Using Material Swaps in Fallout 4

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Overview

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 Bethesda.net 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.

Add a Material Swap

BGSM materials
Material Swap

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 there is already linked a BGSM Material (as shown in picture BGSM materials). Now I want to add a retextured version of the armour and here is where I am going to use of Material Swaps.

To create a Material Swap:

  1. First of all you have to create the BGSM material of the new retexture. To do so, follow the instructions given here BGSM Materials
  2. Then, inside the CK, in the Object window expand the menu Miscellaneous, select the Material Swap category and then choose any of the existing Matrial Swaps.
  3. Double click on the selected Material Swap and a window will pop-up like the one shown in picture Material Swap. In this window:
    1. Change the Material Swap ID to make a new item.
    2. Indicate the path of the original material (this must be exactly the same one that is linked inside the nif file)
    3. Indicate the path of the new material (the retexture)
    4. Once you are done, press the OK button, the CK will ask you if you want to create a new form: answer Yes.

This material swap tells the game that, wherever the nif file had a link to the original material, it has to use the new one instead.

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