Hello everyone, I’m Harry!
You may have seen some of my fan-made The Sims 4 renders on my twitter page @HazzaPlumbob , and I’m going to talk you through my process to make these awesome renders!
I’ve not been making renders for very long, and I’m still learning, but once you get started they’re really simple to make (if a little time consuming), they look professional, and -for me at least- they can be very addictive to make as well.
I’m now going to talk you through how to make your very own render, but if you prefer a visual guide, there will be a time-lapse video at the bottom of this post!
So let’s get started! First things first, you’ll need the following programs:
- The Sims 4 Base Game or CAS Demo (To take the screenshots)
- Sims 4 Studio (To extract your rig and any props)
- Blender (To pose the render)
- Photoshop or Gimp (To bring everything together and add any extra details)
Extracting your rig
Before you can start posing, you’re going to need to extract a rig of your Sim from S4S (Sims 4 Studio), a rig is basically a pose-able mesh of a Sim that you will use to create your custom render pose, it looks like a default naked Sim covered in little black dots (which are the bone joints) and these are used to pose each part of your Sim.
To extract your rig, open S4S and click the button called ‘Animation’ making sure the ‘Override’ option is ticked, then type the word ‘Trait’ into the search bar and this should bring up all the CAS trait animations which you’ll be replacing with your custom pose. You can select any of them, but I tend to go with the Active trait because it’s at the top of the list (As a side note, every age group uses different traits, those starting with a_CAS are for teen-elder, c_CAS for children, and p_CAS for toddlers), save the package file as whatever you’d like, but it’s always a good idea to put the name of the trait somewhere in there so you remember which trait activates the post e.g ‘Pose_Active.package’.
Next you’ll need to select which age group you want to make the pose for, there’s a drop down box and 4 options to choose from: Adult Male, Adult Female, Child, and Toddler. Once you’ve chosen, click ‘Create New’ and save under the same name you gave the package file ‘Pose_Active.blend’.
Creating the pose!
Now you have your rig, you can make your pose! This is the fun bit and it’s a good idea to just experiment and get a feel for the program, it can take a while to understand how all of the joints on the rig work, but to simplify, right click on a joint to select it, then press R for rotate followed by X,Y, or Z to rotate on a specific axis. Some parts like the eyes have multiple joints in one position, so you’ll need to right click a few times to cycle through the options (which are displayed as white text in the bottom left of the view box.) Again, it’s easier to try it out for yourself than it is for me to try and explain it, and you’ll soon get the hang of it!
If you want to have any props in your render, you’ll need to extract them from S4S in a similar way to how your got your rig. Open S4S and click on the ‘Object’ button (might take a while to load everything if it’s your first time) and now find the object you want from the search bar and save it, it doesn’t really matter what you call it as you’re not going to be using the package file at all, then you’ll see a preview screen with all the recolours of the object and a bunch of other details.
Find the tab that says ‘Meshes’ and then ‘Export Mesh’ as whatever you want to call it. Now go back to your pose in Blender and click ‘Shift + F1’ to import, find wherever you saved your exported mesh and open it, find the folder called ‘Object’ and then highlight all of the files called ‘S4studio_mesh_0,1,2,3…’ and press the enter/return key or click ‘Append from library’ in the top right.
Now you have your object, but most likely it will have an ugly white square underneath it (this I believe is the shadow, which you don’t really need), so just right click it and delete. Some objects use flat textures as part of their mesh which will also result in a white square, to correct this simply select the white squares, click on the ‘Materials’ tab, scroll down and make sure ‘Transparency’ is checked and change the Alpha and Specular values to 0.000, the object will go invisible but don’t worry, that’s normal, then click on the ‘Textures’ tab and scroll down to the ‘Influence’ menu and check the Alpha box. Now all the white squares should be gone and you can position your object.
Setting up for the render
Rendering is where it gets a little tricky, but bare with me here, first you’ll want to save your Blender file with all the props as a separate file, call it something like ‘Pose_Props.blend’, and then close it and re-open the original ‘Pose_Active.blend’ (or whatever you called it) and delete everything except the rig of your Sim. With the rig selected, press A to select all the joints and make sure the rig is aligned with the gold circle being roughly central (this is where your pose will appear in the CAS screen and you want it to be pretty much in the middle), now you want to set the keyframes for the CAS animation, make sure all the rig’s joints are still selected (highlighted blue) and in the timeline at the bottom of the screen click anywhere after 0 (I usually go with 2 frames in) and then press I and select ‘LocRot’ to set the keyframe, now select another frame (Anything past 200-300 so the pose animation plays for long enough to screenshot it, the bigger the number, the longer the animation will last) and now move the entire rig up a good 10-15 ft, then press I and ‘LocRot’ again to set the end keyframe.
You may be wondering why you need to move the rig, well I’ll explain, I do this because you can’t normally fit the entire pose in CAS unless you’re zoomed out all the way and this doesn’t give you a very high quality image, so the reason for moving the rig up like this is so you can be fully zoomed in CAS and the Sim will slowly move up the screen, allowing you to screenshot the entire pose from head to toe in great resolution!
Making the render
Ok, keyframes set, you can save the Blender file and exit.
Now open S4S back up and on the right-hand side should be a list of all your projects, click the one for your pose and now click on ‘Import’ and select the Blender file, then save and drag the .package file into your TS4 Mods folder: PC>Documents>EA>TheSims4>Mods and you’re ready to go!
It’ll also be helpful to have a plain background to screenshot against, I recommend Lumialoversims’ plain white background and you’ll need the blob_remover.package as well!
It’s worth noting that the pose will be reversed when shown in CAS, I’m not sure why this happens, but it’s nothing you can’t fix in Photoshop or Gimp later on!
Open The Sims 4, before you get started, you may want to slow the game speed down. You can do this by opening the cheat console with “Ctrl+Shift+C” and type in ‘cas.clockspeed 0.08’, this will slow the speed significantly and give you plenty of time to get the screenshots.
now you can orient your Sim into the position you want them and zoom in as close as you can get without cutting anything off, take as many screenshots as you think you’ll need, maybe 10-15, but don’t go mad with it because it’ll be harder to sort through.
Now back into Blender, open your other Blender save with all the props ‘Pose_Props.blend’ (or whatever you named it) and orient the view camera so everything is central, then press ‘Ctrl+Alt+Numpad 0) to set the camera, now it’s time to render! Open the Render Settings tab, make sure the resolution is at 100% and the screensize is big, and I mean big! Like 8000px by 5000px, the bigger it is the better the quality, also make sure the Alpha Mode is set to transparent, so your render has a transparent background and you don’t have to spend time cutting it out later.
Then to render, press ‘Fn+F12’ or click on Render>Render Image in the top toolbar, it will take a while, especially if you’re on an older machine, but you’ll get there, then once rendering is complete click ‘Fn+F3’ and save the image.
We’re almost there, now open up all of your CAS screenshots in Photoshop or Gimp and stitch them together (You’ll need some basic knowledge of how these image editors work) and quick select the background and delete, or painstakingly cut the Sim out by hand for cleaner edges, which is what I do, now you can open your rendered props and place those into the image, all that’s left is a bit of cutting out, rearranging, and shading and you’re done!
So I hope you’ve found this quick tutorial insightful, and I hope I explained myself well, but if you’re ever curious about how my renders are done, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at my Twitter @HazzaPlumbob and I’ll answer any questions you may have! As well, if anyone is inspired by this tutorial and creates their own renders, I’d love to see them!!
Thanks for reading!