CS Basics Lesson #1: Rendering Oblivion
Part I: Creating an Interior
Before we dive in, if you are a beginner, make sure you have read the Introduction to the course before proceeding. This lesson covers the very basics of working in the Render Window of the Construction Set. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the list of controls provided here.
Controls to Know:
Center Wheel Scroll – Zoom
Center Wheel Hold – Move
Shift + Mouse - Rotate
C – Center On selected
T – Top View selected
Arrow Keys – Move the camera view Left, Right, Up and Down.
D – De-select
LMB – move: x, y
Z + LMB move: z only
X + LMB move: x only
Y + LMB move: y only
F – Fall
CTRL x – cut
CTRL c – copy
CTRL v – paste
CTRL d – copy and paste in present position (duplicate)
LMB (with nothing selected) select multi-objects
S - "Scale": drag mouse to edit size
RMB – rotate about z
RMB + y rotate about y
RMB + x rotate about x
A - Toggle Bright Light
M – Toggle Markers On/Off
B – In Exterior Toggles Cell Grid Borders On/Off
H – Opens the landscape editor
L - Toggle the Light Object Radius On/Of
Let’s get started!
Now that you’ve gotten familiar with where your tools are and what they’re for let’s start making our first mod. If you are starting this class right from the Introduction you already have the Oblivion.esm loaded in the CS, if not, go ahead and load the Oblivion.esm now.
Smarty Says: When you load a mod you will see all the mods in your data folder in the list. Beginners are sometimes tempted to load their favorite mods as well and add things they like from them to their own mods, this is called mod sniping. The trouble is the new mod will only work if you have both mods installed and this is not a technique you want to use when creating mods for release. So, resist temptation!
With the Oblivion.esm loaded in the CS, we need a cell to work in. You’ll note that the default worldspace is Interiors, that’s exactly what we want. Right Click on the first cell in the list of interiors (Abandoned Mine) and select Edit.
The Cell Window will open. Right Click on the first cell again and this time choose New
A smaller window will open asking you to assign an ID name to the new cell. Type in a name for your cell, for this tutorial I have called mine aaDRTutorialHouseInt. In modding there are naming conventions when creating new IDs and they are as varied as the modders who use them. Sometimes beginners think these names need to be uber technical, “Cause if it’s not hard it’s not modding”
This is false. Your naming convention should have a purpose, be simple, and whatever you start with you should maintain for the entire mod. This makes it easier to track parts of your mod when they are mixed in a load order with dozens of others.
In this case I chose “aa” to take my custom adds to the top of every list. You NEVER want to start an ID with a number like 1 or 0 as it confuses scripts and can cause issues later. “DR” are my initials, but you might also use the initials for your project, that way all your mods will be compatible with one another. “TutorialHouse” is the name of the house we are building and “Int” stands for interior.
Once the cell has been named it should be first in the list. Click on our new cell in the list, then to the right, click on the Lighting tab. On the lighting tab we want to add a bit of ambient light to reduce the number of light objects we’ll need later. For houses I like to use a nice matte gray which doesn’t alter colors in the room, but you may choose whatever color you’d like by selecting the number values for your Red Green and Blue hues. For matte gray choose 70 R 70 G 70 B as seen in this image then click “Apply”.
Then click on the Interior Data Tab. On this tab we can set the name of the interior and the ownership of the house interior. Select a name for the interior that will appear in game, and then set the owner as Player. Click Apply, then Okay to close the cell window.
Smarty Says: If you like to use companions, don’t set the Owner as Player, instead, set the Owner Faction as Player Faction so your companions can live with you! If you already selected the Player as the owner, you may need to reset the owner to NONE in order to select the Player Faction instead.
You will see you new cell has appeared in the cell view window at the top of the list if you started your name with “aa” as recommended. Double click o it in the cell window to load your cell in the Render Window!
Part II: Working in the Render Window
Now because this is a new cell what you will see is a sad empty grey void. We’re going to change that right now! On the Object window, you will see a category called World Objects. Click the + sign next to it to expand the tree. You’ll see a new list of category branches under World Objects. Click the + sign next to Static to expand the most commonly used tree in Oblivion Modding!
Static consists of all objects that are static in the game world, meaning players can’t move them.
Click on Static to load all statics in the object window list
The objects in the Static window are listed in alphabetical order. Scroll down to FarmHouseInterior02 click on it with your mouse, and drag it to the Render Window and let go to drop it into our interior cell. Now, even though we can’t see it, there is an invisible grid in every cell even interiors. When you set your first piece you want to set it to the 0,0,0 point on the grid so that everything else will be built to grid. This is especially important when building dungeons and caves, but it’s a good habit to get into for any interior. To set our interior to the 0 point, double click on it to open the Reference Window.
Smarty Says: The reference window can change an object’s position, rotation, disable/enable quality, scale, or persistent status, and can access an object’s Base Edit box! You can double click on any object, NPC or creature to find its reference window.
In the reference window for our farm house interior, set all the position values to 0 and click ok.
When the interior static moves to the 0 point you might not be able to see it in the render window anymore. Double click on the cell view window content list to move your render camera back to your house interior.
Now before we go any further let’s click the SAVE icon on the toolbar to save our mod. Name your mod then click save. It’s best to save early in a mod’s development the first time because the CS has a reputation for crashing on the first save. You want to make your first save before you do too much work.
Smarty Says: Save! Save! Save! The CS is a crashy beast and can crash at any time for any reason. Because that is its nature, you want to save often so that when it does crash, you don’t lose too much work. Rarer, the CS occasionally corrupts a .esp mod file when it crashes, so at the end of the day, backup your day’s work and maintain a backup copy of your .esp just in case.
Click on your house interior and tap A to turn on the work light and you’ll be looking at something like this:
The rainbow colored cube around the house interior is the active highlight. Whatever object has that highlight around it is the object you can actively move. Because we set the house to the 0 point, we do not want to move it anymore. But, by holding shift and moving your mouse, you can practice moving your camera.
Learning the camera and getting used to the depth perception in a 3D drawing space are the two trickiest parts about learning how to mod. Once you get comfortable with moving the camera and using the keys, this sort of building will be something you can…and likely will…do in your sleep!
If you do accidentally move your house, you can always tap ctrl+z to undo your last movement. Just be mindful of what you have highlighted and those accidents will be minimal. To reduce the number of accidents, let’s get something else in the render window that we can move around so we can leave the house alone. Go the object window again and find Firewoodgrate and drag it into the render window. Once it’s there, use your mouse and key controls listed at the start of this lesson to move your firewood grate into the fireplace.
- Hold z to move things up or down on the grid.
- Hold Shift and Rotate your mouse to rotate your camera around the active object.
- When you are sure your object is barely above the floor /or surface tap F to drop it down level (dropping with F from too high can result in a crash so only do this when you are sure the object is close to its final resting place.
- Rotate your camera a lot to get a true perspective of where your object is in render space.
When done you should have this:
Now let’s add a chair beside the fireplace. Go to World Objects>Furniture in the Object Window and click on Furniture to load the furniture in the Object Window list. Be careful not to mistake this for Static>furniture which is furniture that can’t be used. We want a chair we can sit on. Find MCChair01L and drag it into the Render Window. You’ll see the blue and green marker on the chair. This marker is a place holder for people in game, so you don’t want that marker to be in the floor or any other furniture; leave space for your character animation when placing furniture.
Position the chair in front of the fire place.
Time to light the fire!
In the Object Window go to World Objects>Light, and click Light to load all the lights in the object window list…seeing a pattern here? In the list find FireOpenSmall256 and drag it into the Render Window.
Now fires always render on their sides in the render window so we need to rotate it. You can use mouse and keys to rotate manually but I like the efficiency of the reference window for this. Double click on your fire to open its reference window. Under Rotation, change the X value to -90.000 then click ok to set your fire upright properly. Then move it onto the fire logs in the fire place.
Congratulations, you have made a mod!
This concludes lesson #1, you should now know how to create new interior cells, add statics, furniture and lights to the render window, how to move the render camera and how to manipulate objects in the render window! Well done!
To see your mod in game, activate your mod before going in game. Then use the console command coc aaDRTutorialHouseInt to teleport to your cell.
This assignment is worth 10pts and Extra Credit is worth 5pts. You need 100pts to earn a medal for the CS Basics Class. So do your assignment and post a screenshot when you are done!
Your assignment before moving on to lesson #2 is to continue adding furniture and statics to the interior we have begun to create the basis for your house. Do not skip ahead, and do not confuse yourself by experimenting with objects we haven’t covered. You may add additional light objects, but I recommend using static candles like CandleFat01Fake and adding a light object over the candle like CommonLightOrange128.
You may add any statics you'd like to practice, your house should have at least these items when your homework is done, not including what we’ve added in class.
- A Bed
- 4 Middle Class Tapestries
- 2 Middle Class Paintings
- 2 Middle Class Rugs
- A Middle Class Dinner Table
- Seating for 4 at the Table
- A small bedside table
- 2 Dressers
- A Bookshelf
- 2 Middle Class Cupboards
For Extra Credit:
The extra credit dressers and cupboards can be found under WorldObjects>Containers. Because this is a player home, you want containers that start with PC so they will be safe for player storage. Drag and drop containers just like statics. Good Luck!
In Lesson #2 we will cover cluttering with Misc Items like dishes and food, adding doors, and pathgrids. Make sure you take time to practice what you have learned, especially your camera and render controls. Practice makes perfect!
If you are ready to move on head to Lesson #2: Refining Interiors.