SKYRIM
MariENB 2 by Marisa Kirisame
Skyrim » ENB Preset
Added: 28/04/2015 - 06:05PM
Updated: 18/09/2017 - 01:49PM

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Description

Last updated at 13:49, 18 Sep 2017 Uploaded at 18:05, 28 Apr 2015

MariENB is a personal project I started back in 2013, tired of the awful performance (and visuals) and terrible writing of existing presets.
It is designed with three guiding principles:

  1. Cleanness: All the code is carefully written so as to be as readable and maintainable as possible.
  2. Efficiency: Optimize everything without sacrificing cleanness.
  3. Flexibility: Being a sucker for customization, I try to make absolutely everything tweakable.

One of the main objectives of the project is to bury down every single other preset in the world and become the one true god among them all, serving as an universal base for any and all future presets. Nah, just kidding... or maybe not.

There are Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas versions here and 
here, respectively.
A port won't happen for Skyrim Special Edition anytime soon, sorry. I don't even play SE anyway.

MariENB was designed specifically for tweaking, there are lots of options to change around for getting all kinds of different looks in your game. Here's a list of some features you will find:


  • Procedural colour grading: Per-channel contrast and gamma modification, additional contrast and gamma modifications on saturation and value, colorization/tinting.
  • RGB lookup tables: Using actual 3D LUTs for more precise color mapping.
  • Film grain: Fuzzy goodness.
  • Dithering: For that final conversion to RGB8, there's a nifty little dither filter that should reduce banding.
  • Tone mapping: Linear, Reinhard, Uncharted 2, Hejl Dawson, Haarm-Peter Duiker and SweetFX algorithms available.
  • Support for eye adaptation: If you're into that sort of thing...
  • True Support for vanilla imagespace: None of that "enhanced night eye" garbage, this is the real deal, the way it's meant to work.
  • Luma Sharpen: Sharpening is a destructive process and does not create new details.
  • Blur Sharp Shift: Because I know someone will use it.
  • Depth of Field: A cheap take on it, at least. It should do the job. Higher quality, more expensive Bokeh blur is available as an alternative technique.
  • Alternative SSAO: An optional, very possibly misinterpreted implementation of single-step ray marching in case you want something more fuzzy looking than ENB's own internal version.
  • Anamorphic bloom with blue shift: Bloom with horizontal stretching, that's all.
  • Hot air refraction: Just... just imagine for a moment that there can be warm enough areas in Skyrim for this to be useful.
  • Frost overlay that isn't just a simple texture: Complete with refraction/distortion.
  • Depth cutting for chroma key: Trims out distant geometry and plasters a key color on top of it, simple as that.
  • EdgeVision: A novelty filter that happens when you run edge detection on the depth buffer and actually looks cool.
  • Technicolor: Some thingy that changes the color.
  • Letterbox: For a true Cinematic™ experience. Preconfigured to 2.39:1 (standard widescreen film), but disabled by default because not everyone wants it.
  • Distance-based colour grading: Modifications relative to depth. Can be used for a variety of effects such as creating fog or emulating natural blue shift, for example.
  • Separate weather lighting: From forests to plains to swamps and mountains, everything is covered.
  • Vignette: Circular, box, textured, anything you'd want.
  • Lens distortion: Adds curvature and chromatic aberration, just for the heck of it.
  • Screen dirt: An old filter from the infancy of MariENB, makes the screen look dirty.
  • Paint filter: The return of the oil filter.
  • Edge detection: What edgevision does to depth, this does to color, basically.
  • LineVision: What edgevision was supposed to look like. Actually shows just edges.
  • FXAA: This also used to be in ancient versions, it's pretty good for removing jaggies on the paint filter.
  • Custom fog: This prepass filter lets you add custom coloured fog to scenes, or just turn everything into solid fog, in the aptly-named "Limbo mode".
  • Color matrix: Mixing and matching RGB with a simple 3x3 matrix, just for the heck of it.
  • Hue-Saturation filter: A more or less direct port of this fancy little thing from GIMP.

Additional features that might be added in the future:
  • Separate Enderal edition: Currently I just have one Skyrim version for everything made for it, but after the separation I did on 3 between vanilla Fallout 4 and FROST, I had other thoughts.
  • More focusing modes for DOF: Right now DOF focus isn't very gameplay friendly, there are some cases where it misfires annoyingly, especially on face to face dialogue.
  • Documentation: Some sort of online guide for every single feature of MariENB, for those who need it (currently in progress).

How to install, it's easier now!:


  1. Download the latest ENB binaries: Wrapper version is recommended, you only need d3d9.dll, enbhost.exe and enblocal.ini, put them in the Skyrim folder, where the game executable is.
  2. Download the big MariENB 2 package: Extract it where your TESV.exe is, too.
  3. Download enbhelper: Put the enbhelper.dll in the enbseries folder.
  4. It's done!

PS: The ENB binaries are at the bottom of the page. Those version numbers are actually links, just click on one and scroll down for the file download. Isn't that super intuitive?

Important: If you had another preset previously installed, make sure to cleanly uninstall ALL of its files so there are no leftovers that could cause conflicts. I don't want to have to deal with stupid bugs that are caused by some leftover file screwing up everything.

Remember to configure your enblocal.ini appropriately.
The STEP guide for it is recommended. Usually you'll just have to tweak the memory settings. Everything else is up to your personal preferences. Edge AA is recommended, along with 16x AF. Forcing LOD bias to somewhere around -0.5 is a personal preference of mine, but you might like it too. Also remember to enable RemoveBlur, as Skyrim's vanilla distance DOF is awful and will screw up the visuals of many areas (especially the Soul Cairn). If your GPU heats up very quickly using MariENB, I recommend setting a 30 FPS cap.

MariENB was initially developed on a 2009 toaster with a 560Ti and a Q8400, all of it running off a low-tier garbage motherboard. The performance hit is usually of about 50% compared to uncapped vanilla FPS. If you can maintain 60 FPS at all times, then it shouldn't be much of a problem. The bare minimum is a 560Ti or HD6870 for more or less smooth 720p gameplay. For 1080p you might consider going one generation higher or more, especially if you want 60 FPS and be able to use lots of mods. My current specs are a GTX 680 and an i5-6400, the hit isn't very hard despite using mods like Skyrim HD 2K, and fiddling with 8K body textures. I don't often go below 30 FPS in 1080p with High settings.

To be honest, the tight performance kinda makes me optimize more thoroughly. I don't know what would have happened if I had better hardware.

If Skyrim takes longer to launch with MariENB installed, don't worry. It's just a side effect of the amount of GUI-tweakable variables it has. The game has not frozen, do not Alt-F4, the main menu will load up eventually.

I personally recommend to use Relighting Skyrim, Enhanced Lighting for ENB and Pure Weather (using the companion mod in the optional downloads to fix the stupid "mix and match" region weather changes). Although I often do testing in pure vanilla Skyrim for stability reasons, and it still looks fine without them, so it wouldn't be a problem. Some lighting/weather mods might make exteriors too blindingly bright and/or interiors ridiculously dark. Don't blame me if that happens. Just stay away from RLO, never mind the fact it's in the STEP guide. We don't follow the STEP here.

If you use lighting spells often, I recommend getting Improved Mage Light so you can actually see something when using them.

MariENB 2 has dawn and dusk support for most of its filters. There is multiple weather support, too.

The following are recognised by the weather system:


You may submit "patches" to support new weathers if you want. All I need is a list of every weather Form ID, the name, and the class. See the menbweatherinfo.txt file for a reference on how it should look like.

My screenshots in no way show this preset at its best, it's better to see the thing in motion.

Frequently Asked Questions (some may be edited or completely made up):

Q: What exactly is your problem with ENB?
A: ENB itself has various issues, issues that can be solved through open-sourcing, or at least, bringing in contributors to help, both things Boris has rejected already. It's riddled with many bugs and performance issues (which he claims are intentional), it's undocumented and not very developer friendly, and on top of it all, closed tight so you never really know what's happening and if something going wrong is your fault or ENB's fault. Additionally, Boris refuses to allow access to certain internal features, claiming it would "cause issues", such as being able to read the normals buffer, which people have to work around through crappy, awkward methods, such as "guessing" the data through depth, which is imprecise as all heck and lacks smoothing. The only reason I still keep using ENB is because without it, all these Bethesda games just look bland as heck. Boris has honestly done a great job at being able to tweak the visuals of this horribly dated engine, but that is all shadowed by how terribly put together the whole thing is, by one overly protective individual who can't be bothered to ask for help on improving it. You can see for example how slowly the Fallout 4 version has progressed, and how many features it lacks compared to Skyrim's, all because the work needed is dozens of times larger, yet he insists on tackling it alone, while at the same time complaining about how hard it is to do it all by himself. I know that the open source philosophy is frowned upon among Russian devs, but come on dude, there's even people in your forums offering to help!

Q: Is it compatible with <insert weather mod here>?
A: If it adds new weathers and isn't on the list, then likely not. You'll get limited features with it. To properly work with mods that add new weathers, their form IDs must be classified and added to the weather list ini file. There are three features that heavily depend on the weather classification: Heat Haze, Screen Frost and Fog Blur. You'd need to properly classify those weathers so they can make use of them, when necessary.

Q: "Your computer sucks", "Your opinion is shit", "No one cares", or similar
A: First, those aren't questions, second, my hardware has absolutely nothing to do with how "valid" my opinion is on graphics. I'm a programmer, I've worked with multiple game engines and even started writing my own from scratch, I'm even building an entire graphics API from the ground up, I most likely know more than you do. If I say some piece of software is written like shit, that's because it is. What I think of visuals is entirely subjective and you shouldn't get flustered over it.

Q: Why does it take so long to launch Skyrim?
A: MariENB defines dozens of variables that can be tweaked in ENB's in-game interface, this has the side effect of making shader compilation take a long-ass time since it has to parse a lot of annotations and stuff. This is entirely Microsoft's fault, and is the reason why most modern games use precompiled shaders. Funny thing is, this is only a problem with Direct3D, shader compilation on other APIs, such as OpenGL, is actually really damn fast.

Q: Why are you so bitter and hate on every other preset?
A: First of all, I don't. There are many presets out there that I find nice, it just so happens that I only talk about those I don't. Seasons of Skyrim, VandB, Unbleak, Muse... there, I listed some that I think look fine.

Q: Still, can you at least stop shit-talking them?
A: No.

Q: What's wrong with Rampage? You always seem to get pissed whenever someone brings it up.
A: Design-wise, Rampage has a serious problem with adopting random features that don't seem to have much use outside of "making pretty pictures", on top of that, the code is a mess, and clearly looks like it's just a Frankenstein's monster of stitched, existing shaders from other developers, a kind of "design strategy" I'm heavily opposed to. In action, it looks rather bland out of the box, and has very bad performance for how little it does, both things not being a problem in Mari.

Q: What about TKRE?
A: It's pretty and Eiries did a great job, but still it's built on two massive monsters (Rampage itself being one), so I prefer to stay away.

Q: What's with the sudden FPS drops?
A: I have that problem myself and I've never been able to figure out what's wrong. Disabling and re-enabling effects in the GUI fixes it for some reason. Checking the profiler shows me that every single pass gradually takes longer, so it might be something leaking in ENB itself. Boris himself has tried to "explain" this with some really lousy handwaving.

Q: Can you add <feature>?
A: See the "forums" tab there? Put your feature request where I can see it.

Q: Does it run on <some Intel GPU>?
A: The performance hit for an Intel GPU is abysmal. Testing with a HD 530 (from an i5-6400), on Low, with no mods, in 720p, gives me a drop from 60 to 10 FPS. That is A LOT, so nope, you better invest on a dedicated GPU.

Q: Will you release any of your followers?
A: I might, once they're usable for more than just personal projects.

Q: Do you recommend any other mods to go with this?
A: Not really, even a vanilla game will look fine. I use like 300 mods right now and I don't know what to recommend.

Q: Why do you keep working on this even though you say you hate Skyrim and ENB?
A: Due to a weird mix of boredom and masochism, I guess.


Q: Why did my water just become invisible?
A: If you failed to notice the big red alert text from ENB, you have MSAA enabled in Skyrim, disable it.

Q: If I want to use some of your code on my ENB preset would I have to release it under the GPL too?
A: I think if it isn't something trivial like one or two lines from some algorithm, yes, you have to. In any case, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know how it really goes.

Q: Can you add support for <weather mod>?
A: I plan on supporting any popular mod that adds new weathers... with the exception of Vivid Weathers and Climates of Tamriel, due to the absurdly high amount of different weathers they have, which would take me just way more time than I'm willing to spend checking each weather individually. I will accept patches to add them, though.

Q: Will you support Enderal?
A: Yes but this requires more than just adding support for its weathers. Enderal is very different lighting-wise to Skyrim and with just a direct port I have noticed it just does not look right in many areas, mostly due to outdoor cells being incorrectly flagged as interiors. Note that "support" is a very different concept when you talk about MariENB. It pretty much "supports" everything and anything out of the box, with the exception of three weather-dependent features. Whether it looks fitting or not, that's a different story. Since this preset merely adds to the vanilla look rather than overhauling the whole thing, most mods that are tested on vanilla for visual consistency with the rest of the game should look fine.

Q: Will you remake this for Special Edition?
A: Don't count on it.


List of keywords to run away from real quick:

  • Photorealistic/Photoreal (usually ends up being the opposite, expect washed out lighting and/or overblown color)
  • Cinematic (It's like a MOVIE!!!!!11!!!1!!)
  • Lens Flare (photography professionals have been looking into ways to prevent lens flare for years, and you want it ON PURPOSE?)
  • Vibrant (overexposed, eye-melting colour vomit and neon-blue glowy skies)
  • Screenarchery (who needs a playable framerate when all you'll ever do with this is take pretty photos?)
  • Technicolor (see also: Vibrant)
  • Immersion/Immersive (I see it on presets that are anything but immersive, as they look like photos, not what human eyes would capture)
  • Performance Friendly (a common euphemism for "lacking features", often uses ancient binaries)
  • Night Eye (preset is built on misinformation, expect broken imagespace filter support)
  • Beautiful (ok now you're just taking it too far)
  • (Ultra) Realistic (washed out, bleached colour and crushed contrast clearly is just like real life)
  • Photoshop-like ("here's a dozen different features that you'll have to tweak constantly to get our preset to look nice")
  • Natural (see also: Realistic)
  • "Based on Kountervibe" (No offence, but Kyo has a serious problem with lens flares, it's likely this preset has inherited them)
  • Enhance ("I like sharpening things")
  • Highly Optimized Shaders ("Do less with more obtuse code that no one will ever understand except myself")

Performance competition status (tested on same hardware, settings, mods, location, camera angle, time of day, weather and objects on-screen):

  • MariENB defeats Rampage, by 9.4 FPS. (Outdated)
  • MariENB is defeated by Vividian ENB, by 2.9 FPS. (Outdated)
  • MariENB is defeated by Unreal Cinema ENB, by 1.1 FPS. (Outdated)
  • MariENB defeats Snapdragon ENB, by 19.2 FPS. (Outdated)
  • MariENB defeats TKRE, by 3.3 FPS.
  • Other candidates I plan to face off against: K-ENB (all variations), DAHAKA, Evok ENB, Seasons of Skyrim and Opethfeldt ENB (the last two are practically MariENB's parents).
  • If any preset authors want a challenge themselves, I will gladly accept.

More results will come later. Note that I'm only testing performance, with the "out of the box" configuration for each, whether or not they look good is another story entirely. There are really some presets out there that, despite their performance or overall writing, look rather nice.

All the code is published under the 
GNU General Public License version 3.

Since development and testing of this ENB preset is such a pain for me, I may cease all work on it eventually. I have other, less awful things I'd prefer to work on.









MariENB (C)2013-2017 Marisa Kirisame, UnSX Team. ENB (C)2007-2017 Boris Vorontsov.