Scene Creation a Brief Summary

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Revision as of 19:30, 25 August 2012 by RicciNumbers (contribs)
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A tutorial to create great screenshots for your previews that will make all Simmers hit their download button before they know what ‘hit’ them.

Author: Fredbrenny

What makes you want to have and download that custom content you see here on the site? How are the featured items picked? It all has to do with the Wow-factor that has ‘download me’ written all over it.



In a few basic steps I will let you in on how to create a good catching screenshot and how to make a scene. How to stage a screenshot like for instance these:

After this tutorial you will be able to even add the WOW factor to EA’s rooms and sets.

Basic Rules

Indoor Screenshots

For indoor screenshots, use a real lot. One you actually like. This is not just for fun. I will explain later how to let the architecture of a room work for you. For now it is important because you need a closed off room for the best lighting options; a MUST for the Wow-factor. Just three walls set up is not going to do it for you.

Outdoor Screenshots

For outdoor shots you will need to pick a nice location, and don’t build a scene in a neighborhood you’re playing at the moment. You might want to bulldoze everything you feel is disturbing or distracting around that lot. If you have a lush forest setting in mind, prepare the town with trees surrounding the lot you are going to use. When you happen to take that screenshot in a room with a subtle view, you will at least see trees.
Choosing the right lot, the right location and the right surroundings is one thing… You’re almost set to start staging. Place the lot and run the game for a Sim-day. Where is the light coming from? What time of day has the best light? If you have to, rotate your lot  All set? Let’s start!

What you will need

  • Nice lot, with closed off rooms AND a ceiling.
  • The set you want to take pictures of (obviously), maybe 1 or 2 deco items, but NOT more. It is about the set, deco will be used to compliment the set, but will not be in the foreground.
  • The cheats: moveobjects on, freerealestate and motherlode
  • A Sim living in your lot.
  • Your computer with the (windowed mode) monitor options in game set to this:

Un-check Enable Object Hiding.
Have your Casting (CAST=Create A Style) Tool ready, using the color wheel (this is the middle option).

Choosing Patterns!

picking a pattern this ‘wild’ will distract and do your set no good

See what colors you can create with a wheel? You thought this would be easy? Who told you so? Making a mise-en-place (maybe mise-en-scene sounds better, and means as much as having everything handy for when you need it) is the best preparation you can get. And now I will tell you something about CC you will need, but are not showing off: Custom Made patterns.
If you don’t have an array of tiles, woods and carpets, paints and metal patterns in your game (custom made) I suggest you spend some more time finding some nice natural looking ones. We have some great pattern designers here at TSR . We will be using the patterns for the surroundings (floors, walls, ceilings, carpets). And while you’re at it, get Murano’s mirror floor tiles if you don’t have them already. (
These links (as you see here for Murano mirror Floors) you will NEED when you want to submit a scene to TSR at some point. All items you are using to show, need a link for the downloader where to get them. For now we won’t need them, but for the future, keep a list handy.
For this tutorial we are using a normal EA lot in a normal EA world: 250 Redwood Parkway, Sunset Valley.

Interior shots, showing your sets:

What is the first thing we notice in a designer/architectural magazine? Think about it for a sec… Look at a picture in one of those magazines and think again… It definitely caught your eye… so… it must have been the WOW-factor… OK, I will let you in on a secret: It is not the set itself, although THAT is exactly what we would like to ‘sell’ here. It is a combination of 5 major factors:

  • The light
  • The contrast
  • The depth
  • The architecture and surroundings room

1.The light



Let’s use some CASTing and re-arranging

Light is essential in every screen you take… Even outside. I use the lime light spotlight (for outdoor usage AND I use it indoor too.) the Iony ceiling spotlight and of course the normal ones you use in your set-up. Do me a favor… in live mode change the lights to Flame and Dim. This works best .... MOSTLY. In some cases you want the light to be bright or white, or whatever color.
It needs no explanation that you want to place the Lime Lights so that you won’t see them in your screenshot, to place them anywhere, you need the moveobjects on cheat. Placing them even UNDER the furniture might have a nice effect. In the after picture I would be not surprised if there was a spotlight just in front of the chair.
As in this picture (the AFTER shot) you will see what light does to your screenshot. That room back there is now well lit and adds to the screen, without having the emphasize on the room itself.
For the next examples I will use some CASTing on walls, floors and furniture… because, to be honest… that’s what every screen needs.

2.The depth



Depth is created by basically playing with the spotlights placed on the floor. In this case we want the foreground to be in the picture (so-to-speak). You don’t SEE the spotlights, because I don’t want you to, but they light up the front room, not the room in the back. It takes some playing around and experience to know right away where the light will do their work best. Don’t forget to turn them the right way.

3.The Contrast

Before-How important does this rug think he is? … really?

In between … needs more contrast


I think the word ‘balance’ describes contrast. Light tones, versus dark tones. Of course: with depth and lighting.
Screenshots can ONLY be taken in LIVE mode, with walls up and if so desired for a better view, in camera mode(hit the TAB key). You can zoom out in camera mode which will work really well in smaller rooms.
Be careful though; zooming out too far will make your screen shot look weird… out of balance and not in sync with the effect you are going for. Like this:

Don’t do this… Your name is not Sponge Bob, and you do not live in a pineapple on the bottom of the ocean.

4.The architecture & surroundings

The room is what it is… a room… WRONG
The architecture of a room will help you enhance your screenshot and the preview of your set. Even more important is the architecture of a room to stage a scene. I will write (at some point in another tutorial) about scenes, but first things first: Taking cool screenshots…
Why would you NOT let the architecture of this room do its work for you? The view is great, so is the light. The angle is not that good, and why did the builder have these small crummy windows when you can have a view of the entire Sunset Valley bay?


If your set contains a bed, a nightstand, picture, curtains, some deco pillows and a rug, this after shot has everything that you want your focus on. The open view to the bay is there, not drawing all the attention, but…. Giving the whole setting the Wow-Factor.

After … … letting the LIGHT flow in, and do some serious CASTing and some new furniture.

Before… with a ‘nice’ view of the backside of the hospital

After… letting the surroundings work for your set. Day and night.

Summing It Up

Using a room for your screens is easy. Making it look real… now, that’s a different story. To set it all up takes time… and patience. The more you go towards scene staging, the more patience you need. The thing about scenes, compared to just making a screenshot to show your set, asks for a bit of a director’s touch. In your head you need to imagine the ‘scene’… you are filming… staging. Right after you say “CUT”… the actor will step out of that scene, goes to the bathroom, or have a sip of water the caterer willingly provided for… and there you have it…. The SET

The next screens show you the room, with me taking advantage of the architecture of the lot, and the surroundings there.
Let’s have a look at the original setting….

Not something that makes you smile… now is it? It makes ME smile, but for different reasons.
I have a dining room set… a rustic one, and… a modern one. I know the rustic set needs a little bit different ambiance than the modern one. I want to take advantage of the architecture here. The corner set-up is nice. The light is good. Do I see an ocean out there?

same room, same spot… different feeling.
I thought that showing off the free for all lighthouse Sunset Valley provides us with, would be nice too! Just for kicks: Look at my set-up here, notice all the lime-lights???

OK… OK… You have a modern set-up, and like the lot and everything. It has everything. Lights, surroundings, architecture.
I need to spend at least another hour to make my modern set-up. Listen up…. This is NOT something you can JUST DO, unless you are Leonardo DaVinci, or some other Wonder Child.

Same room... Same same.
As you noticed, I placed the table a bit off grid, using the ALT key while placing it. Not too much, just so you can see everything a bit better.
I can use this EA setting with 3 walls.

or… use the architecture of THIS room.

I think I’m done talking. I had fun showing you some things here. Please TRY! That’s the best way to get a hang of things. An questions? Good! Not easy, right? What the heck was she talking about? …… RIGHT! It’s an art…. That’s what it is…. ONE thing: ‘You can’t rush art’.

Special Thanks

I want to thank Lulu265, Martoele, Majuchan, Wolfspryte, MrSimulator, BuffSumm, Flovv and Rennara for doing this pilot run with me to ensure I get all tips and hints across to you all. Thanks guys!!! You are the best students ever!

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