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Hedgehog's Kinda Expanded Quick Shitty Notes for Making Basic Followers

This tutorial is just my old rentry pasta, formatted and a little revised for this wiki. Original:

This is not a grand learning tutorial. Just my quick notes for myself, now edited and a bit explained for understanding CK and its elements we will use. Hope it helps. Based from this ole' video tutorial, and expanded for missing parts.

Basic things we need

  • RM: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL, USE RM. I know ECE had its power time and it was good, but RM is far better now. Especially with EFM, HPH, overlays and all those sculpt export features.
  • CK: D'uh. Always save regularly, for CK is prone to crash often.
  • Our character's color informations: hair color, skin color. You can just screenshot your RGB values. DON'T USE ALPHA (transparency) ON SKIN COLOR, CK doesn't have that option.
  • Our character's mesh and texture informations: their weight, which hair they use, which brow they use, which eye color they use, which beard they use, which scar they use. If you don't know how to find your custom headparts, you can check your mod in xEdit. It will have the same name in RM notification. Also, more importantly, you'll need your custom body meshes (if you use any, if vanilla you don't have to) and custom body textures (again, if you use any).
  • If you are using HPH, all of its parts: head mesh and its TRIs. If you didn't sculpt your vanilla-meshed brows and are using HPH brows, include its mesh and TRIs as well. Same goes for beards and scars. All of them are in “meshes\KL\High Poly Head”.
  • Our character's RM overlay informations: which “tattoos” they use. Face paints are handled via Racemenu (unless you don't use that newer RM face overlay tab for glowing tattoos, then you'll have a real work). Body paints, I'll tell later.
  • Our character head mesh export in RM. You can get it on sculpt tab of RM. THIS IS IMPORTANT, FOR IT CONTAINS ALL OF YOUR CHARACTER'S FACE.
  • NifSkope: An amazing tool, which you will use many times.
  • NPC Nif Merge: It ain't no good, but it's the best we have had. It knows it ain't right, and it'll fight its whole life… to prove that it was right. Crucial tool. Works clunky at times but it still does what it does, and it does it good.
  • SSE Nif Optimizer: If you're on SE, you probably know this.
TRIVIA: TRIs are the files which controls your character's head parts, for emotes. Without compatible TRIs for your meshes, NPC's face parts will clip with head itself. You can see it especially on males with beards.

After collecting everything, you need to make your own follower folder and throw it to your mod manager as a mod. For MO2, it's “mods” folder. For Vortex, just install it like a mod.

How to make a follower folder, though?
Most follower folders contain 2 main child folder: “meshes/put/custom/path/here” and “textures/put/custom/path/here”. People generally put them in “meshes~textures/actors/character/followername”.

Alright, let's get to work!

1) Preparing sculpts

Export your character through sculpt menu of RaceMenu. This will create a head mesh and a facetint texture in “SKSE\Plugins\CharGen”. Mesh contains your character's facial structure, tint contains your character's facial paints like makeup or RM overlays.

2) Choosing right plugins

Open CK and choose Skyrim.bsa and Update.bsa for working. Or better, choose every base ESM and all three official DLCs. Or best (which I do), all those and your custom asset mods (HPH and hair mod, especially). Searching everything on KS Hairdos, HPH and your armor (or creating everything from scratch) can be a real pain, and this helps. Don't make anything active, CK won't let you make base ESMs active plugins anyway.

3) Texturesets

On CK, you need to make your character's body-head-eye-brow texturesets first. Go to TextureSet section in the left pane of Object Window. You'll need to create these texturesets for your custom parts:

  • Body and hand texturesets. They contain a diffuse (that normal-looking one, defines colors), a normalmap (msn one, defines edges), a specular (s one, defines “wetness”) and a subsurface tint (sk one, defines brightness on darkness AFAIK). You don't have to look for feet textures, for they are in body texture itself. Just duplicate a SkinBodyFemale/Male and SkinHandsFemale/Male and replace their paths with your textures'.
  • Eye textures. They contain a diffuse and some other ones. The most important thing is diffuse, but take a look to your eye mods if you want to see the full effect. Anyway: Duplicate a EyesMaleHuman textureset (don't worry they work also on females) and replace texturepaths.
  • Brow textures. They contain a diffuse and a normalmap. Generally people use Hvergelmir Brows, so I'll remind that you don't forget its normalmap. Same drill, duplicate a brow textureset and replace.
  • Scar textures. Optional. If you have a custom scar texture or a complete custom scar, you will want to include it as well. They go as “HeadMarksSomethinggoeshere” generally. Same drill.
  • Don't forget to rename duplicate forms. This goes for every custom forms we'll make. I generally put a 0 at the start of them, for finding them easily. It makes them look on upper places in the list. A sample name is: “00ClaraEyesTextures”.
TRIVIA: What's a textureset?
If you're familiar with modding, you'll know every mesh use some textures for coloring and reflections. Normally texture info is embedded in mesh itself. Skyrim has a way to use alternate textures on meshes, and it controls this with “texturesets”.
As a far more trivial note, we added body texturesets because we don't want to hassle with body meshes in NifSkope every time we update them. You'll understand as you read.

4) Custom body

Now we have to create the custom body. For this, we'll create a “body armor”.

But I don't want to make a custom body (or textures)!
Alright friend, you have three choices:

If you want a totally vanilla-path based body you can skip both of “body texturesets” and “custom body armor” parts.
If you want your follower to have custom textures with the body in vanilla path, you still should go this way but ArmorAddon records should only have their textures changed.
If you want your follower to have a custom body with vanilla texturepath you don't have to create body texturesets in the 3rd step.
  • Go to ArmorAddon section and take a look for NakedTorso, NakedHands and NakedFeet. Let's go with NakedTorso.
    • Duplicate and open it. You'll see Male and Female sections on the left. Depending on your character, change your Biped Model (aka body mesh) by clicking Select>Edit. Don't worry about other gender, for we're using this armor only for one NPC. Select (fe)malebody_1.nif, or there will be weight issues. Then change your skin texture by choosing your custom body texture. Don't change race (should be DefaultRace) unless you're making an Argonian or Khajiit. Rename, and save.
    • Same goes for hands and feet. Don't forget to choose body texture for feet.
  • Now we made our armor addons, we can make “armor” itself.
    • Go to Armor section and search SkinNaked. Found it? Duplicate, and open. You'll see many information for armor parts you used to. If you're making a Khajiit or Argonian, change race first. Otherwise leave it at DefaultRace. Now, most importantly, delete every Naked— armor addons in Models pane and replace them with yours by right click>Add (or better, drag 'n drop from form menu). Rename, and save.

This custom SkinNaked will be used later.

TRIVIA: Why did we do this?
In Skyrim engine, almost every body part is considered as an armor. Naked parts are invisible armor meshes which you can never unequip from an armor in-game. So basically, SkinNaked is an armor that works as your body.
In CK, every armor's mesh is defined by armor addons. They are also important for choosing armor slots, but that's kinda more complex for now. Armors use these addon datas for their parts.

4.1) Custom race

I need to point an optional part: custom race.

This is required if you want to give your follower a custom skeleton. You don't have to leave it as a a playable race (actually strongly advised to not do it). If you're good with your character being compatible with other people's default skeletons, you can skip. Otherwise, keep going.

Go to Races tab, duplicate your original race. Unclick playable option in the first tab, or everyone will have a duplicate race in their race tab on RM. Choose your sex from upper options. At the first tab, set Morph Data as the original race, and Armor Data as DefaultRace. Otherwise your character will be naked every time you give them an armor. Go to Body Data tab, and change the skeleton path. Rename, and save. Now, you also have to make a formlist for headparts (which I will tell later). Make a new formlist (pretty easy, just search formlist and duplicate one), make sure it's empty, drag 'n drop your custom race. When you're on Actor tab and fiddling with your Character Gen Parts you'll get your custom faceparts thanks to this step.

  • Don't forget to check your custom SkinNaked. Open it, change race to your custom one and look to armor addons. If they are your custom ones, you're good to go.

5) Headparts

Now, here comes a section that requires to be finicky.

TRIVIA: What are headparts?
Head meshes are handled with more care in CK, for they actually have moving parts like eyeballs, lips and face itself. They have their own mesh features. All of these data are stored within a headpart.
All headparts are not handled standalone: there is an option named “extra part” in headpart editing window. You'll mostly see it on hair and beard, but there is also some other uses for it such as heterochromic eyes.
follower_guide.txt · Last modified: 2024/07/07 16:18 by thebaldhedgehog