Tutorial #3: The Basics

In this tutorial, I’ll cover some of the basic operations that hexers have been doing for years, plus a few other simple adjustments we can now make to a mesh.

Hiding and unhiding ‘versatile’ mesh pieces.
Locate the NiNode you wish to hide or make visible. It might be immediately obvious in the list of Nodes. You might spot it straight off e.g. ‘horns’. It will have a child, usually but not always ‘NiTriShape EditableMesh’. In this case, right click on the child and select the ‘flags‘ option. The ‘hidden‘ checkbox sets visible or invisible. Don’t change the other settings.
There are several tricks to locating mesh pieces. First, if the part is visible and you want to make it vanish, click on the part in the preview. It will open up the node you want to hide.
If the part is currently invisible, select Render,show hidden. Numerous hidden parts, including the bounding box, weapon and bits of the bones will appear. However, you can now click on the invisible piece you wish to make visible and the treeview will open at the correct node.
Be aware that some mesh parts can be attached to bones. If they are invisible and you can’t spot them with ‘show hidden‘, you will have to open up the tree of bones to find them (sounds ominous).

Moving a mesh piece
This is a joy. Right click on the NiNode ‘mesh name’ or the child ‘NiTriShape’ (after all this time, I’m still not sure of the pros and cons of each. Help anyone?) and select Transform,Edit. A screen that allows you to edit seven of the ten values pops up. You can adjust x, y, and z co-ordinates; pitch, roll and yaw; and finally overall size of the mesh piece. You don’t seem to be able to adjust the individual x, y, and z scaling though, so keep a good hex editor or mesh tool handy for this. Best of all, as you make your adjustments, the effect is previewed in the view pane. The boxes are a little sensitive. Cutting and pasting values into the co-ordinates works well though.

Changing the texture name
Again, this is pretty straightforward. Click on the ‘body’ of the mesh. You should see a child node, NiTexturingProperty. Open this node. You will see one (or more) NiSourceTexture nodes with the name of the .tga to use. (Note that FF3R meshes reference .tga files here. It’s the game engine that seems to look for .dds by preference.) You can either double-click the texture name to edit/change it or click on the purple flower icon. This will open a selection box so you can just browse to the Nif. Note this selector inserts the full path to the texture if it is in a non-standard location. I haven’t tested the effect this has in game but it might be disappointing. Changing textures for other parts is similar. Just click on the specific part to open the parent of the NiTexturingProperty for the skin.