Skyrim Modding - Tips 'n Tricks

About

    This Tips n' Tricks page was created to outline some of the handy procedures I use to make things a little easier when creating a new Skyrim worldspace.

    Mostly it will be linked to from my other tutorials, but feel free to link to them from your own web pages, blogs, forums,...etc


Index



Map a Border Region (Large Worldspace)

About

    The following is only useful if you have a large worldspace.

    When you've created your worldspace, you're going to have to make a border region at some point. The border region is the barrier you hit that says 'You cannot go that way'.

    I make my borders roughly 2 - 3 cells from the coastline. You don't want someone swimming for 15 minutes, only to be told that they cannot go any further. They then have to spend another 15 minutes swimming back...quite annoying.

    If you don't make a border region, they will simply fall off the edge of the worldspace.

Required Applications

Creating the border map

    If you followed the L3DT worldspace creation tutorial, you should still have Yourmod.esp in the Tesannwyn folder.

    For some reason, Tesannwyn does not like exporting from an .esm, although it will export from Skyrim.esm...strange.

    Go to your Tesannwyn folder. Open up the Command console and type in

    Tesannwyn -g -p 2 -b 16 -w YourWorldspace Yourmod.esp and hit the Enter key.

    YourWorldspace is the name of your worldspace and Yourmod.esp is the name of your esp.

    For the L3DT tutorial esp, the command was

    Tesannwyn -g -p 2 -b 16 -w Tutorial Tutorial.esp

    The -g switch tells Tesannwyn to put the cell grid on to the map.

    When the command prompt appears back in the Command Console, a file named tesannwyn.bmp will have been created in the Tesannwyn folder. This file can be huge. If your RAW worldspace image was 8192 pixels x 8192 pixels, then the image file created will also be 8192 pixels x 8192 pixels.

    Open the file with IrfanView. It should load quite quickly and you will see an image similar to the one below.

    Image001

    This identifies the coastline. The pink, orange and yellow is the area below sea level. The blue and green is the landmass above sea level.

    Press and hold the + key. This will zoom in to the very centre of the map.

    I have marked the position of cell 0,0

    Image002

    Press F12 to bring up the paint tools. Select the Line Tool. Set the Width (px) to 5 and click the bottom colour box. Set the colour to yellow. Click image below to see the settings more clearly.

    To draw a short line along the x and y zero axis, left click on the centre of the line and drag to another point on the same line. Let go the left mouse button.

    Image003

    Press F12 again to close the paint tools and save the .bmp file.

    If you open it again, you'll see a small yellow cross at 0,0

    Image004

    **Note**
    There are other ways of doing the above, but I find this method is the simplest by far.

    Open the new .bmp file in your image editor. The procedures described below are for Photoshop, but may be different when other image editors are used.

    Zoom in to the centre of the map (z key + move mouse left / right).

    Select the Brush Tool (press B). Set the brush size to 5 px. Set Opacity and Flow to 100%. Change the colour to yellow.

    Move the brush to the middle of the yellow + shape that was created earlier.
    Press / hold down the left mouse button and press / hold down the Shift key.
    Now move the mouse up to the top of the screen and a straight yellow line will be drawn. When you touch the top of the screen, it will start to scroll.

    Image005

    When you reach the very top of the map, keep the left mouse button and Shift key depressed, then move the brush to the bottom of the screen. The image will now scroll downwards. Keep the left mouse button and Shift key pressed until you reach the bottom of the map.

    Repeat this for the x axis, scrolling left and right.

    The next part is marking off intermediate lines on the map. I find that marking every 8 cells works well.

    Scroll the image so that the zero x axis is very near the bottom of the screen and adjust the zoom so that you can only see 8 full cells above the zero axis. Change the colour to red. Left click in the centre of the line above the eighth cell and press the Shift key. As before, scroll left and right to the edges of the map.

    Image006

    When the line is complete, use the scroll bar and move the newly created red line to the bottom of the screen. The top line is the next line your going to mark (8 cells up).

    Image007

    Repeat this until you draw a line that's higher than your landmass, then repeat for the lower half of the map.

    When the x axis lines are complete, do the same for the y axis. You may have to alter your zoom again so that only 8 cells are visible on the screen. Remember, you don't have draw lines all the way to the edge of the map. Draw your last line after you exceed the extent of your landmass.

    When complete, your map should look like this.

    Image008

    The lines on the map mean nothing unless we have the cell numbers marked.

    Using the Text Tool (press T) , set a font size of 60 pt and set the colour to black. Starting at zero, work across the map, adding the text at  0, 8, 16, 24, 32,..etc.

    Then work your way left and mark off  -8, -16, -24, -32,...etc.

    Make sure your x axis numbers are on the right hand side of the yellow / red lines.

    Image009

    When the x axis numbers have been placed across the top, change the font colour to blue and mark the numbers for the y axis on the left hand side of the map.

    Make sure your y axis numbers are on top of the yellow / red lines.

    When the last number has been placed, we need to merge the layers.

    With the top layer selected (blue colour), scroll down the layers to the very bottom. Hold down the CTRL button and click on the Background layer. With all layers selected, right click on Background and select Merge Layers.

    Image010

    To mark the bottom and right hand side, we simply copy and paste the number that have already been placed on the map.

    Select the Marquee Tool (press M) and drag a box around the text at the top.

    Image011

    Press CTRL + C to copy and then CTRL + V to paste. Select the Move Tool (press V) and drag the numbers to the bottom. Zoom in for fine placement.

    When in place, select both layers and merge them.

    Image012

    Repeat the process to place the numbers on the right hand side.

    Image013

    **Note**
    This numbering process only has to be done once. Any future maps that you create can have the numbers placed by copying and pasting from this map, using the process described directly above. Keep this as a 'master' file.

    Before we proceed with the next part, I suggest making a backup copy of the map at this point. This can be used for setting up your different regions at a later date.


    Next, we plot the points that are going to make the border region. As mentioned before, I like to leave 2 - 3 cells from the coast. You may prefer to have more than this.

    Select the Brush Tool and set the brush size to 10 px. Set the colour to blue. Start plotting your border region around the coastline by placing a dot.

    Image014

    As you can see, this doesn't have to follow the coastline exactly. Some areas will be more than 2 - 3 cells from the border, but this is OK. If there's a large bay area, I normally leave it so that you can swim from one side of the bay, to the other side.

    When all your points have been placed, right click on the Custom Shape Tool and select the Line Tool.

    Set the Stroke and Fill colour to blue. Set the Weight to 5 px.

    Now join the dot by left clicking on one dot and dragging the pointer to the next dot. Release left mouse button when in the centre of the dot.

    Image015

    Repeat until all points are joined.

    Image016

    For the next part, we create a new image. (optional)

    Select the menu File > New. Set the Width to 100 pixels and the Height to 50 pixels.
    Click OK. If the backgroung colour is not already black, paint it black.

    Press CTRL + A and then CTRL + C. Select the tab with your map on it and press CTRL + V. Press V to select the Move Tool and move the little black rectangle to one of your points. Zoom in if needed. Press CTRL + V again and move the black rectangle to the next point. Repeat until all points have a black rectangle next to them.

    Image017

    Merge the layers.

    Now we have to start reading the x,y cell coordinates of the border points we plotted.

    Select the Text Tool and set the font size to 30 pt. Make the font colour White and start putting the coordinates of the points into the black rectangle.

    Image018

    Merge the layers and save the image.

    Our border map is almost complete.

    To make the map easier to read, open the image with IrfanView. Drag a box around the usable map area and press CTRL + Y (crop image).

    Image019

    Select the menu Image > Negative (invert image) > All channels

    Image020

    Save your image as a .jpg with compression set around 85.

    Your final image should look something like this.

    Image021

    This whole procedure took me about an hour, but it's far quicker than scrolling around in the CK trying to find the cell coordinates for your region.

    A previous large map I did with 50+ points took me over 5 hours to scroll around the CK and write down the coordinates for the border region.

    Although I've named this How to Map a Border Region, you can use this procedure to mark out all your regions on the map. That's why I advised to create a backup / master copy. Simply open up the copy and start planning your various regions using the same method that's described here.

    It makes things a lot easier when you go to enter the points in the CK Region Editor.

    I should mention, where you have placed a point in the bottom right, top left or top right,..etc of a cell, make sure you duplicate it's position in the Region Editor.

    I hope you find this information useful.

    Tamb0


L3DT Design Map Tips

About

    After creating a Design Map with L3DT, it's sometimes difficult to visualise what the final worldspace is going to look like when the Design Map is stitched together ( tiled ).

    Here's an easy way to to see the final map in under 20 seconds.

Required Applications

    You could do this in any image editor ( see Downloads menu ), but Irfanview will probably have this completed before your image editor has even loaded.

    IrfanView also includes some basic image editing tools and was used extensively when creating these tutorial web pages.

    I can't recommend this program enough.

    Download IrfanView here - use the link in the top right corner. IrfanView Plugins here

Stitching the Design Map

    When you have the Design Map in the L3DT window, press the Print Screen key.

    Open Irfanview and press CTRL + V

    Drag a box around the Design Map and zoom in ( + key ) to the corners.

    Move the lines of the box you created so that they sit on the border of your Design Map.

    Press CTRL + Y to crop. You should now have an image like this

    Image01

    Press CTRL + C to copy.

    Select the Menu Edit > Paste Special (add on side) > To Right

    Image02

    Things start to look a bit clearer.

    Image03

    Again, press CTRL + C to copy.

    Select the Menu Edit > Paste Special (add on side) > To Bottom

    Image04

    Now we see the shape of the island.

    Image05

    Sometimes you come across a map that offers several different possibilities for the shape of your island.

    In the image below, there are a few options for the shape of your landmass, but they don't become immediately apparent until you tile the image 3 times.

    Image06

    Repeat the steps above, but paste it twice on the right.

    Image07

    Press CTRL + C and paste it twice on the bottom.

    Image08

    This area above gives us 3 different possibilities.

    Image09

    The area with the red outline is one possibility. Green and yellow are also possibilities, depending where you want the landmass in the blue circles

    I hope you find this information useful.

    Tamb0


Reducing the Worldspace File Size

About

    In the L3DT tutorial, I created a heightmap that is a lot bigger than the island, to give the illusion that the island is sitting in a vast ocean. By doing this, I've also created several thousand cells that contain nothing but a flat ocean floor with a layer of water above. These extra cells add significantly to the final file size of your your esp / esm.

    This tutorial explains how to reduce the file size of your esm / esp, while keeping the extra cells as LOD only, and works in conjunction with the L3DT tutorial.

Required Applications

Reducing the Map Size

    The first thing to do is create landscape LOD for the large (original) worldspace with Oscape. Make sure that the Target of max. resolution is set to a low number. High quality meshes are not required for a sea bed that will never be seen. This also helps to reduce the final file size of the mod.

    When LOD has been created, change the canvas size of the RAW image back to 6144 x 6144, keeping the island central. Import the new RAW image back into L3DT with the correct height, depth and horizontal scale settings (if you have followed the L3DT tutorial, this will be easy).

    Remember to set the lowest point to -117.04 and export the map again as a RAW image with the correct settings. Generate the island.esp with Tesannwyn again with the new reduced size heightmap. The worldspace name must be the same as the original.

    Actually, I could have reduced the size even further. In the tutorial the distance from North to South was 4964 pixels. The nearest number that is a multiple of 1024 is 5120. Again, this would reduce the number of cells by several thousand, in turn reducing the file size of the esp even further. The only drawback is that there will only be 2.5 cells from the North / South coastline to the edge of the worldspace. I could lower the land at the North and South to make the coastline a bit further inland. This would rectify things.

    Also note, when you generate the landscape LOD with the Oscape, the program doesn't seem to like working with worldspace sizes that start with odd numbers. When I generated LOD for the 7168 x 7168 worldspace, Oscape made the LOD for a 8192 x 8192 worldspace, giving even more distant ocean around the island.

    **Important**
    If you follow this procedure, make sure that you keep a backup copy of the lodsettings file that Oscape generates for the large worldspace. This file will be overwritten when you generate object LOD with the Creation Kit, so you have to keep replacing it with the original Oscape file every time you generate object LOD. If you don't, the distant sea will disappear.

    I hope you find this information useful.

    Tamb0