Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

449 ratings
How to use CRAP to make your city look great
By brendan.rnp
I don't have a background in design but I did read the non-designer's guide to design and learned how using contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity makes stuff look nice. In this guide I will show you how to apply some of those techniques to make your Cims proud to live in a pretty town
This is a shorter guide than my traffic guide, but hopefully you still find it helpful. You can find the original version with some older photos here.[]

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
Contrast means making different elements look different. Plainly put, things that are not the same should not look the same. In the example below, the curvy roads are 4 lane avenues and the straight roads are 6 lane or two lane. With the different streets having different lighting this creates a great contrast at night.

The chaos of nature always contrasts well with the order of cities, but you can contrast small with tall, dark with light, residential with commercial, and most importantly, contrast the unique from the usual.

Your city's landmark buildings are unique and you want them to stand out. Accent colors are colors that are used to emphasize a particular area or item in a picture or surrounding. A great way to make your landmarks pop is to use it's accent colors to make your landscaping decisions.

But you don't have to limit your color contrasting to landscaping.

Contrast generic and specialized industry with district specialization.

Use building themes or district styles to contrast residential from office, office from commercial.

Repetition means reusing the same elements throughout your city.


Repetition means reusing the same elements throughout your city.

Using Repetition

Repeating a pattern of zoning, or repeating a grid can create an order that is pleasing to the human eye, while at the same time, creating a colour base or pattern you can contrast with.

Alternating 1x1 plots of high density commercial with 1x1 office or low density commercial will create a contrasting repeating pattern.

Alignment means there is an order to your design. A straight road connecting key landmarks is an obvious example.

To great effect

But you can align to natural curves

And now you can align with the sunrise and sunset.

Align with History
When in doubt of what to align with, I'll align with history.

Learn more about the evolution of residential street pattern here.[]

Proximity means that things are related with one another – or they are not. The closer things are, the more they are related. The farther things are away from one another, the less they are related. On a city wide scale we see this with tall buildings bunched together in a downtown.

On a smaller scale it means grouping buildings and assets by type.

Proximity can organize how you use repetition and contrast. Repeating patterns of accented trees and flowers divide the different parts, but also provide the effect of tying the parts together as a whole airport.

The dark red buildings are closest to each other, but closer to the light red buildings than the tall white buildings. Repeating the same buildings also creates a contrasting effect.
karal the crazy Aug 27, 2023 @ 2:48pm 
yeah i am with arkilum my citys are always to much of a grid
Arkilum Dec 19, 2022 @ 1:17pm 
an interesting guide but completely in the wrong direction for me as I am trying to build my cities more messy and less rigid.
femtas Dec 2, 2022 @ 5:08pm 
Repetition means reusing the same elements throughout your city.
Repetition means reusing the same elements throughout your city.
PixelConglamorate (she/her) Mar 10, 2021 @ 6:52am 
For those interested, this guide is largely based on the Gestalt principles which are the foundation for modern design and explore the relationships between elements of visuals. This guide does a good job quickly pointing out a lot of these, but it's absolutely worthwhile to spend some extra time learning about them if you're interested, it gives you much finer control over making things look the way you want to.
AnarchistMetalhead May 27, 2019 @ 1:57pm 
great post, but i think there aren"t enough examples to show that repetition means reusing the same elements throughout your city.
SoulSaviour May 23, 2019 @ 8:13am 
Dude. Your shit is fucking tight.
Booty Hunter May 7, 2018 @ 1:32am 
Mossman180 Nov 29, 2017 @ 7:23pm 
I feel inspired.
Violetstorm Oct 24, 2017 @ 3:33am 
This looks amazing and all... but I honsetly have no idea how to even begin to build into any of these end-game cities. Where do I begin, what's most important, where are all the penguins, I have so many questions!
Br8d Apr 13, 2017 @ 7:42pm 
Lol...what the actual fuck? I like that this was trying to be helpful, but I have no idea how he did it and it looks more like an art gallery than anything. Especially considering the captions to the pictures. Please tell us what the hell you're doing and what we can do to make our cities look more pleasing to the eye!