Skyrim Creation Kit Beginner's Guide
Skyrim Creation Kit is the tool that Bethesda used to create Skyrim. It is also used by modders who make all the wonderful mods that we all love to use. Mods add so much to the existing game—they allow us to explore new lands, wear new clothing, wield new weapons, etc. They also fix bugs and enhance or completely overhaul gameplay elements.
How to Use the Skyrim Creation Kit
I have taken up modding in Skyrim and thought I would share my experiences, beginner to beginner. There are many excellent guides out there, but they are often written by experts who are very familiar with the tool and have therefore forgotten what it is like to be a beginner. I will begin at the very start with:
- How to install the kit
- How to navigate the kit
- How to start creating a mod yourself
How to Install the Skyrim Creation Kit
The first step is to install the Creation Kit.
Log into Steam and navigate to Library and select Tools
- Scroll down to Skyrim Creation Kit, right-click and select Install Game
Steam will download the Creation Kit and add a short cut to it on your desktop. You are now ready to launch it and start learning how to create mods of your own.
Introduction to the Kit
Now that we have the Creation Kit, open it and you will see the following:
As you can see, it is made up of a number of separate windows called views.
- The first is the Creation Kit itself, which has the menus and a number of buttons. The majority of these buttons are not needed for a beginner, so we will largely leave these alone at the moment.
- The Object Window is where all the objects that you can add to mods are stored. You can see that the left-hand tree has all of the categories of objects and the right-hand panel has the objects that are stored in a category. You will use this window a lot while creating mods.
- The Render Window renders your mod so that you can see how it will look in-game. You can move around inside the window and also zoom in and out (we will cover this in more detail shortly).
- The last window is the Cell View. This lists all the cells in Skyrim as well as any that you create for your mods. This will also list all the objects that you have added to your mods on the right-hand side.
The Basics of Creating a Simple Skyrim Mod
Now that you have a rudimentary understanding of what all the views do, it is time to start creating your first mod. To begin:
- Click File and then Data
- Select "Skyrim" and then OK
If you have already created a mod, the process will be slightly different
- Once again, select File and Data
- Choose "Skyrim" and your mod
- Double Right Click and the mod's status will change to Active Plug-in
The Creation Kit will now load the Skyrim.esm file. This may take some time, depending on your system’s speed. You will get a warning, click Yes to all to suppress it.
Now that the Creation kit has loaded all the objects from the main Skyrim.esm file, we are going to add an object so that we can practise movement and manipulation of objects in the render window. But before we do that, we need to create our own cells for our mod. To do this:
- Click on the Cell View window and select UnownedCell on the left-hand side
- Right-click on it and select Duplicate Cell
- UnownedCellDUPLICATE001 * will appear in the list
- Click on it and rename it. Ensure that the name doesn’t contain any spaces
- Edit it and select Interior Data
- Change the name to something more appropriate
- Select all the objects in the right-hand pane and delete them
Note: you will have to click on another cell and back onto your new cell to see the changes.
Now that we have an empty cell, it is time to add a new object to it.
Double click on your new cell so that the Creation Kit knows this is where you want the objects to be placed.
- Click on the Object Window and open WorldObjects and then Static, followed by Dungeons and finally Imperial and Small Room
- Drag the object ImpRoomWall01 to the Render Window
How to Move About in the Render Window
The first thing you will need to learn is how to move around in the Render Window. The controls chosen by Bethesda are different from most anything you have used before and will take a while to get used to. I suggest practising moving around until you are used to it before building your first mod. This will save you a lot of annoyance later on. To move around the Render Window:
- To move left, right, up and down (panning), hold down the mouse wheel and move in the direction you want.
- Zooming in and out is simple enough; just use the mouse wheel as you do in many other games or applications.
- Finally, to rotate the view, hold down the Shift key and move the mouse.
Once you are totally happy, it is time to move to the next step, adding more objects into the cell that makes up your mod.
How to Add Objects to Your Mod’s Cell
Now that we are happy moving around in the Render Window, it is time to add additional objects to your mod. Before we do this, we need to select two buttons to make connecting the objects together easier. On the Creation Kit, select the two buttons shown above; the Snap to Grid and Snap to Angle buttons.
One final suggestion which saves a lot of time when you are new to the Creation Kit is to use the Preview Object Window. To turn this on, go to View and select Preview Window. This will allow you to see what an object looks like without having to drag it into the Render Window and then deciding you don’t like it or it is the wrong piece.
Adding objects into the cell is one of the trickiest parts to learn. It took me quite a while to get to the point where I was able to do this quickly and easily. There are in fact two ways to do it, which you choose is up to personal preference. First, I will illustrate the frustration that this can cause. Drag NorRmSmWallFront01 into the Render Window. Now, drag and drop a second one into the window. You can see how this will look below.
How to Line up Objects
The two walls are in totally different positions. You could move the pieces so that they are together, but believe me, that is frustrating and very time-consuming. So my advice to you is to never add objects like this. It will drive you crazy and you will waste a lot of time and energy lining things up. The two methods to add objects so that they are lined up is:
- First, select the first object. Press Control D to duplicate it. Another object will appear in the Cell View. The second object is on top of the first. You can then drag it and click it easily into place next to the first wall.
- The second method is to drag the object from the Object Window as before, but drag it on top of the original object. This method is less accurate than the first and I would recommend using only the first method for now.
How to Replace Objects
Should you want a different object than the first (for example a Corner piece), select the duplicate and press Control F. This will allow you to replace the object with another. Go ahead and make your third wall piece NorRmSmCorIn01.
- To ensure that you have no gaps between the objects, zoom in and out and also rotate your objects to check for gaps.
- To rotate a piece, simply select it and press and hold the right mouse button. When it is rotated so that the piece fits, let go of the button.
Add another corner so that you have two wall pieces and two corners like this.
Duplicate the Wall and Add the Side Walls
Now, we can duplicate this whole wall to make the other wall of the room. To do this, drag a box around it by holding down the left mouse button. You will see the selection boxes (the blue, green and red lines) displayed for all four pieces.
Press Control D to duplicate them and drag them off to the left. Rotate them so that they look like mine below.
Now add two side walls (NorRmSmWallSide01), one to either end using the same method as we did above. Now select the four pieces we created before (either drag a box around them or press Control and select them to create our group once more)
- Drag them until they click into the two wall pieces we just created
- To fill the room up, add two NorRmSmMid01 (floor tiles)
Save and Playtest Your Room
Now that we have created a basic room, it is time to save it and playtest it.
- Click on File and then choose Save
- Give your new mod a name
- Before leaving the Creation Kit, note down what you called your mod in the Cell View window. You will use this in-game when testing
- Launch Skyrim and click on Data and enable your new mod, then click OK
Once Skyrim is open:
- Click on the Tilde key (normally under the escape key) and the console will open.
- Type in "coc" followed by the name you gave your mod in the Cell View window. My mod is called Robsroom, so I typed in "coc Robsroom".
"Coc stands" for "centre on cell", in case you were curious! Now we have created our first mod, go ahead and wander around your new room, checking for any seams or graphical glitches that you will need to fix. Once you are happy with your room quit Skyrim and enjoy having finished your very first simple mod!
In this article, I have covered the very basics of using the Skyrim Creation Kit. As a learner myself, I found that the videos and tutorials I was following skipped too quickly past the very basics. There are a number of small hurdles you need to get over to be able to efficiently use and enjoy the kit. These are:
- Moving around the Render Window
- Placing new objects in the Render Window so that they can be connected to existing objects quickly and easily
Once we have a familiarity with both of these concepts, we looked at the various windows that make up the Creation Kit:
The Creation Kit itself, with the menus and buttons you will need to use to create mods
- Objects are listed in categories in the Object Window
- Cells are listed in the Cell Window
- Your mod is shown in 3D in the Render Window
Finally, we created a small Nordic room and tested it in-game to ensure that we had created a perfectly formed room. I hope that you enjoyed this article and it has helped you to better understand the Creation Kit. It is a very powerful tool, if you look at Skyrim Nexus Mods and check out some of the wonderful mods created using it, you can see just how far this tool can take you.
Thanks for reading and happy modding!
How familiar with the Skyrim Creation Kit were you before you read my article?
© 2015 Robbie C Wilson