Creating an armour for Fallout 4. Part 3

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This is the part 3 of the tutorial for creating an armour or outfit for Fallout 4. You can find the other parts of the tutorial here:

Create the textures and the normal maps in GIMP

This step is exactly the same than the one explained in the tutorial Creating a sword for Fallout because it doesn't matter the mesh you are working with: you will create the textures and normal maps following the same steps.

Normal map window
Saving the dds file - BC5 format
Editting the Red Channel in GIMP
Specular maps and RGB Channels

Next step is to paint the textures: to do this you can use a program like GIMP. You can immport the UV map image file you saved earlier into GIMP and use it as a pattern to paint the textures: this way you will know at any time what part of the sword you are painting.

Diffuse maps

Diffuse maps contain mainly the colours of your armour. Their name usually ends wuth the extension.

Once you've painted the armour textures save them as dds as this is the image format that the game requires. If the images don't have transparent parts you can save them with DTX1 compression. If they have transparency save them as DTX3 or DTX5. Make sure that the Generate mipmaps flag is marked when you save the textures.

Normal maps

Once you've painted the textures you'll have to create the normal maps that are the image files that will give your armour a sense of volume. You can create the normal map from the texture you've just painted, to do it this way just follow these steps:

  1. Select Colors -> Color to alpha and then select black or 000000 as the source colour.
  2. Select Filter -> Map -> Normalmap. A window will pop up like the one shown in the Normal map window picture.
    1. pressing 3d preview you will be able to see in another screen how the changes in the parameters give more or less deep to the normal map.
    2. select the Wrap flag and change the value of Height source to Alpha.
    3. select a filter (I usually select 3x3 but you can try different filters and see which one works better for you)
    4. modify the scale value to add more or less deep to the normal map (I usually set this to 3 or 4)
    5. Press the OK button and the image will show now a blueish look: this is the normal map. Save it with the same name than your texture file + the extension and choose the BC5 compression as shown in picture Saving the dds file - BC5 format. Make sure that the Generate mipmaps flag is selected when saving it.
Note: If your textures look too shiny in game and you want to make your textures less shiny:
  • make your textures a little darker: for example, don't paint white parts in white but in a light grey.
  • make the normal map a little more transparent: if you are generating them from the textures, you can try the following:
    • before generating the normal map, add a black layer to the texture and merge it with the texture using a % of opacity (like 50%, or 25%).
    • merge down the black layer onto your original texture and then generate the normal map.

Specular maps

Specular maps contain two kinds of information: reflection to the light and glossiness of the different parts of the armour. This information is stored in the RGB channels (see picture Specular maps and RGB Channels for an example of a specular map in Fallout 4)

  • Red Channel: stores the reflection to the light information. The darker the red channel is, the less reflective the armour, the lighter it is, the more reflective the armour. For metallic reflections, the red channel is very light, and for non-reflective materials like cloth, it is painted dark.
  • Green Channel: stores the glossiness information. The darker the green channel the less glossy is the material. It also stores information of how the material looks when wet. If your armour looks too shinny when wet (when it is raining), then it is probably because the green channel is too light.
  • Blue Channel: does nothing, so just paint it in white (it will look blue in GIMP).

In GIMP you can paint only one of the channels by selecting it and deselecting the rest of them as shown in picture Editting the Red Channel in GIMP.

When you are done painting the specular map save it with the same name than your texture file + the extension and choose the BC5 compression as shown in picture Saving the dds file - BC5 format. Make sure that the Generate mipmaps flag is selected when saving it.

BGSM Materials

BGSM materials
Material Editor

You can set the textures in the nif file of your armour as it was done for other Bethesda games like Skyrim (see Add textures in NifSkope for Skyrim, but that will only affect NifSkope and allow you to see the mesh texured in NifSkope but not in game.

Fallout 4 uses BGSM materials, that are a new type of file, that contain most of the information regarding to textures and shaders in game. You have to set the textures here if you want to see them in game. Armours and clothes use two bgsm mateials, the main one and another one for the wet effects as shown in picture BGSM materials. In the BSLighting Shaderproperty of each node of your armour mesh, you have to enter the path and name of the BGSM material your armour uses.

Until the GECK is realeased for Fallout 4, you can use ousnius' Material Editor to create new BGSM materials or edit existing ones. To create a new material it is easier to edit an existing one that is similar to the one you want to create (for example, if your armour has metallic parts, use the material of an armour that also has metallic parts as the material will have all the properties and shaders for metal), and then save it with a new name.

The Material Editor tool displays data in three tabs. At the top of the Material tab, enter the path and name of your texture files, as shown in picture Material Editor. If you want your texture to apply the texture to both sides of the mesh, activate the Double Sided checkbox on the General tab.

Add the armour to the game

Add the armour as a replacer of an existing armour

You can add the armour as a replacer of an existing one. For doing that you have to name your mesh like the one in game that you want to replace, and place it under the same folder where the vanilla mesh is. You can use jonwd7's B.A.E. - Bethesda Archive Extractor to look at the name of the nif files and folders used in game. For example, for making a replacer of the BOS Uniform for female characters:

  • place the nif file in the folder Data\Meshes\Armor\KnightUnderArmor\
  • rename your nif file to FBody.nif

Add the armour to the game as a new item

FO4Edit - Make a copy
FO4Edit - Armour Addon
FO4Edit - Armour
FO4Edit - Constructible Object

Until Bethesda releases the GECK for Fallout 4 you will need to use ElminsterAU's FO4Edit PreRelease Alpha to create the new esp file that will add your armour to the game.

First create a new armour addon. To do it the easiest thing is:

  • look for an existing armour addon in game, right click on it and select Copy as new record into ... from the pop up menu as shown in picture FO4Edit - Make a copy
  • click on Yes, I am absolutely sure on the next window
  • then enter a new ID for your armour addon on the next window and click on the OK button
  • then FO4Edit will ask you for the esp file where you want to store that copied item. As you don't have and esp file yet, select the <new file> option and then enter the name for your esp file (for example, MyArmour). Then FO4Edit will create a new esp file (MyArmour.esp in the example) that will contain the copied armour addon.

To save your progress, close FO4Edit and say OK to the next window that asks you if you want to save changes.

Then open again FO4Edit and load your new esp file (MyArmour.esp in the example).

  • Select the armour addon item in your esp file and look at its properties in the right side of the screen. You can change those properties by right clicking on each of them and selecting Edit from the menu.
  • Change any values you want.

Some useful parameters are (see picture FO4Edit - Armour Addon):

  • BOD2 - Biped Body Template: the selected objects in this list are the dismemberment parts that form your armour. For armour covering the body you usually will select 33-Body, 36-Torso, 37-Left Arm, 38-Right Arm, 39-Left Leg and 40-Right Leg.
  • DNAM - Data Weapon adjust: indicates how close to the armour will be displayed weapons when sheathed. Increase this value if weapons clip through the armour and decrease it if there is a gap between the armour and the weapon.
  • Male World model - MOD2 Model Filename: enter here the path and name of your armour nif file, for male characters when in 3rd person mode.
  • Female World model - MOD3 Model Filename: enter here the path and name of your armour nif file, for female characters when in 3rd person mode.
  • Male 1st Person - MOD4 Model Filename: enter here the path and name of your armour nif file, for male characters when in 1st person mode.
  • Female 1st Person - MOD5 Model Filename: enter here the path and name of your armour nif file, for female characters when in 1st person mode.

Once you've created the armour addon, create a new armour. Again, the easiest thing is copying an existing armour in game, following the same steps explained when copying an armour addon.

  • Select the armour you've just created with your own ID and modify the values you want on the right side of the screen.

Some useful parameters are (see picture FO4Edit - Armour):

  • FULL- Name: Enter here the name of your armour as it will be shown in game.
  • Male World model: the nif file containing the mesh that you have created and that will be shown when you throw the armour to the ground (you can leave the world model the original armour had).
  • BOD2 - Biped Body Template: the slot or slots used by your armour when equipped.
  • Keywords: the groups the armour belongs to. They can indicate if it is a piece of clothing, if it is moddable, the quality of the armour, etc.
  • Armatures MODL - Armature: the list of Armor Addons that will be equipped at the same time by your character when equipping the armour. Enter here the name and ID of the Armour addon of your armour.

To add the armour in the world:

  • As it is now, you can always have access to it via the ingame console.
  • You can add it, too as an item that can be crafted in a workstation:
    • To do that, in FO4Edit copy a Constructible Object (those are the recipees that tell the game what is to be created, with what ingredients and at what workstation)
    • In the FVPA - Components set the list of ingredients an thequantity of each of them that are required to create your armour.
    • In the CNAM - Created Object set value of the ID of your armour (the Armor object, not the Armor Addon).
    • In the BNAM - Workbench Keyword select at what type of workbench your object is to be created

Adjust the armour after testing it in game


Test your armour in game. Test it with your character in several poses: standing up, holding a weapon, walking, running, etc.

Most likely in some poses you will see parts of the body clipping through the armour, as shown in picture Clipping.

If this only happens in some unusual poses, like some added by mods, you can leave your armour as it is. But if this happens in usual poses in game you'll have to work a little more on your armour to eliminate this clipping effect.

Load your armour into Blender again and in the areas where the body clips through the armour try some of the following methods:

  • move the vertices out, separating them from the body. After doing this take a look at your armour's shape in those areas and, if it has deformed too much, move the surrounding vertices to fix the shape.
  • cut the parts of the body that are under the armour in those areas, if it is possible to cut them without leaving holes in parts that are not covered by the armour.
  • if you cannot fix the clipping issues with any of the two previous methods you will probably have to slightly modify the weights of those areas. Try different weights until you find out what works better.

Repeat the testing and fixing process until the armour works fine in game and you'll be done :)