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Ugly Elven Eyes



This is all about that little bit of flesh in the corner of your eye.


In Skyrim, it's made from a tiny number of polygons and has a texture that alphas out at the edge where it meets the eye.


It looks ... pretty bad on the best of days, if you zoom in close. The number of polygons and the way the alpha ended up being drawn in most eye textures means it leaves a visible gap, and really does look like some floating polygons that are jammed in the corner of the eye to fill in the gap in the head mesh.


But on elves...


It's way worse. So much worse. The eyes are scaled up, and this little splotch is twisted and made bigger. It really shows off how poor it looks, but on top of that, you will often see a bit "missing" from it, as if cut out. 


Today I set out to track down what was causing this.


The root cause is that the eye also has a shadow for beneath the lid, and this is also a few badly aligned polygons with an alpha texture on.


It turns out that a great many eye textures do not create this alpha correctly - it's not quite zero, and doesn't fade early enough.

The result is that the shadow polygons go in the z-buffer and partially block rendering of the eye-corner polys.


The fix is to either move the eye-shadow polygons over a bit (this is quite tricky to do, but you can do it in racemenu sculpt, or NifSkope), or to adjust the alpha in the eye textures you are using so it fades out early enough.


It bugs me that there are no high-resolution eyes. Probably some issues to do with facial expressions there.

A job for another day is to import an existing eye mesh into Blender and properly adjust the vertices so that the shadow doesn't overlap the little corner piece at all, and both parts fit better.


Whether or not a proper high-resolution eye is possible, or blocked by morph limitations I don't know. I guess the existing morphs could be reverse engineered and recreated, but sounds tricky.


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There's a shocking shortage of mods to make elves pretty in general.  It really sucks because the thalmor have a canon dominatrix vibe about them, but they aren't exactly appealing scene partners.


Ethereal elven overhaul is about what I would expect a non adult beautification to look like, but the last time I tried it I had some difficulty getting it to work.  I think maybe it has some "custom race" stuff that changes stuff beyond just cosmetically. 


The Bijin series is my go to for NPC beautification, the elves in it look nice and it avoids the (in my opinion) horribly clashing anime style women that many modders go for.  These are just custom npcs though, it doesn't fix the whole race.


I don't know if any of that is actually helpful to you, other than to say there should be a demand for an elf beautification mod.

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That little bit of eye is one of the worst parts about faces. On humans it's mostly hidden in the face mesh, but on elves it's exposed badly, and often (depending on the exact eye and how you scale it) it will appear to just be floating there, not really filling the corner in any way. One of those situations where maybe another 12 polygons would have made a huge difference.


Citrus helps hide it a bit, and of course you can edit the face (head) mesh to help conceal it more.


I'd say the answer would be a complete eye-replacer, which wouldn't exactly be rocket science to make but for the morphs.

Maybe configuring the correct sliders in Outfit studio would allow it to be made, but I don't think I've ever seen OutfitStudio used to create morphs for facial expressions.

People have done facial expression mods, so there must be ways.

I did find this, so maybe it's possible: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/30162/

Also this: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14589/?tab=files

And this: https://www.loverslab.com/topic/57684-blender-263-tri-file-importexport-plugins/



I should imagine I can load the OBJs into Blender, make matching new ones for my new eye model and load back. Wow. Much easier than reverse-engineering the morphing code from OutfitStudio :)  As it turns out the main body .tri files are special and have a different format anyway. Because Skyrim!


I should look properly at 3BBB before I start though ... maybe there are high-res eyes in there to go with everything else? I never checked that.

Drew a blank there - head assets are not high-resolution. Citrus is better.


There may be something useful in the XCE body+face overhaul kit too, but probably not a different eye mesh. Heads perhaps?

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Ugh, TES elves...


This is a bit late to the rant party, but this is by far the best set of head meshes out there. It's far, far better than Citrus. Keep in mind I never, ever play elves - they're too much like Roswell Grays for me to not hate them - so I don't know for sure if the eyes are fixed.


Amusingly, the elves were what got me into Skyrim modding beyond the casual; I wanted to replace every single last one of the fuckers with something more human-like.

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I have High Poly Head, though I only ever used it in games where I had SAM and SAM faces, so I didn't compare it directly to Citrus, and so I never thought about the difference.


The benefit I see over Citrus is that it's got even more polygons. There are substantially more vertices, and they lead to a smoother looking head.

There's more detail on the eyelids and around the mouth, and things are overall smoother.

It has a better default material too, but chances are you aren't going to see that.

Of course more polys looks better, but they're not for free; High Poly Head is an even bigger resource hog than Citrus.


When you're only using it on the PC, HPH is probably worth it.

If you put it on every NPC, even Citrus is overkill, and I'd prefer something midway between it and vanilla.


It doesn't replace eyes. The eyes are a separate thing from the head.

There are eye mesh replacer mods, but I have yet to find one that does anything other than tweak UV mappings slightly.


It's still something I want to loop back to. I know I can make a full eye-replacer-mod with genuine high-poly eyes, including lashes, and that funny little bit in the corner.

It will need all new morphs.

I just haven't done it yet :) 


Maybe someone will beat me to it, which may be great and save me the bother.

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