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About this mod

A simple mod that makes vanilla trees more lush while keeping the vanilla animations. Optional textures and plugins are also included.

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The SE version of the mod here.

“Good design is as little as possible. 
Less, but better, because it concentrates on the essential aspects,
and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.” 

- Dieter Rams

Taking inspiration from this quote, I present a minimal tree mod: Lush Vanilla Trees

| Prelude |

Frustrated with all the choices for tree mods I made this mod with the following design philosophy: 

  • Lightweight. 
  • Less is more.
  • Simple not complex.
  • Maintain vanilla aesthetic; Consistent styling

Okay, so what's changed from vanilla?

  • All pine trees are now lusher. In most cases the number of branches have been doubled. (note: lusher not bigger, trees are the same size, just more foliage)
  • Trees around Falkreath are now huge (optional plugin).
  • Trees in the far north of Skyrim are totally covered with heavy snow (optional plugin).
  • New bark textures that are similar in style to vanilla.
  • Tweaks to branches: Dead branches look more dead (orangeish brown) snow branches actually match snow color found on the ground. 
  • PineShurb01 has been replaced with a pine tree sapling. Also recolored the PineShrub branches to match the full pine trees. 

If this sounds good, then I suggest giving these a try. If you prefer ultra high poly trees and something other than the vanilla style, then this probably isn't for you. 

| Install |

Install with your mod manager of choice. There are a few options for this mod, so read each step in the install carefully, everything is well documented. Manual install not recommend. 

Running DynDOLOD is required if you want correct LODs. Vanilla LODs will technically work as well, but there will be a sight mismatch, not very noticeable. 

It's a good idea to follow the STEP guide's recommendations for tree settings. Specifically in SkyrimPrefs.ini:



| Compatibility |

This mod only is meshes and textures if you are not using any plugins, so it's pretty compatible with almost everything since it's just a replacer.

The optional plugins affect TREE and placement records for said trees, this may conflict with things, use xEdit to check. Loading plugins before or after conflicting plugins can make this mod take priority. All plugins are 'clean' and all textures are 'optimized' 

LODs are provided for use with DynDOLOD. 

Skyrim Flora Overhaul - Only if overwritten.
Enhanced Landscapes - Will take advantage of new models, but probably won't work 100% with plugins.
DynDOLOD - Use download provided. (Yes, it works with 3D billboards)

Not Compatible:
Enhanced Vanilla Trees

| Performance

In general this mod aims to as lightweight as possible on low end system, it should have very little impact on FPS. Tested on both my HD 7970 and GTX 1070 no FPS drop was noticed. I've used these trees for at least +20 hours in game. Trees on average had anywhere between 500-1500 more polys than in vanilla. Using the large trees in Falkreath option may decrease performance due to larger shadows produced by the trees. FPS drops may occur depending on your load order. Of course performance and my experience is entirely subjective and based on my 'light' load order. Using this mod on top of many other visual mods may have a higher FPS impact. 

| Know Issues & Bugs |
  • The new branches (the ones I added) don't fully animate. This is honestly not very noticeable, but I thought I would mention it. This is a problem I have been struggling with for months and I can't seem to get working. I even reached out to the Nifskope devs and asked, but  it seems short of totally remaking the trees, there's no real way to do this. 
  • UVs are still bad. Yes it's true, even with a 2048x8192 texture for bark, the UVs are just so god awful. Again the solution to this would be to redo the whole tree and re-skin it, which isn't fun and not something I really want to get into. I'm not even sure if the tools exist to export a rigged tree to nif format. 
  • treepineforestdead01, treepineforestdeadsnow01 and treepineforestdeadsnowl01 do not feature extra branches simply because Skyrim crashes when you try to edit these nifs. No idea why, tried many hours to fix this. 
  • Tree shadows are a small annoyance. They fade in as you get close enough to a tree. This is a vanilla problem and I can't really do much about it. It seems all tree mods suffer from this one. 

| Q&As |

Q: Why didn't you make your own trees like everyone else?
A: I prefer the vanilla style of tree. It's also very very difficult to get custom animations on trees. Which is something I wanted to maintain. 

Q: Why no SE?
A: It's now supported here.

Q: If one of the project goals was 'lightweight', why did you include 8K textures and 3d Billboards?
A: A few reasons I made this choice. Firstly, the texture isn't a full 8k image. It's 2048x8192, and thus it's a 1/4 the size of a 8192x8192 (actually despite being 8k it's the same file size as a full 4k). Secondly, UVs are so awful on vanilla trees, I argue that it is needed. Thirdly, It is still lightweight, It just depends on what else you're using. If you many other 4k and 8K textures on top of this one, that's not going to be great. On the other hand one 8k texture set plus a mix of 2k and 1k textures is more than reasonable for any 'modern' system. Long and short of it: The user is able to choose how 'lightweight' they want the mod to be. Even if all  the options in this mod 'maxed' out it still is very FPS friendly. 

Q: What mods are you using in the screenshots?
A: Purity, Minimal ENB for Purity, and Amb. Landscapes.