Interior Design Tutorial

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Interior Design Tutorial

Post by SamirA »

Need to know how to create an interior in the TES III Morrowind CS? Look no further! This guide will aim to teach you everything you need to know when creating believable interiors for use in your own mods or perhaps a showcase for one of the Project Tamriel mods!

First Things First:
Lets start with the basics. The first thing is to open the TES Construction Set, or CS as it will be called from here forward (I'm assuming you have already installed Morrowind and the expansions Tribunal and Bloodmoon). You may find it helpful to bump your resolution up to accommodate all of the various windows the CS makes use of.

Once the CS is open you will see three windows open before you.

Messing with the tabs at this point will show you that you don't have much to work with yet. This is because you haven't loaded any of the master files, or .ESM's, that contain the meshes, scripts, and other things you need to create a mod for Morrowind.

To load a master hit the File menu, up at top-left, and select Data Files. Double-click on Morrowind.esm (as well as Tribunal.esm and Bloodmoon.esm if you are making a showcase for Project Tamriel) so that it's checked, and click OK.
(Note: you may see some "plugin" (.ESP) files already listed, any that you've downloaded. You don't need to check them, even if you're using them in your current game. In fact, do not check any of them, unless you really know what you're doing. We'll get into more detail on what these Data Files mean, later.)

Now look at your tabs again. Jumping Nord bogies Batman, that's a lot of stuff! Now you have more to work with than you could imagine (you will have even more if you check some .esp's like PC_Data if you become a Province: Cyrodiil modder). Take a few moments to browse through all of the tabs in the Object Window. It can be overwhelming at first, but we are going to address that issue now.

To make all of that information in Objects a little less daunting, let's walk through each of the tabs you have available, to get a brief overview of what each is for:

There's more to it than this, but think of Activators as switches and levers that you would use to "activate" something, like a door or a gate.

For Alchemy. These are a special kind of object because dragging one onto yourself from your Inventory window will open the Alchemy dialogue.

Body Part
Armor and Clothing are both actually composed of these - you'd use a Body Part as the "Biped Object" for creating your own new piece of Armor or Clothing. Think of the difference between like so: the Body Part is the generic 3D model with no specific information, except which part of the body it attaches to (and upon which layer: skin, clothing, or armor). Armor and Clothing, on the other hand, have specific information, like AR or Enchantments. Two pieces of armor could both use the same Body Part, but have entirely different stats.

Books, notes, writs, and magic scrolls.

Unlike Armor, Clothing has no AR nor Health.

These are the chests, barrels, sacks, and crates of the world. Note how each already has its own predefined contents (even if that's "empty"). If you want to make a crate full of crab meat, you create a new container and stock it full of that yummy dead crustacean flesh -- but more on that later. (The creating, not the dead crustacean flesh.)

Doors are, well, doors. Actually, if you're clever, you'll quickly realize that "Doors" are actually Transporters, they transport you somewhere different when you "activate" them (which means using the Spacebar, by default, in game). So a door doesn't actually have to be a solid mass of wood under a stone archway - notice "Eat Me" and "Drink Me", for example.

You use these things in Alchemy. Only an Ingredient may be used in Alchemy (in the four windows where you may select said ingredients), and only Ingredients provide those "effects" that you mix-and-match to create potions. Say, don't know how Alchemy works? Here's a real quick run-down: you combine two Ingredients with the same effect, and you get a potion with that effect (if you succeed your Alchemy check). See how Daedra's Heart and Void Salts both have "Restore Magicka" as an effect? Mix those two, and you'll get a potion of Restore Magicka.

Anything that gives off light is a light. A dim glow coming from lichen, a candle on the desk, a torch in a sconce (including the flames), these are all lights.

You use one of these to pick open doors. The game only comes with a pretty limited selection of them, but feel free to be creative! You could use a model for a teddy bear as a new kind of uber-lockpick and stick it on the secret Master Assassin's bed by the cute pink pillow!

Misc Item
These are things you can pick up and carry around that don't otherwise fit into one of the other categories. Gold, keys, kitchenware, and all the little "details" that make the world seem so much more real.

Like Lockpicks, you use these in Thievery, to disarm traps.

Repair Item
Used with the Armorer skill to repair worn armor and weapons.

You may at first be confused by the difference between Misc Items and Statics. Misc Items are things you can pick up and carry with you. Statics, you cannot. That means the most of the world is actually comprised of Statics - and it's with Statics that you'll be spending the majority of your time building. Everything from landscape to architecture to potted plants to furniture fits into the Static category.

Unlike Armor, Weapons do not use a template (Body Part), but rather all of the information for any given weapon is defined by its own unique object.

All of the actors of the world. Including yourself! The star of the show is listed but humbly as, "player". All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely NPCs.

The difference between a creature and an NPC is that creatures only have a "type" (Creature, Daedra, Humanoid, Undead), whereas NPCs have a Race, Class, and Faction/Rank. Otherwise, creatures are precisely the same (in terms of interface) as NPCs.

Leveled Creature
Also known as Ninja Monkeys - because that's what you'll see in the editor for a Leveled Creature. These are creatures that spawn differently based on the level of the player. Take a look at the very first one in the list: ex_ascadianisles_lev+0. The list on the right shows you what kind of monsties you might run into should you drop one of these bad boys down: from a lowly kwama forager at level 1, to the mighty betty netch at level 10 or beyond. Multiple creatures can be listed for a single level, meaning there's a chance that any one of those creatures might spawn.

If you're familiar with the Spellmaking interface in the game, this will make plenty of sense to you. This is where you create new "Spells". Not Spell Effects mind you, but new Spells - like a spell that grants you Levitation at level 40 for 60 seconds, grants you Invisibility for 30 seconds, and bestows Shield level 20 upon you for 120 seconds.

Much like Spellmaking, this is related directly to the Enchanting interface in the game, except that you're designing generic (or specific) enchantments in this case, which you could then apply to Armor, Clothing, Weapons, etc. Again, you can't define new effects, but you can mix and match any combination of existing effects however you see fit.

Potions (and such) that apply an enchantment. Spells do the same thing, but Alchemy objects don't require any sort of skill check, and generally come in the form of a potion that the player quaffs.

Leveled Item
Read the description for Leveled Creature, and now think "Leveled Item". Yup. These are loot-objects that change based on the player's level, so a player at level 1 might open a chest only to find 5 gold inside, while a player level 10 could find a sword of Minotaur Ass Kicking.

The Cell:
By now you're probably ready for me to shut up and tell you how to make something, but trust me all of these details are important (I myself learned from a tutorial almost exactly like this one). Besides knowing what all of those tabs in the Object Window do, it's absolutely imperative that you know your way around the Render Window. That's the window at the top-right, which at start just displays what looks like a flat, mottled brown surface.

You should have your .ESM's loaded, so you'll have a list of cells (Interior and Exterior) in the Cell View Window, below the Render Window. Highlight an entry in the list, and on your keyboard, hit the letter S. You'll see that you scroll down to the beginning of the S entries. You can type multiple letters, too, like 'SE', in short sequence. (Note that you may need to click away from your "result", or use one of the arrow keys, between "jumps".) Find the entry for "Seyda Neen, Arrille's Tradehouse", and double-click on it.

After a brief loading sequence, you'll probably see something like:

"What is that?" you're wondering. Well, it's good ol' Arrille's Tradehouse, indeed - zoomed way out. The grey "ether" surrounding the little blotch of color is just that: empty space, the nothingness that you would see were you able to look through a hole in the wall. This isn't actually a part of the rest of the world, it is indeed its own "cell" of space, that is linked with the outside by means of a door that teleports you to a different cell - the cell for Seyda Neen.

The quickest way to get yourself zoomed in and ready to work with a cell is to double-click on one of the objects listed on the right half of the Cell View Window. Try double-clicking Tolvise Othralen.

Ahh, much better. Well, kinda.

It's a little dark in here, and when you're editing things, you'll usually want a very clear view of everything. You can turn on all the lights with the A key:

"Now how the heck do I move around?" you're wondering next, grasshopper? It is good you should ask. Getting a hang for navigating in the Render Window is one of the first, and most important skills you will learn, in TESCS.

First, you'll always find you have to click on the Render Window itself before you can navigate in it. Now hold down the Shift key on the keyboard, and move the mouse around. Holding down the Shift key is the equivalent of putting you into "mouselook" mode.

Get the hang of mouselooking before you go much farther. Hit D on the keyboard (de-select) and see how that affects your mouselook.

You can zoom your view in and out with the mousewheel, or by holding down V and moving the mouse, much like you use Shift. In general, V provides a more granular level of zoom, and is a bit less agonizing than flinging through the wheel five times just to get zoomed out to the right level you want. Now pan the camera around a bit by holding down the spacebar (or middle mouse button), and dragging. Practice using combinations of shift, V, and spacebar to move yourself around Arrille's Tradehouse. Try going downstairs and back up, or turning a circle around an object.

If this is your first 3D editing experience, it may be a bit disconcerting at first to have to move around in so unnatural a fashion: you'll find you want to walk, strafe, jump, and look around an object with it centered in your field of view. It just takes some getting used to. Remember that you're operating in true 3-dimensional space, here, and the controls which allow you to move and look don't necessarily assume such nuisances as gravity and the limited mobility of the human body.

If you get yourself lost, remember that you can always double-click on an object in the Cell View window to re-orient yourself. There are two other ways to get yourself back on track: the T and C keys. Select an object somewhere just off-camera, and hit T. You'll see you zoom in to the object, looking down at it from above. Try the same thing with C. Now you get a "perspective" view. This helps if you see an object that you want to zoom in on or center your view upon, but don't want to go hunting it down in the object list. Moving around using just the C and T keys can become very natural after a while, and you'll find yourself zipping around your cells with the greatest of ease.

This is handy, too: not sure exactly what you have selected? The name of it appears at the lower-left, as well as its type, coordinates, and cell (respectively, moving over to the right).

Now what about moving objects inside of the Render View? Well, this is done with the most intuitive of actions: simply select the object, and drag it around with the (left) mouse button. (I'll say "left", but if you have your mouse buttons switched, of course I mean your "primary" mouse button.) Give Hrisskar a double-click, remember to re-select your Render Window, hit T to give yourself a better view of him, and drag him around like the big ol' pussycat he is.

Note how you can only move him when your mouse gives you the four-way arrow icon. This makes moving very thin or small objects difficult, so using zoom and mouselook to get a good angle is critical.

Now use Shift (mouselook) to give yourself a different angle on him, and try dragging him around a little more. You should see that you continue to move him only along the X and Y planes (left/right, forward/back), but not along the Z plane (up/down). To move an object along the Z axis, you have to hold down Z, and drag with the mouse. In fact, you can also hold down either X or Y to move an object only along one of those planes, too. This is very useful for aligning objects.

Speaking of aligning objects, you may have noticed that as you drag around ol' Hrisskar, you don't have much precision - you're free to place him pretty much wherever you like. This is usually fine for things like NPCs or objects, but when it comes time to put architecture together, you're probably going to want to make sure everything aligns perfectly, with no visible seams or gaps. This is easily accomplished with the snap-to-grid button:

And as you can see, by default it's off. The button next to it, snap-to-angle, is used for rotating objects, and by default it's on. Now, with snapping turned on, try moving Hrisskar again. You'll see he now snaps around at an increment, and you can line him up easily with the walls or the floor.

There's actually a much easier way to get something to align with the floor (or any surface), though: the F key. Use Z to drag Hrisskar a ways up into the air, then hit F. He should land perfectly flat on the floor again. Drag him over to and above the bar and drop him on top of it. Drop him on top of Elone. Trying hitting F multiple times: see how Hrisskar sinks to new depths (he continues to snap to each progressive surface level down). Get used to using F. F stands for "friend".

I mentioned rotating. Yes, you can rotate things, too. What good would your world be if everything only faced north? Well, might be kind of eery in a cool way, but a little boring, too. You use the right (alternate) mouse button to rotate. And as you can see, your rotate is snapped, as well (by default to 45-degree increments). You can turn that off with the other button shown above. And, as with moving objects, you can also change the axis upon which you're rotating by holding down either X, Y, or Z while you drag with the right button. But, Z doesn't rotate on the Z axis, as you'd first expect. In fact, Z rotates on the Y axis, and you don't need to hold down any key to rotate on the Z axis (it's the default). Yes it's a little weird. But I guess it's not so bad once you get the hang of it. Also, note how NPCs will only rotate on the Z axis: you can only change an NPC's facing, not its tilt or pitch.

You'll probably find you want to change the increments by which you're moving or rotating things, at some point. You can change those increments by going to File, Preferences, and setting them in the Grid Snap and Angle Snap fields:

Some of the other settings in this window bear mentioning, too. The Movement Speeds change how quickly you can move things around with the mouse (including the camera, when in mouselook mode). Not the increment of how far things move, but how quickly they get there. In general, leaving these at 1.00 is a good idea, unless you find you need to move things really long distances really fast. I also often touch the Camera settings when I need greater or finer control over the camera.

The "Use Data Files on CD-ROM" option is, by default, checked, and you'll probably want to leave it checked, unless you've copied all of the files from your CS CD onto your hard drive (which can be useful, but I won't cover that in this tutorial). You will find, however, that with that option checked, if you hit OK to this dialogue,

this little nag may come up. It's telling you that you don't have the CS CD in your CD-ROM, so it won't be able to "use" those files. Everything's fine, and you don't have to have the CS CD in your CD-ROM to run the editor (except in more advanced scenarios, where you need to grab some of the meshes and art from the CD), so just click OK if you get that one. You'll still need the game CD in your CD-ROM to test your mod anyhow, so swapping CDs every time you want to look at your work so far could get a little annoying.

The Real Work Begins:
Okay, now that you've trudged through all that, you're finally ready to actually do some building, grasshopper.

You're going to want a space of your own to work in. What you need to do is create a new cell - we'll use an Interior Cell, since they're a bit easier to work with, when you're first starting. Go to the World menu up top, and select Interior Cell. Now click the New button.

Give it a name:
(Note: For creating interiors for use in Project Tamriel use the mod convention. For example a mod for Skyrim: Home of the Nords is Sky_i#-#. The first number is the region, found in your claim ID. The second number is the ID of that claim which tells you the release map in which the interior is located.

And just accept the defaults (making sure to check the illegal to sleep box if your interior is a building (no one cares if you sleep in a cave):
(Note: These values will need to be changed based on the location or style of your interior. For most building interiors it is best to find a similar interior and copy the lighting settings into your own interior. Other times you may want to play around and create your own light settings. Just make sure to test them out in game to see if they will work for the feel you are trying to create.)

Click OK.

"Whuh? Nothing happened!" Not to fear, grasshopper. Your cell is there, you just have to open it, same as you did with Arrille's Tradehouse. Find it in the Cell View, and double-click it:

And your new room contains... absolutely nothing! Well, well, where to begin?

You always begin by placing a "NorthMarker". This is what helps the player maintain his mystical preternatural understanding of where north always is. A NorthMarker is a Static type of object, so in your Object Window, open the Static tab, and find NorthMarker.

The trick to adding objects to your cell is drag-and-drop, which may not be immediately intuitive, but does make mod creation pretty quick once you get the hang of it. Drag the NorthMarker anywhere into the endless grey of your Render Window.

Now for a little bit of good-housekeeping advice. It's generally a Good Idea(tm) to center your cell around the coordinates of 0,0. If you've worked with 3D before, this should make sense to you. If you're just scratching your head, then please bear with me. The justifications for a lot of my "good-housekeeping" tips make much more sense later on, but it's better to get into the habit of them now.

Double-click on the NorthMarker. Double-clicking on an object is how you bring up its properties. In this case, we'll see the standard properties window for a Static type of object:

Notice how my position coordinates are way funky. The first object you drag into a blank Render Window tends to be way out there. You can manually edit these values, so just plug in 0, 0, 0 for each of them. Then click the X at the top-right. Do not click Save. In general, it is a Bad Idea(tm) to click the Save button for any object. Unfortunately, the underlying reasons for this are far more complicated than I can get into now (though I do have another tutorial that answers this question in very thorough detail), so for the time being you'll just have to take it from me: it's another of those good-housekeeping tips. Don't click Save!

Hmm, now where'd that NorthMarker go? Well, your camera is still looking at the same point in space, but your NorthMarker is somewhere completely different. But you remeber how to instantly zoom onto any object in the cell, right? Sure you do: double-click it in the Cell View Window. (And notice how it's currently the only object listed for this cell.)

Now that we have a NorthMarker, the real fun can begin!

The Real Fun:

So we have created an interior and it has some light settings and a NorthMarker. Now what?

For the purposes of this tutorial we are going to create a house in the Hlaalu tileset (a great tileset for Province: Cyrodiil interior showcases!). So click on the Statics tab and scroll down to the Hlaalu interior pieces and make sure you have the Grid Snap and Angle Snap buttons, that we talked about earlier, clicked.

Before we can begin placing tiles we need to know what shape our interior should have. For this we need to look at out exterior. When creating an interior for Province: Cyrodiil you might find images showing the overview of your exterior such as this:
(Note: For a showcase simply find an exterior shell that you want to make an interior to fit. As long as it will fit in any shell of it's type your interior showcase is good to go.)

For this tutorial we will use building #7. That building is ex_hlaalu_b_12. You should always check to make sure your interior matches the exterior shell.
If you are unsure how your claim should fit the exterior, just place shell pieces to fit the edges. Interiors are generally a little bit larger than their exterior. (More so with imperial forts and Indoril claims, but still not much). Another idea, if your exterior is strange. Look at other interiors with your exterior's shell. This is only a bad idea when dealing with Hlaalu claims. These often don't fit the exterior on a hilarious level. Generally we opt to do it right, though when it comes to Hlaalu guard towers, we begrudgingly accept Bethesda’s standard layout.

(Note: For most interiors simply looking at the top down view is not enough to make sure your interior will fit, to make sure you will need to look at the exterior within the CS for the placement of any window, door, or various other objects. For Project Tamriel you will need to find the exterior claim that holds your interior and download that to check your file for a match.)

Looking at our shell, it appears it should be shaped as such. I based this off the interior for Ules Manor, ignoring the staircase at the back that I felt made the building too deep. This interior is supposed to have two or three homes inside. I can envision the splits in a way that would make for three homes.

I have made the splits here. Look through the pieces of each set and familiarize yourself with them. Some sets have special ceilings (Hlaalu, common, and perhaps many of the Project Tamriel interior tilesets) that you have to check. This is easy to miss, but important nonetheless. I won't go into specifics about the individual placement of interior shell pieces. I trust that you can handle that with the tools that have already been given to you. Doors are naturally under the Door tab, and are specific to the tilesets. When placing doors in door jams, generally gridsnap gets them into place, however in my experience some doors have to be manually adjusted (Imperial non-loaddoors are the only ones I can think of offhand). Always check your doors to make sure they rest properly in the door jam.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I will only show myself making one room. This should be enough of a demonstration.

A 2x3 room with a single square for the entrance. Probably the most important step of this creative process is deciding what you want to make. One of the residents is a Redguard abolitionist according to the claim description, but I think I will put him in another room. I think this will be the home for a small scum of the earth Breton family. (Two parents and an adult daughter) Throughout this interior, the furniture will be de_p, which can be found under the static tab. I'm going to place a few pieces to get the general layout of the interior going. de_p doesn't have a wallscreen, but you can use furn_de_screen_guar_01. I used a de_p_closet_02_de_fclot, which is a closet with female clothes, and de_p_chest_02_mclothes3, which is a small chest with male clothes, to show that this house is has more female residents than male residents. Beds can be found under the activator tab. The ones I used here are: active_de_p_bed_05, a poor double bed for the parents, and active_de_bedroll a single sized floor mat for the daughter. Rugs are Furn_de_rug_big_08 and furn_de_rug_01. There are shape and color variations around these in the static tab.

Next up is placing things on the surfaces. This isn't always much of a problem, but de_p furniture hates you and your loved ones. It requires special care. Below you can see a light_de_lantern_05_128_Carry (from the light tab) placed on a poor bookshelf. I had to rotate it a single degree to make it match the slanted lie of the shelf. Double click items to open up a window that allows for specific rotations. Note though that you shouldn't click save as that edits all instances of the item, dirtying your file.

Looking at the whole shelf, you can see that sometimes you will have to rotate more or less than a single degree. It should be done with precision and a careful eye. It isn't nearly as hard or tedious as it sounds.

I'm not going to fill this review with every instance of me placing and rotating items to fit poor furniture (that would be unnecessary and excessive), but it is always important to check everything you place. Also, try to make things interesting and give the NPCs personality. The Father is a terrible drunkard who fears people will come after him for the money he owes. The other roles are less defined, but they do feel like people.

The final step is to look over the finished product. Check how your placed lights look in game, as the CS doesn't always show things the same way, and overall make sure you can maneuver through the interior and that it looks good.

Entering the room things seem good, but upon closer inspection I see two problem spots

The strange yellow lights seen in these two images (and highlighted on the chair) are a strange thing that you need to watch out for with light objects. Generally, like in the case of the mazte, it is because an object is too close to a light. The chair is a strange case I can't quite explain though, and serves to highlight the fact that you should always check your work. I fixed these problems by removing the mazte (three on one shelf was a bit much anyway for a house), and moving the chairs out. Though I am not going to upload screenshots to show the fixes, rest assured that they were made easily.

Some things I want to address that didn't come up during this tutorial:
1: custom objects. The simplest way to do this is to find another object with the desired model, click the name until it becomes a text box, then enter a new name (preferably one that makes it apparent you made the object). After you hit return, the CS will ask you if you want to make a new object or edit the old one. Select that you want to create a new object naturally. To edit the contents, double click the name of the object in the object window, then find the contents in the other tabs, and drag them into the container. If you want multiples of an object, and don't want to drag them all in, simply click the quantity number, turning it into a text box, and enter your desired quantity. After all of this, click save.

(Note: When creating custom objects for Project Tamriel you will need to follow the proper naming conventions detailed in the interiors forums of each individual project.)

2: Cleaning files. Sometimes while modding, you might edit things you don't mean to edit. (Click save on an object you don't mean to, creating more custom objects than you actually need, etc.) Using TESAME, open your file. Going through the list, select any object you didn't make yourself, and then press the spacebar, then delete. Save your file, and then you are done.

(Note: this isn't for interiors, but never delete land textures. It is so important that you don't do that when modding exteriors that it should be mentioned in an interior tutorial)

This concludes this tutorial. Remembering to place things properly, check your work, and be creative. This will ensure that you are successful in your modding. It isn't particularly difficult to mod well; just don't rush yourself.

This tutorial was made from a compilation of tutorials that I found helpful when I learned interior modding, as well as notes and changes made by myself. Thanks go out to Thrignar Fraxix and Dragonsong for their tutorials.

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Post by TerrifyingDaedricFoe »

You need to change the first paragraph to say Project Tamriel instead of Province: Cyrodiil.

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Post by alexfreeman01 »

It is really helpful, thank you! :)

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Post by roerich »

Was quoting the whole shebazzle really that necessary, though? :P Cheers

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Post by mike1234 »

Thanks for this precious information, this is very helpful for beginners like me..!!!
Last edited by SGMonkey on Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: For the love of all things holy. Stop.

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Post by Luxray »

Feel free to swing by the IRC or make a thread in the Showcase forum if you want any 'live' tips! :)
<roerich> woah it's hot in here
<Lord Berandas> it must be Summer.
<Infragris> #hell is meant as a spam and off topic channel. Doing a great job already

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Post by alidahera »

Hi I am Ali, An interior Designer . As an Interior designer , I learned many new thing from this post ! Thanks a lot .
Last edited by SGMonkey on Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Please dont quote the entire opening post...

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Post by roerich »

roerich wrote:Was quoting the whole shebazzle really that necessary, though? :P Cheers

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