The Elder Scrolls

Grass Stripping “Research”

Content of the article: "Grass Stripping “Research”"

I've been doing some grass "research" and I've debunked the reason why "grass stripping" happens, but before I explain it I gotta first explain how grass renders in Skyrim incase someone doesn't know and they want to.

How Is Grass Rendered?

For the sake of simplicity and ease of understanding think of grass-rendering in Skyrim as painting. When you use the brush tool for landscape modeling in the Creation Kit you paint onto the landscape a texture—the ones you find in the data/textures/landscape folder. These textures can be found in the Creation Kit as their own objects called Landscape Textures. Grass has the potential to "pop-up" on a Landscape Texture that's been painted with if, and only if, a Grass object has been manually added to said Landscape Texture. That's how grass-rendering works in Skyrim.

Note: The potential for a Grass object to "pop-up" is determined by the iMinGrassSize value located in an .INI file and the density value found within its own object settings inside the Creation Kit.

Grass Stripping Cause

Please refer to this 'grass stripping' comparison image accordingly.

Why does understanding this matter? Well, because Grass objects render in the same positions ALL THE TIME. All Landscape Texture objects seem to have a "soft-cap" in the amount of "slots" that can "hold" a Grass object. Once it reaches this "soft-cap" (the means doesn't matter. I.e. a grass density of 255 with an iMinGrassSize=60 or a grass density of 90 with an iMinGrassSize of 20 achieve the same "soft-cap") things will look very similar no matter how much more you add/increase. I.e. adding more grass, or increasing the density of existing ones, will just require more resources and diminish performance for the same visual look. This "soft-cap" for Grass rendering on Landscape Textures causes the grass stripping phenomena … sort of.

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I say sort of because it's not exactly the REAL cause of grass stripping. Although grass will always render in columns—left-side of the image—once the "soft-cap" is reached, it's only noticeable if the grass texture is relatively heart shaped—narrow base, wide top. That's the "true" cause of grass stripping.

How To Hide Grass Striping?

Use grass textures that aren't so heart-shaped. Instead, use textures that have horizontal homogeneity—right-side of the above image. So, not like this … but like this. Also, use the Height (size) parameter wisely. Large grasses overlap with other smaller/larger neighboring ones on the column slots and tend to hide the gaps. Try not to overdo it with density—e.g. a value of 255—since you'll reach the "soft-cap" and it'll be a lot harder to hide. Study how Bethesda covered the vanilla landscape with their grasses for more details.

Upcoming Veydosebrom Regions Update

I'll be reviewing the regions for this issue and attempt to minimize it. That means I'll have to go back and edit the textures/meshes some more. With that said, the update will be delayed.


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