Ok so i've had the Christmas period to get a feel of the game and the very first thing i did not like (at all) was how the picture for your empire race becomes the ONLY picture for all the various characters that work for you (Admirals, Science Officers etc). It's like your people are all clones of your leader!
Anyway this mod fixes that, the 'astradeus-graphics-mod-Characters-v1': http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3817158
However there are a few little issues you might want to adjust in that base mod, and keep in mind it mods the Human race only. 1. Your Empire Race picture and your Empire Leader picture will not be the same. 2. You might want to replace the default Distant Worlds Universe human race picture with one from the mod. 3. The names used for these new 500 odd chars might not display non-english accents properly in game.
So to fix these issues you can do this: for issue 1+2:
You can use the mods starting Human race portrait (a guy in a military space suit) [in the images>units>races folder] or pick one from the characters folder [in images>units>characters] you might prefer, and copy paste that in the images>units>races folder and rename it to race_4.png etc. You will also need to make the race_4a.png pic from this (add a 'background' etc).
That covers the graphical aspects you might want to think about.
Now go into the mods 'characters' folder (in 'characters', not in the 'image' path) and find the 'human.txt' file. This is just a text file and we are looking for all the lines that start with a '1' instead of a '?' mark.
That starting line '1' determines which character becomes your Empire Leader char. So if you want your Empire race picture AND your starting leader picture to match you have to find that picture and make sure it has the '1' and no others. e.g. 'Boris Muller' is usually my starting Leader after installing the mod and his line looks like this:
1,Boris Muller,1,Human (7).png,Human,?,?,?,?,?,?,?,?,0,0,0
where the first '1' indicates he will be a starting leader, and what picture represents him 'Human (7).png'.
By making sure we use the same picture in the Empires Race folder (images>units>races) AND have that pic in the Character folder (images>units>characters) AND have that character pic set up as the only one with a starting '1' in the 'human.txt' file (in the characters folder in the main directory), we can get the same pic for both the human Empire Race selection and the leader picture. For issue 3:
Edit the human.txt file (from the mod) and replace all the non-english language accent characters to avoid the '?' mark in a diamond character appearing in the character names in game.
This one mod (and a little work from myself) have greatly improved my enjoyment of the game. It is only for the Human race (but i always play them in these kind of games) sadly, but the mod gives some nice 'realism' to this part of the game.