Using Texture sets for Skyrim

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Contents

Overview

This mini guide will show you how to use Texture Sets for Skyrim. They are a very useful tool for retexturing meshes (clothing, armours, weapons, bodies, etc) without having to duplicate the mesh files.

In this guide I am going to add a new recolour for an armour, but if you want to retexture another item (like a weapon), it works exactly the same.

Required tools

  • Creation Kit: available on Steam (Menu option View -> Tools and then select Creation Kit)

Using Texture Sets

Texture set
Armour Addon properties
Assign the Texture set to the armour

In Oblivion, when you wanted to release a retexture of an item (armour, weapon, etc), you had to make as many copies of the nif files as retextures you wanted to create, and then link the different textures to each of the copies.

Since Fallout 3, Bethesda introduced the use of Texture sets that allow to use only one nif file with different textures. The advantages of this system when retexturing a vanilla item are:

  • you don't have to package the nif file of that item into your mod, only the texture (.dds) files, decreasing the size of your mod file and making it easier to package.
  • for armours and clothing: as your retexture points to the vanilla mesh file, if somebody uses a body replacer automatically your retexture will be shown on the armour made for that body, so you don't have to bother packaging retextures for all the existing body types: your mod will work for everybody.

If you are retexturing a custom item, the advantage of using texture sets is that you only have to package the nif file once, decreasing the size of your mod file and making it easier to package.

Add a Texture Set

In this guide I am going to add a new recolour for an armour, but if you want to retexture another item (like a weapon), it works exactly the same.

In the original nif file I already linked a set of textures and created the Armour Addon and Armour objects as explained in the Creating an armour for Skyrim tutorial. But now I want to add a black version of the armour and here is where I am going to use the Texture sets.

To create a Texture set:

  1. In the Object window expand the menu Miscellaneous, select the TextureSet category and then choose any of the existing Texture sets.
  2. Double click on the selected Texture set and a window will pop-up like the one shown in picture Texture set. In this window:
    1. Change the Texture set ID to make a new set of textures.
    2. You can set up to 8 different types of textures in one Texture set. The most commonnly used are the Diffuse (colour) and the Normal map. To add or change one of the existing textures:
      1. Highlight the texture you want to change by clicking on it
      2. Press the Edit button: this will open an explorer window. Go to the folder where your texture file is, select it and then press the Open button. Now you'll see that your dds file is displayed on the preview window.
      3. Repeat the process for each of the texture files you want to add to this texture set.
    3. Once you are done, press the OK button, the CK will ask you if you want to create a new form: answer Yes.

Assign the Texture set to your item

Now we are going to assing the texture set we've just created to the item. As we want to create a new version of an existing armour, we follow these steps:

  1. Create a new Armour Addon by making a copy of the existing Armour Addon we want to retexture (see Add the armour to the game using the CK for reference on how to create Armour Addons).
  2. On the Armour Addonproperties window, press the Select button of the Bipped model that contains the mesh that you want to retexture. This will open a window like the one shown in picture Assign the Texture set to the armour. In this window:
    1. Select the node you want to retexture and right click on it and then select New from the pop-up menu.
    2. A window will appear showing all the available Texture sets. Choose the one you want to use and press the OK button.
    3. Now you'll see that, in the preview window, your armour has a new texture.
    4. If your mesh has more than one node, repeat the process as needed but take into account that you only have to assign texture sets for the nodes that you want to retexture. If you want to leave some of the nodes with the textures that the base mesh uses (like for example, the parts where the skin is shown), you don't need to add any texture set to those nodes as shown in picture Assign the Texture set to the armour.
    5. The last step is to create a new Armour object and placing it in the world (see Add the armour to the game using the CK for reference)

After doing all these you will have a new version of the original mesh, with a different texture, and both of them using the same nif file.

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