Skyrim Graphics Overhaul
Realistic Lighting Mod: Many of you disliked the high levels of bloom in our original mod round-up post, but now that mods have had time to fully develop and realize their potential, we're given the option of allowing players to fully customize the coloring, allowing for more idiosyncracies. The "Realistic Lighting Mod" by Sydney666 adds a more powerful sun, vibrant sunset and sunrise skies, better ambience in dark locales, and makes nights very, very dark. You can adjust all settings if there's something you're unhappy with, which is probably the best part of the mod.
Realistic Colors and Real Nights: Didn't like the previous one? This mod, shortened as RCRN, adds HDR, better FXAA antialiasing, darker nights, more a more believable color swathe, better weather and lighting (which are dynamically rendered), and overall a better, more gruesome atmosphere. Do you like dark RPGs? This should do the trick. RCRN comes with multiple presets for easy installation and effortless configuration, packaged with a dark version, light version, and balanced mix.
Static Mesh Improvement: Noticed all the ugly UV wrapping and jagged meshes in Skyrim? Well, we did - as did the modder behind Static Mesh Improvement. Installing Brumbek's mod will solve general ugliness in Skyrim and help to smooth out the game's meshes.
Quality World Map: Let's face it: Skyrim's world map left a lot to be desired. It's bland, gray, and has limited angular pivoting. This "Quality World Map" mod for TESV gives full control of swivel and rotation of the world map, but more importantly, it maps all the roads (aside from some minor ones) and gives the map a better, more pastel-like color scheme.
Lighted Spell Effects: Simply titled "Spells Give Off Light," this mod is perfect for our magicians out there -- when equipped, spells will now radiate with light surrounding the mage's hands. Fire will now give off a warm glow, even in the icy tundra of Windhelm. I've become very fond of this mod for my roleplayed mage -- it adds a level of immersion that was not previously present.
Shadow Striping Fix: Shadow striping was pretty bad in the vanilla version of Skyrim, but with the help of dWillb, we have a fix for that! This one's pretty simple -- it smooths shadows and fixes lighting in player homes (and elsewhere) throughout Skyrim.
Lush Trees & Lush Grass: In conjunction, these two mods fill-out the vegetation in Skyrim to be a bit more natural and overgrown. The "Lush" mods enhance exploration and sightseeing in Skyrim by leaps-and-bounds, and also add yet another layer to roleplaying and immersion - especially for woodsmen.
The first link is the Lush Trees mod, the second is for better grass.
Skyrim Flora Overhaul: If the above two didn't cut it for you, the Flora Overhaul retextures forests with anywhere from 512x512 all the way up to 4096x4096 textures. You get new groundcover, bark, coloring, type, and even a shrubbery upgrade. Now you're ready for the Knights.
That's Ice: Morrowind's Bloodmoon subcontinent (island?) was outfitted properly to give off the feeling of a true, frozen, frontier, deadly wasteland. Skyrim should have felt the same - but something was just... off. That's Ice resolves some of these initial issues by something seemingly-simple: It overhauls the ice textures to look more like, well, actual ice.
Better Dynamic Snow: In tow with the That's Ice mod, "Better Dynamic Snow" details snow to have real textures, making it crisper and more, well, snow-like. This only applies to dynamic snow -- not all snow. For the unfamiliar, dynamic snow 'accumulates' in regions that have colder climates, generating a top layer (almost like a coat of paint) to the ground. Dynamic snow is randomly generated, so that means not all snowy regions will have it.
Skyrim HD: As we've noted a few times in previous posts, Skyrim HD remains one of the most-downloaded graphics mods to-date. Skyrim HD replaces 600 textures in the game with much larger, more detailed counterparts. According to the modder, the project is now over 200 hours of work.
ApachiiSkyhair: The Elder Scrolls games have never quite delivered with hair -- certainly, they offer hair styles that are fitting of the age, but there simply aren't enough of them for everyone. We all have different ideas of what we think looks good and what looks like it was run through a cheese grater, and for those of us that just can't play without dressing up first, there's ApachiiSkyhair. Skyhair adds 21 new hairstyles for male and female characters.
No More Blocky Faces: This mod's been around since the early days of Skyrim, but it's still an important part: As the mesh improver does for objects, this mod smooths out faces and makes them a bit less clunky.
Character Enhancer: Made by the very same modder that brought you the No More Blocky Faces upgrade, the Character Enhancer completely smooths out character models - from head to toe - and adds more detail overall to everything you see in both first- and third-person views.