Lord Hayden

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  1. Lord Hayden added a topic in Tutorials   

    Animated Textures in Nif Files
    To add animations to your textures, you're going to need to become familiar with 3 new nodes in NifSkope which you won't have had to deal with before:
    BSLightingShaderPropertyFloatControllerNiFloatInterpolatorNiFoatDataGetting to know these new nodes don't require too much effort, as they're pretty basic on their own but contain a lot of possibilities. To get started with the example, we are going to use a quick .nif I threw together for the tutorial exported straight from the 3D modelling program, no changes or tweaks at all.

    Here's our fresh .nif with the basic nodes and textures applied as you would with any other static mesh. The first changes I am going to make is to add in the new nodes we will be using to animate the texture. This can be done by right clicking in the Block List (top left) and clicking Block -> Insert.

    You'll find the BSLightingShaderPropertyFloatController node under the Bethesda menu, and you can find the other two nodes under the NiF... menus. You can add these in in any order, and they should just appear in your Block List either above or below your BSFadeNode root.

    Now, the first thing we need to do is organize our new blocks. I generally start with the BSLightingShaderPropertyFloatController. When selecting the block, you can see the array of variables in the Block Details panel (bottom). From here we can link this block to the others by using the number values on the right of the block name in our Block List. The block we want within the BSLightingShaderPropertyFloatController is the NiFloatInterpolator, so to do this, I would type '0' into the 'Next Controller' value. Keep in mind that when you change the position of blocks in your tree, the numbers associated with them can also change (although if they are already linked the numbers will automatically change).

    Now go ahead and edit the NiFloatInterpolator node to add the NiFloatData block into it so you have a tree similar to the above image. (BSLightingShaderPropertyFloatController -> NiFloatInterpolator -> NiFloatData)
    Now I'm not going to go through every tiny detail about each of these nodes, although I will cover the basics you will need to create this animated texture.
    This node is where we tell the texture what is going to happen.
    The major changes you need to make to this node after linking it up is to change the flags to active (click on the flag icon and tick Active). You will also want to change the frequency to 1, and your stop time to the full length of the texture loop (40 in my case). You can also change the Target to the BSLightingShaderProperty node in your original NiTriShape you wish this animation to effect, this will appear to create a second BSLightingShaderProperty within your NiFloatInterpolator, but you can ignore this for the time being. Your 'Type of Controlled Variable' is where you can select how you are animating your texture. There's a lot of different options so I would suggest exploring them yourself, but for the slow moving flow of this lava I'm going to change my texture to U Offset.

    This is the most simple node, and as long as you have linked it correctly to your NiFloatData block, you're all done with this. It acts as a bridge between the FloatController and the FloatData basically.
    This block essentialy controls the maths behind how the texture is going to be offset. Because we want our texture to 'flow' (or, be offset) at a steady pace, we are going to use a Linear Integration, which also means we're going to need 2 Num Keys.
    I'm not going to go into depth about the maths behind it or what's possible, these functions can be Googled and researched across various game engines
    Once you have filled out your Num Keys and Interpolation values, you can click on the little green icon to refresh the 'Keys' which will give you two keys, which will be our 'start' and 'end' of the linear motion. Because we want our animation to start at time 0 and an offset of 0, we keep the first key the same. 

    The second key is the 'end' key, which is where the animation will then go back to your starting key to loop. The 'value' is how much the texture has been offset by since the loop started. If you are using a tileable texture, you will want this value to be 1 (or -1 to move in the opposite direction), so it has gone through 1 whole 'tile' of the texture. The time is how much time has passed in the animation, which we generally want to be the same as our Stop Time we set earlier in the BSLightingShaderPropertyFloatController, to give us a nice smooth loop.
    The final steps to get the mesh ready for in-game is to go into our original BSLightingShaderProperty (the one in the NiTriShapeData) and find the 'Controller' data. This is where we can link the controller and all of it's nodes to our original mesh. Fill in the Controller value and your block tree should change so you only have your BSFadeNode as your Root Node and nothing outside of it. We can then right click on our BSFadeNode and go 'Add Extra Data', adding a BSXFlags into our .nif if it didn't have one already. You'll need to edit the flags in the BSXFlags to make sure you have the 'animated' flag ticked.

    The final step I usually take is use the NifSkope spell 'Reorder Blocks' which puts everything into a nice order. After that the .nif is ready to put in-game and should include your animating texture. You can incorporate multiple animated textures, as well as include NiAlphaProperties for more complicated animations. Below is a link to the example .nif, excluding the original texture files you can use to research the techniques. As always, all questions are welcome and I'll be going back through to clean up the tutorial over time. Below is a result of animating two textures with the inclusion of a NiAlphaProperty for testing purposes.
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  2. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Show us what you're working on!   

    Did some testing on lava effects for Morrowind, writing up a tutorial on texture animations over the coming days.
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  3. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Alright, now, regarding texturing, depending on what you are texturing, the methods can change completely, but usually for Skyrim we take photos and edit them to create something that resembles what we want. For porcelain, it might take a bit of playing around with to find the correct look. This is basically how traditional texturing was done, so there's quite a few tutorials on photo editing out there using Photoshop.
    Firstly, we've got our model/s and texture atlas in Blender. What you will want to do is export your UV layout, as well as your models. 
    For the model, we can just export it as an .obj, 3Do can open .obj files.
    For the UV layout, we go into the UV editor and open up the UVs options and select 'Export UV Layout'.

    In the export settings, we will want to select .png if it's not already selected. You will also want to set the size to 2048x2048, and the fill opacity to 1. We use 2048x2048 (or 2k) as a base to work in, and it can always be scaled down when we put it in-game if it's too much.

    With all of this selected, we can open up Quixel. Once Photoshop is open, load in your exported UV layout, and then clock on 3Do. You should get a grey box in the 3D viewport that looks nice and boring. 
    On the top bar, you have 3 options, we're after the Import option. In here you can import your mesh into 3Do by clicking on the '...' button next to where it says Base Material. You can also load in your Albedo (which is the PBR term for base color, or diffuse) to view it on your model. For the moment you only have the UV layout, so load it in and see how it looks.

    Now, because we aren't using dDo, we don't have an automatic refresh button for 3Do, so to reload your texture you will have to save out your 'albedo' and reimport it into 3Do.
    As I said earlier, the texturing phase is a little different depending on what you're making, but I can go over the basics and answer questions if you have trouble. The general idea for the traditional texturing styles is to get a collection of photos and do our best to blend them together, isolating details and creating a good looking diffuse texture. From there we move onto programs like CrazyBump to generate normal maps for it (which give it that finer, 3d looking detail in-game).
    Now, I'm really not the best when it comes to Photoshop, but I can give you some help if you need it. The best place to start would honestly be in Markus' student thread. While Markus has left Beyond Skyrim since, it was probably the most useful introduction to Photoshop I had, as he covers the basics and has a lot of pictures to make it easy to follow. The end result is similar to what we want too, it's just instead of making one large tiling texture, we want to make lots of small ones that don't really need to tile. His thread can be found here, I'd highly suggest looking at the plaster tutorial as it involves a lot of blending textures which is what we want to make the most use of, particularly for all the painted parts of the porcelain.
    NOTE: cgtextures.com is now textures.com

    Let me know how you get along with it and feel free to ask any questions that pop up, I'm more than happy to help. Once you're all done with that we can move onto normal map generation (super easy stuff) and getting your models in-game (very quick once we get the hang of it) and ready to be merged.  The texturing phase is definitely the hardest part for a lot of people, so don't be discouraged if it takes a while or you can't get it looking just right, the important part is getting familiar with the workflows and techniques we can use and expanding on them from there. Even if you can't get it looking great, I think it would be best just getting a first pass of the textures done and getting them in-game after that. From there, you can go back and fine tune everything, and even overhaul a few bits here and there from what you've learnt. It doesn't really matter what you're working on, the first time you finish it is never the best, and usually not the last. 
    Here's a super quick and nasty example I threw together of a few blended textures on a simple bowl mesh:

    As you can see, I loaded up the UV layout and made it the top layer, then reduced the opacity of it to around 50% so I could see what was underneath. I then loaded up a marble texture from textures.com (this is a super good source for photo-based textures, even Bethesda used it for Skyrim). I used the color variation of the marble texture as a base, putting it along the bottom of my texture, lining it up with my 'atlas'. I then made a new layer above it and made it a flat white/yellow color and set the blend settings to 'Hue' with a 90% opacity. This acted as kind of a override for the original marble color, which was originally a darker orange.
    From there I took a damaged plaster decal, and added that to a layer on top of the other two and set the blending mode to 'darken'. I also turned the opacity down quite a lot so it acted as large faint details.
    From there I took a rough plaster looking texture and set that to overlay, also turning the opacity down. This added a bit of roughness to the image which I then blurred. This then created a smooth, bumpy effect over the top, resulting in something that I thought would resemble a flat medieval porcelain texture with a bit of ware on it. from the damaged layer.

    So that's kind of the general workflow we use for the coloring. It can be very complex and time consuming, but a good texture can really make your models shine. If you're interested in looking into other texturing workflows as well, just give me a shout and I will see if I can work something out.
    If you wanted some further reading on making your own tileable textures, there's a few timelapses on the textures.com website. 
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  4. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Sorry to take so long to get back to you, we won't be needing post processing from 3DO, the only thing we will be using it for is (hopefully, if it has full functionality without nDo and dDo) to see our textures applied to the various models in real-time as you work on them in Photoshop.
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  5. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Blender 2.7+ Nif Exporter Tutorial   

    You've currently got it set up for a Cycles Render. Swapping to Blender Render along the top toolbar will change the way your materials are set out, similar to the tutorial, that should fix your problem. Just to be safe, I'd remove all textures and materials from your model before swapping over to Blender Render and re-applying them, as I'm not sure how the two interact.
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  6. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Regarding our discussion about normals and smooth shading, this might be of help to visualize how normals work and what's happening to your model:

    It shows the vertex normals as well as what happens when they're shaded or flat.
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  7. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Glad to see you're progressing well! It's all looking great so far. Seeing the entire set all modelled looks amazing! I've found that in most cases I do go back and tweak my model UVs to better fit the texture atlas also. The main thing is just having a good idea of how much texture space you want to give each model, and make sure any parts of the texture that tile can do so appropriately. 
    Just curious, did you manage to be able to get 3DO working in Photoshop? If so, I'll try and make good use of it in the further tutorials. If not, it's no problem, we can run through some traditional texturing methods to get the texturing all done.
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  8. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    I'm glad you're enjoying the tutorials and walkthroughs so far. There's a great selection of tools when it comes to UV editing, and when it comes to 3D work, there's no real 'right or wrong' way to unwrap your model, in a sense. There are more efficient and less efficient methods, although when we're working with such unique models, there will always be multiple ways to do things. Because we're going to be texturing in Photoshop, it's always best to keep in mind what will be easier for texturing, and what UV layouts look best to result in less texture stretching. In the UV editor in Blender, you can press the 'N' key to bring up the properties panel (while your mouse is in the UV Editor window), this is where you will find several tickboxes. One of them is 'Stretch', and if you tick it, it will color the UVs to show how the texture would get stretched across the model.

    Blue means there is minimal stretch, while green through to red means there is a lot of texture stretching. Another useful tool in the IV editor is pinning UVs, which is set to the default hotkey 'P'. If you select a vertex or edge in the UV editor and press 'P', it will be pinned to that area. The next time you unwrap the model, anything you have pinned will stay in the same location. You can unpin things by using the hotkey 'Alt + P'. Examples can be seen below:

    Above is how I would unwrap my mesh to make it easiest when moving into the Photoshop phase.The large circle is the inside of the bowl, the smaller circle is the flat bottom, and the long strip is the sides of the bowl.

    Because you're making such great progress with the set, we may as well combine everything you're doing into a texture atlas as we go, which is kind of a single large texture sheet that contains all your mesh's UVs. While we're not texturing it yet, we can start thinking about what pieces could share UVs and textures. For example, both the Sentinel bowls look like they would use a white porcelain-like texture for the insides of the bowls, while the outsides have unique painted textures. The same applies to the Sentinel goblet and chalice, the flower shaped parts could both share a UV and texture space. 
    Here are a few examples of the clutter from Skyrim and how they have made use of a texture atlas:

    As you can see, a lot of the clutter from Skyrim's sets use that one single texture atlas, allowing the developers to furnish a room with just about one texture. The downside here is that it can take a bit of playing around to get the textures to fit on your models, and you lose the ability to have truly unique textures for each model (but, nobody really picks up on this when they play).
    When it comes to planning this out, there's no 'best way' to do it. You could model everything first, UV everything, and export that UV layout to use as the base for your atlas. Another way would to be to make your atlas first and then UV your models to the atlas. Because you've already got most of the models done, I'd suggest finishing off the set, and then we can UV everything to use as an atlas base. 
    What I like to do in Blender is move all the meshes onto one layer and make sure they're a fair distance apart. I then select which models I want to add to the atlas and press the hotkey 'Ctrl + J' to join the meshes into one. From there I move the UVs around the UV square, resizing and shaping them as I see fit. Once they are where I want them I pin the UVs so they won't move, and then join in my next mesh to add to the atlas.
    Once everything has been UV'd into the one UV square, in Edit Mode you can click on a vertex, edge or face, and use the hotkey 'Ctrl + L', this will select all adjoining vertices, edges and faces. You can then use the hotkey 'P' to separate the selection from the current mesh. This will once again split up your objects into separate pieces, while maintaining the UV layouts.
    I've also looked into getting someone to jump in on the Photoshop stage while I'm away on holiday incase you get those meshes finished really quickly.
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  9. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Great work on the rest of the models! They look fantastic!
    And you're pretty spot on about the PBR and traditional differences. A lot of the shadow details usually seen in PBR engines are rendered in real-time. They also have access to various other input maps such as metallic, roughness, and ambient occlusion (shadows) which help build on the lack of detail in the color maps.
    Because Skyrim relies mainly on diffuse, normal and specular (shinyness) maps, we're required to get as much detail into the diffuse as possible. 
    The Questions and Answers
    All of your questions kind of come down to vertex normals (or face normals) which is a whole topic on itself. There's an incredible amount of information out there about it and I couldn't hope to explain it properly in one post. If you want to do some further reading into what they are and how vertex normals work, I'll add some links explaining it down below.
    Skyrim can smooth faces in-game depending on how you've shaded your model in Blender.
    Whatever you have in Blender will export into Skyrim in a similar manner, so the pinching will also appear in-game.
    Once texturing and normal maps are applied to the model, the pinching will be less visible, although it will still be present.
    Advice on why/how the pinching happens will be explained at the bottom of the thread, as it can be fairly technical, so as not to clutter up the rest of this stuff.
    The Fix
    In other programs such as 3DS Max, they have tools such as Smoothing Groups (more on these in my vertex normal explanation), but in Blender, we don't have the Smoothing Group functionality. Instead, we have an alternative method, called Edge Splitting. What this does is it separates the edges, so they're not actually connected to each other.
    The easiest way to keep your model organised is through an Edge Split modifier, and marking your Edge Splits. If you go into your modifier panel (little wrench icon), you will find a modifier called Edge Split. Make sure you have the correct object selected before selecting the modifier.

    Once you select it, your model will most likely look pretty weird now. This isn't a problem, because the default settings are causing Blender to edge split and faces that are on angles greater than 30 degrees. While edge angles is a totally valid way to organise your edge splits, a more precise and custom method can be found by unticking the 'Edge Angle' box in your modifier.

    This turns off the auto-edge splitting, however, now your model is back to it's original state. Now we can go back into Edit Mode, and using the edge selection tools, select the edges we want to be a hard edge. I made an example below of where I would cause edge splits:

    Going into our left toolbar (still in edit mode) in the UVs/Shading tab, there is an edge options for smooth and sharp.

    If we click on 'sharp', the edges we have selected will now be edge split (thanks to the modifier we added earlier). The edges we have marked as sharp appear as a blue/aqua color by default in edit mode. This should also remove all of the shading errors you are experiencing. Below is my final result:

    This method can be applied all over your models where ever you think a sharp edge would be more appropriate, while still maintaining that smooth shading across the rest of your model. Another example below of a before/after:

    Now, if you apply this modifier, then go into edit mode, you will find that where you placed your edge splits, you now have two separated edges. This is why I highly suggest keeping a backup of your working files before applying the modifier (or by copying the model to another layer for exporting). Working with an edge split model can be confusing, hence why we keep it confined to a modifier for as much of the process as we can.
    The Technical Stuff
    I'm not going to go into details about vertex normals, but I'll explain the reason all models look funny at times when set to smooth. I'll leave links for further reading if this interests you further for you to delve into if you like.
    The pinching occurs because when you are shading the entire model as 'smooth', the individual vertex normals get averaged over the entire model, trying to make it all appear smooth. If you had more vertices around the poorly shaded areas, the averaged vertex normals would appear smoother and cleaner. Because we are aiming for low poly models however, we tackle this issue with Edge Splitting (or Smoothing Groups) instead of adding in more unnecessary geometry. If you took a generic cube for example, and made it smooth, it looks terrible, as you can see below:

    But if you were to add more geometry (but not change the shape of it at all), the vertex normals, when they get averaged, would appear a lot better and smooth around the edges instead of the entire face:

    That's my short explanation on is, but there's links below if you want to learn more: 
    The Polycount wiki has a pretty good coverage of vertex normals and how they work here. There's also a section dedicated to face weighted normals which are starting to become a more common technique in newer games such as Star Citizen and Alien: Isolation. Keep in mind that although people are only starting to use custom normals to their full potential, the ability to modify vertex normals have been around for a relatively long time, and as such, we can implement custom face weighted normals into our Skyrim models. I have started using this technique lately with an addon, and I know a few members in the Iliac Bay team have also started to look into the technique. If you wish to go into more detail and add these techniques to your models, I'm planning on writing up a tutorial on it at some point as to how they work and how we can use them, although that will have to be once I'm back from my holiday.
    Further Learning
    I might have some time this weekend to write up a tutorial about texturing in Photoshop, although I am away from my PC for around 11 days after Tuesday. If this is the case, depending on your free time and how you're progressing, just post in this thread when you're ready to move on and I will see if I can organise another Beyond Skyrim member while I'm gone to walk you through any texturing questions you might have, or walk you through how the .nif exporter works and getting stuff in game depending on how you're getting along with it. Once I'm back home I'll be jumping back on and ready to walk you through where ever you are up to, or if you've got some models in-game, we can go into more depth about improving techniques. Once your models are all textured and you can get them in-game with collisions, we can start looking into getting you added to our team repositories so you can merge your models with the project. That way level designers can start playing around with them and get ready to put them in Hammerfell.
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  10. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Nothollom WIP   

    Hey there, excellent work! Your landscape work is fantastic, and it works beautifully with the custom assets.
    I have to point out that the Atronach Forge is a place specifically for cross-province Beyond Skyrim works. If you're looking to create a thread for your own mod/s then it belongs in the Community Modding forums. For this reason I have moved your thread into the appropriate forum.
    Keep up the awesome work!
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  11. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Glad to help! Geometry looks great now!
    Skyrim doesn't use PBR shading (like newer engines such as Unreal and Unity use). Back then a lot of the texturing was done straight in Photoshop. It was a lot slower, but it got the job done. Newer texturing programs have PBR texturing workflows that are a lot quicker and more efficient, although they output a few different texture maps which we then have to make manual edits for in Photoshop anyway. A little while ago I made a Substance Designer node that converts PBR textures to older Skyrim formats. Below you can see the difference between what is 'PBR' and what is 'Traditional':

    Left is non-PBR, right is PBR. If we were to use a program like Quixel or Substance Painter/Designer, we would have the results on the right, which don't look too great in Skyrim unless we took the time to convert them. 
    I do suggest doing most of the texturing process in Photostop traditionally as opposed to the PBR methods, at least when you first start. It'll give you a better understanding of Photoshop, as well as most likely give you better results. The program I would highly recommend downloading is the Quixel Suite. The suite is a PBR texturing suite as I mentioned above that plugs into Photoshop, although it does include a 3D Viewer that you can import your models into and see it in 3D as you work. The programs included in the suite do require a purchase (nDo and dDo), although 3Do (the 3D viewer) does not as far as I am aware. So, to start our texturing process, I'd say download the Suite and test out if the 3D viewer works without having to activate a trial or pay for anything. If it does, we're ready to move on into texturing.
    To clarify, Quixel is a PBR texturing program that plugs into Photoshop, however we won't be using the texturing side of Quixel, we only want to use it for the free 3D viewer that comes with it. All of our texturing will be done in Photoshop itself.
    If you are making models for other programs or games that use PBR engines, I'd highly suggest looking into either Quixel or Substance Painter as texturing programs. They cost, but they are very cheap compared to a lot of the stuff in the 3D art industry. 
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  12. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Excellent work so far! In regards to the top image, geometry wise, because these are common, smaller models, a couple of the interior edge loops could be removed, I've marked them in the below image in red:

    By the looks of it there's also some edge loops around the bottom that could be removed (marked inside the blue loop). A lot of the fine details on models such as these can be in the normal maps, and once you have smooth shading applied to the mesh it'll be harder to notice missing edge loops.
    Now, regarding texturing; ideally we're going to be creating the textures ourselves in either a texturing program or Photoshop (do you have a preference? If you wanted to use a 3D texturing program such as Quixel or Substance Painter then our workflow changes quite a bit, depends on what you're up to learning).
    For the purpose of hand painting our textures I'd suggest trying to get an unwrap of the entire bowl instead of one part of it and repeating it. Although what you have currently UV'd is more efficient when it comes to texturing, when we add details such as ware and cracks in it, they will be repeating across the entire bowl. This generally comes down to an artists decision as to how much detail they want to compromise for efficiency.
    If you wanted to take the manual photoshop route, I'd suggest adding some seams in (Left toolbar in edit mode, in the Shading/UVs tab). Just select the edges you want to be the bounds of your separate UV islands and click 'Mark Seam'. Once that's done, you can jump in the UV editor and mess around a bit. Below is an image of my unwrapped side of the bowl:

    Now, to make texturing easier, I suggest editing the UVs to make them easier to work with and paint on. You can do this by selecting the edge loops and pressing W in the UV editor and selecting 'Align X' or 'Align Y' (Ignore the highlighted 'Straighten' button in my screenshot). Do this to your UVs until you have simpler shapes that would be easier to play with in Photoshop.

    The above UV layout will be a lot friendlier in Photoshop than before. Once we've done this to the entire bowl, we can export our UV layout. In the UV panel, click on UVs and up the top will be 'Export UV Layout'. You'll then have a menu where you can select your export destination as well as the export size. I'd suggest 2048x2048 so we can scale it down later. We can then take the UV layout into Photoshop for texturing.

    Just to let you know, the above model I have shown is just for example purposes, and does not represent how an actual in-game bowl should look like. Your's is very much spot on.
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  13. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Alright excellent! BS has a little bit of wiggle room in terms of polycount so we can go a little bit over what they did for the vanilla meshes. If you're confident in your modelling you can go ahead and start it whenever you like, but if you'd like me to walk you through the modelling process too just let me know and I can post up a tutorial covering it.
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  14. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    No big deal if you can't get the Texture Works plugin working, the nVidia plugin for CS5/CS6 can export .dds files as DXT5 in the old Skyrim format which is also compatible with SSE, there's only a little bit of detail loss.
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  15. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    I believe the nVidia .dds plugin will also do what you need it to for now (I'm assuming that's the one you're using). The only possible problem that might pop up is the .dds format we save as. The nVidia .dds plugin was the default plugin used for saving out texture files for the old Skyrim engine (using DXT5 compression) until the release of the Special Edition, this is when Skyrim was able to use newer and better .dds compression methods that are only available through the Intel Texture Works plugin (BC7 I think the new compression method is called). You can check out this Reddit thread if you wanted to go into finer details about how and why, as well as see some examples.
    I should've asked this earlier, do you have the original Skyrim and/or SSE?
    That being said, a lot of teams are still using the original Skyrim to mod and have not jumped over yet to the Special Edition, although I think a lot of them plan to do so at some point. It's not a problem if you're unable to get your hands on the Intel plugin, but just to be safe, I'd keep a backup of all your texture files in the highest resolution you can in a lossless format such as .tga, that way you'll always have the original files in the case someone needs to create SSE versions of your texture maps.
    Regarding BSAOpt, it hasn't been updated in quite a long time, so I think that's the correct version. If in doubt, you can always try to extract a Skyrim.bsa to see if it throws up any errors.
    Your Claim
    Now, regarding your claim, we've got a clutter claim that's only been partially completed that will be used throughout Hammerfell (keep in mind that clutter sets like this can also be used all throughout Beyond Skyrim wherever it might be appropriate, so the chances of your models appearing in other provinces all over Tamriel are quite high!). Here's a link to the Beyond Skyrim: Iliac Bay Trello board post. Most provinces use Trello as their planning and organisational website for a lot of art related stuff. This is where we post concepts and screenshots of some of our claims. 
    The board should be public, but in the case that it is not; here is the concept we have for the clutter set:

    At the moment, everything along the bottom row has not been started or claimed except for the blue plate on the left. I'll have to see if anything is still available along the top row as well, but for now, the bottom row can be our starting point. 
    If you like the look of the style and this claim, let me know which one you would like to start with (I'd suggest the vases or bowls just to start). I'll pick a similar object in the claim, that way you can follow along and we can focus on getting the workflow down, and getting the model in-game. If you're not a fan of the style or anything, feel free to have a look over the board and find something that grabs your eye. The left hand side board shows all the current members who have claimed what on the board so you can see what's avaliable, so once we've confirmed your claim I'll add you in there.

    Also, no rush if you're away for a weekend or a couple days here and there, I've also got studies to attend between as well so it can be a little bit of time between when I can get tutorials out, although I'll always be able to jump in and keep you updated/give you feedback on your work.
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