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Realistic Graphics Tutorial for Cities: Skylines

Replace the vanilla look of the game with stunning visuals

Edmond Herrera



Realistic Graphics Tutorial for Cities Skylines

Cities: Skylines is a city simulation game that is well-loved by fans of the genre. It incorporates new features to the gameplay that fit well into the city-building trope.

Another feature that contributed to its success is the addition of mods. Giving the players an avenue to improve the game is a generally welcomed feature.

This guide will give you the different mods needed to improve the game’s aesthetic experience.

Realistic Graphics Tutorial

The first step to improving the aesthetics of Cities: Skylines is at the game’s graphics settings. All quality settings should be set to the highest possible setting and to disable Anti Aliasing.

Realistic Graphics Tutorial
Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 1: Render It!

This mod allows you to adjust the lighting and texture setting in the game. This mod also allows you to edit post-processing effects and where you will re-enable anti aliasing.

The screenshots below are the settings that you need to copy to achieve the hyper-realistic models for your game.

Note that for the textures tab, the antialiasing is set to 8 across all textures.

Render It
Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Feel free to adjust these settings to fit your personal preferences and Computer performance. As long as the goal is to make your city look clear, bright, and crisp.

Mod 2: Relight

This mod allows you to fine-tune the color and lighting of your city.

These are the settings you will need to copy to achieve a realistic aesthetic. Note that you can always fine-tune it to set your preferences, as warmer temperatures will have a warmer climate.

Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 3: Theme Mixer 2

This mod allows for more flexibility over your themed textures but also affects your visual settings and  Look-Up Table.

The attached screenshots below are the recommended settings for this mod.

Theme Mixer 2
Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 4: Daylight Classic

This is a must-have mod to remove the orange glow from the vanilla game. To get the best results, make sure to turn everything off as shown below.

Daylight Classic
Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 5: Fog Controller

This is the best possible mod to adjust the Fog in the game. Here are the recommended settings for this mod, but you can always edit it to match your preferences.

Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 6:  Cubemap Replacer

This mod is to significantly improve the atmosphere in the game along with the skybox. This allows you to import images into your game that simulate realistic skies. A recommended setting for this is the cedar bridge skybox.

Cubemap Replacer
Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 7: AD Cloud Replacer

This recent mod can also improve your atmosphere in a way that it can add realistic clouds into your cities. Attached below are the recommended settings.

AD Cloud Replacer
Image Source: Gaseous Stranger

Mod 8: Play It!

To balance out all the performance slowing mods, you will need this mod to slow down the simulation speed which in turn, will save some frames for your game. It is recommended to set your game speed to 35x.

Play It

Model 9: Ultimate Level of Detail (ULOD)

This mod balances out the performance and visuals of the game by adjusting the LOD. If you have a lower-tier PC, you will need to adjust them lower.

Ultimate Level of Detail ULOD

Mod 10: Dynamic Resolution

This increases visual infidelity by augmenting the native resolution of the game to fit your monitor. If your PC is not as capable of running a high native resolution, you may want to set this lower.

Dynamic Resolution

Mod 11: ACME

To effectively capture your newly set visuals and graphics, you will be needing this mod.

This mod also has shadow control that will offer effective balance to visuals and performance.


These settings work best to avoid the flickering of the screen while capturing.

Mod 12: Cinematic Camera Extended

This mod works best with the ACME mod to create stunning cinematic shots using the built-in camera pathing tool.

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