Skyrim Special Edition

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cthunsthrall - NordwarUA - CaBaL120

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About this mod

Improved and upscaled textures for most of NordwarUA's armor mods. The process is removing BC1 compression, upscaling textures that would benefit from it, then manually fixing any problems or inconsistencies, adding better materials where appropriate, etc. Separate packages for Vanilla Armors, New Legion, and Race Armor Expansion.

Permissions and credits
See the images, they should explain the mod better than my words can. Image album isn't comprehensive but it's a good sampling of some of the included textures.
Credits: NordwarUA, CaBaL120, CD Projekt RED, SacredStoneHead, and I believe maty743, whose assets the original Thalmor armor was based on.

Right now this includes retextures for:
Vanilla Armor Replacers - Draugr, Dwemer, Ebony, Wolf/Companion, Nord bow/arrow (you can use deletepch's Vanilla Armor Expansion too)
New Legion - practically every texture (you can also use these textures for Authentic Legion)
Race Armor Expansion - Thalmor/Elven

And I'm currently working on:
Unplayable Factions Armor
Emperor's Will - my own SSE port where you get the armor as a civil war quest reward to maintain compatibility with other Tullius armor replacers

If you use aMidianborn textures, I also recommend you install my upscaled aMidianborn armor textures, since NordwarUA's vanilla armor replacer includes its own copies of some of these textures, and directly uses some of the vanilla textures, so you'll want them to match both in terms of style and quality.

NordwarUA's armor mods are great and beloved by just about everyone, but not all the textures have consistent quality and materials. Sometimes one piece of an armor is way more compressed or way lower resolution than other pieces in the set. In the ebony set, some pieces of leather are brown while others are yellow. And since the textures are mostly BC3 or BC5 compressed, there are noticeable block compression artifacts in almost all the textures. In some cases (like the skirt on the wolf armor) there are more noticeable problems where the normal map doesn't line up correctly with the diffuse map. In the ebony boots, on one side the lining of the sole is metal, but on the other side it abruptly turns into leather.

So I've been gradually working on these textures for a while, removing the compression artifacts from all the diffuse maps (for the armors I actually use, more on that later) and some of the normal maps (just the worst offenders). When I smooth out the normal maps I usually save them uncompressed. For normal maps, in my opinion you usually get more benefit from not compressing them than doubling their resolution. And both result in the same file size (and therefore performance impact) so that's my preference, but it depends on the specific texture. Then I upscale everything that's too small with ESRGAN. I use a very similar method to the one outlined by Kartoffel in her YouTube videos, so if you want to try the same you should watch those. (Credits to her for teaching me how to use this program by the way) The only major differences are that I merge and blend all the tiles by hand to eliminate seams, like you can see in one of the images in the album; and I use Topaz Gigapixel AI for some textures (only diffuse maps) in certain cases where it produces better results.

Some of the textures call for special treatment, and I just use photoshop to fix whatever problems I see. In some cases when an atlas has been compressed like 3+ times to the point where the underlying material is just irretrievable, I make a new material in substance painter, like you can see in the images for the emperor armor's leather or the ebony set's leather. Same with the plumed crests on all the imperial officer helmets, there just wasn't much that could be done with the base material since it was box scaled from like 20x20px, so I gave them a new horsehair material.

With this process the files get really big really fast, so I didn't include anything that didn't seem essential. So it doesn't include normal and metallic maps for everything. Also, I don't use everything from NordwarUA's mods. I make my own plugins for these, but the mesh and texture paths are all the same. It just means I don't use everything from the Vanilla Armor Expansion and Race Armor Expansion. From those mods, I currently only use the Draugr, Dwemer, Ebony, Companion, and Thalmor armors, plus the Nord bow and Nord steel arrow. I use everything from New Legion though.

I also use my own plugin for Unplayable Factions Armor, but it uses every mesh from the original mod, so I'm gradually working on all the textures from that mod. It's larger than the others so it's taking me longer. I've actually been working on this on and off for my own use over the course of several weeks—it's a slow process. I'm only uploading this now because it got big enough to be worth uploading and I got permission from NordwarUA. It'll probably be several more weeks before I finish Unplayable Factions Armor, and then I might move on to mods that I don't actually use. Before that, I'd like to upload my upscaled retextures for all of CaBaL120's aMidianborn armors, which I've already mostly finished for my own use, but we'll see.

PS: I use some other things that I haven't included in this mod because of permission issues. Basically I replaced some of NordwarUA's textures with Gamwich's textures, but I don't have permission to reupload Gamwich's textures or any derivatives. (Currently I ONLY have permission to upload the textures included in NordwarUA's original mods, or any derivatives I make from them) So these textures that you'll want to replace from another source are 1),, and, which are used for the pants in a huge number of NordwarUA's armors; and 2) the thalmor robe textures included in the Race Armor Expansion. For these, I personally use the textures from Rustic Clothing by Gamwich, since NordwarUA's mods include versions of these based on the super low-res vanilla textures. It wasn't worth upscaling them since Gamwich made really good 4K/2K versions from scratch. Here are some basic instructions on how to do that: