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CK Basics: Lesson #1

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CK Basics Lesson #1: Rendering Skyrim



Part I: Creating an Interior

Before we dive in, if you are a beginner or approaching the CK for the first time from other toolsets, 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 Creation Kit. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the list of hotkey controls provided here.

Controls to Know:

This is a list of some of the most commonly used modding hotkeys for the Creation Kit. For more hotkeys look in the CK under View > Render Window Hotkeys for a more complete list of keyboard shortcuts.



Center Wheel Scroll: Camera Zoom
Center Wheel Hold: Move
Shift + Mouse: Rotate
Y: Cycle (Center) Camera View
T: Top Camera View
Alt+Z: Drop Camera
Space bar + Mouse: 3D Camera Position

D: Clear Selection (de-select)
LMB move: x, y
Z + LMB move: z only
X + LMB move: x only
C + 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 + z rotate about z
RMB + y rotate about y
RMB + x rotate about x
Arrow Keys:  Move the selected object Left, Right, Up and Down.

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/Off
Ctrl+P: Enter Portal Mode
Ctrl+E: Enter NavMesh Mode
T: In NavMesh Mode toggles Select Triangles
V: In NavMesh Mode toggles Select Vertex
G: In NavMesh Mode toggles Select Edges
Ctrl+Z: Undo
Ctrl+Y: Redo


Let's get started! :thumbdown:

Now that you've had a look at where your tools are and what they're for we're ready to make our first mod. If you are starting this class right from the Introduction you may already have the Skyrim.esm loaded in the CK. If not, bring up the CK then go ahead and load the Skyrim.esm now.

:smarty:Smarty Says: When you open the data folder to load a file you will see all the plugins from your data folder appear 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 that temptation. :drool:

With the Skyrim.esm loaded in the CK, the first thing we want to do is SAVE to create an active plugin for this session. Click the Save icon on the main toolbar and name your plugin: CKBasicsTutorial


It's time to start our first house interior by creating a new cell to work in. You'll note that the default worldspace on the cell view window is Interiors, that's exactly what we want. Right Click on one of the first cells in the list of interiors (AbandonedPrison01 for example) and select Edit.


The Cell Window will open, just 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 aaDRTutorialInt01.


In modding there are naming conventions when creating new IDs and they are as varied as the modders and developers who use them. Sometimes beginners think these names need to be uber technical, "Cause if it's not hard it's not modding" :doh:

This is a false assumption. Confusing names are just confusing, even for you later on. Your naming convention should have a purpose, be simple, and whatever you start with you should maintain throughout the entire project. 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 "aaDRT" to take my custom adds to the top of every list in the CK. You NEVER want to start an ID with a number like 1 or 0 as it may confuse scripts and can cause issues later when trying to call the ID in a script. DR are my initials, but you might choose instead to use the initials for your project, that way all your plugins will be compatible with one another. Tutorial is the project name of the house we are building, "I" stands for interior, and "01" indicates it's the first of a series on interiors.

Once the cell has been named it should appear first in the list. Click on the new cell in the list, then to the right, take a look at the four tabs there: Common Data, Lighting, Interior Data, and Directional Ambient Lighting. There are a lot of settings on these tabs but for this class, let's just focus on the most used settings on the first three tabs.

Common Data

The common data tab contains settings relating to how the selected cell reacts as part of the wider game world. The "Location"setting better defines the cell's location in the game world. The "Default Acoustic Space" setting, defines what sort of ambient sound/reverb/echo quality the cell will contain (Does it sound like a cave? Or a house?). The "Music Type" setting defines what sort of music plays in the background. The "Has Water" setting defines whether the cell has water, what type, and its depth. The "ImageSpace" setting determines the base display effects for a cell or worldspace, adding visual film type effects like blur or coloring. The other important setting on this tab for our purposes is the "Can't Travel From Here" flag which must be set for interior cells.

For now, leave this tab at its default settings, we'll be coming back to this one in Lesson #4 :ok:


The lighting tab has two key settings we are most concerned with. The "Lighting Template" setting allows for duplicating the light definitions from a different cell for use in the current cell. The "Ambient" setting defines the light level and color for the current cell.

For our tutorial select the Lighting Template titled: FarmLightingTemplate

Interior Data

The interior data tab has four settings we want to change for our interior cell. The "Name" setting provides the in game name for the cell player's see when entering the cell. The "Encounter Zone" setting determines how this cell behaves with leveled lists; this setting does not apply for homes, it's for dungeons where leveled lists are placed to determine the type/strength of enemy encounters. The "Owner NPC" and "Owner Faction" settings are used to determine who owns the cell and everything within it; choose a common faction setting when more than one character shares a cell. The last section of flags determine the access permission parameters for the cell (Is it a public place like an Inn? Is it a private place like a nobleman's room? Can the player wait there?)

For this tutorial, enter your interior's name, set the encounter zone as NONE, set the owner faction to PlayerFaction, and check the Public Area flag.

When all of these settings have been set, click OK to close this dialog box and SAVE your plugin.

You will see your 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 on it in the cell view window to load your cell in the Render Window.

Part II: Working in the Render Window

Since this is a new cell what you will see is a sad empty grey void, but 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 categories 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 Skyrim 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 FarmInt2End02 click on it with your mouse, drag it to the Render Window, and let go to drop it into our empty interior cell. Even though we can't see it, there is an invisible grid in every cell even interiors. When you set your first kit piece you want to set it to the 0,0,0 point on the grid so that everything else you add to the scene will be built to this grid. This is especially important when building things that require kits pieces to be joined together like in 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: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 Editor! You can double click on any object, NPC or creature to find its reference window.

In the reference window for our farm interior kit, 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.

:smarty:Smarty Says: Save! Save! Save! Modding Toolsets 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 toolset 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.

Part III: Building on the Grid

To maximize customization and uniqueness, most of Skyrim's interiors are made up of several kit pieces locked together on the invisible grid, including farmhouse interiors. Click on the first piece of our farmhouse interior, tap A to turn on the work light, and you'll be looking at something like this:


The rainbow colored cube around this piece of the house interior is the active highlight. Whatever object has that highlight around it is the object you can actively move with your mouse. Because we set this piece 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 around this piece.

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.

We're now ready to add some more pieces to the grid. To make sure we have no overlapping kits or open seams, we want to put our kits together using the snap to grid feature. On the main toolbar, click the preferences button to open the preferences dialog. Before using snap to grid for the first time, we want to change the default snap to grid distance from 64 to 16. Once you've changed this setting, click Apply and Close to set the changes.


With this narrower margin for error set, let's turn on the Snap to Grid tool on the main toolbar to turn this function on. If you turn this tool on before dragging additional pieces into the render window, then everything you add will enter the window on grid, which is good, so make sure you turn it on before adding additional kits!

When ready, find our next kit piece in the Static list FarmInt2Doorway02NoDoor and drag it into the render window. Use your mouse and alternate holding the X,Z,C hotkeys to move this piece right alongside the first. You'll notice that it moves more than one unit at a time, that's the snap to grid feature at work.

Remember not to move that first piece, it's the head of the snake, we need its position to ensure all the other pieces attached to it are aligned properly; it is the start of the grid. The grid is invisible, but when you have Snap to Grid turned on, the pieces are able to find the grid. If a piece is off grid a single point, every piece you add on to it will be off a point +1 so by the time to get to the end you have a gap 30 points wide! :shock:

When the second piece is properly aligned, you should be looking at something like this:

Finish this interior set by finding FarmInt2End03 in the statics list, dragging it into the render window and lining it up on the grid with the others to close in the space.

:smarty:Smarty Says: Finding Snap to Grid to be a challenge? Visit the Additional Information on Snap to Grid section of the CS Basics course Lesson #3. Aside from the layout of the Reference box, the technique is identical so it's a valuable source of info for Oblivion and Skyrim modders alike.

Part IV: Staging the Interior

Now that we have all three pieces of our kit together you should be looking at something like this:

For the close of this lesson we're going to add a few additional objects to begin the staging of our interior and practice the controls charted at the beginning. Start by turning OFF snap to grid. This feature is not needed for placing clutter type items. Go the object window again, choose the category MovableStatic, find FireplaceWood01Burning, 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 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.
  • Hold the spacebar and move your mouse to adjust your camera position.
  • Move your camera a lot to get a true perspective of where your object is in render space.




When done you should have this:


Next we'rre going to add a couple chairs 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 to use furniture we can sit on so we need chairs with sit markers.

Find UpperChair01L and drag it into the Render Window. You'll see the blue and orange marker on the chair. This marker is a place holder for people in game, and shows how an actor interacts with this chair so you don't want that marker to be in the floor or through any other furniture; leave space for these character animations when placing furniture.

Position the chair in front of the fire place; then find UpperChair01R and set it alongside its mate in the render window.


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 FarmInteriorFireLight01 and drag it into the Render Window. You want to position the fire light object over the fire logs in the fire pit that we added first. This fire light will lend light and shadow to the scene in game.



Congratulations, you have just made a plugin for Skyrim!

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, that's a big step! :clap:

To see your hardwork first hand, activate your plugin in the Data page of the game's main menu before going in game. Then use the console command coc YOURCELLID (Mine would be aaDRTutorialInt01) to teleport to your cell. :wizard:










Repetition is the fastest road to mastery of skills. This assignment is worth 10pts and the Extra Credit Section is worth 5pts. You need 100pts to earn a medal for the CK Basics Class. So do your assignment and post a screenshot here when you are done! :smarty:

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. Across this course we will be building this interior as a Tavern, but you may build as a home if you so choose. 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 CandleHornTable01 and adding a light object over the candle like HelgenCandleLight01 (Do not use more than 2 of these lights).



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.
  • 2 Upper Single Beds
  • 4 Hanging Pelts
  • 2 Wall Mounted Baskets
  • 2 Wall Mounted Animals
  • 2 Floor Pelts
  • One Large or Two Small Tables
  • Seating for 4 around the Table/s

Extra Credit

  • Add a Candle Horn Chandelier
  • Use Snap to Grid to piece together a bar from static Counter pieces
  • 2 Upper Shelves
  • Add a FarmIntLHLoftTop01 divider to the upper floor
  • Add 2 UpperEndTable01 objects from WorldObjects>Containers


In Lesson #2 we will cover cluttering with Misc Items like dishes and food, creating containers, adding doors, and NavMeshes. Make sure you take time to practice what you have learned here, especially your hotkeys, camera and render controls. Practice makes perfect!

If you are ready to move on head to Lesson #2: Living Interiors.


  • Upvote 17

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... All you need to do is PM the instructor and you get added to the 'Progress Report' thread, pined to the top of this forum. From there you are awarded points for completing the required tasks for each class. Just let me know if you want to 'officially' join the class and have your progress reported.

Hi, I'm new here and not familiar at all with the procedures. Is this what I must do if I want to join the classes? My apologies if my question is inconvenient. :)

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Hi, I'm new here and not familiar at all with the procedures. Is this what I must do if I want to join the classes? My apologies if my question is inconvenient. :)



I'm new and a little confused too, so I'll just chime in with ladyonthemoon. I've done the first little project, and I'd love to post my pictures so as to be able to proclaim to the work that I am a real, live Skyrim modder.

Edited by mikegray

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Ok well ill retake some of the screen shots through the creation kit, instead of the game and once it is done ill edit this, reply i am doing









Edited by Duck

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To see your hardwork first hand, activate your plugin in the Data page of the game’s main menu before going in game. Then use the console command coc YOURCELLID (Mine would be aaDRTutorialInt01) to teleport to your cell. 


There is no COC marker in the cell... ;)

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Hello Folks, sorry for any confusion or delay caused by my absence, one of my other projects was hogging my time during Session Five. I have been through the classes and updated the roster, those of you who mis-started in Session Five, I've moved you forward to Session Six. If I missed you please let me know. :good:



@Duck, very nicely done. Make sure you can walk all around that bar though its awfully close to the ladder. Full Marks :ok:


@Ascension, looks like you're using the wrong table but otherwise, nicely done, Full Marks.


@pyromancer, I terrific first effort, full marks as well. :yes:


@ladyonthemoon, lovely job, full marks. You do not need a coc marker for the coc command to work. ;)


You may all head to the next lesson :clap:


@mikegray, hop in and get started! :good:

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So here is what I made:











I however have one question. Some screenshots made from the CK Render Window have "directional nodes" for chairs, aka those blue dots. They show from which direction (Left, Right, Front) the actor / character can sit on the chair. However, my editor currently doesn't show those, even with markers enabled. Any clue to how I can make those show up, since they're quite helpful. (I am using chairs with L or R or LR as suffix)

Here is a screenshot from within the editor:


Edited by JibstaMan

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M enables/disables the Marker view, but there is a bug in the CK where the markers may show as enabled when they are not or they wont display properly, try tapping M a couple times in succession see if the markers appear. That should cycle it through :good:


Looks good though otherwise you can head to Lesson #2 :)

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Hello everyone!  I realize I'm a bit late in the semester (and about 2 years behind everyone else) but the imminent release of the Elder Scrolls Online has got me interested in Skyrim again, so now I'm playing Dragonborn for the first time and trying my hand at modding. 
This is a test post to see if my images ended up here all right; I took some screen caps of Lesson #1.  If this works I'll upload the homework part once it's all done.    
Edited by Altwing

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And here is the homework.  The lower floor has 2 tables and 6 seats, two at the fireplace and 4 by the tables.

The upper floor has the beds.  I'm not sure if both Wall Mounted Mudcrabs are visible in this angle, but you should be able to see all the pelts and baskets.  Edit-- yeah, if you click on the picture, you can see the mudcrabs and one of the baskets; the other basket is on the other floor.


And here is the extra credit:


I put the divider in first, then the end tables against the wall, then a pair of shelves against the divider.  Once I created a mini-bar, I was practicing moving it as one total piece so I moved it to the 2nd floor; this way I'd only need to upload one image.  You can see a bit of the candle horn chandelier in the lower left corner.
All in all, this was fun.  It took me several days to get comfortable but at least now I feel like I can fiddle with the Creation Kit without wrecking my game or accidentally deleting Riften.
Edited by Altwing

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Welcome to the Horker's Head Inn!


Screenshots of my completed assignment can be found here.


This is my completed assignment, including the extra credit. I can retake the screenshots, or provide screens from within the CK upon request.

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This is the Full Moon Tavern


I had a little trouble in the beginning setting it up, and with the bar counters but I got through it.


I hope I took enough pictures.   

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Apologies for the delay, somehow I became unsubscribed from my classes! :shock:


Rikai and Aura, very nicely done, you may continue through the course :clap:

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I signed up so I could see the beginners introduction to this course linked to in post # 1, but it seems I still don't have permission to see it.

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Thanks, I have already done most of the first lesson before reading the introduction & I had update.esm loaded.

Is there any way to remove the dependency on it, or do I have to start again?

And thanks for the Tutorial, it is far and away the best I've found.


Edit: Breaking Rules first day, please delete post.

Edited by olnorton

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OK, I think I have all the screenshots needed to show I passed lesson 1.

I had to add the navmesh shot because it was the only screenshot I have that shows the 2nd mounted animal.

After having trouble with the lighting & some artefact around the door edge after lesson 2, I decided to reinstall the CK & uninstall my mods (I only had about 25 so I don't think they were the problem)

and restart from scratch, but unfortunately I went right through to lesson 2 without taking screenshots from lesson 1 again.


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Looking good, you just don't want to work ahead, otherwise your posted homework might confuse the next student who didn't do navmesh in Lesson 1 ;) Carry on! :good:

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