Using Material Swaps in Fallout 4

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This mini guide will show you how to use Material Swaps for Fallout 4. They are a very useful tool for retexturing meshes (clothing, armours, weapons, bodies, etc) without having to duplicate the mesh files, and are a step beyond the Texture sets that were used in Fallout 3 and Skyrim.

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: Downloadable from inside the Launcher.

Using Material Swaps

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.

In Fallout 4 Bethesda has made a new improvement with the use of Material Swaps. The advantage of Material Sawps vs. Textures set is that:

  • Texture sets only contained a set of textures (diffuse, normal, specular, etc), but all of them had to share the same shaders that were set in the mesh file
  • BGSM materials include the set of textures + the shaders, so you can set different values for the shaders of different set of textures, thus allowing a much more versatile retexture (I'd say that you can "rematerialise" your mesh, but I doubt that word exists).

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.

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