Vanadium nitride (VN) and zirconium nitride (ZrN) films were prepared by an ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD) method. The substrate temperature (150, 300 and 500 °C), nitrogen ion beam energy (150-1000 eV) and incident angle (45 and 0°) were chosen as the processing variables. The ion sputtering/channeling effect and the energy input model can be used to explain the changes in preferred orientation of VN and ZrN. In VN we observed a change in preferred orientation from (111) to (200) at 300 °C growth temperature with normal incident ion-beam energy of higher than 350 V. For ZrN films, 750 V was required to reach similar conditions. We also observed an increase in (200) by increasing the substrate temperature of VN to 500 °C. An accelerated grain growth was formed, leading to a hillock-like surface topology in VN films grown at 500 °C with 45° incident ion beam at 500 V acceleration voltage. This might be caused by an ion beam-assisted surface diffusion process. VN films with a completely (111)-oriented texture have been grown and an ion sputtering/channeling model is still used to elucidate the result.