Hopefully this is the right area to post this
but I was asked by a few kind folks to create a tutorial for editing Sims screenshots both on this forum and the Sims Amino. Kinda started doing screenshot edits about a year or so ago mainly for coloring/lighting practice to be used in drawings but really find it super enjoyable to do as a totally separate creative thing! I do both edits for Sims 3 and Sims 4 depending on what I'm feeling like working with any given day.
I used to have a Simblr with most of my edits on there but I've since taken it down (I also like forum formatting better than Tumblr r.i.p me). I've once again organized the thread under Spoiler tags to not overwhelm anyone with a boat load of pictures. There are 4 Steps and at the bottom under the "Other" header image will be before and afters of other edits I have done. Working on making the process .gifs again for a few if anyone is interested! They will be posted at the bottom of this with their corresponding preview thumbnails.
So without further a-do here's my best attempt at a tutorial on how I edit some of my screenshots.
Programs and Tools
◘ Adobe Lightroom
◘ Photoshop CS5/CS6 (any version is fine)
◘ Wacom Cintiq/Wacom Intous/Wacom Bamboo or any graphics tablet of your using is fine. If you do not have one a mouse will work just might take a bit longer.
◘ A playlist of your favorite tunesClip Studio Paint and SAI can work just as well however; I personally do not use these programs very much for screenshot editing
First thing I always do when creating screenshot edits is actually take separate sectioned shots and splice them into one. It allows you to work with higher resolution images and add more details/fix imperfections easier if need be during the editing process.
This isn't really a super needed step, just something I have a habit of doing now
Once you have your lovely Sim set up in a setting and/or pose you'd like to capture them in, start taking screenshots one section at a time. Like mentioned, this will allow you to work with higher resolution images and allow you to add more of the scenery, or your Sim, in the photo instead of being restricted. This is basically the same process as splicing together a .
After you have collected a few shots, you should have a few screenshots in your favorite Sims screenshot folder similar to this:
Here are the four separate screenshots taken of my Sim. I move the camera left, right, up, or down with the mouse (no strafing) and capture as much as I want. After grabbing as many shots as I might need I then bring all of them into Photoshop and start working on splicing them together.You can see all the other pieces of the soon to be giant screen shot on separate layers.
Resize this image in order to fit the other screenshots you have taken is to use the crop tool
. I usually do a rough estimate of what the full image size will be.
Easiest way to get the screenshots all together into one is to zoom in and turn the opacity settings in the layer window itself down to at least 50% or so. It'll make gauging if the separate images are lining up somewhat decent. You can ususally tell if they're off by a very blurred look to the image while one layer is set on a lower opacity such as this:
I use the arrow keys to help me line up the image as I find I sometimes have a more accurate result using these.
◘A helpful trick in the newer Photoshop versions is the hot key: Control+H for PC users or Command+H for Mac users. This will hide the extras such as the free transform highlight that pops up on the layer you're transforming/manipulating. This will help you even further with lining up the picture pieces without that distracting grey highlight in the way.
After getting everything lined up, your image should be somewhat smoother looking such as this example:
However; don't worry if some things are still a bit off looking because you can always blend and fix any small seams later on.
Once you're done splicing all of the separate shots together the finished results should resemble this:This might still look like a small image but it's currently at a resolution of around 2294x2014 pixels per inch.
After I have finished splicing together my screenshot, I then import it into Adobe Lightroom
(don't worry if you don't have it, you can do everything very similar in Photoshop). I always like to "fix" the lighting (especially for Sims 4) before diving heavily into the next step of editing.
I will be using this edit for an example.
This is the interface of Adobe Lightroom (ignore my terrible Preset names to the left. I use those when doing Photography). Only panel you really have to focus on for the most part is the panel to the right with all of your exposure, contrast, etc settings. Again, you can do this all in Photoshop, Lightroom just makes it easier but it's not really 100% needed. I usually play around with these settings during the beginning process of the edit:
You can find all of these settings in Photoshop under: Image --> Adjustments
After fiddling with the image's settings as listed above, the result turned out as this:
It's nothing overly drastic this is only to set a "base" for the edit and all of these settings will be revisited later.
After getting the full image's settings to how I like, I then decide if I want to add some depth of field. For this edit, I decided to blur out the background a bit using the Blur Tool
and then darken it slightly so my Sim would stand out a bit more against the darker background.
Now with most of the lighting prep done, it's time to move onto the next step....
So we finally made it to the meat of the process! This usually is the longest part of editing for me as I tend to try and clean up anything that might be clipping, oddly shaded, or just plain not detailed enough on my Sim as well as any seams from the screenshot splicing process that are visible.
I circled just a few of the problem areas on this edit to demonstrate:
After figuring out what areas need the most attention right away I start drawing or "painting" over the major problems. First problem I wanted to tackle was the really obvious polys on my Sim's hair and weird shading that was going on.Getting used to "painting" in Photoshop takes some time (I'm still struggling with it in a lot of areas) but we're not doing anything crazy with this edit.
I pick my favorite brush settings (usually a brush set at 40% flow and set to half hard and half soft). After getting the brush all set and ready, then I pick the darkest color (not full black) in the area I'm working in for the shadows.
A quick little start on getting the blending going and you can see I got rid of that pesky poly:
The Eyedropper Tool
will be your best friend! Use the hotkey Alt or Option (for Macs)
to instantly get the tool to pop up while you're working to help you blend colors easier. The smudge tool is also another option and I tend to use it in conjunction with the eyedropper method however, I find a lot of times it blends details in more than I'd like it to.
After fixing some of the shading to start off I start working on adding a bit more detail to my Sim's hair and fixing/blending some areas on his face.
A bit more editing done using the same brush settings. I've started adding some highlights to some areas of my Sim as I get ready to add a kind of "cinematic" lighting.
His goggles are also supposed to glow so in order to add that I picked a brush on the lowest Hardness setting and very low opacity set at 25%. Using the mouse, I then start to lightly add the base of the glow with a few clicks, layering on the color. After I've finished with the base glow, I then go into Blending Options
by right clicking on the layer that contains my newly made glow.
Here is the Blending Options window and the settings I used for the goggles:
Before I start on adding the rest of the lighting effects, here is what we have so far compared to what the raw screenshot from the game looked like before we started:
Back to the Image Adjustments!
Now that some of the tedious hand drawing/blending is out of the way, the image's Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, etc gets tweaked again with the newly added details.
A bit more of a blue-ish hue was added for the next part as well as some of the shadowed areas became darker while a few of the highlighted areas became brighter.
Now the most fun part (for me at least) digging through Google for new Brushes and lens flares to add to the edit! For the base of the blue light source to the left of the image, I found a nice to use. I had to adjust the color as it was not originally blue and used Photoshop's Hue/Saturation
option found under Image ---> Adjustments
The blending settings for the Light Leak layer are also set to this:
Next came some . Again it wasn't originally with a blue-ish hue so I had to once again use the Hue/Saturation
The lense dust's layer settings are as follows:
I also added some highlights similar to how I created the goggle glow. This time with a lower brush opacity setting (15%). Here is the highlight's Blending Options settings:
The smaller dust particles were created using off of DeviantART with the blending options shown above.
Here's what we have now in comparison to what we started with! I've added a bit more highlighting and added a some glow to the machine behind my Sim in the little porthole.
There's still one more step and that's a bit of a cinematic lens flare on his goggles and one last run through the Image Adjustments.
I jump back onto Google and find . I had to adjust the coloring once again to match the blue lighting going on. The lens flare's layer settings are as follows:
I also added a bit of Motion Blur
to the flare on my Sim's goggles which can be found under Filter ---> Blur ---> Motion Blur
Now that the majority of the hard work is done, it's one last run through the Image Adjustments or Lightroom to really blend everything in.
I put a light blue hue on the whole image then I also added a very slight Film Grain
which can be found under Filter ---> Noise ---> Add Noise
and changed the Exposure Offset
which can be found in Photoshop under Image ---> Adjustments ---> Exposure
to give the image a bit of a lighter look to it. After this, this edit was finished and the final product looks like this:
Here is also the before and after of the finished edit!
Hopefully this was of some degree of help! I've been working on this for a bit so my mind might have started to get a little fuzzy at times just let me know if something is not clear! I am not the best with explaining processes via text but I tried my best.
As mentioned above. Here are a few before and afters of other edits using the same method as the tutorial covered. Some I will be making .gifs for and I will upload them ASAP as those might be of some help for anyone who is interested.
Mac Plus before & after
Randal before & after
Thanks for reading and, again, let me know if anything needs clarification
.GIFs coming soon~