VERY BIG Sims screenshot editing tutorial for beginners! (Photoshop)

This is big ok? XD

OK so I had a request for a basic tutorial to how I edit on photoshop so a few things to note before I start,

  1. I haven’t done any actual learning how to do PS stuff, so all of this stuff is how I personally do it and certainly there are easier/different/more ways to do all of this :P
  2. I use PS CS4
  3. Sorry if I do/write anything wrong xD
  4. Any more questions feel free to send me a message

So i’m going to cover these as I work through editing a picture.

  • Adjustments
  • Clone Tool
  • Dodge/Burn
  • Lighting
  • Painting Shadows
  • Other tips

It’ll show the basics plus a few more complicated things :)

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So this is the picture i’m using, it’s a basic screenshot with average lighting in game. All of this editing will vary per picture/lighting and scene, so keep that in mind.

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Most of the editing I do is based around Adjustments, it’s really worth exploring almost all of these. I personally edit straight onto my screenshots but the best thing to do if you want to keep things organized and editable is the use Adjustment layers, just provides more control over your edit.

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I usually work my way down the adjustments, starting with…

  • Brightness/Contrast - Remember not to add too much of either, you don’t want glow on the skin really.
  • Curves - Curves are great, gives real freedom to pay around with shadows/highlights/contrast. You can add multiple points to the line and I recommend playing around with what dragging the line in different ways does. By clicking where is says RGB you can also use curves on the main colour groups.
  • Exposure - BE CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE lol, I only move it around by the smallest of amounts because with sims pictures it effects them real quick. Exposure can bump up the light patches. Gamma can make your picture shadows more intense generally.
  • Vibrance - Here you can play around with the amount of saturation. As a general self rule I like to always bump up the vibrance if I decrease the saturation, so I don’t lose the intensity of colour contrast.

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Next I want to get rid of that annoying bit of black and for that i’m going to use the clone tool. Once selected hover slightly above the bit you want to get rid of and hold down ALT and select. This mean when you go over the black part it will paint what’s above it, so what’s painted is the area you’re cloning from. 

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Lighting effects is something I usually use, it means I can highlight where my light is coming from. 

You can play around with the colour/direction and intensity of the light. I’m going to make it too bright just to show something else :P

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You can fade almost anything you do which is very useful if you like what you want but it’s a bit too much etc. So i’m going to fade this lighting effect so it’s still there but not as bright.

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Dodge/Burn are important tools however, please use carefully! I see too many pictures that over use burn and it just…completely shows lol. I only use it to slightly define where the shadows are, but don’t use it to create full shadows as the tool only burns the colour there so it doesn’t always work to make shadows. Same with dodge. I’ve slightly burnt the right side, as I decided the light is coming from the left. Also, make sure the exposure is lowish (20% at the max for sims pics in my opinion)

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At this point I realised I wanted to adjust the colour slightly so I chose the Color Balance adjustment. This is great if you want to change the feel or temperature of a picture, or just wanted to get rid of some in game annoying light colours. Have a play around with it :P

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This is also something I should have done earlier. Sometimes a picture doesn’t need this but using it subtly can lift a picture. Use the unsharp mask (found in filter) on the base layer but don’t sharpen too much or you can see the ‘noise’ from sharpening. 

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This is how I draw my shadows, it is something that takes a little practice and also looking at how shadows fall on human faces. So make a new layer and name it something like ‘shadows’ then using the droplet tool select a darker colour from the skin of you sim. Select the paintbrush and paint a few dots at the main shadow points of the face (making sure your painting on the new layer). Then change the layer to Multiply and it should look like this. 

Extra tip - You might find using a graphics tablet if you have one makes this all easier but for most pictures I simply use my trackpad and you could use a mouse too. (I don’t have a mouse lol)

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I now select the smudge tool and smudge this dots until they are blended into the skin and you should now see these nice new shadows :) This is a more complicated part of this tutorial so bare in mind it may need practice and experimenting. Also use the eraser tool on a low opacity to get rid of any shadows that don’t work as well after painting and smudging them.

ALSO, remember where the light is coming from and how it falls!

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I decided the wall behind him needed a little shadow so he isn’t floating. That’s one big thing to remember, that what tends to make sims not look at realistic is the shadows, not only on them but around them. So experiment with where shadows would be if you placed your scene in the real world.

On a brand new layer I took a colour from the wall this time and painted it very roughly where I wanted it. Don’t worry if it goes over him as we’re on another layer. Now head to filter/blur and select Gaussian Blur and blur it to a level where you can’t see the edges but it isn’t too big.

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Following on from the last step now make this wall shadow not visible by clicking the eye at the left of the layer. Select the magnetic lasso, you may have to hold down on this symbol to get the magnetic version. Trace around the part which you shadow layer overlapped, the lasso will cling to the edges it senses. Once this is selected make the wall layer viable again and select it. Now press delete and the shadow that was over your sim will disappear so we have his lovely skin back yay. Once this is done press Cmd-D on mac (Think it’s ctrl-d on windows) to deselect and change the layer to multiply. Woo, wall shadow :D

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So if you want your picture black and white now is a good time. Flatten your image with the drop down menu on the layers tab. Then head to image/adjustments/Black&White. Here you can get a more dynamic black and white image as they can tend to look a little flat. Here you can increase and decrease the colour levels even though it’s black and white.

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So I decided not to have it black and white but while it’s been flattened I can do the final adjustments. I always go to the image tab and Auto Tone/Contrast and Colour as often PS knows just what extra thing your picture needs. However I do usually fade them as they can come out quite strong (Mainly the colour one)

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HISTORY!

Right, it can be confusing how you go back and get rid of what you’ve done. The history can be opened in the window tab, it’s very useful :P

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So here’s the final before and after! You can see from the steps that I haven’t done anything hugely complicated. Even using just one of the adjustments can really make a picture stand out. 

So in conclusion have fun! It’s all about experimenting and remember, every picture is different. Can’t wait to see what you guys do and any questions, message me! ^_^ 

- Nims x