
Now you have your custom landscape texture in the CK ready for use :)
Don't forget to save.

Texture too bright in game?

There are some things you can do if the texture looks too bright in the game.
First add an Alpha channel to the normal. This will make the image darker and less shiny.
To make the alpha channel in photoshop, click on Channels (next to Layers), click the right most symbol (an arrow with lines next to it), select New Channel. Call it Alpha 1 and click "Masked areas", this will give you a black alpha channel. Save normal as dds with DXT5 settings. 

Next thing you can do is make the texture darker. I do this with the Brightness/Contrast tool in PS, by lowering brightness by -50 or more.

Now all I have to do is make a lot of landscape textures for Hoddminir. Hopefully I can release a custom land texture pack as a modders resource soon :)


Sunday, April 8, 2012

[REL] Spring Flowers for Skyrim (mod resource)

Spring Flowers for Skyrim is now released on Skyrim Nexus :)                      (more pictures)
This contains 41 flowers of different types and colors, all function as grasses. The mod contains textures, nif files and a springflowerv1.esp. The flowers function as the grass does in Skyrim, it can only be placed in world associated with a land texture and will be animated like the grass would.

Update: 2012-10-13
As an optional file you can now also download the flowers as static objects, these can be placed in the cells like normal plants. No need to associate with a landscape texture like the grass variant.
The grass variant had a problem, not all of the texture showed when they where used as static objects. This is a problem in the original vanilla grass mesh I used. Ztree have fixed these for the MERP team and shared them with me, thank you!

Most of the flowers have 1024 resolution textures, and I will in a later update try to change this to 2048 to make it look better. I will also continue to make more flowers, and add re-textured grass, bushed ans trees as well. Then there is a need to make summer flowers, and water plants and so on :)

How to use this resource

A. With the Creation kit - add nifs manually
You can put the flowers in to your mod your self using the Creation kit.

1. Open the CK, load your mod as active and Skyrim.esm. The grasses are found in the Object window under WorldObjects/Grass/Landscape/Grass.

2. Double click on the original grass (snowgrass01 or tundragrassobj03), this will open the grass window. In ID write the name of the flower and click the Art file Edit, choose the flowers nif file. Click OK, now the CK will ask you if you want to create a new object, press Yes.
For most of the flowers use the snowgrass01 original grass, the exceptions are Alpine snowbell, Coltfoot, Lily of the valley, Pasque flowers and the white Winter Aconite, these use the tundragrass03 original grass.

B. With the Creation kit - duplicate from esp
You can make duplicates in the Creation kit.

1. Open the CK, load your mod as active, springflowersv1.esp and Skyrim.esm. The grasses are found in the Object window under WorldObjects/Grass/Landscape/Grass.

2. Right click on a flower you want to use, choose duplicate. You can choose to rename the copy after.

3. Use the duplicated version in your mod work.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Making more plants for Skyrim - Part II: nif and in to the game

This part describes how to create nif files that have the new texture. For this you need a tool called NifScope (I have version 1.1.0-rc6). Make sure you download the RC version, it works with Skyrim nif. I follow the tutorial made by ChickenDownUnder on re-skinning meshes, it can be found on the Nexus.

The procedure is quite simple, the step in short:
  • Put the new texture and original nif file in the right folder 
  • Change texture path in NifSkope
  • Change ID and link to the new nif in the CK 
To get the original nif files unpack Skyrim.bsa, if you have not done this before, you can do it with for example BSAopt. The grass meshes are found under Meshes\landscape\grass in the BSA. Make a copy of the grass nif you want. I will use "tundragrassobj03.nif"

Depending on what you want to reskin you have to put the files in the right folders. I will put the new texture under Data/Texture/landscape/grass and the original nif file that I will reskin in Data/Meshes/landscape/grass. If I put them any place else the CK can't find the nif file later on. You don't have to have them in these folders when you work, but before making the new grass in the CK they have to be in the right folders.

Reskin in NifSkope

1. Open NifSkope and Load the original nif. In my case this is "tundragrassobj03.nif".

2. The texture path can be found under 4 BSShaderTextureSet/Textures and are indicated by a purple flower. There are two strings that define the texture path for this model, the first is the texture the other the normal.
 3. Right click on the first texture string, and select Texture/Choose and navigate to where your texture is. Now NifSkope will show the right texture, but in the case of my flowers its really hard to see anything.
If you get a long texture link that starts at the harddrive like, c:\....steam\ and so on you need to change this.  Double left click on the texture string path, remove anything before textures\landscape\grass\ Repeat this procedure for the normals (if you have one).
4. You can also change the name of the model, it is not necessary but will look nicer. There are two places to change the name, in 0 BSFadeNode and 1 NiTriShape. Right click on the string and choose Edit string index, then write in the name.

5. Press Save As to save the nif file.
Now you have a re-skinned nif file, the next step is to get it in to the CK.

Creation kit

Morcroft Darkes pointed out that the CK loads the nif models for grass (and probably all models) when it opens, so and changes made to the model when the CK is open won't show up until you close the CK and open again.

1. Open the CK, load your mod and Skyrim.esm. The grasses are found in the Object window under WorldObjects/Grass/Landscape/Grass.

2. Double click on the original grass, this will open the grass window. In ID write the name of your new grass and click the Art file Edit, choose the new nif file. Click OK, now the CK will ask you if you want to create a new object, press Yes.

3. If you want to use the new grass/flower you need to associate it to a ground texture and paint that texture somewhere (see part I on how to do that).

Save your mod and have a look in game :)


Sunday, April 1, 2012

A sea of Scilla

Happy birthday big sister :)

I made you a sea of virtual Scillas to enjoy until the real ones come :)