In the last couple of months, I developed a way to remove the neck seam completely without worrying that certain color slider combinations in the character creation menu mess something up. It's an extended upper body neck which is wrapped around the original neck like a socket (hence the name ). But in order to make it look seamless and smooth you need to manipulate the direction of the normals of the extended neck and a part of the area below, so that they have the same direction like the neck of the head.
I used Blender (version 2.49 and 2.79), Nifskope (version 1.0; yes, the old version is required), the normal manipulation tool Y.A.V.N.E. and a modified .obj export script. The next paragraph is about how I achieved this.
From the description of one of my uploaded images:
In my first attempt on the mesh seams I used the Seam Mender script (part of Room207's Blender Portable version), which works great with HGEC and RM, but the Vanilla body had some lighting issues around the mended neck seam. It's because of the normals of the Vanilla head and body showing in very different directions. I was able to change the direction of the body normals. If I want to export an head with custom normals I need to recreate .egm and .tri files of the head as the number of vertices is a different one after export; creating head .egm and .tri files from scratch is beyond my capabilities.So my workaround was making a modified version of the upperbody which has an extended and little wider neck which aligns with the neck of the head (I dupilcated head neck and joined it with the upperbody neck). In the next step I copied the head neck normals to extended upperbody neck normals with Y.A.V.N.E.. I couldn't get the newer Nif Scripts work with Blender 2.79 properly. That's why I exported the modified upperbody mesh as .obj via a custom .obj export script that keeps the edited normals. Export settings (for Nifskope); upperbody and arms must be exported separately: Y Forward, Z Up, Selection Only, Write Normals, Include UVs, Write Materials, Objects as OBJ Objects, Keep Vertex Order, Scale: 10. I noticed that only a very old version of Nifskope can import the .obj into the template .nif (a copy of the vanilla upperbody mesh) properly (the true normals patch of Room207's Blender Portable version only works with imported .nif files as I saw it in my experiments; or maybe I did something wrong). I copied the NiBinaryExtraData and the NiTexturingProperty from the original upperbody and arms NiTriShapes to the imported NiTriShapes. Then I deleted the original NiTriShapes, gave the imported ones the same names as the original ones and removed all bogus nodes (Spells > Optimize > Remove Bogus Nodes). Now this edited .nif was ready to import into Blender 2.49.I already imported the original upperbody and arms in Blender (they are needed for copying the weight painting). I joined and removed the double vertices. After I imported the modified upperbody mesh I made it parent to armature and copied the weight painting from joined upperbody/arms meshes to the imported meshes via Bone Weight Copy script (the imported mesh needs to be selected first, then the mesh which has the weight painting; in the bottom menu: Object > Scripts > Bone Weight Copy; Quality: 2 or more*; Update Selected > OK). Important: the imported meshes need to be parented to the armarture again, otherwise they won't display correctly in the game. So the meshes show up correctly after exporting but I forgot one thing: the upperbody with extended neck should have only one material and a texture which includes the upperbody and the duplicated head neck. So I went back to Blender 2.79, deleted the redundant material, adjusted the UVMap, made a matching upperbody texture and repeated all previous steps. I made the adjusted texture with a copy of the modified upperbody .blend which has an unaltered UV and the adjusted UV. I copied the head neck portion from the unaltered UV to the adjusted UV with Blender's clone brush (it's really a very useful tool ).* higher values = better quality but takes longer
Feel free to use this method with other body types like HGEC or Robert's Male Body (RM). At the moment, I plan to overhaul the Vanilla bodies only for now and I don't want to trash the work I did for HGEC/RM version of the Abyss Demon race using the older Seam Mender method (it works fine with these replacers but it still has the color slider issue I mentioned above).
Things I forgot to mention in my walkthrough:
- The head and upper body need the same lighting and glossiness settings in their material properties; differences in these settings cause the neck seam as well. That's the setting I use: white for the Ambient and Diffuse Color, black for the Specular and Emissive Color, Glossiness: 10
- When you are done with editing mend with Seam Mender the shoulder and wrist seams (options: "Vertex Normals" and "Match Selected Vertices Only") in both directions (e. g. upper body arms and then arms and upper body).
Update May 2021
I released the corresponding project files as a modders resource which you can download here.
Edited by Selene310187, 23 May 2021 - 03:14 PM.