Amazing Skyrim Photography by Jay Faircloth Will Leave You Breathless -- Here's How He Shoots It
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
Recently while browsing Skyrim Nexus (a massive Skyrim modding community site) I stumbled across The Goddess ENB Configuration, a lighting and visual effects mod that gives your game a more polished and ethereal vibe. While the mod itself is good, it was the images taken by the modder that really caught my eye. No, these aren't stills from a big-budget Elder Scrolls CG movie, these gorgeous landscapes and intense portraits are screenshots from one man's ultra pimped-out game. I've written about taking gorgeous Skyrim snapshots before (and the importance of using an ENB mod to do it), but Jay's work still completely blew me away when I came across it. Of course I had to track this talented person down on Flickr and sift through hundreds more amazing pictures... And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share?
Keep reading for more of Jay's jaw-dropping work, and details on some of the game modifications that make it possible!
Now, Jay takes some incredibly impressive landscape and still-life shots in Skyrim, but my favorites by far are the pictures he shoots of his avatars and companions. I've modded my game to hell and back, especially when it comes to the detail of the avatars, so when I noticed features in Jay's gorgeous portraits that I didn't recognize I had to nosily ask what mods were making these amazingly detailed characters possible. His answer was a little disappointing, but it impressed me even more.
It's a bit technical, but here's his full walkthrough:
"The skin textures are my custom work. They started off life as the XCE textures, but I've worked on the diffuse maps a lot since then. Gwynhyr's freckles are hand-painted, and her lips are a mix: I hand-painted the deeper red in the middle of the lips, which fades out to the coral color applied in the [character creator].
The normal maps are my own, and both characters use different sets via the Custom Race mod. They're made from bits and pieces of other sets mostly... vanilla HD normals as a base, with pieces blended in from Navetsea's and a couple of others that I don't really remember any more :-) Gwynhyr's muscular/athletic normals are actually partly from merging in the male normals (very subdued obviously) with a lot of hand tweaking.
Gwynhyr's eyes are from the Natural Eyes mod and also use Realistic Eye Lighting. The shape is not exactly possible with the vanilla [character creation] though: she uses a headmorph that has some of the tris from the Extended Character Generation mod... that's where the pronounced slant comes from."
What all that means is that while you can get close, Jay's character Gwynhyr will always be a unique, one-of-a-kind example of just how amazing Skyrim can look with a talented artist and modder behind the scenes. So like I said, it's a bit disappointing.... But damn impressive! Either way, you can bet that I'll be trying out his ENB configuration to achieve the lighting and effects demonstrated in his work.
Visit Jay's Flickr stream for more, and take this advice: you're really going to want to look at these pics full-sized.Tweet
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.