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About this mod

Drastically improves the murals. Every detail has been painstakingly recreated and hand-painted from scratch (150 hours and counting!) at up to 16x higher resolution than the vanilla murals.

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Skyrim's Nordic Pantheon murals should be awesome: full of lore and artistry, and a fitting reward for having made it so far into a key dungeon. Instead, they're offensive eyesores: so low res and distorted that you can barely even see what they're supposed to depict.

Over the past 5 years, the modding community's greatly improved and beautified almost every aspect of Skyrim....except those murals. Sure, a couple of people did an admirable job improving them as much as was possible. But with what little those modders had to work with, they could only fix them so far. And the major texture overhauls like Skyrim HD didn't even touch them. 

The only way anyone could fully fix the issues in the vanilla murals would be to redo every single element of those murals from scratch. That would be an incredibly tedious and loooooooong process, and no one would be stupid or crazy enough to go through that. 

Until now. 

So, What exactly is this mod?

This is a retexture of the murals you come across in certain key dungeons. It's a work in progress - so far two murals have been completed. Because the vanilla ones are so rubbish, I've had to recreate everything from scratch, which takes a lot of work. I've painstakingly recreated every detail at a much higher level of quality to the originals. Everything is hand-painted (both textures and normals/height maps).

I've tried to stay as lore-friendly as possible and as close to the original designs as possible, and have used all sorts of things for visual reference, including Daedric weapons, scientific illustrations of bear skulls, Rembrandt portraits, and Viking artifacts!

This video submitted by Ultimate Immersion does an excellent job of showing the mod before/after:

Here are some before/after shots:

Quite a difference, eh? While most of the original files are a paltry 512x512 px, the files in this mod are up to 8192 x 4096 px, which allows for all that detail. 

Woooooaaaah - hang on! 8192 x 4096?! Isn't that excessive? Actually, not at all. Let me illustrate with the diagram below.

As you can see, because of the layout of Skyrim's mural files, when you walk up to one of the funeral procession scenes (they appear on every mural), your screen fills up with something that's lower resolution than a facebook avatar. Even after I've increased that file 16 times, to 8192 x 4096, it still isn't quite big enough to give you a 1:1 crisp mural when up close, unless your monitor is below 1080p. But it's certainly much better!

Who am I?

Please allow me to briefly introduce myself. I'm Dave Bleja, and I started this mod almost 2 years ago. I spent probably about 150 hours on it already, but then I had to shelve it for lack of time. I'm an indie game developer, and I've been working on my first game for the past 3 years without any income, so time is money and all that. 

If you like this mod, you might like my game Spryke - I put the same kind of love and insane attention to detail into it as I have into this mod! 


8K is ridiculous! It won't make a difference! It's excessive! Boo! You suck!

OK, let's all take a few breaths, and then get one thing clear: the labels 2K, 4K, 8K are just shorthand, and they're very misleading. Some people see 8192 x 4096 and their knee-jerk reaction is to dismiss the mod and immediately start furiously typing an irate comment, based on false assumptions or a fuzzy understanding of how textures work. 

Firstly, most of the files in this mod are 4096x4096 or smaller. Only one file is (and ever will be) 8192 x 4096. Technically, an "8K" file is 8192 x 8192, so my 8192 x 4096 is actually half of the size of a real "8K" file. You might think of it as a '6k' file. 

Secondly, resolution isn't nearly as important as filesize, because filesize is ultimately what determines how much VRAM a texture will consume, and filesize can vary greatly across mods, depending on the format and compression you use. All of my texture files are saved using DXT1 format, which produces a file less than half of the commonly-used DXT5 format (and less than an eigth of the format that is also sometimes used). And then there are normal maps - all of the normal maps in this mod are exported at quarter-size.

Most of my files are 10-20MB, and all up, for an entire hall containing 4 murals, you'd be maybe looking at 170MB VRAM. (currently, with only 2 full murals completed, it's 120MB). Yes, that's a lot, but it's well within the means of a modern graphics card (especially considering that your VRAM usage is likely to shoot downwards everytime you walk into an interior). It's quite likely that there are some so-called 2K mods on this site somewhere that use more expensive files than my so-called 8K file! 

But anyway, I've now added a "Lite" version that consists mainly of (so-called) 2K files. So if it makes you feel better, or you genuinely have VRAM concerns, grab that. 

All this technical side of it is just a means to an end, anyway. Ultimately, there are only two questions that really matter when it comes to the size of the mod: (1) Does the size improve the mod? and (2) Does the size hurt performance?

The answer to (1) is that yes, it makes a significant difference. But no, it doesn't make an enormous difference. You can see the comparison pic I uploaded. The jump from "vanilla" to "lite" is enormous. The jump from "lite" to "full" is very noticeable, but not enormous. "Lite" is much blurrier, and what suffers most in my opinion is the rock texture - it's much smoother, and doesn't look like crisp rough rock anymore. But it's fine. If you play in 3rd person and/or you're too busy fighting draugs to stop and admire the details, then the Lite version will be just fine.

The answer to (2) is that it probably doesn't. Mainly because these murals are all found indoors. Your VRAM is likely going to be way less taxed indoors than it is outdoors. If you're having performance problems in dungeons, then I'd hate to see what your Riverwood is like! And if you're not having performance problems in Riverwood, then I really don't think the Full version of this mod will hurt you. And remember that VRAM tends not to impact framerate until you start maxxing out. If you've got VRAM to spare, then swapping a 4K or 8K mod for a 2K or 1K mod isn't likely to give you any extra fps.

But the Lite version is up now, so by all means use that if you like!

Aren't these murals a bit too detailed and 'perfect'? Shouldn't they look cruder since they're supposed to be ancient? 

This is a valid point. I don't entirely agree with it, but it's valid. But I think there are a few issues with it:

First off, do a google image search of "Hellenistic Greek sculpture" to remind yourself of just how ornate and detailed ancient sculpture really was. You'll notice that in form, they're actually often more intricate than my murals! You'll also notice that in texture, they're much smoother and simpler. Partly that's because they used polished marble, which would have looked very out of place in Skyrim's dungeons.

But the other reason those classical Greek sculptures seem so devoid of texture is because many of them were intended to have texture painted onto them. The paint didn't survive the centuries, so we don't know what it looked like (though scientists have detected traces of it), but it's fair to assume that it would have increased the detail of the sculptures to some degree.

Secondly, while you're looking at one of these murals in-game, go into the next room. There you'll see the Alduin Wall mural (or whatever it's called), which even in its vanilla state, is very ornate and detailed. If anything, my murals bring the hallway murals closer to the style of the Aldiun wall mural. Considering that these murals were religious artworks inside a sacred space, they would have been made meticulously and reverently, and likely would have been among the greatest cultural products of their age. I don't think it would be likely that they would be crudely hacked together.

Thirdly, I never claimed that my murals were the perfect version. It's part of the reason I chose the name "Murals That Don't Suck": I wanted to draw attention to the fact that I wasn't claiming to be the world's foremost mural expert and my murals are perfect, but simply that I was trying to rectify the problems of the existing ones as best I could.

So a lot will come down to subjective taste, as to whether or not they suit your idea of what a Skyrim mural should look like. However, one claim that I think is crazy to make is to say that my murals "reduce immersion". I don't think they do - at least when compared to the vanilla ones, which mostly consist of vague outlines of people drowned in a glossy, oily sea of blocky pixels and compression artifacts - that's immersion breaking, in my book.

Isn't the title of the mod a bit rude and disrespectful of the original artists? 

My guess is that the original artists are as appalled by the murals in this game as I was. Their work was butchered by poorly constructed, ultra-compressed assets that surely didn't do justice to the artist's intention. I think we can all see that when we see the vanilla murals. My title is a dig at the sloppiness and consolisation of Bethesda's asset management, but not at the artists themselves.

My ulterior motive for the title was also to make no claims about the quality of my own murals. Even though I pumped a lot of care and effort into the murals, it was the first time I'd done something like this, so I didn't want to call it "awesomeballs murals" or "Incredible murals" or something like that. I wanted to point out that the original murals were sorely lacking, as we all know, and that I'd addressed this issue to the best of my ability. My murals might not be perfect, but they're sure better than the jumble of oily, pixellated compression artifacts that was there before.

Haven't the murals already been modded? 

Not properly, and not with great results. This is in no way the fault of the modders who've already done mural mods, so don't take this as any kind of disrespect to them! 

The problem is that the original murals were just so amazingly low resolution (but they're displayed HUGE in-game) that barely anything could be done with them. Some mods simply increased their size and sharpened them up a little. Others dug up concept drawings for the murals and superimposed those onto the originals. Both tactics worked to improve the murals somewhat, but they were hampered by what they had to work with. The only way to really make these murals well was always going to involve starting from scratch.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that one of the challenges of making this mod was figuring out what the %@#% some of the pictures were even supposed to be! It's why my Dibella has a different headdress than the original one. I like the shape of the original one, but I still can't figure out what it actually is or how it's constructed, so I had no chance of believably redoing it!

You've got a promotional banner of your own game. Isn't that uncool?

I don't think so (and it's not against the rules - I made sure of that). 

For better or worse, I am where I am today partially because of the Skyrim modding community. The passion and commitment to excellence and immersion of this community is simply wonderful, which is why I bought my lifetime Nexus membership years ago. 

I have 350 hours clocked in Skyrim, and I'd estimate that half of that was spent trying out mods and/or testing my own. In 350 hours, I've never even finished the main quest, gotten married, played the DLC, or seen Morthal!! I was always just too busy trying to perfect the experience with the perfect combination of mods - always seeking that extra bit of immersion!

I'd always been creative, but when I started making my own mods, I felt incredible: I'd finally found the type of creativity that is most suited to me. It's what made me decide to give making an actual game a try, and ultimately what made me take the plunge, quit my career, and go full-time making my game. 

I've been working on Spryke for almost 3 years - 2 years full-time without an income, eating away our life savings. And I've been using what I see as my main creative strength: a devotion to immersion and fine detail, and the stamina to keep iterating things until I can't improve them any more. 

I don't expect most visitors to this page to be interested in my platform game (It's kind of Super Meat Boy crossed with Rayman...hardly Skyrimesque stuff). But I do hope that one or two might appreciate the work I've put into this mod, and be interested to see what that looks like when put into a full-time project for 2+ years. 

When will you finish the rest of the murals, and how long will it take? 

I can't make promises in this regard, as those sorts of promises usually backfire. I defnitely won't have more time until the xmas period. By then, I hope to take some time of Spryke, and hopefully I'll have some time to work on these murals, as I enjoy it a lot. 

I've spent over 150 hours on the mod already, but a lot of that was fundamental stuff, like figuring out an effective workflow, sourcing and creating the rock textures, etc. The last mural I did (moth) took me way less time than the first one I did (bear). So, I dunno - maybe another 150 hours or so for the next 7 murals? Maybe a bit less, or a lot more? Not sure. But I'll probably upload them one at a time. 

Also, I'm sure to keep getting better at it as I go along, so I'll come back and make improvements on older murals. And I plan to add some deterioration and/or moss to all of them at some point. 


Use NMM, or simply unzip the contents of the file into your Skyrim Folder


Murals That Don't Suck is simply a texture mod. It doesn't contain any scripts or .esps, so is 100% safe to use. If you don't like it, or the extra memory requirements give you performance issues, simply delete the files, and no harm will be done. Your save files won't be altered in any way.


I hope you enjoy the mod, and I'm sorry that not all of the murals are done yet. (They really do take a long time). Stay tuned - more are on the way!

And again, if you'd like to support what I do, please consider backing my game on kickstarter. Like I said earlier, I put the same amount of love and obsessive attention to detail into Spryke as I do into Murals That Don't Suck! So if you like this, there's a chance you might like both :)