There's a mod that's been making its way around the gaming scene lately that turns Skyrim into a cartoon. No, it doesn't make the game cel-shaded, it just removes most of the graphics features and gives the game a flat, yet highly saturated cartoon look.
The mod is currently in testing and imgur user UniqueUses [via Reddit] posted up an album showing the progress of the mod so far.
Basically UniqueUses strips all of the game's high-end assets down to nearly nothing, so that rocks, surfaces, buildings and objects only have a specular map for shadows and gouraud shading as opposed to having full textures and shadow maps on display.
The result is what you see in the image above or in the imgur album through the link. The objects have no normal mapping when it comes to textures, so they no longer look like they have ridges or indentations. With the modified saturation they appear brighter and more vibrant, so it gives Skyrim this fresh, cartoony look.
As you can see in the images through the album, however, the game still retains enough ambient occlusion and some environmental shadows to give the perception of depth and object density. A lot of people in the comment thread absolutely love the mod because they feel as if it looks like a cartoon.
And despite popular belief, this is not actually cel-shaded. The cel-shading technique usually involves flat contrasts in shadow maps so that there are less color or lighting grades for the shadows and it gives the game a cartoon look. This is usually coupled with a technique that outlines characters or objects, similar to games like Ubisoft's XIII or CyberConnect2's Dragon Ball Z titles.
In this particular case, it's just turning the graphics down as low as possible in Skyrim and then taking out the normal maps and replacing them with gouraud-friendly textures so it helps give the impression that the game looks like a cartoon.
In one of the comments, they link to another mod that's actually quite similar but only focuses on the low-quality aspects of Skyrim to increase the visual performance of the game. It's called the Ultra Low Graphics mod on Nexus.
The only drawback in this case is that, as noted on PC Gamer, the mod uses Boris Vorontsov's popular ENB series post-processing modification, so the ambient occlusion, bokeh depth of field and specular diffusion will likely kill your computer when running the mod if you're not using a high-end machine. According to the mod maker he stated...
[ENB]'s are very demanding. Turning off the ambient occlusion could make it at least break even with vanilla skyrim I imagine.
The mod is still being tested but it's receiving a lot of positive feedback so far. It's kind of funny that despite the game losing a lot of graphics fidelity with the mod it still requires a decent rig to run Skyrim.
Of course, by now anyone with a PC that they purchased within the last three or four years should be able to play Skyrim with this mod without too many problems.