I love to explore the relationship between the fictional worlds we create for movies, books, games, etc. and the real world.
With all of the character customization options available in Skyrim, it's easy to go overboard and choose an appearance for your character that's exciting at first . . . but then quickly loses its appeal.
Changing Your Character's Name and Appearance in Skyrim
If you've already invested dozens of hours in your character, earned a ton of gold, and completed numerous quests, it's not surprising if you don't want to go back and do it all over again with a new character just to change the way you look. Fortunately, there is a way to change your character's name and appearance later in the game by using the console. Read on to learn how.
Note: You can also use this to change your sex if you want, just don't change your race! (See the notes later on.)
Before we begin, don't forget the number one rule of modding: Always make a new save before making any changes to your character's appearance or name. (The same applies to all console changes.) This will allow you to revert to a working saved game if for some reason changing your character causes any problems.
How to Change Your Character's Appearance
- Open the console by pressing '~', which is located in the top left corner of standard North American keyboards.
- Type 'showracemenu' in the console and hit Enter. This will pull up the character creation screen that you came across when you initially created your character.
- Press '~' again to close the console so that you can start making changes.
- You can change anything about your character's appearance, including gender. Avoid changing your character's race, though, as it may mess up your stats. (More on this below.) When you are done, just select 'Done'.
- You will be prompted to re-enter your character's name and the game will resume.
How to Change Your Character's Name
- If you just want to change your character's name, you don't have to make any changes to your appearance, just select 'Done' and type your new name.
How to Change Your Character's Race
If you change your character's race, your stats will change as well. This is because each race in Skyrim has different strengths and weaknesses—these are reflected in the different starting levels of different skills. Therefore, changing your race should, in theory, change your skill levels because your old racial modifiers will be removed and your new racial modifiers will be applied. However, this isn't the case. Instead, changing your race may result in the following:
- Mismatched Experience and Skill Levels: Unfortunately, the game doesn't automatically allocate your previous experience with the same skills that you've built up while playing, so your new skill levels won't match those that you had before. In fact, it seems to just sort of dump all of your experience into Destruction and Restoration (at least in all my attempts.)
- Rebalancing Your Stats and Changing Levels: Even worse, it affects more than your skill levels. Changing your race also leads to the effect of either rebalancing your Magicka, Health, and Stamina stats by setting them as all equal, or it'll set them all to 100. The changes to your skills may also result in your level changing as well.
- Losing Particular Race-Related Powers: Changing your race may also cause you to lose the race-related power you had when you started the game, and won't necessarily be applied to your new race.
All in all, changing your race using showracemenu is a bad idea.
Using SetRace and SetPlayerRace to Change Your Race
What about changing your race without using showracemenu? You can use the console commands 'setraceraceId' or 'setplayerrace raceId' (you need to change Race ID to the proper race, like ImperialRace or KhajiitRace, etc.) to change your character's race. However, this has the unfortunate side effect of causing the game to forget where your head texture is located. The next time you load the game, your head will be missing!
Therefore, there is no known way to permanently alter your character's race without causing a bug of some sort.
Changing Your Character's Size
The weight slider allows you to adjust your character's build, but it doesn't give you any control over the character's size. If you want to make your character taller or shorter, therefore, you have to use the console. As always, use console commands at your own risk.
How to Change Character's Size
- Open the console '~' and type: player.setscale x.x (where x.x is the scale you would like your character to be set at—for example, setting your character's scale to 0.98 will make them a little smaller, and 1.02 will make them a little taller. The default is 1.0.)
- Type '~' again to close the console when you're done.
- You can check the current scale of your character by typing player.getscale (you don't need to provide a number).
Note: Don't go crazy with these settings because it's very easy to blow your character way out of proportion. (Unless, of course, that's what you want to do.) Usually adjusting them by .2 or .3 is enough to get the effect you're looking for. If you make your character too small or too big, you may run into gameplay issues. (For example, I set one character to 0.5 and after a couple of minutes they started to run really slowly.)
Playing as a Non-Playable Character
In response to a number of requests, I've started uploading screenshots of the slider settings for various NPCs from Skyrim.
You can use these settings to make yourself look like another character from the game (tweaking them however you like, of course) or, if you're a PC gamer, use the plugins or save files I've created to play as one of these characters 'out of the box'.
ThorOsuch on June 28, 2019:
Sorry...I can't remember...I went to a pgae that had a listing of all in-game characters that you could download and play as...I can't recall how I got there or the page...would somebody please give me the URL to get there.
Umknowm on April 23, 2018:
Does it work on Skyrim se
Mh'eitaal on February 10, 2017:
I just wanted to add that as far as appearance goes, you can still change your characterif you play on consoles, but not your race or name. Just go to the Ragged Flagon and pay the creepy lady on the bench by the water 1,000 Septims. You can change your appearance as many times as you like that way, but if you are a vampire or werewolf she will not allow you to do it.
secret on July 13, 2015:
xbox360 and ps3 u just go to riften near thieves guild and talk to the altmer lady
Dadiocoleman on February 10, 2015:
For XBox 360:
1. Copy profile and gamesave from 360 to flash drive
2. On the PC extract the gamesave with Modio or Horizon
3. Get your gamesave which should be a .exs
4. Change the extension to a .ess
5. Load the .ess file on Skyrim for PC
6. Follow the tutorial
7. Save the game
8. Get the .ess file and change back to a .exs
9. Inject to flash drive with Mod
Nordlys on January 08, 2015:
I use the same character appearance I use in Saints row IV (to do this, I needed mods), so is unlikely i will grow sick of him. I will edit him more to make him match, or at least to make him closer to his saints row counterpart (I already succeeded for most part)
Sea on August 10, 2014:
Had a wood elf character, I changed his height only by 1.075, and one of the shop owners in Skyrim referred to me as a nord...
Dar'Purr on April 18, 2013:
This one is very pleased with your insights, friend. May your path lead you to warm sands.
mayang on November 15, 2012:
wow, this is very helpful! now I don't have to start all the training again just to change my character hair. thank you so much for sharing this
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on September 07, 2012:
@JV: Did you remember to exit the console before trying to make your changes? You need to open the console with ~, type showracemenu, then close the console with ~. Then you can start editing your character. If you click on anything with the console open you'll get the form id for the object which is a string of hexadecimal characters.
JV on September 04, 2012:
When I did it and tried to change my name, it showed some weird code(like ,1000140 or something) and wouldn't let me back out.
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on May 01, 2012:
@nat: I agree. It would be easy to do and make a lot of players happy. Seems like a no-brainer. Thanks for reading.
nat on May 01, 2012:
They really do need to add a change character appearance option into the game.
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on April 14, 2012:
@bob: If you change your race, it will mess up your Health/Magicka/Stamina and sometimes your perks and skills. I recommend you NOT change your race. You can always create a new save, change your race using that save to see what happens, and if it's completely borked, you can just delete the save. Make sure you write down all of your stats first, though.
It is possible to fix all of your settings after changing your race by using the console if you're really dead set on it. You need to learn how to add/remove perks, change stats, etc., which is too much to cover here. Go to the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (UESP) for information about changing all of this stuff. Check under Skyrim Console. You can also find all of the editor ids you need there.
bob on April 14, 2012:
so i can not chang my race
skyrim on April 12, 2012:
It really rox
Reid on March 10, 2012:
@Justin D on my ps3 it only shows the last 4 times I've saved so how do i change my character, I'm so far into the game i don't want to start over. I'm just wondering how to change my character?
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on February 09, 2012:
@Kensaimage: Thanks for the exhaustive testing and detailed analysis! I'm sure there are a lot of X360 users out there who will be happy to take advantage of this. :)
Kensaimage on February 08, 2012:
I should have clarified, but this glitch was tested and replicated succesfully on the Xbox 360, current with Skyrim's latest patch as of 02/08/12
Kensaimage on February 08, 2012:
Alright, I can do Justin D's glitch with a 100% success rate. I actually ran into it by myself by accident, and it took me quite awhile to replicate the bug. Justin is on the right track, but he's missing a few crucial steps. This is what MUST be done, and I tested it for days.
1. Preset has to be the same, as Justin said
2. Weight has to be the same, as Justin said
3. Sex, race, and preset, as Justin said
Now for what Justin DIDN'T say
4. All facial "types" must match the base model. For example, you have the second nose selected for the character you want to edit. To re-edit him, you HAVE to select the SAME nose type or the glitch will not work.This goes for colors, too, and hair and facial hair styles. Make EVERYTHING match, but do NOT worry about the proportion sliders. Like the nose example, it has to be the same "type", but you can shape it however you want with the proportion sliders.
5. Eye color MUST be the same
6. Scars must match. If they are present. I tested this and I found that ADDING a scar will cause the glitch to fail, but adding warpaint CAN be done. I do not know why.
7. Even the minute details MUST match. Even mouth type, but colors as well. This includes lip color, eyeliner, and any eye shadow, etc
And bam, those are the missing keys to the puzzle. Obviously, due to everything needing to macth, the glitch isn't too terrible useful except to maybe give your guy minor tweaks. Say you made his eyes up a bit to high, you can lower them, or trim down his nose or adjust his jawline, etc. You cannot give him a haircut or add scars, but you CAN add warpaint.
Final detail: The game uses your original base model for any modification. Transforming into a werewolf and back will reset your face to what it was when you first made him, and becoming a vampire will do the same.
Conclusion: You can tweak the face, but ultimately, only gonna be useful for the really nit picky or for those who wanna try out new warpaint. WHIIIICHHHH in and of itself is actually kinda cool. I did not test if removing the warpaint is possible. The change is permanent, and can only be undone by becoming a vamp/werewolf, OR loading your previous save on a separate memory unit (flash drive), then loading your your other save again after will change him back if you screwed up. Keep in mind the change will affect ALL of your saves with that character, even if the image on the save doesn't reflect the changes. So don't freak out, it's still easily reversible, and if you don't have a flashdrive, vampirism is easily cured and can be contracted endlessly. And yeah, the guy that does the ritual is immortal and can't die, and if your a werewolf, transform ONCE and back again and your golden. Enjoy
Michael on January 26, 2012:
An excellent article - thanks so much!
superfly on January 22, 2012:
HA HA!¡! loose your head! that's funny and cool!
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on January 17, 2012:
That's studded armor. There are pictures of the different types on the bottom of this page:
Shammy on January 16, 2012:
What type of Hide Armour is that?
Jj on January 10, 2012:
Justin, On Xbox if we do what you said with the glitch can we then load back to where we were currently playing with our new appearance or would we have to start completely over?
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on December 26, 2011:
@Rokkyu: No. But if you use it to just change your name you may find that your color settings have changed. Whenever you open the showracemenu your skin colors revert to defaults and have to be reset.
@noname: I think the reason why your skill levels change has to do with the fact that each race receives different starting bonuses, so the engine tries to recalculate them. My hunch is that when you change your race it runs this code but at the wrong time so it's not doing it properly. It doesn't touch your perks because no one starts with perks so it doesn't have to recalculate anything.
noname on December 25, 2011:
Interestingly enough your perks remain after changing your race with showracemenu. Fortunately i can now increase once more my levels sky high with blacksmithing (which in my case was reset). Archery is way too high though. Anyway it seems interesting (thank god i had already made the damn dragon armor).
Rokkyu on December 25, 2011:
Nice job, no need to mess with save files
Eranofu from Europe on December 21, 2011:
Haha, don't lose your head over it. xD Still laughing... Heeehhhh...
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on December 16, 2011:
@GUest: Changing presets hasn't affected my characters, but it's a good idea for each person to test this for themselves. Changing race will always cause stats to change.
GUest on December 16, 2011:
The trick to using Showracemenu bug free is not to switch to a diff race or to a preset, if you leave these untouched you should be able to still chance scars, hair, skin tone, etc.TIP- If you see your avatar arms cross, you've changed something and reset the majority of your stats to LVL 1 ranks; and must restart your save.
therandomguy on December 06, 2011:
Justin I have tried following your steps but it doesn't seem to work. Can you perhaps make a video, or post a more detailed description of how you got it to work? I think it would be really helpful for all the Xbox 360 owners who have Skyrim. Thanks!
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on December 02, 2011:
Great tip, Justin D. Thanks for sharing!
Justin D on December 02, 2011:
I play on Xbox 360 and have found a glitch which allows you to change your appearance on any character. What you must do is:
1. make a save with the character you want changed
2. load the first save of the game where you are still the nord prisoner (before you customize your character)
3. choose the same race, sex, preset, and weight as the character you want to change
4. once you have done that, you may change the face however you want, DO NOT name your character
5. load the save you made in step 1.
Presto! Your character will look like the one you were just making. I've done this twice now in a row and it worked perfectly each time as long as you start with the same preset and weight. May work on PS3, but I don't have one so I cannot confirm.
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on November 26, 2011:
@dane anderson: Skyrim doesn't give you an option after character creation like Oblivion did at the exit to the tutorial dungeon and there doesn't appear to be any way to do it in-game, so short of them releasing it as a feature in a DLC I think you're out of luck.
I think they should include at least one way to change your appearance in every game. They did this to a limited extent in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas but with the number of people who want to change it it should just be a standard feature.
dane anderson on November 26, 2011:
i play on xbox 360, is there anyway to change it on there? cause i hit "b" on accdent and canceled all of it and i didn't think it was a big deal at the time cause i thought i could change it, but so far i don't think you can:( so do you think there is a way? or they might come out with it in the furture?
j-u-i-c-e (author) from Waterloo, On on November 23, 2011:
Great tip, okita. Thanks for the suggestion!
okita on November 23, 2011:
my advice is to write down all your skill levels, shouts learned, etc. even your health, magicka and stamina levels... save that for later. Now look online for the way to alter those stats which is "player.setav (skill) (number value of skill desired)" Write all of these in one text(txt) file, one on each line. It'll be kind of long because you need a line for every skill, your health/magicka/stamina bars and your shouts. I think that's all the stats it will mess up. Once you've saved this as a filename you'll remember (in .txt format) save it in your Skyrim directory in My Computer. Right inside the skyrim folder. Load up the game, go to the character that has the now messed up stats from changing race... type in the console command "bat (name of file)" and enter. It will run through all the commands you entered in the text file and bring your character back to what it was before you altered its race. Now, if you ever want to alter your character again, you just load that file up, update it to what you are now before changing... make your changes, then run that file again. Best workaround I came up with.