My name is _Likeawhisper_. I've been playing Minecraft for a while, mostly doing solo builds, but I have yet to try modding. I've watched countless videos of people doing builds and I noticed that their Minecraft looks very different from mine; their blocks look different, they have shadows and reflecting water and really nice clouds and sun, and everything overall looks so much cooler than my version.
I learned how to download and use texture packs, but aside from that I have no idea how I can make my Minecraft look pretty. Any help?
I apologize in advance if there are too many of these "Please Help" threads, and I am just an annoyance.
What you are looking for is called a "shader". There is one shader mod currently available, you can find it here. Depending on which Minecraft version you're running, you might need it or you might not. Please note that shaders are very resource intensive and if you don't have a very good graphics card you might not be able to run Minecraft with them very well. But try it first, you never know.
Download the recommended Forge version for Minecraft 1.7.10, doubleclick it (or open it with Java), and select your Minecraft directory. Click OK and wait. You can then startup Minecraft using the newly created profile called "forge" (or similar) in the Minecraft launcher. When started up, you should see that 3 mods are loaded (bottom left corner). Close Minecraft and download the shader mod from above (v2.3.31 Forge edition). Then navigate to the same folder where your resourcepacks folder is in, but instead open the mods folder (if it doesn't exist, create one). Put the shader mod in there. You should also install OptiFine the same way, you can find all the versions here (you want to download OptiFine 1.7.10 HD U C1). OptiFine is a mod to enhance Minecraft performance and if you experience poor performance with shaders you can fiddle with the options OptiFine provides.
Install Forge like explained above, but instead use the recommended 1.8 version. You can skip the whole shadermod installation, because the author of OptiFine integrated that in his mod. Download OptiFine 1.8.0 HD U F8 and just drag and drop it into your mods folder like explained above.
Forge is not yet available for Minecraft 1.8.8 but you can still use OptiFine to have shaders. Just download OptiFine 1.8.8 HD U F5 and doubleclick it (or open it with Java). Hit Install, wait, and you can then start Minecraft using the newly created "OptiFine" profile in your Minecraft launcher.
You might notice that there are no shaders active yet. That is because the shader mod, or Optifine if you use 1.8, only provides the framework for the so called shaderpacks. There are tons of them out there, each one looking differently and providing a different feel to Minecraft. I'll list some of my favorites below. Installing them is really easy. Just put the downloaded file in the shaderpacks folder which is located in the same directory as the resourcepacks and mods folders. Startup Minecraft, enter a world, and go into the options. In Minecraft 1.7.10 and 1.8 you should see a "Shaders..." button in that menu. In Minecraft 1.8.8 you have to go into the video settings to find it. Click it and you see all your installed shaderpacks. Click on one and you should see the effects at the right part of the screen. Don't worry about the options there, they can stay at their default values.
And that should be it, you now have a beautiful looking Minecraft. If you have any questions, please ask me and I hope that I was able to help you with this monstrosity of a post.
Some shaderpacks have different versions, for instance ultra, high, medium and low. Those define how much the shader affects, and how powerful the shader is. The lower, the more FPS. I can't really give any tips on that, you have to figure out the best version for you yourself.