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How to export models from Blender to Skyrim

About a few days back, I decided to try out Skyrim's Creation Kit during my free time. I had bought Skyrim during last year's Steam Winter Sales. Back then, I played it for a while, but never got to finish the game. I think I hit up the Creation Kit a couple of times, but didn't go ahead since I knew nothing about it. And it looked vastly different from UDK. So this time, I checked out a few tutorials in youtube before diving into Creation Kit. For starters, I checked out the tutorial series by BestinSlot. It covered the basics required for making your own mod with custom quests, dungeons, etc. And he does a good job of explaining how to start working with the Creation Kit. You can find the playlist over here: 

I did not go through all of those tutorials. Just the areas that I wanted to focus on for now. And then I started looking for tutorials on how to export my Blender models into Skyrim. Surprisingly, in spite of having such a huge modding community, I was disappointed to notice that there weren't any useful tutorials in youtube for what I was searching for. Sure there were a handful of them, detailing bits and pieces of the process. I had seen this issue when I first worked with UDK. Doing something based on a video, only to realize that there was some other video explaining some other part of the workflow. I didn't wanna go through the same shit again. And the import/export thing was starting to look like a more difficult process this time around with the Creation Kit. I got a few links from some of my friends, but all those tutorials covered only certain parts of the process. So I started checking out other websites for tutorials on how to use Blender models in Skyrim. I soon came to realize that, it was a more time consuming process compared to the Blender UDK workflow. And yet again, I failed to find all the necessary details in one single place. So I decided to make one myself. I'm not going to explain all the steps in detail over here. This is just a collection of useful resources that people can use to get their models in Skyrim. However, I will give a small description about the links that I have posted over here.

First of all I'll provide the links to all the softwares that you need to download. For some of them, details about how and where to install them are given below. I'm using Windows 7 64-bit version, but you can find 32-bit versions of the softwares in the same links. So depending on your version, feel free to download the appropriate installer of these softwares.

1) Blender v2.49b 32-bit >> [Note: If you're a Blender 2.6,2.7 user, no need to fret. There is a workaround listed below. Just download the 32 bit version of 2.49b first]
7) 7-zip Archiver >>
8) GIMP (or Photoshop) >>
10) DDS file support plug-in for GIMP >>

For BSAopt and DDS plug-in for GIMP, I've given links below on how to install them. As for the rest of the softwares, just install all of them. They're pretty straight forward.

For importing your Blender models into Skyrim, first you need an existing Skyrim mesh to act as the template for copying it's settings to your mesh. This is where BSAopt comes in. It can be used to unpack the .bsa game files into nif files that we can use for our modding purposes. Instructions can be found here:

Creation Kit recognizes only the .dds file format for it's textures. So your .png file is not going to cut it. If you're using GIMP, you can download the plug-in from the 10th link given above. For setting up the plug-in for GIMP, you can check out this video: 

Once that's done you need to convert the textures for your model into .dds format. Youtube user Vornez has covered that part in this tutorial: (6:00 to 9:00)

Also, if you're like me, and would like to use Blender 2.6/2.7 versions, this link is for you:
However, note that you do need a 2.49 version at least for exporting the models in nif format. For the rest of the modeling process, you can use your own version. I run a 64-bit 2.7 version for my modeling purposes and 2.49b only for exporting it.

After all the installations are done, first create a model in Blender. And then you can hit up this link:
[Note: He uses two softwares called Nifconvert and ChunkMerge. There's no need to download them. It's already part of your NifUtilsSuite that you installed earlier]
He explains it really well. It consists of the workflow from Blender to NIfskope only. You can see the rest in the next link.

Once you set up your model in Nifskope properly, you can easily import your model into Skyrim. First save your nif file. Details on how to use it in the Creation Kit can be found here: [Note: Go directly to part 6: Exporting mesh to Creation Kit]

Other links which might be useful:
3) If you're having trouble with your textures not getting displayed in NifSkope, in spite of having it in the Skyrim textures folder in .dds format, post#7 in this link might be worth checking out:

So there it is. All the resources that helped me get my first model into Skyrim. I hope this would be helpful to others who are new to Creation Kit. And here's a picture of my Skyrim character standing proudly next to my first in-game model. :D

A miniature version of my tower mesh from Helm's Deep

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