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A retexture of the dragon skeleton to give it an appropriately aged appearance. 4K and 2K versions available.

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RUSTIC DRAGON CORPSE is a retexture of the dragon skeleton that is revealed after the Dovahkiin absorbs the dragon's soul. The skeleton is quite huge, so the vanilla texture looks quite blurry in game. The extreme protrusions of the vertebrae make things worse, since they stretch the texture a fair amount. I know that many people avoid this issue altogether by using a mod that makes dragons keep their flesh bodies after death, but I wanted a lore-friendly solution.

What do I mean by that? Bethesda's dragon death animation was not done just to look cool, it has a purpose as well. Alduin "The World-Eater" is also Alduin the soul-eater. He's not a normal dragon by any means, as he can cheat death itself. Aldiun is like a necromancer in that he reanimates the long dead dragons from their corpses lying in their burial mounds. Only their skeletons remained. By performing his ritual, Alduin binds the soul of the dragon with its corpse and magically the flesh is restored. When the Dovahkiin kills a dragon, it lies intact until he/she absorbs the dragon soul, which breaks the spell and the flesh burns off in a conflagration. What's left is the state the dragon was in originally.... an ancient skeleton.

Enough with the "lore", now to the textures. To get any kind of reasonable detail in the game, you need a very large texture for the dragon skeleton mesh. Even at 4K, you'll have some blurring, but that's the size necessary to make the dragon corpse fit in with other detailed textures. There's only one problem, 4K uses a good chunk of VRAM, with a double layer texture coming in at 21.3MB... and the dragon skeleton has two. The normal map naturally is a dual layer texture, but so is the diffuse, since it has an alpha mask for the tendons that are applied over the bones. That's a whopping 42.6MB used for one dragon corpse.

Fortunately, there's a way to lessen the VRAM load. Because the diffuse mask is a simple "knockout" type (no transparency involved), it can be adjusted to become a 1-bit alpha. What this does is allow the double layer color texture to be saved so that it's only as large as a single layer texture. So, the diffuse is now 10.6MB. That's a fair amount of VRAM savings. The trade off, is that you don't get a smooth edge to the tendons, but in a 4K texture, the 1-bit "stair step" edge isn't that noticeable. In my view, the VRAM savings are well worth the visual sacrifice. It is, after all, a skeleton that has been buried for hundreds of years.

UPDATE 5/11/15: Added a new GORY AND CLEAN version that has separate textures for freshly killed dragons, and old dragon skeletons. Fresh kills are bloody and gory, while the long dead skeletons (or mounted skulls) are the clean version without the fleshy tendons.

Now, you have three choices, so I hope that satisfies people. I don't want to flog a dead dragon.


Because the dragon skeletons have been buried for centuries, I tried to impart a more craggy and weathered appearance to the bones. When bones get old, they dry out and develop fissures and cracks. Though dragon bone is extremely hard, I still felt that after being buried for so long, that they should show real signs of age.

Due to the size of these textures, and the fact that people play at different resolutions and have different VRAM limits, I made three versions to accommodate as many people as possible. There is no 1K version, because there's really no point. The dragon skeleton is one of the largest objects in the game, so a 1K texture will just be a blurry mess. What is available, is a full 4K version, a 4K-2K version with a reduced sized normal map, and a 2K version.

As always, pick the size that works for your particular setup. I hope people enjoy this new addition to my Rustic series of retextures.