Sims 3 Picture Taking Tutorial: The Basics

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Picture Taking Tutorial: The Basics

This tutorial was written for those with little picture taking experience in The Sims 3. It is designed only to get you started. It also assumes that you know how to use various game features such as cheat codes.

Graphic editing programs are not needed to take decent pictures in The Sims 3. In fact, you don't even have to have access to graphics programs, and even if you do, you need to start with a good base picture. Hopefully this tutorial will get you started in the right direction.

Things You Will Need •

Pose Player - - This isn't 100% necessary for taking pictures of Sims, but it will make your life much easier. Poses can be found all over the web by doing a simple search for "Sims 3 Poses".

Buhudain's Invisible Lighting - there are two sets Set One Set Two Again, these are not necessary but they will help you control the light in your game.

Anti-glare lighting mod This is awesome for cutting down on direct glare from lamps and will help keep white objects from glowing when placed directly under lights. You still may have to dim the lights and change them to a custom colour (more on that late) in order to get rid of all the glare.


The invisible lights found in the buydebug section of your game. Filter for the Sims 3 Base Game and go under Misc. Objects. There are two sets, ceiling lights and wall lights.

Got everything you need? Let's get started.

Lighting Controlling the lighting in the game will help prevent shadows falling across your Sims, brighten a dark room where you can see what you are taking pictures of and add for interesting effects.

Too bright of lights can make everything look washed out, especially when using lighter colours and white, while too dark of lighting doesn't allow you to see what is going on.

The brightness of lights can be changed in game, this includes invisible lights. In build/buy mode right click on a light. You will get this menu:

Depending on the effect you want you will want to play with the intensity. Bright is always good for rooms where the walls and floors are dark colours. Normal will probably be the most used. Even with the Anti-Glare Lighting Mod you may find that there is a glow around objects. This photo was taken before that mod was released, but it illustrates the glare/glow that you can run into.

After much trial and error I discovered a custom colour you can use to prevent this without the Anti-Glare Mod. In your light menu click on 'set colour' then 'custom colour'. You will want to use this code (type it in without any spaces) 107,98,89.

Picture taken with the custom colour used on the lights:

This kitchen/dining area tends to glare and glow badly because of the amount of white used in it.

Let's look at how things look with the Anti-Glare Mod installed and using the custom code

Without the code:

With the code:

The second picture has softer light and appears white (actually off white with the Anti-Glare mod installed) without the blinding effect in the first picture. You also get slightly more shadow.

Light placement makes a difference in how things look. I use a combination of the invisible lights found in game and Buhudain's invisible ligths.

Invisible lights from the game are used on the ceiling to shine down on where my Sims are going to be and a wall light is being placed to reflect off the wall where it's not caught in the shadows. Floor lights from Buhudain are then placed and will later be manipulated to get the light that I want.

In these series of pictures you can see how moving the lights slightly can change how the shadows fall across the Sims.

Lighting isn't a precise science. Your props, where your Sims are in location to them, the colours used, the time of day in your game and other various factors your game will determine where lights need to be placed, how many, what kind and if the colour and brightness need change. You will have to experiment.

Poses & Set Up Candid shots can be fun and provide some great pictures but sometimes you need your Sims to do something specific. This is where the Pose Player comes into play. There are directions on how to use it on Mod the Sims on the download page and poses for just about anything can be found by

searching the web. Do not be afraid to use move objects on your Sims to place them where you want them in your picture.

Lighting is always harder to manipulate outside, so you may want to consider building a specific set inside a 12x12 room with a ceiling. It's easy enough to hide walls using plants, and backdrops. There have been some awesome CC backdrops made for picture taking.

Placement also changes the outcome of your picture. It's always tempting to take a photo straight on and centered. While this is acceptable and looks good you can get different effects by doing different things.

I actually took this picture while attempting to film a bit of machinima. I wanted them centered in the sunset for what I was filming. While this is a pretty cool picture, things can be made more interesting with a few changes.

Moving the camera or the Sims to one side or other of the picture changes the focal point and makes for more interesting pictures.

Tilting the camera can also give a picture a bit of interest. You do this buy using shift+A to move the picture clockwise or shift+D to move the image counter clockwise.

Check out this picture taken straight on and tilted to compare how it changes the look of the picture.

Two different effects taken from the same spot on the dance stage. All that happen was that the camera was moved and tilted.

Taking the Picture Now that we have discussed some of the basis, lets talk about taking the actual photo.

Since you are doing something static in game and not actually playing, you can max out your settings in the options without causing issues in your game. Just remember to put them back to what you need to play with based on your computer. The following will ensure the best quality picture possible.

Set the resolution as high as it will go.

Put all graphic settings on high

Put game on full screen mode. DO NOT use window mode, it will cut the pictures.

Make sure walls are up and rooms have ceiling tiles.


Use the cheat HideHeadlineEffects off to get rid of plumbobs and thought bubbles.


Use camera mode. This can be accessed with the Tab key.

Before going into camera mode position the screen roughly where you want it. When you enter camera mode it will zoom in. Use your arrow keys to zoom in and out to where you want your shot. Use your mouse wheel to fine tune things. This will also allow you to manipulate around walls and furniture. Be careful using the mouse wheel because you can easily distort the image and create a kind of fisheye effect. You can see somewhat how that can happen in this picture.

To take the picture use the C key on the keyboard.

Take several pictures from different angles and compare them later to see which looks better.

These techniques don't work just for photographing Sims, but for photographing anything in game.

Tilted scenery

Off center focal point

Set up for custom image for a download (lighting manipulation)

(Image by Peacemaker-IC)

It will take trial and error to get what you want but in no time you will be taking awesome pictures.

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