Skyrim Special Edition

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RUSTIC DRAGONS SE is a high-res retexture of the dragons of Skyrim. Currently, it is in the "work in progress" stage. The first group is now available.

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is a high-res retexture of the dragons of Skyrim. Currently, it is in the "work in progress" stage. The main body textures are 8K x 4K in dimension. The following dragons are covered so far: Dragon, Frost, Blood, Elder, Ancient, Legendary, Odahviing, and Alduin. I've added a reduced 4K option for people with limited VRAM.

The main dragon texture folder contains all the dragons which share the same normal map. This includes the common dragon, frost dragon, blood dragon, elder dragon, ancient dragon, and Odahviing. While sharing a normal map may mean less work for me, it compromises the quality of the textures when applied to the models. In order to create variety, Bethesda altered the shape of the meshes, but left the layout of the textures the same.

As usual, the original concept art was excellent, but along the way, the quality of execution dropped as it often does with Skyrim's textures and models. By far the largest creature in the game, the dragon needs a high resolution texture to look decent when scaled up to that size. The meshes are blocky and crude, and the UV stretching is frankly pretty awful. This is particularly the case with the raised spikes on the dorsal area. It's bad enough on the common dragon, but it's much worse on the frost dragon, where the texture is simply stretched to fit the extended dorsal spikes.

What Bethesda should've done is create unique normals for each dragon, so the size of the spikes and horns could be adjusted to fit the changes in each mesh. Their one size fits all approach just stretches the textures out of shape and creates a blurry mess. The dragon bodies are quite dynamic, so the wings flap and fold, while the torso twists, and the tail swings about. All that movement of the mesh deforms the textures quite a bit. Therefore, it seemed essential to make the textures 8K x 4K, to have a better chance of maintaining reasonable detail, despite the obvious UV stretching issues.

The original textures were underwhelming in their execution, much like the sloppy textures I found when I started making my RUSTIC CLOTHING mod. Even though the default dragons are 4K x 2K, they are seriously lack detail. Doubling resolution was just the beginning. For my retextures, I created every individual dragon scale by hand. A tedious process, but necessary to give the proper level of detail and definition. These textures take a considerable amount of time to make, so that's why I am releasing this mod in installments. I felt that during a global pandemic, that it was better to give people something to play with now, rather than making people wait until the entire mod is complete. 

I hope this mod injects a little enjoyment into your Skyrim dragon encounters.


P.S. Not to go off on an extended rant, but who exactly is in charge of the naming conventions at Bethesda?

The common dragon is simple, the creature is named "dragon" in game, the texture is labeled "dragon", and the mesh is also named "dragon." Everything just as it should be, but that is often not the case. The "elder" dragon in game, has the textures labeled "earth" dragon, while the mesh is labeled "tundra" dragon. The "blood" dragon in game, has the textures labeled "swamp" dragon, while the mesh is labeled "forest" dragon... etc.

I can imagine the people working in Bethesda's studio...

Dev 1: "Hey, anybody got the textures for the blood dragon ready yet?" 

Dev 2: "Sorry, I'm working on the swamp dragon right now, maybe someone else has that one."

Dev 3: "I finished the mesh for the forest dragon, anyone get to those textures yet? I need to see them on the model"

Dev 2: "Uh, what's a forest dragon?"