I am a huge fan of "The Elder Scrolls" series as well as all of the other great Bethesda titles.
In this article, I will review how to update the graphics for your Player Character using a series of mods.
As your Player Character is central to your Skyrim experience, you want it to look as good as possible. The mods in this article will greatly improve its appearance. In addition, all of the graphical improvements we make to your Player Character will be applied to the Non-Player Characters, making your game look much better.
First, we will update all of the body models with better, high-resolution textures and a more natural-looking figure. Then, we will look at replacing the face, hair and eye textures, again with higher quality, better-looking textures.
After you have installed and configured your mods, you could end up with a character that looks something like mine (pictured above).
How to Manage Mods: Nexus Mod Manager
The first step is to install a couple of essential mods using Nexus Mod Manager. If you are unfamiliar with it, Nexus Mod Manager is an excellent tool that allows you to do the following:
- Cleanly install and uninstall mods.
- Manage installed mods including creating a correct load order.
- Organise your mods so you know exactly what is installed.
- Install and download mods with one click.
- Check all installed mods for updated versions automatically.
- Use the built-in download manager to easily download mods.
For more advanced users, there is another Mod Manager called Mod Organizer. It allows you to:
- Have multiple profiles, all with separated save games and different installed mods.
- Each mod is installed in its own folder to reduce conflicts and make removal easier.
- Broken mods can be fixed and installed correctly.
- Mod conflicts are flagged to you and resolution steps recommended.
Installing Mods to Personalize Your Game
"Skyrim Unbound" allows you to skip the opening sequence and fully customise your character's intro. You can choose starting equipment and place (you can start in any city, town or wilderness or even jail), or even delay the main story and turn off dragons.
Installing Mods to Improve Body Models
The next step is to install either "Caliente’s Body Mod" or "DIMONIZED UNP Female Body" from Skyrim Nexus, depending on your preference to replace the female characters' models. I have chosen the "Big Bottom Edition" of "Caliente’s Body Mod" (often known as "CBBE") as I like the way that the models look. "CBBE" is also far more configurable than "UNP". If you activate the mod in Nexus Mod Manager, using a GUI installer, you can choose between body shapes, whether the models are nude, choose textures, eyebrows and finally whether you would like to install some tools to help you further configure the models. "CBBE" comes with a utility called BodySlide which allows you to fully configure your Player Character’s body shape, which I will cover in detail below.
You can see pictures below of a "CBBE" and "DIMONIZED UNP" female Player Character. I suggest that you check both mods out on Skyrim Nexus, but be warned, there are pictures there of an adult nature.
Use Caliente’s Body Mod BodySlide Tool
Where "Caliente’s Body Mod" really comes into its own is with the use of the BodySlide tool that is an optional extra. Using it, you can take the default body shape and change it using the sliders shown below. The changes you make will immediately affect your player character’s body shape the next time you launch Skyrim. To use Bodyslide:
- In the Skyrim data folder, browse to \CalienteTools\BodySlide.
- Run BodySlide.exe as Administrator.
- Select CalienteBody as Outfit / Body, which is the mesh that you are editing if you chose the "no underwear" version or Caliente Undies if you chose the underwear version.
- Under Preset, choose the option that most closely fits what you want your player character to look like.
- Click Preview Small and Preview Big and an image will appear for both sets of sliders.
- Adjust the sliders that you are interested in until you get the body shape you like. You can see below the extensive list of options you have available to choose from.
- Finally, click Create Bodies and BodySlide will create two NIF files in the \Data\meshes\actors\character\character assets folder.
If you want to save your settings as a preset, click Save Preset and name your preset. When you save it, make sure that you save it to \Data\CalienteTools\BodySlide\SliderPresets so that BodySlide can see it. Now, next time you use BodySlide, your new preset will be available.
Now, when you run Skyrim, your player character will use the new NIF files you have created and will have a body shape identical to the one you created.
Installing High-Definition Textures
ApachiiSkyHair and ApachiiSkyHair
The first mods we will install to improve textures are "ApachiiSkyHair" and "ApachiiSkyHair Natural Retexture". These excellent mods replace both the hair for Humans, Elves and Orcs for both males and females. You should install all the below packs from the mod:
- Apachii SkyHair – a Natural Retexture
- Apachii SkyHair – Female Retexture
- Apachii SkyHair – Female Retexture
- ApachiiSkyHair Female
- ApachiiSkyHair Female
You can see examples of female elvish hair from Apachii’s excellent mod below:
Next, we will install "Coverwoman" by mrLenski, which replaces all the faces for all non-beast races with high-resolution textures. The mod enhances the skin of the face, the eyebrows, lips and also the make-up. It also comes in five variants which gives you greater choice over how your Player Character, as well as the games NPCs, will look.
Then, we will upgrade the Khajits with "Coverkhajiits", which comes in both a male and female version to replace models and textures. It also improves the textures of all Khajits in-game (both Player Character and Non-Player Characters) and comes in two variants the 1024 and 2048 texture sizes. For those of us with slower computers, the 1024 textures are a perfect mix of performance and quality.
Better Beast Races v2
To complete the texture replacers, we now install four more mods.
First we install "Better Beast Races v2" by Xenius. This mod changes the shape (the meshes) of the beast races the Argonians and the Khajits, making their faces less angular and more rounded. This will work perfectly with "Coverkhajits" (which is purely a texture replacement), as "Better Beast Races v2" does not replace the in-game textures, just the meshes that create the shapes that we see in the world of Skyrim.
The photos above show how lore-friendly these mods are. They will make a massive difference to how these races will look in-game.
Eyes of Beauty
The next mod we will install is "Eyes of Beauty" by Gabriel Mailhot. This excellent mod comes with four options:
- Standalone, which will either add or replace eyes just for your Player Character, depending on the option you choose.
- A version for elves just again for the Player Character.
- A Dawnguard expansion.
- A package that replaces all the eyes of Skyrim's NPCs.
You can choose any one of the above options and install them and they will work perfectly together. Personally, I installed them all, but that is personal preference which is thanks to the flexibility offered by the modder.
High-Resolution Brows and Beards
The last mod I am going to look at is "High-Resolution Brows and Beards" by Hvergelmir. As the title suggests, these replace the in-game beards and brows with highly detailed textures. It replaces the existing beards with high-resolution, hand-painted beards that looks fantastic. Hvergelmir has done similarly excellent work replacing the brows of everyone in-game (your Player Character, as well as all NPCs). They both come in 1,024 and 2,048 versions, depending on how powerful your computer is.
Enjoy Your New Characters!
By replacing the default body models and textures for our Player Character's body, face, eyes and hair, we have been able to make our Player Character look much better and more attractive than the Skyrim defaults.
I hope that you have enjoyed seeing the changes that these mods have introduced and that you go on to have a lot of adventures with your new character in the wonderful game world that is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Thanks for reading.
© 2015 Robbie C Wilson
Caesa on December 06, 2015:
After i add all this mod, did i have to run another tool other than LOOT (e.g. Wyre Bash or Dual Sheath Redux Patch or DynDolod or FNIS)?