updated October 10th, 2015

Maybe you've gotten sick of textures being really blurry when you smoosh your telescopically enhanced eyeballs against your computer monitor. Maybe you think that there's not enough bloom and god rays for that "cinematic feel" you want. Maybe you think that what a small city out on the open plains really needs is more trees. Maybe Skyrim's women just don't look enough like Barbie Dolls or that one crackwhore you fapped to on Xhamster a week ago. Whatever the case, you want graphics mods! Well we've piled through the piles of alleged 2k textures (which is, honestly, just somebody resizing the existing textures in GIMP and using a sharpen filter), found the least-bad ones, and put them all here for you to peruse, choose, and relentlessly abuse.
In this section, we will discuss:
-Texture Overhauls
-Nature Overhauls
-Lighting Overhauls
-Armor, Weapons, and Clothes
-Creatures and Clutter
-Food and Potions
-Lights and Magic
-Caves and Terrain
-City Textures

Before We Begin...

This is not the BEST guide to having the BEST looking game. This is just a LIST of mods that will make your game look better and not a step by step modding process. The guide can be confusing for beginners because of all of the textures, meshes, and in which order you install them. We recommend you fiddle around with some of these mods first to understand the basics. I̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶-̶d̶e̶p̶t̶h̶ ̶g̶u̶i̶d̶e̶s̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶g̶r̶a̶p̶h̶i̶c̶s̶,̶ ̶c̶h̶e̶c̶k̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶K̶n̶o̶t̶s̶'̶ ̶S̶k̶y̶r̶i̶m̶ ̶g̶u̶i̶d̶e̶,̶ ̶S̶T̶E̶P̶,̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶T̶e̶x̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶b̶i̶n̶e̶r̶.̶  Actually nevermind, those guides have not been updated in YEARS. So don't even look at them anymore.
If you read the Essentials guide (as you should have) it says that you should get an ENB. If you haven't gotten an ENB or read the ENB page, you should do that now before moving on. 

Mods for NPCs and characters are located in the Waifu and Husbando guides and are NOT in this one.


This might seem out of place, but we also recommend you to check out Hodilton's channel. He showcases many mods and ENBs. but what seperates him from every other person who does this is that his rig is AMAZING and it shows in his videos. He has one of the BEST looking modded Skyrim games out there and his videos will help find you new mods and give you inspiration to make your game look as good as his!

Texture Overhauls

These mods are MASSIVE texture packs that hold many refurbished, redone, and even reimagined textures. They can range from the smallest of things like a cup to the largest of landscapes like a castle wall! Here we have listed the best overhauls to start off with. You can customize and switch between textures to find the best looking one's that fit your taste. Don't forget that these are just general texture packs. There are smaller one's that sometimes look better than the overhaul's but don't have a lot included since the packs are only for a specific item or area. If you want the BEST results don't use the official 2k textures by Bethesda.

Skyrim Ultra HD Pack

A fairly new and a fairly big clusterfuck of a texture overhaul. This mod adds new textures to a bunch of weird and random things. Tiny pieces of clutter like mushrooms are retextured as well as armor pieces like the chitin armor set from the Dragonborn DLC. There is no coherent pattern here and the textures are all over the place. They all look good and well made nonetheless.

Skyrim HD - 2k Textures

One of the biggest texture overhauls out there. This retextures everything from grass to buildings and ups the size of each texture to 2k resolution.

Serious HD Retexture Skyrim

A big texture pack like Skyrim HD, only this one focuses more on terrain....and Riften for some reason.
These are non-specific collections of mods that you can use to customize your game. You can interchange these textures to make the game the way you want it to. Now for even better looking textures, you gonna have to get some specific overhauls that work on one or two aspects of the game itself.


Also known as Static Mesh Improvement Mod. This mod remakes many of the games objects to have a higher polygon count thus making the objects smoother and less pointy. This mod is recommended for people who even don't have a strong rig. The mesh replacement alone makes your game look much better. This also includes the No Stretching fixes for mesh fixes so you don't need that mod anymore.

Bethesda Performance Textures

If your looking for some textures that look better than vanilla but won't make your crappy computer implode, then try out these. The Bethesda Peformance textures are edits of the Official HD pack released by Bethesda themselves. These however have been tailored for those who don't have a lot of VRAM to spare. Many of the new textures have new color tints, new contrast, and have been resized for best performance and best looks in-game.

Realistic Water 2

A graphical water overhaul. Not only does it make water look better, this mod changes some of the game cells and adds new types of water! So now still ponds, rivers, and ocean water won't all look the same. This also comes in plenty of different quality options depending on how well you can run the mod!

Real Ice - All in one

Overhauls all the ice textures in the game. This also comes with multiple packages to customize your ice whether you like it realistic or fantasy like crystals.


One of the biggest and most exstensive overhauls out there! The AmidianBorn series is a collection of textures for armor and weapons, but has recently been update with some architecture and creature retextures. The Book Of Silence has many of the files but sometimes Cabal doesn't update it everytime he releases something new. Check out his mod page for other armors and updates! Always check the original texture's page for updates before Book of Silence.

Bellyaches Animal and Creature Pack

Retexture pack for almost every animal in Skyrim. There are many variants you can choose and customize with.

Watercolor for ENB

This is just a simple plugin to change the color of the water making the Sunscattering effect of ENBseries more visible. The sunscattering effect simulates the waves of the water being illumiated when the sun is behind them. The effect will be most visible around dawn/dusk when the sun is low. Looks best with parallax and displacement! Works alongside with Realistic Water 2.

Enhanced Blood

Blood was always meh in Elder Scrolls games, but this mod fixes that. Enhanced Blood adds new HD blood textures as well as new variants. So now if you're hit with a sword, you get a cut shaped blood splatter. Blood also drips out more and spreads across the floor where a dead body is.

Dragon Overhaul

Skyrim Realistic Texture Overhaul dragons makes dragons ridiculously high detailed. It comes in a 4k and the insane 8k resolutions. Not recommended for weak computers.

Langleys Textures Workshop

Just a bunch of random textures for everything. Use this to fill in empty gaps.

Quality Snow 4k

Probably the best snow mod out there right now because not only is it seamless, it comes with snowtextures for everything so that all the snow will match and won't look out of place!

Skill Interface Re-Texture

Overhauls the skill interface with brand new textures and options. For some reason this got removed from the Nexus, so here's a mediafire link thanks to our friendly neighborhood anon!

Nature Overhauls

How your game's scenary looks is key to making the rest of your game. Sure you can have the best looking 8k textured armor, but it will look awful while your character is in an ugly looking forest. It's all about balance so that nothing sticks out too much.

Flora Overhaul

If you are using the basic edition for SFO, try out Detailed Terrain and Tree's. This greatly improves the LODs for BASIC EDITION ONLY.
A very grand visual overhaul of Skyrim's flora. This mod adds new textures as well as more variety in trees, plants, and grass which make the game feel less copy paste. There's a regular variant, a basic variant, and a summer variant. The basic variant removes all of the hand placed trees and plants and extra tree variants. The summer variant makes skyrim brighter with greener textures and removal of some autumn trees and yellow grass.
Also try out Trees HD for some alternative tree textures. Do NOT use the meshes this mod gives you since they are old. Use the Meshes from SFO.

Skyrim Bigger Trees

This environment mod hand picks and increases the size of trees in certain areas of the game to feel a lot bigger and more fantasy like. The trees are REALLY BIG and numerous, so this mod might not suite everyone.
Simply Bigger Trees is a nice and lighter alternative to Skyrim Bigger Trees. This mod just edits all the tree meshes to be bigger.

Realistic Aspen Trees

Adds more variants and colors for aspen trees. There is a compatiblity patch with SFO but only for regular edition. Basic Edition and Summer Edition DO NOT need the patch and work fine with just the base package
As for mods that edit grass, there are plenty of options. Try them all out and see which you like best! ONLY USE ONE

Unique Grasses

Adds new grass variants scatterd all over Skyrim. These can range from weeds to flowers and can even be on roads too!

Verdant Grass

Another grass plugin that adds a variety of simple looking grasses

Unbelieveable Grass Two

Like the other two mods, adds new grasses to the game. These grasses however, are more muted in colored.

Unique Grasses Plugin

A quick and dirty patch for Unique Grasses that adds the rest of the unused grasses that were in the files.

Lighting Overhauls

Lighting is a very important part of making anything look good. Here are the two most popular ways to overhauling interior and exterior lighting in Skyrim.

Enhanced Lights and FX

Also know as ELFX. This is still a running project, but it's one of the best interior lighting mods right now. It overhauls and edits may room cells and adds new light sources and make old one's feel more realistic with smoke and shadow casting. Many of the vanilla cells are almost done, and now the author is working on Dawnguard and Dragonborn lighting!
There's also a new performance patch if you're using both ELFX and SMIM.

Relighting Skyrim and Enhanced Lighting fo ENB

The other method of overhauling the lighting system in Skyrim is using a combination of these two mods, Relighting Skyrim and Enhanced Lighting for ENB. Relighting Skyrim fixes a lot of the game's interior and exterior light sources, while not going too overboard with the baked lighting like in ELFX. This mod is also lighter than ELFX since it doesn't replace meshes and just edits a few lighting scripts. So if you need performance, Relighting Skyrim is a good match for you. The other mod that goes along with it is ELE. Thought his mod also works well with ELFX, it works better with Relighting Skyrim. ELE optimizes lighting in interiors for ENBs and fixes the unnatural looking brightness in interiors when ENB is on. If you wish to use ELE, please look at its compatible mod list as well as it's specific load orders for maximum performance.


This section is for textures that were not included in the AmidianBorn pack or optinal textures if you don't like AmidianBorn and want to try something else.

Creatures and Clutter

Because everyone knows that every piece of random shit in this game needs to look like a masterpiece!

Food and Potions

Are you thirsty, or are you hungry? If you are, take a break from this guide and get a snack.

Realistic HD Mushrooms

Gives the mushroom ingrediants with fine new meshes and textures that make them look a little TOO good.

Unique Booze Bottles

Adds new bottles and designs for the alchol in Skyrim. Bottles will look different with their tint and with the new labels on them that actually say what brand they are.

SLOD - Potions and Poisons

Retextured potions and poisons that come in four different variants that you can mix and match with. This means that you can have a really ornate potion bottle and a gritty old bottle for poisons!

Retexture for Soup

Now the soup items in Skyrim actually look tasty now instead of chunks of poop!

Potion Replacer

A mod that replaces all vanilla potion bottles with brand new potion models with new textures to go along with them. The contents inside of the potions are also animated too! Incompatible with other potion replacer mods.

Real Herbs

Adds new textures for the hanging herbs and vegetables usually found in kitches and inns.

Retexture for Bread - Hearthfire

Adds new textures for bread and pastries from the Hearthfire DLC.

Lights and Magic

Lights and magic go hand in hand right guys? Right? RIGHT?!?!?!?!?

Deadly Spell Impacts

Spells leave nice looking craters wherever they hit. Ice looks like ice, fire makes burns, and shock spells can make colored craters! If you have any problems or freezes with this mod, check out the alternative ESP files and the low resolution textures.

Spell Tomes II

Adds new replacer models and textures for spell tomes. You can choose to have very thin and ornate books to big and worn out books.

Burn Freeze Shock Effects

This is a great mod for any mage. Now when you kill someone with a fire spell, there body will actually burn to a crisp. When you kill someone with frost, they'll freeze and have ice chunks will stick all over them. When you kill someone with a shock spell, thier body will turn dark and crispy from the shock and their dead body will sometimes fidget because of it!

Horizon of Dreams

If Skyrim had a shitty looking sky, then people would have dropped this game a long time ago. Fortunately, it did have a nice looking sky; but mods can make that and stars look better!

Realistic Clouds

Clouds look almost photorealistic and have more depth overall.
New textures for auroras that are more detailed a lot bigger that the original game's resolution.

Ethereal Auroras

Ultimate HD Fire Effects

BURN EVERYTHING. This also includes retextures for campfires and candles.

Real Clouds

This mod adds pseudo-volumetric clouds that move and cover the sky like real clouds would. Variations can differ between different allitudes and regions. A great mod to take screenshots with, but maybe not for playing because this mod can take a toll on performance.
New textures for the placeable magic runes for the vanilla spells and the new Dragonborn spells.

Enchantment Effect Replacer

This mod adds new textures for the enchantment effects on your weapons. There's a 2k resolution of the vanilla effect, random daedric letters effect, both of them at the same time, and an option to remove the effect entirely.

Magic Runes HD

Caves and Terrain

And rocks. I couldn't fit the rest in the title.

SkyFalls and SkyMills

More distance problems? Well this mod will also help. Waterfalls and windmills will still move even from a far distance so they won't look like frozen icicles.


An amazing cave retexture overhaul! This mod will litreally make every cave you walk into look like Luray Caverns!

Remove Interior Fog

Removes that stupid fog in interior cells like dungeons and houses. Now you can actually see what's ten feet in front of you!

HD Detailed Terrain

Tired of your game 2011 AAA title game looking like Banjo-Kazooie from a far distant? Get this mod, it shall fix your problem. This modification will replace the boring, low detail, blurry and mundane Vanilla distant landscape textures. They will be replaced by 924 brand new High resolution textures with new noise maps as well.

Detailing the Eldrich

New high-res textures for Riekling architecture. The huts look less like they were made out of plastic towels and more like fur this time!

Fences of Skyrim

Tired of those badly aliased fences that you find in farms and towns? Well this mod will fix that! Fences of Skyrim replaces those ugly vanilla fences with new ones that will not show jagged edges!

Hein84 - Vivid Landscapes

Hein has made many texture mods for Skyrim. Most of his work is focused on rocks. As seen in his mods, he has some of the best mountain, ruins, and rock textures you can get! We suggest you replace whatever you have right now and use these mods instead! They are all top notch and come in different resolutions for how well you can run these. Now in one convient pack to install and download.

High Definition Ivy

Makes the ivy growing on some trees and buildings look better with some new 2k resolution textures. It comes in two versions, one is more like the vanilla colors which is a bluegreen and the other is bright green.

Vanderer - Vandr Presents

Vanderer has made a strange area of different textures, all bumped up to 2k resolution. His ENB is okay but his textures are great. The falmer pod and spider nest are the best looking out there. The Imperial fort texture can be compared to Hein84's textures. The mudcrab texture is totally optional, but if you want a 2k mudcrab, I won't stop you.

Stunning Statues

A collection of statue retextures and meshes created by AnTiWoMaAgNoT. After months have having them individually packed mods, they are now all in one!

Better Thickets

Those little bush things look better now.

Road Textures

Probably the best road textures out right now. Each texture is at a 4k resolution and blends perfectly with the extra ground and dirt textures it provides to match with the roads. The snow roads are compatible with Quality Snow 4k, just remember to use the dark version.

Real Roads of Skyrim

Real Roads for Skyrim aims to bring life to the dull roads by using 3D meshes. So rocks aren't just painted onto the dirt now, they're actually bumping out of the ground even without parallax.

Dynamic Distant Objects LOD

Dynamic Distant Objects LOD (DynDOLOD) is a set of tools based on TES5Edit and TES5LODGen to automatically create a Skyrim mod based on the load order which adds distant LOD for objects to Skyrim. By combining DynDOLOD with TES5LODGen users can create drastically enhanced traditional static LOD plus tree LOD and a new, optional dynamic distant object LOD in a few 'simple' steps.

Dwemer Overhaul

Another pack from the Skyrim Realistic Texture Overhaul mods. This pack includes retextures for most things dwemer related like architecture, but it also adds new textures for dwemer enemies.

Parallax High Hrothgar

Adds new textures and meshes just for High Hrothgar, that place you rarely even go to.

City Textures

Textures for specific cities and holds.

Osmodius Solitude Textures

Adds new textures to Solitude which also supports Parallax maps.


Windhelm Textures

Adds new textures to Windhelm which also supports Parallax maps.

Granite Markarth and Dwemer Ruins

Better looking stone and rock texture for the city of Markarth. Also supports Parllax maps.


You asked for it, and you shall recieve it!

A Quality World Map

The go to mod for a great looking map overhaul. This mod adds new high quality map textures that show the roads more clearly while still adding more detail around them. DO NOT use the classic map textures. If you want a paper texture map, use Warburgs.

Hold Borders

This is a simple texture mod which adds visible borders to the various regions of Skyrim on the map. This also includes options for visible roads as well like A Quality World Map.

Warburgs 3D Paper World Map

Changes the map into a real paper map like in Oblivion. This also replaces the icons with paper themed ones.


Q: Why isn't this or that mod in the guide?
A: This guide was made specifically so that all or atleast most of the contents on this page will work together without any compatiblity issues unless notified on the mod page.
Q: Will you be adding more to these guides?
A: Of course!  We'll try to keep all the guides up to date and will notify everyone if something has changed or has been added on. We also accept submissions if the mod is good enough!
Next part of the guide!
Q: What happend to No Stretching?
A: The fixes are already included in SMIM. Use that instead of No Stretching so that the meshes don't conflict with eachother.