- A basic working knowledge of Skryim - I won't be covering all the basics
- Latest version of Nifskope - Niftools Team have released RC5 which supports Skyrim
- NIF/OBJ file - Need either of these two formats for your model
- A Skyrim NIF - We'll need a Skyrim NIF we can edit to make our own model work
- BSA Tool - Something to extract those Skyrim NIFs, for this I'll be using FO3Archive.
You'd think getting models into Skyrim would be impossible at the moment, well that's not quite true. Thanks to the hard work of the Niftools team and modders helping we have a version of Nifksope that will allow us to get our models into the game by editing a vanilla model.
It's not as tricky as it sounds.
For this tutorial I'm going tobe using the Ayleid Longsword from The Arsenal, but you can use any weapon you like for this. Now before we start there are two things you need to do, first is to either export your model from your 3D application of choice as an OBJ file or open your NIF file, then go File>Export>Export .OBJ.
Smarty Says: If you have a scabbard too, you'll need to select each node and export separately.
With that done the next thing to do is put all your textures for your chosen weapon into your Skyrim texture folder, you can do this later if you wish, but it's always a good idea to set things up first, just makes it easier. So with all that done we have our OBJ file, our textures in place and the latest version of Nifskope that supports Skyrim. There is one last thing we need which I'll cover in more detail in the next step.
Step 2: Extracting a vanilla model
What we need is a vanilla model, in this case a vanilla weapon model we can edit to make our own model work in-game. Start up your BSA Tool of choice and open the Skyrim - Meshes.bsa file. With that done navigate through the BSA and find then extract the Steel weapons. We'll use one of these NIFs as the base for our own.
Step 3: Nifskope Magic
That is all our preparation work done, now we can jump into Nifskope and get to work making our model.
Open up Nifskope (RC5 +) and load up the 1stpersonsteelsword.nif, this will be the NIF we'll use. Now if you're using a different weapon, say a Mace for example, be sure to open the same vanilla NIF, don't worry all the steps here will still apply.
Once the NIF is open you should see something like this:
Don't worry if it's not exactly the same, some things might be a little different depending on the NIF you decided to use.
Here comes the fun bit, click the little arrow icon next to the root node (1stPersonSteelSword), this will expand the tree so we can see what's there. Next click on the 1stPersonSteelSword:0 node, this is the weapon model.
Right-Click the node and select Block>Copy Branch.
Next click the root node again and select Block>Paste Branch.
You'll notice we now have two 1stPersonSteelSword:0 nodes, now the reason for this is simple, we can use the original model as a reference for scale and position so we can get ours set up right. We'll then remove the original afterwards.
Make sure our duplicated node is selected, now go File>Import>Import .OBJ, locate and select the weapon OBJ file you exported earlier. You should end up with something like this now:
Now you're problably thinking "Oh crap it's not setup right", well don't worry, if the model doesn't magically appear in the right position then we can use Nifskope's Transform tools to do so, jusrt right-click the node, then Transform>Edit. Make your changes and then make sure to APPLY the transform.
Once you have transformed your model into position you should end up with something like this:
We have our model correctly positioned and scaled, but that damn vanilla mode is in the way, so let's remove it shall we?, Right-Click the vanilla model's 1stPersonSteelSword:0 node, select Branch>Remove Branch and BOOM! it's gone
Last thing we need to do is link our textures, well before we do that there are a few things that need to be removed from the NIF:
Right Click each and remove them.
Next up click our 1stPersonSteelSword:0 node, open the Block Details pane (F3) if you don't have it open already and scroll to the bottom and find the Properties block.
What we need to do here is link up our BSLightingShaderProperty to our node so we can apply textures, so take a look at that node, see the number to the left?, Well we're going to make use of that. Look at the properties block again and use the little arrow to the left to expand it, you'll notice there are two nodes under it, noth read NONE. Let's change that.
In the first node, click where it says NONE and put in the number to our lighting node like so:
Just above the top node you edited you'll see two green arrows, right-click them and select Array>Update.
You'll notice our BSLightingShaderProperty moves into our main node, it's properly parented now. Last step is to edit the textures, expand the BSLightingShaderProperty and find the BSShaderTextureSet, click on it and you'll see the textures display in the Block Details. Just relink the texture paths to your own textures.
Once all that is done you can go ahead and save a copy of that NIF somewhere safe.
Now I hear you shout "But what about the vanilla scabbard?", Well that's easily fixed too, we just repeat the above steps and import our scabbard (We use the Scb node). If you don't have one to import then you can remove the scabbard branch from the NIF. Just make sure you edit the Node name (Block Details) back to Scb for it to work correctly in-game.
After all that we have a NIF and it'll work too, wasn't so hard was it?
Step 4: All done, now test
After all our hard work we'll want to test things, well the easiest way to go about it is to save your NIF with the vanilla name, then put the model in your meshes folder like so:
This will replace the vanilla weapon, which for the time being is the easiest and quickest way to get testing our creation.
And here it is, the Ayleid Longsword in Skryim: