The Modeling Portal
Modeling is one of the ways to create custom graphics for Oblivion. Creating and editing models is done with a 3D model program, but some simple modification can also be done with NifSkope. NifSkope can also be used to view the stock models by extracting the BSA Files and opening the Nif files. A 3D model is covered by several texture maps that give the model color, and other properties. These are associated with the model in the Nif file and stored in the Textures directory.
Creature Meshes 101
While I still played Oblivion, I always wished for more creatures, more simple animal live for Oblivion, because, you see, the bears and slaughterfish and eight other animals don't seem to be quite enough to fill a world this large.
So I started out to follow CuteUnits call for more sealife, and tried to educate myself on the creation of new creatures for Oblivion. About 60 hours later, and endless gnawing on the tools, and howling with frustration, and much gnashing of teeth, and pestering people on the forum, I managed to get my first model into the game.
While I learned as much in such a short time as I haven't for years, I would rather have had a simple "click here, then there"-style-guide to follow, to get me started. This guide is meant as such a guide, designed to help you getting started.
Be warned though on two accounts, first: Learning all this is not easy, there are seldomly quick successes to be had. You need to take your time, play with things. Second: When you continue to explore the guts of NIF and meshes and materials, there's much trouble on your way. You need to be persistent. No tutorial can teach you this.
I'm of course standing on the shoulders of giants. Few things you find in here are actually my own.
That said, let's delve right in.
Things you can do