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Characters Overview

Actors (characters and NPCs; those of the same race share the same body elements) are created from separate skeleton, body, face, hair, and eye components. There are replacements and enhancements for each type of component. Not all are compatible with each other. It's best to pick a preferred body type and then select the other components that are designed to work with that body. It is also important to know whether or not your body replacer also replaces the bodies of NPCs, among which are included any companions you may add to the vanilla game. Bear in mind that clothing and armor usually have to also be designed to go with that particular body type, but typically are not included with the basic body package.

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Armor and Clothing

There are a few things to keep in mind: [Thanks to "Phitt" on this Bethesda Softworks (Bethsoft) Forum thread about the different body types for the first three of these tips.]

  • If a piece of clothing or a piece of armor shows no skin it will be compatible with any body type. Only the shape might be slightly different than the body you're using, but no texture oddities or similar bugs. But you might get gaps, especially between legs and feet and upper body if you equip only a part of equipment made for a different body type.
  • If the opposite is true (armor/clothing shows skin) it will only be compatible if the body type it was made for is based on the body type you use. Like Exnem's body armors are compatible with HGEC for example since they both use the same UV maps. Only the shape will be slightly different. But BAB for example will not be compatible with skin showing armors made for HGEC.
  • Armors that show skin and were made for the vanilla body are compatible with any body mod, but you might get gaps where the armor connects to pieces from your body type (like HGEC hands and a vanilla type cuirass).
  • In Oblivion your body comes with your clothes, and while wearing Vanilla items you technically have a Vanilla body mesh underneath. Vanilla body meshes use their own texture for every body slot, while meshes from body mods such as Robert's Male or Female only use one for all slots. That's why Vanilla bodies will still use Vanilla textures (if present) and thus the texture you see changes, as your body changes, when you equip a Vanilla item without having its NIF file replaced beforehand.
    This becomes especially bothersome with Custom races, as those often don't have textures for all 4 Vanilla body parts and as such Vanilla body meshes will show Imperial skin textures or just plain purple. By using the proper Stock Clothing And Armor Replacers fitting your body mods there will be no such issues. [Thanks to DrakeTheDragon on NexusMods for this tip.]

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Body Types

Different body types exist because their authors felt that not only vanilla but also the other body mods then available lacked something. Popularity of specific body types increases the number of clothing and armor mods available for it. Therefore it can help to understand the evolution of the most popular.

  • Exnem's 'Female Eye Candy' (EC) was probably the first highly popular body type other than the vanilla meshes.
  • 'Hentai Gentlemen's Eye Candy' (HGEC) expanded upon EC with additional variations in upper and lower body meshes. It has been the most popular body replacement base for clothing and armor mods for a long time.
    Both of these 'Eye Candy' versions of the female body type are aimed at more idealized rather than a realistic version of the body.
  • Robert's Male and Female bodies (Roberts) are a deliberate attempt to be a more 'natural' realistic approach, that is reasonably compatible with vanilla clothing and armor.
  • 'The Girl Next Door' (TGND) is an HGEC compatible body that incorporates the look of Robert's Female, a deliberate blend of the two. It is more petite; smaller all around than vanilla, Roberts or HGEC C-Cup.
  • 'The Ultimate (later Team) Fantasy Figure' (UFF/TFF) is inspired by the artwork of Luis Royo and Frank Frazetta Fantasy Figures to produce a near photo realistic, voluptuous and life-like figure.
  • 'Double Melons and Round Ass' (DMRA) is another fantasy version based on HGEC emphasizing large upper body and large hip lower body combinations. It is quite popular with those looking for 'Better Bouncing Boob/Butt' (BBB/BB) animated clothing and armor mods.
  • 'The Biu Adventuress Body' (BAB) went the other direction, with a more slender, athletic body appealing more to the female gaming audience.

For illustration of the sort of differences between body types, here are some clothed comparison screenshots taken for a conversion of Roberts (left-most) to HGEC C, E and H cups, as well as DMRA (right-most) images. (The texture is screwy on the Roberts one, of course, but it lets you see the difference in proportions). There are frontal, side, back, and closeup side torso views, courtesy of Nephenee13 on the Bethsoft Forums.
Other body replacers should be considered 'custom' body types needing their own clothing/armor, unless they list specific compatibilities: like 'Modular Beautiful People', which has a large selection of custom races from many authors and supports HGEC, TFF, and Roberts bodies. Check the credit's section of the mod description if it is not otherwise apparent in the text.

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Faces are actually frozen animations laid over a base 'neutral expression' mesh, so they can animate various facial expressions. They are generated by the FaceGen engine, which is separate from the GameBryo engine, and consist of an interrelated set of files: the usual "dds", "", and ".nif", as well as ".egm", ".egt", and ".tri" files. (Please refer to the Glossary where these file types are explained.) Faces are associated with specific "headmesh" models for each race, although the same headmesh is commonly used for several racial body types. The faces of NPCs are handled more generically than those of your characters, and thus have less room for customization.

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Hair and Eyes

One thing to note if you're looking for extra long hair styles. There seems to be a limitation that prevents a hair mesh from both conforming to the head, and articulating with the skeleton. So long hair styles are generally made as articles of clothing - "wigs" - so that they can be weighted to the bones below the head, and not move like a helmet. Include "wig" in your searches and you'll get a lot more choices. [Thanks to "ghastley" on this Bethsoft Forum thread.]

Note that 'new' eye and hair packs are not listed, because they are essentially 'items' instead of texture replacements. Hair for instance is interchangeable with helmets, hoods, and hats. If you want hair that is unique to your character, a wig shop mod provides hairpieces that will only be worn by your character instead of other NPCs. Packs can be used by any actor races that access that mesh folder. Get a wig mod that also provides 'ears', as helmets cover the ears and normally don't display them. (Want a truly unique image? Place elf ears on your Argonian's wig of flowing locks.) Another option is the mod VipCxjs Hair Eye Extend System which allows changing hair/eyes for both characters and NPCs in-game by changing the model & texture paths used via OBSE scripts and a plugin. This is a mechanism only; other hair/eye mods are required to provide the resources. For those who just want a large selection to pick from, the CCC - Comprehensive Cosmetic Compilation - Room207 hair eyes compilation mod may prove sufficient. Please note this was last updated in Aug 2011 and the compiler has announced no further updates will be forthcoming. However, in common with many compilations it is VERY large, over 3GB when unpacked, and the 'v1.7 complete' file is split into a 3-part multi-part archive.

Recently (09 Jul 2014) r2d5 has created a merge of the Oblivion Character Overhaul (OCO) v2 "facial overhaul" and CCC "hair and eyes" packages, by hand, called Oblivion Character Overhaul v2 and Comprehensive Cosmetic Compilation Merge (OCOCCCM). Installation of both the other mods is required, but then the CCC ESP is deleted and OCO ESP is replaced with one from OCOCCCM. Given it's antecedents, this is a relatively modest (757KB) archive, considerably smaller than the massive CCC one. Credit is given to the original authors, and apparently both have given permission for their work to be used as resources.

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Face Color

Some of these mods require another called NPC Face Color Unlocker which will unlock all the facial color options in the Construction Set and enable them to actually appear properly in-game for all the default Oblivion NPCs. Please read all the documentation for this mod and the ones requiring it carefully, as it is not a simple texture replacement.

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Combining Components

It is common practice to mix several of these component files together from different mods to achieve a specific desired effect: body types (perhaps for a specific race) from one, skin textures from another, age maps from a third, and facial or body features such as scars and tattoos from yet another. The order in which they are installed, as well as whether only select files from a particular mod are used can be crucial

In general terms, you should work from 'broadest effect' to 'narrowest effect'. In practice you want to install in the following order:

  • body replacers affecting NPCs/races,
  • (optionally) a body type specific for your character,
  • universal skeleton replacer (if BBB/BB require one it must override default versions provided by other body mods),
  • skin textures,
  • age files,
  • face textures,
  • custom eyes and hair.

For the best match between head and body, you are really better off using textures from the same author as you will have the greatest likelihood of a close match. Next best are created specifically for the same base replacer mod. Failing that, match up the resolution of all the related components. See the Utilities page for tools to assist with that. There also exist "better seam" texture replacements to reduce the apparent "seam lines" between the extremities and specific body types, which are located in the Models section. Similarly there are "seam concealer" mods that cover the neckline seam with amulets and necklaces, or something else at the arms, feet, and upper and lower bodies, but are not listed on this site because they are considered items rather than texture replacements.

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Component Links

This section consists of separate page links for the following components that make up a character:

  • Bodies and Races: Body Replacers, Universal Skeletons, and Races
  • Eyes: Eye replacers (not new eye packs)
  • Faces: Facial textures
  • Models: Anything else pertaining to bodies, like high-res skin, age maps, beards, scars, tattoos, and different racial textures.

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