The chaps over at HardOCP have published an interesting article on Tweaking Skyrim Image Quality. Here's a taster:
Now it's time to see everything all put together. We've taken all of the tweaks from the previous two pages and put them all in at once. In SkyrimPrefs.ini, we have set the following commands:
And in the Skyrim.ini file, we have added one simple line:
In doing so, we have added self-shadows to rocks, boulders, mountains, and trees. We have doubled the dynamic shadow map resolution and softened the shadow edges by a magnitude of about 10. We have also doubled draw distance for grass and increased object draw distance by 40%. Before we show what the game looks like now, we have to look at performance. After all, the best graphics in the world aren't worth much if you can't play it.
Tweaking Skyrim's INI files was an interesting experience. We scoured various web sites and gamer communities looking for all the information we could find in order to enhance our Skyrim gameplay experience. We tested a very large number of settings, and a lot of them just flat did nothing, or at least they didn't visibly improve our gaming experience. At the end of the day, we came up with a list of six lines to modify that gave us great results. By increasing shadow resolution and applying a more aggressive blur filter, we effectively removed the jagged, blocky appearance of up-close shadows, which looked just horrible before. We also added shadows to the landscape and allowed trees, which gave the landscape a more dynamic, vibrant atmosphere. Increasing the draw distance for grass and landscape objects decreased the amount and severity of grass, object, and object detail pop-in happening while we traveled around the province. Before we changed these settings, we felt the game looked just good. But after tweaking, the game looks more rich and detailed.