Creating an armour for Fallout. Part 2

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This is the part 2 of the tutorial for creating an armour or outfit for Fallout 3. You can find the first part of the tutorial here Creating an armour for Fallout. Part 1

Creating an armour for Fallout

Creating the armour

Cut parts of the body hidden by the armour

Cutting the hidden body parts

Once you've copied all the weights from the body to your armour select the body in Object mode and go to Edit mode. In Edit mode select all the faces of the body that are completely hidden by the armour or outfit you are creating. Make sure that all the faces you are selecting are completely inside the armour because if you delete a face that is only partially hidden by the armour you'll see a hole in your character's body when using the armour.

This step is optional but it is worth doing it because:

  • you won't have to solve clipping problems because in almost no pose the body will go through the armour
  • the size of the mesh will be smaller, increasing performance
  • Bethesda does it ;)

Export the armour

Importing a new skeleton
Exporting the armour

Now you are ready to export your armour in nif format, that is the one Fallout's meshes use.

First thing is to import a new skeleton for your armour:

  1. Make sure that on the Blender screen you see all the objects that form the armour, including the parts of the body that are not hidden by the armour, the PipBoyOn and PipBoyOff objects, and that you don't see anything that is not going to form part of your armour (like the light or the camera. If you see those objects move them to another Blender layer and set that layer to invisible or Blender will export those objects toghether with your armour).
  2. Make sure that you have deleted all the skeletons you imported with the parts of the body, as explained at the beginning of this tutorial.
  3. In Object mode select one of the objects that form part of your armour and press the A key twice so as to select all objects of the armour.
  4. Select the menu option File -> Import -> NetImmerse/Gamebyro and select the skeleton.nif file (it is in the folder \Data\Meshes\characters\_male\).
  5. In the screen that contains the importing parameters select the option Import Skeleton Only + Parent Selected as shown in picture Importing a new skeleton and press the OK button.

Now you have a skeleton in Blender and it is the parent of all the objects that form your armour.

To export the armour:

  1. in Object mode select the skeleton you've just imported and press A twice to select all parts of the armour and the skeleton.
  2. Press the Ctrl + A keys and select the option Scale and Rotation to ObData from the pop up menu.
  3. Keeping the skeleton and all the parts of your armour selected, select the menu option File -> Export -> NetImmerse/Gamebyro, enter the name of the nif file for your armour (for example MyArmour.nif) and the folder where you want to save it.
  4. Set the exporting parameters as shown in the picture Exporting the armour. It is important that the parameters are set like this:
    1. Fallout 3 -> selected
    2. Stripify geometries -> deselected
    3. Smoothen Inter-Object Seams -> deselected
    4. Flatten Skin -> selected
    5. Export Skin Partition -> selected
  5. Press the OK button and wait until Blender finishes saving the nif file.

Adjust the armor in Nifskope

Copy the armour shape

Copying the shape of the armour

If we were creating the sword for Oblivion, in NifSkope we should only make minor adjustments: associate the right textures and modify the material values if required and that would be it. But for Fallout there is still required to make some other adjustments manually in order that everything works fine in game.

Do the following:

  • Open two NifSkope instances. In one of them load the nif file that contains your armour (MyArmour.nif in the example) and in the other one open the nif file of an armour or outfit from the game that uses the same body you've used to create your armour (you can also use as a base the nif file of the body you've used to create your armour).
  • First thing to do is to delete the armour and the parts of the body you don't need from the game's nif file you are using as a base. It is best that you save the existing armour from the game with a new name, like FalloutArmour.nif, to prevent overwriting it. To delete the unnecessary parts of the armour from the game:
    • Select one of the NiTriShape nodes of the original armour you are going to delete and right click.
    • Select Block -> Remove Branch from the pop up menu
    • Repeat the process to delete all the unnecesary parts.
      Important: DON'T DELETE EITHER THE NODES THAT CONTAIN BONES (their name begins by Bip01) OR THE NODES THAT CONTAIN MEAT PARTS USED FOR DISMEMBERMENT (their names usually contain the word meat like bodymeat, meathead, ...).
  • Copy the shape of your armour in the nif file of the game armour. To copy the shape of your armour:
    • In your armour file (MyArmour.nif in the example) select one of the NiTriShape nodes (see picture Copying the shape of the armour and right click on it. Select the option Block -> Copy Branch from the pop up menu.
    • Go to the armour from the game (FalloutArmour.nif in the example) and select the top node (the NiNode that is called Scene Root, right click and select the option Block -> Paste Branch from the pop up menu.
    • Repeat the process for all parts of your armour and the parts of the body you've exported from Blender. When you are copied all parts of your armour, the FalloutArmour.nif file will contain the shape of the armour you've created.
    • In each of the NiTriShapeData of the NiTriShape nodes you've copied you can change the value of TSpaceFlag from 240, that is the default value that Blender sets when exporting, to 16 that is the value that the vanilla meshes use in game. Once you've changed the value of this parameter go down a little and you'll see the parameters Binormals and Tangents. Right click on the green round arrows that are beside these two parameters and select Array -> Update. Then select the main node NiNode Sceene Root at the top and from the top menu select Spells -> Batch -> Update All Tangent Spaces and wait until NifSkope finishes the calculations.

Modify textures and materials

Shader and Shader flags for the body
Shader and Shader flags for the clothes
Material properties

Fallout nif files use some new parameters, the Shader and the Shader flags, that have to be set properly or the object will look bad in game (too shiny, too dark, etc) or even be completely invisible. To check or modify their values select the BSShaderPPLightingProperty node and look for the properties Shader and Shader flags in Block details.

  • In picture Shader and Shader flags for the body you can see the Shader and Shader flags values that are use for the body parts (the parts that show skin). It is important that the Shader value is Shader_Skin.
  • In picture Shader and Shader flags for the clothes you can see the Shader and Shader flags that I've used for my armour. It is important that the Shader flag SF_SHADOW_MAP is selected. If it is not the armour will be invisible in game.

Next step is to associate the texture files you created previously to the mesh. To do it select the BSShaderTextureSet node (see Textures image) and in Block details expand the Textures properties: you'll see that there is room for 6 image files but for most of the meshes you will only use the first two. In the first place, at the top, link the colour texture (the dds file you painted with the armour colours) and in the second place link the normal map dds file.

Check that the texture files begin like this: textures\... as shown in the Textures image. If the links to the files begin like C:\Program files\Bethesda Softworks\Fallout3\Data\textures\..., or \textures\... the game may not be able to upload them and you'll see the armour black or purple.

The last step is to modify the material properties. Under the NiTriShape node that contains the shape of your armour select the NiMaterialProperty node, right click on it and select Material: a window like the one shown in the Material image will pop up. In Fallout materials have no name so delete the nale that appears on the top box (if there is any). In this screen you can modify the values of the Specular and Emissive colours, the level of transparency (Alpha) and the Glossiness of the armour. You can also modify these values numerically if you select the material node and then select View -> Block details.

Apply the textures on both sides of the mesh


Some armour or outfit meshes are made by flat surfaces, and then, if the textures are only applied to the top of the surface, the cloth will be invisible in game when viewed from some angles (for example, the inner part of some skirts will be invisible).

You can tell the mesh to apply the texture on both sides to fix this problem. To do this:

  1. Select the NiTriShape node that contains your mesh and right click on it
  2. Select Node -> Attach Property from the pop up menu
  3. Select NiStencilProperty from the drop down list

This will add a new node, a NiStencilProperty node, under the selected NiTriShape. Select it and in Block Details look for the Flags parameter and set it to 19840 as shown in picture NiStencilProperty. If the Flags parameter is set to any other value, Fallout won't paint both sides of the mesh.

Once you've modified all these parameters, save the nif file of your armour.

Add the armour to the game using the GECK

Armour properties

To add the armour to the game you have to use the GECK. The steps to follow are:

  • create a new armour. To do it the easiest thing is to look for an existing armour in game, double click on it to open the screen showing its properties and change the ID and name of the armour (the first two boxes at the top of the screen as shown in picture Armour properties). Click on the OK button and GECK will ask you if you want to create a new object. Answer yes.
    Note: the GECK has a bad habit of showing lots of warning messages. When the first one appears click on the Cancel button and you won't see more of these warnings.
  • open again the sceen showing the properties of the armour you've just created with your own ID and name and modify the values you want.

Some useful parameters are (see picture Armour properties):

  • Repair item list (bottom left): indicates the Form list that contains the items that can be used to repair your armour
  • Biped model list: indicates the Form list that contains the objects that will be equipped automatically at the same time that you armour is equipped. Most of the gloves that in game are equipped at the same time than an armour are in Form lists that use this option.
  • Biped Object: indicates which slots are set for your armour. If it is an armour that covers the body the most usual thing is that it uses the Upperbody slot, like the one shown in the picture.
  • In the Male area you have to indicate what meshes will be used by the male characters equipping the armour and in the Female area what meshes will be used by the female characters equipping the armour.
    • Biped Model: the nif file containing the mesh of your armour
    • World model: the nif file containing the mesh that you have created and that will be shown when you throw the armour to the ground (you can leave the world model the original armour had).
    • Icon image: the dds file that contains the image that will be shown on the PipBoy for your armour. If the Icon is the same for male and female you can leave the field for the female icon blank.
    • Message icon: the dds file that contains the image that will be shown for on screen messages. If the Icon is the same for male and female you can leave the field for the female icon blank.
  • Flag Playable: select it to indicate that your character can use the armour.

To place the armour in the world:

  • select the cell where you want to place the armour in the Cell View section and double click on it to open the Render window.
  • drag the armour object you've created to the Render window and drop it.
  • save the esp file with your sword, activate it and test your armour in game :)

Adjust the armour after testing it in game


Test your armour in game. Test it with your character in several poses: standing up, holding a weapon, walking, running, etc.

Most likely in some poses you will see parts of the body clipping throught the armour, as shown in picture Clipping.

If this only happens in some unusual poses, like some added by mods, you can leave your armour as it is. But if this happens in usual poses in game you'll have to work a little more on your armour to eliminate this clipping effect.

Load your armour into Blender again and in the areas where the body clips through the armour try some of the following methods:

  • move the vertices out, separating them from the body. After doing this take a look at your armour's shape in those areas and, if it has deformed too much, move the surrounding vertices to fix the shape.
  • cut the parts of the body that are under the armour in those areas, if it is possible to cut them without leaving holes in parts that are not covered by the armour.
  • if you cannot fix the clipping issues with any of the two previous methods you will probably have to slightly modify the weights of those areas. Try different weights until you find out what works better.

Repeat the testing and fixing process until the armour works fine in game and you'll be done :)