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Tips and Tricks with Screenshots

 
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:49 am    Post subject: Tips and Tricks with Screenshots Reply with quote

Screenshots are a great way to show off our lots, things we've made, even interesting little pics of things that happen. So we're offering some tips! Whether you're new at it, or you're an old hand, you might find something here that never even occured to you.

First things first - there's more than one way to take a screenshot of the game!

There's the in-game camera, which is handy but has some disadvantages. With it, you can choose the quality and size of the image you're taking. But even the best quality pictures it takes don't give a good, clear image. Another disadvantage is that if the game's been running for a long time, the camera may not actually save the shot, even though there's no indication that there's a problem. I've had the game mysteriously gobble up a number of images from right out of the albums.

External screenshot programs can offer better image quality and better dependability. Many of us use SimCamera from http://www.sims1.thesimsresource.com/programs/ (it's on page 8). It's free and can be used to take screenshots in or out of the game. Another option is Fraps, a free program that can take game screenshots and videos. You can find that here - http://www.fraps.com/

Lighting in the game doesn't work the same way as it does in real life -

In the game, when night time comes, everything turns darker. So far, so good - just like real life. If I turn on my (real life) living room lamp, the light from it will illuminate the couch and everything around it, so I can see them more clearly. But in the game, when that lamp turns on, nothing happens to the nearby furniture. It stays just as dark as if there was no light in the room at all.

To give the illusion of light, the game will make the nearby walls and floors glow. But it doesn't do a thing to bare ground or objects! So you can add light if you want to give that special effect in your screenshots, but no matter how much lighting you put in the area, the image still won't show the same level of detail as it would in a daytime shot.

Raeven explains how this works in a little section at the bottom of this how-to - http://www.woobsha.com/diy-makingalightsourcePC.html and shows an image to help us understand what's really happening when those lights come on. (That's where I learned this. Thanks, Raeven!) I highly recommend the trip - it'll make things that much clearer.

Tips for taking the best possible screenshots -

* You can toggle the buy/build mode grid on and off with the cheats grid off and grid on

* If you normally have the game's graphics set to low quality, you could always raise it while you take your screenshots.

* When you're not in Live mode, that annoying little 'Paused' message appears in red text at the top of the screen. If you're in the panel where you save the game or switch neighborhoods, that text will stay there. But if you go into Buy or Build mode, it'll disappear after a few seconds and won't be in the way of your great shot.

* Some screenshot programs let you choose what format to save those images in. A jpg is the lowest quality, which is fine for many purposes. It's also a format that forums can handle, since it usually saves to a much smaller size than a high quality type.

* If that little diamond hovering over your Sim's head is bothering you, there are ways to deal with that. If there's another controllable Sim on the lot, the easiest remedy is to switch over to the other so the plumbob will hover over that one's head instead. Sometimes, if the move_objects on cheat is enabled, you can grab that plumbob and move or delete it, but it can be pretty tricky to do, and it'll come back before long. You can try to position your Sim in a spot where something is covering it up, like the branches of a tree, or an archway (move the object over to the right spot, if need be). Another solution is to just edit it out of the picture later.
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Editing your screenshots -

One huge advantage of editing your images is that it cuts down on the file size. That saves on space wherever it's stored, whether it's on your hard drive, or uploaded to a forum, an album, or a site of your own. Don't forget that there are still a lot of us out here that use dear old dialup, and image files that are too big, or multiple images even when they're small, can really slow things down for us! It's not uncommon for images to just give up and stop loading for us altogether, which means we'd never get to see those nifty pics of yours! So as you read on, I hope you'll keep those things in mind.

Note - It isn't the dimensions of an image that's the problem. It's the file size. A huge image isn't necessarily a problem if it's a small file size. (Big thanks to Raeven for clarifying this one!)

Another advantage is that you can eliminate all the extra stuff that just distracts us from what you want us to see, so we don't have to play Where's Waldo in order to find that object or Sim that you're talking about.

Crop your image so the focus is where you want it to be, cut out the excess that distracts us from the overall coolness of that screenshot! If you want to show the lot you built, you can get rid of the game's blue frame and the bare-looking areas around the edges of the lot. If you're showing us a special object, a skin, or a funny thing your Sims did, then you can cut it down even smaller to showcase that.

Resizing after it's cropped can really help to cut down on the size of that file, and most images can be reduced in size without compromising the detail, even images of lots. If your image is too big, it can take too long to load, and people might become impatient and not wait around for it to finish.

Some graphics programs give you the option to optimize your image while saving, letting you specify the compression rate, which you can use to make that file size even smaller. If you use Photoshop, you can choose Save for Web, which does the same thing.

If you have a set of pictures that you want to show, you can do what a lot of people do; upload one image onto the forum, and provide a link to a photo album where you've uploaded the rest. Photobucket is a popular place to upload and store images. It's free and very easy to use, even if you've never done it before. http://photobucket.com/
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool Stuff you can do to your images -

* The cloning tool on your graphics program can be a big help in covering up something distracting (like a stray leg poking into your picture from the side, or that diamond-shaped plumbob dangling over your Sim's head). You just pick up a bit of the background texture with that tool, and cover up the offending distraction. If your graphics program doesn't have a clone tool, you can always use the good old copy and paste method. It's certainly not necessary to get that picky, but it's always an option if you want to go that far.

* After you've cropped and resized your image, you can add a caption, using the text tool. If you leave a frame of whitespace around your image, you can add the caption there to make it show up more clearly. Then you can 'autocrop' it to cut out the excess white frame.

* You can fudge your screenshots by pasting a section of another image into it. Add more Sims, a little landscaping, some objects, whatever you decide. Want Mrs. Crumplebottom to hover in disapproval while your Sims are home on their Cuddle Couch? Paste her in! Want to put something funny in a thought bubble to show what your Sim is thinking about? You can do that too! You can get some really interesting pics that way.


Last edited by annettebrks on Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

* Paste two or more small images onto a background - handy for before and after, or daytime and nighttime pics. Make a little cartoon where one Sim is announcing her new pregnancy to her hubby, and in the next shot, he's passed out on the floor! (See what I mean? This stuff can be a lot of fun!)

* Pose and move your Sims to get the picture you want (very handy for storytelling!). Get your Sim to start playing with the dollhouse, pause the game, and then move your Sim over to make it look like he's fiddling with something else altogether (you'll need to have the move_objects on cheat enabled). Have Grampa Sim start to practice the Parlor Game, then move him to make it look like he's telling Grandkid Sim a story about when he was young (Why, when I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles through 5 feet of snow to get to school, in my bare feet!)

Important Note - It's risky to leave the move_objects on cheat enabled while playing, because that makes it so easy to accidentally delete something you grabbed by mistake - like a portal or a mailbox! Reduce that risk by using it, then disabling it afterward with move_objects off.
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annettebrks
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although we really don't have a place for storytelling here, I thought I'd upload this, for the benefit of our members who might enjoy the hobby elsewhere. They're the blank thought bubbles that I used to make the images posted in this thread.
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