[an error occurred while processing this directive] SimPE - The Sims 2 Package Editor » Photo Studio Tutorial

Photo Studio Tutorial

by Deedee

Getting started

I am assuming you’ve got SimPE correctly installed, including the .Net Framework libraries from Microsoft.  All we’re going to cover in depth here is setting up and using the Photo Studio plugin itself.  To learn more about installing SimPE, see the FAQ.  To learn more about or get CEP, see the CEP Page.  To get .Net Framework (necessary to run SimPE) see the Microsoft download page.

If you have questions or problems using SimPE post at MTS2 in the Tools Forum to get help.  Lots of people there can help you out.

Configuring SimPE Options

You do need a \Downloads folder to operate Photo Studio, so if you haven’t downloaded anything yet, you’ll have to make that folder.  To learn how to create folders click here.  The correct default file path is:

C:\My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Downloads

If Photo Studio is grayed out on your menu, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got CEP installed and also configure your paths in Extra|Preferences to get it to work.  Click the Extra menu at the top of the program window and then click Preferences and System Folders screen will be showing, where you configure your paths for game, saved game folder and NVIDIA DDS, if you have that installed.

Extra | Options is where you configure your path folders.  Mind that you don’t browse all the way to your \Downloads folder out of habit as that is one sub folder too many.  Just browse to The Sims2 for the Savegame Folder.

If the default path shown in this picture doesn’t work for you, you may have to set it to a specific user account as in this example for a user named Jane:

C:\Documents and Settings\Jane\My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\

If you have NVIDIA DDS Utilities, you can include the path for them, but you will already have a high and low quality setting in Photo Studio, so this additional compression option is not required.

While you’re in preferences, you might click SimPE Settings and notice Auto Backup is checked.  This will create .bak files any time you save a package.  This is nice to have when you need it, but it’s also nice to turn off when it is no longer required, so you are given that choice here.

Preparing your artwork

The first thing I like to do is get my artwork ready and set aside.  You may want to use an image editing program to crop and resize before you get started, but the main thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that your painting will look best if you choose one of the basic shapes in the template selection: landscape, portrait or square.  It also helps if it’s resized to somewhat the size you’ll need within reason, which you can achieve with any image editing program.  If all you’ve got is MS Paint and don’t know how to use it, you can learn more here and it will do a fine job.

Also depending on which template base you choose, you may have to flip (mirror image) your artwork to avoid famous images or text wording coming out backwards.  This is not the case for all templates, but it may happen with the one you choose, so just be aware of it.  FYI: This flip in some templates is due to the Maxis code, not something SimPE is doing.

For the tutorial we’ll use Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh for our artwork.  Notice it’s a "mostly square" shape, so we’re going to choose a square shaped template for best results.  The artwork has not been resized exactly to the template measurements but it is roughly a useable size and Photo Studio will finish the resizing for us.

Right-click SAVE AS to get a copy of this for yourself.

You’ll notice the famous painting is flipped (backwards) for our purposes as we want it showing the right way around in the finished painting and the base template we’re choosing does flip.  I have mine sitting on my desktop so I can find it easily.

Creating your masterpieces

So you’re all configured, paths are set and artwork is at the ready… time to create!

Let’s begin.


Click Tools -> Objects Creation -> Photo Studio…

This loads up the Photo Studio dialog box and loads all the available templates from your SimPE/Data folder.

Step 1. Click the Open button to Browse to your artwork, in this case starrynight.jpg on your desktop.

Step 2. Find a similar shape painting base and click it to select it.  Similar size too if you’re aware of the sizes.

Step 3. Flip the picture if you’ve used this base before and know that it will do the picture backwards if you failed to save it backwards in your graphics program.  Some bases flip and others don’t so that’ll be a little trial and error.

Step 4. Click create and Photo Studio will create your new painting.

Note: If you do not see any portion of the Photo Studio Window, you may need to change your screen resolution or font sizes until you do see it.  72dpi works well, as do higher resolutions.

Go into the Picture Base drop down choice list and choose a square shape template such as the 128×128 pixel The Lone Daisy for a base.

You can even click the Preview checkbox to see how the texture image will look.  Now you’re ready to click create.  A dialog will popup and you’ll want to give your file a nice unique name such as your initials_objectnameDATE, for example:


And save it to your \Downloads folder.  After you’ve given your painting a unique name, sit back and watch while Photo Studio does the work for you.  In a few seconds, you will be left looking at the finished package file in SimPE of your new painting recolour.  You can close the program now and go test your new creation in the game!  If you want to see how it looks in SimPE Preview, click Material Override (MMAT) in the Resource Tree, then click Material Override on the right under file types.  Then in the Plugin View below, press the Preview button and you’ll see your finished painting.

Easy Sim Portraits

If you load a neighborhood file by clicking on the SimPE Menu Tools -> Neighborhood -> Neighborhood Browser and then open Photo Studio, you can click the SIMS tab and you’ll see all the sims that live in that neighborhood.  Simply choose any sim and a portrait of that sim will be created.

Finding your paintings in game

Mind that you’re doing recolours here, not stand-alone paintings.  So you’ll have to locate the main painting base that you chose and look for the recolour choices on it’s menu.  Sometimes they are pushed off your screen to the left, so do check for an arrow before assuming your recolour didn’t show up!  Click the base painting that you used and then let the mouse hover there while the menu opens up more to show the recolors underneath your choice.

NOTE: Since you’ve made a recolour you do not get a separate object that stands alone on the buy catalogue, so there is no need to write a description or get a GUID or any kind of "magic cookie".  What you have done is simply create another colour choice for an already existing object, so it will be nested in with that base in the buy mode catelog.


Making your own templates for Photo Studio

You can make as many extra templates as you wish for your Photo Studio. You can then use them personally or offer them on your website as downloads as long as you have permission if the mesh isn’t a Maxis base. Be sure to include instructions on their proper location so your downloaders don’t mistakingly put them in \Downloads as they go under Program Files\SimPE\Data.  Please note that you may need a certain knowledge of SimPE and recolouring in general to understand all these steps.

What you need
- SimPE 0.14a or above
- Color Enabler packages
- Painting Template Files

Let’s get started

1. Open SimPE and click on Tools -> Object Creation -> Object Workshop… when it’s finished loading start to type "In The Beginning" (Group = 0×7FAF6C4A) and you’ll see it will become loaded before you can finish typing it.  Please note: When you begin to type in the painting name INCLUDE the "quotation marks"!

2. Select "In The Beginning" and choose the "Clone Settings" radio button and uncheck the "Set Private Group ID" Checkbox.

3. SimPe will clone the File. Now select the Catalog Description in the left SimPe ListBox and then right-click Extract the Catalog Description File and save it to your desktop. Do not save the package file itself, as it was only needed to get the Catalog Description.

4. Open Object Workshop again and "In The Beginning" will already be chosen for you.

5. Select it again but this time make sure "Color Options" Tab is selected and that the "Make Color Extension package" is checked.  Click Start and save the File somewhere you can find it, like your desktop.

6. Add the previously extracted Catalog Description to the package and change the TGI Values to: Subtype=0xFFFFFFFF, Group=0xFFFFFFFF, Instance=0xFFFFFFFF

7. Import the Property Set file (EBCF3E27 - Property Set - FFFFFFFF-FFFFFFFF-FFFFFFFF.simpe.xml) available in the "Painting Template Files" at the start of this tutorial section.

8. Open the Texture Image that contains the Canvas of the Picture. Remove the 128-Bit Key from the Filename (the Filename is something like painting_blabla_00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000_txtr ― so remove the 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000 part) then hit Commit and after that Fix TGI.

9. Copy the Filename of the TXTR File (without the _txtr extension) open the Property Set and paste the value to the Texture Property.  Now hit Commit.

10. Open the Material Definition and change the stdMatBaseTextureName value and the File List link to the TXTR Filename you have just copied.

11. Remove the 128-Bit Key from the MATDs Filename and Description as well. Hit Commit and Fix TGI.  Copy the new MATD Filename (without the _txmt Part).

12. Open the Property Set again and past the copied Filename to the materialDescription Property and hit commit.

13. Open the MMAT File and paste the FileName value to the name Property and hit commit.

14. Open the Property Set again and make sure that materialOverride Property is set to match the Instance of the MMAT File.  You can see this in the Resource Information window.

15. Save the Package after scooting around and making sure all the name places to change the name have changed and now we have a basic Template File, but we do need to change the left, top, width and height Values on the Property Set to complete it.

Defining the Image Area

1. Select TXTR Image and Export the largest texture image.

2. Open the exported image in the graphics application of your choice and find out the coordinates of the Canvas. In this case the values are as follows:  left=AA, top=00, width=154, and height=100  These values are in HEX so you’ll have to convert from DEC.  SimPE includes a converter which is under the Tools Menu under Hex <-> DEC Converter which is very easy to use.

AA=170 pixels from the left is where the canvas value starts
00=zero pixels from the top is where the canvas value starts
154=340 pixels from the AA left start value is where the width value ends
100=256 pixels from the 00 top start value is where the height value ends

3. Open the Property Set and set the left, top, width and height Properties according to the above values for this particular canvas. Commit the Property Set and then click File -> Save on the main menu.

4. Close SimPE and copy your package to the SimPE\Data folder and change the extension from .package to .template

5. Next time you start SimPE Photo Studio, your new template will load with the rest of the available templates as a new "painting base" for your quick & easy painting making needs.

Have fun!