Creation Kit – On Faces

One thing Bethesda did remarkably well was diversifying Skyrim’s faces.  If during the opening sequence, the guards rounded up Ulfric and his Stormcloaks for an old fashioned police lineup, you would have little trouble distinguishing Ulfric from Ralof or Lokir from the Dragonborn.  Well, maybe you might.  Yet I do think there’s an obvious distinction between NPCs of similar size and race, such as Uthgerd and Mjoll.  And you certainly wouldn’t confuse a demure lady like Ysolda with a strong Nord woman like Olfina Gray-Mane.

Although it’s a stretch to say the faces are memorable, they definitely have a uniqueness when placed side by side.  It’s quite an accomplishment considering the number of NPCs in the game, although some of the results –  *cough* Benor *cough*  – almost make you wonder if they were adjusting the facial sliders at random.

Similarly, the goal was to make the faces in the mod unique, if only upon closer examination.   When I construct a face, I really only have two rules.

1.  Choose mouths, lips, and eyes you haven’t used before.
2.  Do not make them all purty.

The first is easy.  The second, not so much.  Still, it’s important to resist any inclination to make them attractive unless it’s an essential component of their character.  The key is diversity.  Trying to create a world of beautiful people will typical result in a world of clones, because it’s very easy to fall into a subconscious trap of making all the NPCs conform to your standards of beauty.

All that being said, it’s evident I have a problem with #2, but only with women.  Compare, for instance, the sliders on the following two images for Olivia Meronin and Hjoromir.

The slider on her nose is long and high, but many of Skyrim’s nose types tend to be flat.  Her eyes, jaw, and mouth are extremely balanced, and the mouth is actually adjusted to fit better with the contour of her face.  Ultimately, little about her facial features is adventurous, yet I had no problem giving her a fancy shmancy tattoo, cat eyes, and other affectations, so clearly this wasn’t the product of laziness.

Evidently, it seems with Olivia I was hesitant to shift the bars away from the center, despite the fact that appearance factors little into her character.  She’s essentially asexual.  I had no problem going to town on poor Hjoromir, however, whose facial settings look like a small child fiddling with a graphic equalizer.

So it’s an ongoing battle.  The point isn’t to make the NPCs ugly, but rather, to create variation.  And if there’s a few Benors in the bunch, I’ll live with the results.  Lately I have tried to make a stronger emphasis on screwing around with the sliders, especially with females.  After all, It’s better to have a  few neanderthals in the group than a lineup of the usual suspects.

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