When I was building the faces for the Modular Automatons, one of the first things I tried was pulling the face off of a statue from the Nightmistress Mansion mod. I liked how the stone face looked when paired with the brassy robotic parts, and it got me thinking that a full-body 'statue automaton' would be an interesting route to pursue. But I didn't have any particularly good way to build a statuary body,
Didn't, as in past tense.
However, this has been... A process. Part of the process involved some further development of the Doll upper body I showed off last post. There I mentioned how I had ended up with something that was basically a Modular Automaton part, but to be honest it wasn't quite one. It still uses the original Gynoid shoulder cuts, and as such the original arms as those shoulders don't really work with the DMA arms. So instead of having the multi-swappable arms, it is basically just the upper half of the Gynoid cyborg with with copies of the hands from the Doll arms converted to stand-alone 'gloves'. Which works fine, in it's own way, but is much less modular. But while I was messing around with the Bodymorphs for the Doll torso parts I noticed that the Scroll Chamber ring I was using for the cap parts was a lot more malleable than I had honestly expected it to be, and that got me wondering if it would be possible to use the same part to cut down the shoulders and make a fully DMA-compatible Doll torso.
As it turns out, it's possible but also kind of a giant pain in the ass.
Finding an optimal position for this thing was a chore. I had to balance out things like where the skin mesh could actually be cut without leaving holes or tags of flesh sticking out, the angle to put it at so it could wrap around where the torso swells out at the side of the breasts, how wide the ring could be before it started interacting poorly with the Bodymorphs, which helped can one attempt that I otherwise liked... I must've reiterated this, from scratch, at least a dozen times. I'm still not entirely happy with this version, to be honest. It mainly gets a passing grade because I managed to get it positioned exactly on the edge of the breast weighting, so it doesn't get hit with any of the clip-on-bounce that affected other versions. But it's also positioned further out on the torso than I might've liked it to be and as such has some minor clipping with the DMA Gynoid-based arms and some definite clipping with the big shoulder caps on the Edhildil arms, which is certainly less than ideal. And while it has the benefit of conforming well with Bodymorphs with minimal skin clipping to be fixed, it does end up looking a bit more distorted around the back of the breast than I'd like.
But this might just be one of those things where I have to keep in mind that I'm doing things that the original meshes were never really expected to do and take what I can get out of them. This is the best version I've gotten so far, and I'm inclined to just go with it rather than keep hammering at the thing over and over again. For now, at least.
Regardless, even with those flaws it's a functional modular torso component. It has the various shoulder and clavicle bones removed as it doesn't really need them with how the DMA arms are built and they'd only introduce issues with those shoulder rings, but is Bodyslide-compliant, SLIF-capable, and has full breast bounce. I also went ahead and rebuilt it with the UUNP HDT ref instead of UUNP Special to address the issues I was having using my existing DCC breast covers and Bikini Revival tops with the prototype Doll chest. I had always just assumed that the Special body was simply a copy of the HDT body with the vagina bones added, but it turns out that both the breast weighting and morph settings are just a bit different between the two. Not to the point where it changes the skin mesh's shape much, but enough to introduce clipping during motion and for the mid-torso ring to deform in noticeably different ways when bodymorphed. Switching back to HDT at least lets me maintain some internal consistency among my mods. I will keep the Special base for the pelvis, though, as I need it for the vagina mesh anyway and haven't noticed any significant weighting or morph differences between it and the HDT-built thongs from the DCC Extras that I've tried out on it. But I've also been kind of afraid to even look at the full-cheek bottoms from Bikini Revival...
Anyway, alongside all the hammering away on this I was also messing around with the idea of doing texture swaps on the skin meshes to get various effects. The main one I was trying out was the afore-mentioned statue body, and I also wanted to see if I could accomplish it with the CK's skin texture-swapping system that I was already using to get a non-default skin texture onto the parts. The answer turned out to be yes, but...
The problem is that when changing the texture that way, the skin meshes are still being affected by the racial skin tint settings of the base character. In this case, since the underlying character is an extremely pasty Nord, the stone body parts end up being a much lighter shade than the stone of the mask, which kind of ruins the whole effect. I mentioned trying to figure out how to turn the skin tints off in the last post, and some further digging around led me to find their controlling factor... But unfortunately it's the 'FaceGen_RGB_Tint' shader flag on the mesh itself. So it seems that the only way to disable the effect is to turn it off at the mesh level with NifSkope, and that does work but it also has the side effect of disabling the CK's skin texture swapping. So that all kind of bolloxed my hope of doing all this without having to have duplicate models, but whatever. Changing the texture pathing on the duplicate mesh and disabling that flag got me stone body parts that conformed much better to the mask's coloration.
One downside of this testing, however, was that seeing the original marble textures right next to the vastly brightened skin-tinted ones made the originals look kinda... Dingy. Just way too grey. I tried various things in the texture settings with the emissive and specular multipliers, but nothing was really getting me a good white marble look, and the thought of having to change all those settings on every single mask mesh to get them to match was rather daunting. So I cheated.
I brightened the original texture up a bit.
Took a few tries to get the lightness and the contrast adjustments right so the veining didn't completely overpower the face, but I like how it turned out. Being forced to the mesh-based texture repathing gave me the opportunity to change a few other shader and lighting settings, and the end result matches up pretty well with some bits of actual white marble I happen to have around. Running around with it a bit in-game, it seem to react quite favorably with various lighting conditions:
How can a statue be this fuckin' smug?
About the only problem with altering the texture is that I was kinda lazy when building the masks and used the original SeXtreme Loading Screens' texture pathing for the parts instead of redirecting them to my own isolated folder, which means that this change will also brighten up any other uses of that particular marble texture. I don't really see that as all that big of a deal, though. There's also a bit of a difference between the faces and the body parts in that the faces use the matching stone normal map from SeXtreme, while the body keeps the original skin normal maps (or rather the isolated copies that the original Doll parts are pointed to). I was afraid that would cause some lighting or shading mis-matching, but fortunately that doesn't seem to be the case and it lets me keep the skin detailing in the 'carving' that would be lost with an alternate normal map.
There are some flaws that are unavoidable with this whole method, though. The main one being that as the marble texture is just a flat square that was not designed to wrap around a body mesh there's some pretty noticeable seaming, particularly on the hips and buttocks. Those would need a purpose-built skin texture to fix, and that's a bit outside of my wheelhouse. Another is the 'flexible stone' issue. While it's got some great mechanical joints and I've removed the breast and butt bones to stop them from bouncing around, the elbows, hips, and digits are still going to be bending. I can't help but feel that this detracts from the statue-ness a bit, but I also can't do anything about it without building some really new parts, so whatevs. I'm particularly happy to give the elbows a pass, as I've been trying to build a new one for a couple of other possible ideas and it has not been going all that well. The way the weighting acts on them in-game is kind of a pain in the ass.
There's also a bit of a problem with an obvious counterpart to this idea: brass-skinned bodies to match the cast masks. The issue being that the ideal there would be for them to also use the original skin normals, so as to retain the detailing and to match thematically with how the 'cast' masks retained the original SeXtreme normal maps, but from this and prior experience messing around with variants of the same basic concept I've found that the environment mapping settings needed to get the whole shiny metal effect do noooooooot like playing with the 'model space' normal maps that the skin textures use. The results are simply... Strange. So any attempt along those lines would have to use an alternate normal map, which kinda ruins the point. As such I haven't really explored the idea much.
But one thing that does work out quite well is the 'rubber-coated' effect from -BAF-! Works just as well as it did there, really. Even uses the skin swap function in the same way, so I don't need duplicate models for it.
They do need their own Creation Kit entries, though, so they do add a bit of weight there. And really, I can already see myself adding entirely too many new parts based on this work. I've got at least three skin variants to spread around the Bodyslide-able 'variable' versions of the pelvis, chest, and feet; I'm considering keeping in the original Gynoid-armed version of the chest alongside this DMA'd version (and maybe even a 'normal human arms' version on top of that); I've got to do versions of the pelvis for use with the other leg types, and probably one with the regular metal Gynoid legs; I've still got stuff in mind for the 'milker' torso even if this did manage to supplant my original assumption that I didn't have a way to adapt the humanoid upper body by itself... And on top of all that I've still got that whole idea of doing 'pre-sized' bodyparts:
I'm starting to think that I'm simply fundamentally incapable of keeping a project to just one or two things.
But on the other hand, fuck yeah battle statues. ?