Realistic Lighting Overhaul by The Realistic Lighting Team
Skyrim » Overhauls
Added: 25/01/2013 - 11:00AM
Updated: 03/12/2015 - 08:15AM

72,405 Endorsements Latest version

1,307,163 Unique D/Ls

2,154,131 Total D/Ls

4,979,000 Total Views

Uploaded by sydney666


Last updated at 8:15, 3 Dec 2015 Uploaded at 11:00, 25 Jan 2013

Mod of the Month for February 2013! Thank you!

Remember to Endorse if you like this mod. It will help keep us motivated.

New RLO Team!

Lately it seems a lot of the old team has left since Sydney has retired from modding due to illness.

The current team is now composed of;

Sydney666 : Has decided to quit modding again. Will still help when needed.
Daemonui : Project leader, General Modding, Weathers.
Deathneko : Currently unable to mod, will return soon.


Current Version:

4.0.8 change log/bug list can be found HERE.

Released Modules (as of 4.0.8):

  • Major Cities - Interiors (Fully Complete Module - 156 cells)
  • Major Cities - Exteriors (Fully Complete Module, overhauling city lighting for Markarth, Whiterun, Solitude, Riften, and Windhelm).
  • Realistic Lighting Overhaul - Minor Cities & Town Interiors (Currently does not include cell edits - imagespace modifier only)
  • Dawnguard Patch (Fully complete module).
  • Realistic Lighting Overhaul - Dungeons (Currently does not include cell edits - imagespace modifier only)
  • RLO - Adaptive Interiors Vanilla Weathers Patch. This is a compulsory file for people who use Vanilla weathers or mods that alter vanilla weathers (such as Legacy Weathers, URWL etc). If you do not use this, lighting will not work correctly indoors during day/night transitions and will have inconsistent brightness levels especially between clear and rainy weather. This feature should be directly implemented into COT.
  • Realistic Lighting Overhaul - Major City Interiors - No Homes. A version of RLO which has no cell edits for player homes to allow you to use house mods instead of RLO edits.
  • Realistic Lighting Overhaul - Major City Exteriors - No Guard Torches. With this guards in the 5 Major Cities wont use any torches during night.
  • Weathers. Edits the weather to be much more colourful and realistic.
  • New Optimzations! (see HERE)
Plans for 4.0.9: (No ETA, please do not ask.)
  • Dungeon Cell Edits
  • Minor Cities and Towns Cell Edits
Future Plans :
  • Minor Cities and Towns will be getting a facelift! A number of lighting edits to make travel outside feel more at home with RLO when strolling through any numbers of farms and towns.
  • Dungeons will also start to see some new light. Dungeon lighting will be looking more natural and getting rid of a lot of fake fog and glows, and lore lighting will be added so that more light sources will make sense!
  • Dragonborn DLC update.
  • Re-done Major City Interiors
Discontinued / Optional Items :
  • RLO for ELFX is discontinued in 4.0.7 and permission given to anamorfus to use it as his own imagespaces for ELFX. This has been done to allow ELFX to have it's own specially designed imagespaces rather than one designed for RLO slapped over it. It also helps both mods stay separate and not confuse users and the modders alike with conflicting issues or reports.
  • Legacy Weathers + future RLO 4.0 weathers to be discontinued permanently come 4.0.7. Legacy files have now been removed completely and replaced with our BETA weathers (until 4.0.8).
  • Due to the buggy nature of the Illuminated Spells plugin, this will now be an optional feature and a separate download. I would personally discontinue it, but some people out there DO like it regardless of bugs. I personally don't use it at all.
  • Occlusion Culling Performance Patch will become an independent mod by rgabriel15 and have a preset for RLO. Optimizations implemented directly into RLO will be unaffected. Thanks to all who BETA tested this feature for rgabriel15. The mod is now out and can be found HERE.
  • Optional File removed: Darker Dungeons and Interiors. Integrated and updated in Dungeons module.
Realistic Lighting Overhaul (RLO) is the fourth iteration of the popular lighting mod, Realistic Lighting without Post-Processing. It is a complete overhaul of the games lighting system and is the most comprehensive lighting mod available for Skyrim. The changes number in the thousands and cover many bases. The aim of this mod is to make the lighting as realistic as possible within the confines of the game engine. It makes the lighting more realistic without the use of screen shader injections or other post-processing. This means the changes made to this mod only utilize the game engine and changes are only made via the Creation Kit. So this means there will be no performance decrease at all, in fact, some people might even get an FPS boost from using this mod due to the removal of bloom which takes up considerable processing power from older machines. We are also optimizing RLO so that it may even run FASTER than vanilla Skyrim in some instances.
This mod does not aim to make the game fantasy like, or add lights for the purpose of it looking beautiful on screenshots. This is a hardcore realism mod, that should be used by people who want their game to have an increased immersion level. Sunlight will be realistic and not blue and places which are poorly lit WILL be dark. This mod adds a vast amount of ambient lighting, more shadow casting lights and bounced lighting. The lighting in RLO is very subtle and very balanced and many of its features can be missed if people are looking for a more "in your face" approach. This is why we only really tell you about a few features and the rest is up to you to experience.

If you want unrealistic fantasy lighting, I would recommend looking for other mods.

Realistic Lighting Overhaul does just that - it overhauls Skyrims lighting, and it aims to do it well. RLO comes with dozens of mods, all rolled into one, all custom made for the mod and all integrated for the best possible experience with the less amount of fuss.

This mod attempts to completely overhaul the lighting system but do everything within the limitations of the game engine, while not trying to go overboard and create annoyances for the user. Our main goal is compatibility, stability and providing an FPS friendly alternative to post processing, while also being ENB friendly.

The aim of this mod is to basically feel as though the Skyrim was ALWAYS released in this manner, and deliver lore friendly lighting which seamlessly integrates with the game, while fixing bugs for the end user - not creating them.

When completed RLO will have edited over 10,000 lights, edited lighting templates, fog settings, light placements, weather templates, bug fixes, imagespaces, saturation levels, eye adaptation, and a whole host more. Our biggest aim is to give this mod balanced lighting, with a strong focus on realistic ambient lighting without hindering game play.

Please find below a list of some of our mod features.

Realistic Lighting Overhaul is a highly tuned lighting mod that uses no scripts, no post processing (such as ENB's) and is highly optimized to run on older systems. In fact we run countless tests using fps counters, cpu and gpu usage/temperature tools. We optimize RLO cell by cell as we work on them to ensure that all users can experience our mod, even if that means spending a lot of time modding ensuring we get things right.

We manage to do this and still deliver one of the most realistic and beautiful lighting experiences on the Skryim Nexus. We do not fall back to using post processing or shader injectors to cut corners and deliver a game full of stuttering and lag. We manage to do all of this work within the confines of the engine and mesh limitations. We do our best to avoid flickering and try to keep game play even smoother than the vanilla game, as such intended by Bethesda. This is what makes RLO so technically staggering and time consuming to perfect. We pour countless hours into testing and optimizations and our documentation proves it.

As the cliche goes, a picture says a thousand words...

New Optimzations performance graph. (see HERE). This information was provided by a fan of the mod (alt3rn1ty), and holds no bias as it was not a test created in house, yet fans confirmed that our optimizations in edited cells worked.

Official RLO detailed log of how we go about optimizing the mod can be found HERE.(thanks to rgabriel15 for laying down the foundations).

This is an ambitious and time consuming feature that changes the emittance settings of all lights, windows and god rays of every interior/dungeon in the game. This allows for interiors to all have the region day/night cycle and weather effects, including thunder and lightning(where weather mods permit). We have gone a step further and introduced realistic lights where ambient lighting matches the exterior lighting and where the interior lighting drape interiors with REALISTIC and bright sunlight. One moment there will be realistic coloured sunlight inside the entire cell, and the next minute the sun will be down and only candles light the interiors.

This feature is 100% functional in version 4.0.7 (with a patch for Vanilla weathers + Mods that alter only vanilla weather) and will be 100% compatible with COT 3.0 with fixes directly implemented into Climates of Tamriel, thanks to a collaboration with the wonderful jjc71!

Quite simply, spells now cast light when equipped. It adds an added element of immersion and excitement to the game. Magic casters may actually find you when they equip their spells, or having a spell equipped could give your location away. If you are lost and don't have a torch or a light spell, then equip any magic spell for a glimmer of hope. Do not expect the light to be very bright however!

NOTE : Please use this esp at your own risk, because it may cause flickering or not always function correctly due to engine limitations. It will NOT break your game, but due to how the engine works, it could cause other lights to not function correctly. There is a reason why Bethesda did not implement this and basically all we do is allow people who aren't very fussy to experience this feature. I personally do not use this module because I find it's side effects irritating. This will become a separate downloadable module come 4.0.7 and will no longer be updated/supported.

CAUTION : This esp also causes FPS dips on some machines. The fps dips usually occur out in the wilderness or around many light sources. Projected FPS loss on lower spec machines could be 10-15 fps (at times), while on a top end video card + decent quad core CPU the fps drops are minimal. If you do not like this esp or it causes you fps dips, then feel free to disable it via your game options.

There are a few mods out there that try to fix the very intrusive eye adaptation in vanilla Skyrim. These mods tend to speed up the eye adaptation so fast that you literally never see its effects. However this is not realistic at all. In real life it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour for a human to adapt to drastic lighting conditions and in some instances even hours.

So instead of speeding this process up, we actually made it so the process is so slow and gradual that you may not notice it in game at all, because the gradual change is something you become accustomed to over the time period. This means that when you first walk into an interior from an exterior, your eyes may need to adjust to the darker interiors. Things may seem over contrasted and dim at first but after a few minutes of gaming, your character will naturally adjust to the new lighting without you even noticing. It is literally amazing that you are now better at seeing in the dark, yet it happened on what now seems a subconscious level - like real life.

There are dozens of mods released that fix all sorts of issues with dimming lights, mesh connection problems, shadow striping, lighting template fog issues, flickering and a whole host more. Every single esp in RLO is basically an Unofficial Lighting Patch. We fix issues that affect the lighting and also include the wonderful Particle Patch by Mindflux. This means you will no longer need shadow striping fixes, removed interior fog mods, mods that fix lighting placements, missing lights and so forth.

More stability, less bugs, more immersion, less hassles and less esp's to worry about.

RLO will also carry over many of the USKP fixes to ensure that RLO does not override any unofficial patches by Arthmoor.

As explained in the Unofficial Lighting Patch section, all the striping in the game has been fixed and we have also nearly tripled the amount of shadow casting lights in the game and set the shadow bias so this issue does not happen. If you do find any, please do report it - it is something very easy to miss, considering there are over 10,000 edited lights in the mod (and over 600 of them are shadow casters!).

The CPU/GPU throttling fog which is in the game can be a very bad eyesore and frustrating for people using Ambient Occlusion. It also adds a fake layer of grey to most interiors that takes away the natural beauty of the lighting and even hinder hunter type classes. We have now removed this from every interior in the game and will be present in every single esp we release.

Realistic Lighting Overhaul is basically compatible with nearly every mod out there because it is so modular in nature. You can virtually pick whatever module you want and use it with other mods as long as they are modular in nature also. This means this mod is compatible with the great CLimates of Tamriel weather mod, Frostfall, Minty's Lightning mod, all ENB's and much much more. You are not forced into using anything if you do not want to.

The mod is even compatible with Dynavision, Imaginator and other weather mods. In fact, our interiors will adapt to other weather mods if you should have the need to install our interiors with another weather mod. You will instantly see changes in brightness, saturation levels hue, all according to the weather mod installed!

RLO is very lore friendly and actually aims to improve the lore by adding a lot more immersion to the game, feeding off lore from previous games while using the assets available in Skyrim.

Currently a work in progress, Lore lighting will add more dead npc's, hundreds of texts to collect, named torches, offerings and candles at graveyards, statues with new lighting and much more. This adds more immersion to the game, especially at night and gives a reason to all those torches you find in dungeons or gives a story to those graves you see.

We will ensure that RLO stays lore friendly and keep to the Bethesda art style and we will add Lore Lighting to all our esp's to bolster the games lore, not change it.

Current 4.0.8 change log can be found HERE.

Here is some documentation to help come to grips with the mod.

Check your load order! It is VERY important. The correct load order can be found HERE.

A list of known issues can be found HERE.

The particle patch is constantly getting updated and thus cannot be placed directly into RLO at this stage.

The link for the particle patch is HERE.

Troubleshooting Steps :

  • If the game crashes on load, please make sure you have the update.esm in your game folder and checked when you start the game. If you do not, please PM me with where you got your game and we'll go from there.
  • If you still crash while launching the game, then you have a missing master. This will more than likely be caused by installing a DLC support file (such as Dawnguard) without having Dawnguard purchased and installed on your system. Disable any DLC patches you have selected, and this should fix your problem.
  • Read the Readme that came with the mod download.
  • Please read THIS. It will explain what cells have been edited thus far.
  • Please read the FAQ.
  • Load order is important. This mod should be loaded after all player homes, lighting mods but on select cases, weather mods loaded afterward.
  • Monitor Calibration Guide Please read it! It will help have the mod look it's best! This is a very important step before using any lighting mod and also helps determine the quality of your monitor.
  • Do not use any Climates of Tamriel interior modules with this mod. None at all.
  • If you install RLO and begin to get crashes while in exteriors, this is likely because your save is already "dirty" by previously uninstalled mods.
While donations are great, we are just happy that you enjoy the mod. Recently with my illness, donations have become the only source of income I have aside from my pension. Over 250 people have donated recently raising over $5000 for my family to help with my battle ahead. This was my goal and was reached within 4 weeks. I am thankful to you all for helping to achieving it and if you still want to continue donating to me, to help out my family I would still be grateful. If you want to donate to cancer research instead, please go to
I also suggest people try to get memberships with the Nexus to help this community live on.

To comply with site rules, an update/blog on my health status and plea for help can be found HERE.

A donation pop-up has been added to the file when you download or endorse. This is a Nexus file feature added by DarkOne and his team. Many thanks goes to the Nexus who help modders out for all the hard work they do. So thank you.


Tony (Sydney666)