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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#1 Old 11th Jan 2011 at 10:47 PM Last edited by lauratje86 : 12th Jan 2011 at 7:36 PM.
Default Sims 2: Picture Taking Tutorial

Well, ummm, hi! *waves* I recently started posting Sims 2 pictures in the Pictures forums, and I had a look round for a tutorial or two, to see if I could get any new ideas for my sim picture taking. After reading through the tutorials posted there, I decided that it might be helpful if there was one tutorial that covered all the basics. So I’m writing it!

If there’s anything that you think I should include, anything that is unclear, or if you have any questions, feel free to ask! :-) Bear in mind that this tutorial is only for Sims 2 though – I don’t play the Sims 3, and have no idea how to take pictures in that game. But yes, any Sims 2 picture taking questions, ask away. If I can’t answer it, I’m sure someone else will be able to!

Oh, and incidentally, I don’t even remotely consider myself an expert! There are many people who post better pictures than me, but I figured I’d share what I know!

Screenshot Programmes – Or Not:

First off, you need to decide how you want to take your pictures. There are basically 3, 4 or 5 options, depending on whether or not you have the University EP and/or the Bon Voyage EP.

1. Firstly, you can take picture in-game by hitting the ‘C’ key on your keyboard. This works in Live mode, Buy mode and Build mode. The main advantage of this is that it is extremely simple, but the main disadvantage is that the pictures will be quite small and poor quality. Depending on what you want to use them for, though, this may not be a problem. This is the method that I use, combined with method 3, and very occasionally method 2.

2. This method requires the University EP. If your sim reaches a high enough level in the Artist career track, which is only open to sims with a college degree, then they get the “Luminous Pro Antique Camera” as their career reward. This camera allows them to take pictures in-game, and to add special effects such as vignette, lighting bloom, letterbox and film grain. Sims can choose whether to take portrait or landscape photographs, and other sims can pose for the photograph by clicking on the camera and selecting Pose….. [Whichever pose you want]……. When your sim has taken the photo (by lining up the green box and hitting ‘C’) you can either click on the camera in Live mode and select Sell….. to sell it, or you can remove it from the camera in Buy mode and hang it on a wall. See Image 2 for, well, a picture to help explain what I’m talking about! :-)

3. This option only works if you have Bon Voyage installed (I think). The Bon Voyage EP introduced the possibility for your sims to take pictures, or to ask other sims to take pictures of them. Either click on your active sim and choose Take Picture…., or click on another sim and ask them to Take My Picture….. This will bring up a little green box (see Image 1), and then you have to line it up so that the sim, thing or view that you want to photograph is inside that box and then hit the ‘C’ key on your keyboard.

Your sims can then order these pictures using the Order Photos…. interaction on any computer. They have a choice of ordering a snapshot or an album. When they have placed their order, a delivery person will drop them off at your sims’ house. Snapshots can be hung on the wall or placed on a surface, and albums can be kept on a table, desk or counter and then your sims can view the album – which also brings up a screen so that you can see the pictures.

Like method 1, pictures taken like this will be very small and poor quality, but a big advantage of this method is that your sims can order them in-game and hang them on their walls or have their own albums!

4. This method requires you to be able to run a graphics programme, like MS Paint, Painshop Pro, GIMP or Photoshop at the same time as you are playing the Sims 2. You will need to be able to access it whilst playing – either by using the tab key to switch between the game and the graphics programme or by playing in windowed mode. To take a picture, you make sure that sim, objects or view you want a picture of is on the screen, then hit the ‘Prnt Scrn’ (Print Screen) key on your keyboard. You then need to go into the graphics programme, and paste the image you just took into it, either by using the Edit - Paste option in the graphics programme or by hitting ‘Ctrl’ and ‘V’ at the same time. Then save your picture, using the Save option in the graphics programme.

This method allows you to take bigger, better quality pictures, but there are downsides – your sim will not be able to access the picture in-game as a snapshot or to put in an album, and you have to keep switching between the game and your graphics programme to save the images.

5. If you like the sound of method 4 but don’t like the idea of switching backwards and forwards between your game and the graphics programme each time you want to take a picture, then don’t worry! That’s where screenshot programmes come in. Screenshot software allows you to take pictures of your screen by hitting a key of your choice, which you set when you start up the screenshot programme, and it automatically saves it to the folder that you selected beforehand.

There are lots of different ones out there, including many free ones – I used to use FRAPS (http://www.fraps.com/), but it’s up to you which one you prefer. Try Googling “screenshot programmes” and see what you come up with! This method allows you to take larger, better quality pictures without having to switch in and out of the game all the time, but it doesn’t allow your sims to access the photos in-game. Also, you have to download some software to be able to do this, which may be a problem for some people.

Tab Mode:

Have you always had trouble getting your sims in the frame the way you wanted them? Wondered how other people manage to get such nice photos, with close-ups and shots from unusual angles? Chances are they were taking their pictures using the ‘Tab’ key. Want to give it a try? Hit the ‘Tab’ key on your keyboard (it’s normally near the top left, diagonally under the ‘1’ key). This will make the menu bar at the bottom of the screen disappear. Don’t worry! If you want to exit Tab mode, hit the ‘Tab’ key again and it will come back.

Whilst you are in Tab mode, you can move the “camera” around using the q, w, e, a, s and d keys on your keyboard. ‘Q’ and ‘E’ move it up and down, ‘W’ and ‘S’ zoom in and out and ‘A’ and ‘D’ move it left and right. You can also use the arrow keys to zoom in and out and move left and right. This allows you to line up the precise pictures that you want, and to take pictures from more unusual angles.

You can use Tab mode when taking pictures using any of the 5 methods I outlined above. If you are using it when taking a Bon Voyage snapshot, if you press ‘C’ twice when you take the picture without exiting Tab mode in between then the full-screen image will be the one used for the snapshot, rather than the image that was within the little green box. This can make it easier to take the photo you want! See Image 3 for an example of an image that I lined up in Tab mode and then took by pressing the ‘Prnt Scrn’ key (method 4). See how the blue menu bar isn’t there anymore?

Useful Cheats:

There are quite a few cheats that are useful when you are taking pictures in the Sims 2. First you need to open the in-game cheat window. You do this by pressing the ‘Shift’, ‘Ctrl’ and ‘C’ keys all at the same time. You can do this in Live, Buy or Build mode, it’s up to you. If you’re not sure what it should look like, have a look at Image 4 – it’s along the top of the screen. To enter cheats, you type them into the cheat window and then press ‘Enter’.

Here is a list of a few of the cheats that come in handy when taking Sims 2 pictures. The first phrase for each cheat shows how to turn the cheat on, the one in brackets shows how to turn it off when you’re done. Then I’ve given a brief explanation of what each one does.

Plumbbobtoggle off (plumbbobtoggle on) – turns off the plumbbob (the green/platinum thing above your sim’s head in Live mode) so that it doesn’t show up on pictures.

Showheadlines off (showheadlines on) – removes all the other things that appear over sims’ heads, like thought bubbles, speech bubbles, relationship +’s and –‘s. Unfortunately it also turns off all notifications for things like parties, skill points gained, phone calls and so on, so it’s worth turning it back on again when you’re done!

Move_objects on (move_objects off) – allows you to move objects in Buy/Build mode that you can’t normally pick up. The main one of interest is the sims themselves! It also allows you to move pets, as well as to place objects in places where they can’t normally go, for example on a slope or in water.

Boolprop snapobjectstogrid false (boolprop snapobjectstogrid true) – allows you to move objects in Buy/Build mode to anywhere rather than making everything be placed in a grid square. It (combined with the move_objects on cheat) allows you to move things, and sims, closer together than you could otherwise.

Boolprop allow45degreeangleofrotation true (boolprop allow45degreeangleofrotation false) – allows you to place objects on a diagonal. If combines with the move_objects on and boolprop snapobjectstogrid false cheats it can be used on sims and pets as well.

Boolprop controlpets on (boolprop controlpets off) – allows you to control sim pets (dogs and cats). You can make them interact with other pets, sims and objects, as well as make them sit, sleep, pounce etc. This may help you to set up group pictures or adorable photo opportunities!

There are a few more useful ones too, but I won’t go into detail about all of them here. If you’d like to learn about other cheats, check out the Sims 2 Wiki (http://www.simswiki.info/wiki.php?t...p:Sims_2_Cheats)

Candid Shots:

It’s quite possible that most, or all, of your pictures will be candid shots. By candid shots I mean pictures that are taken during normal game-play without posing your sims. An example could be taking pictures of the rings exchange during a sims’ wedding. Image 5 shows you some examples of unedited candid shots from my game.

Two of the hardest things about candid shots, at least in my opinion, are knowing what to take the picture of and when to take the picture! When I’m playing the Sims 2, I like to watch my sims performing different interactions, and thinking about which ones would make nice pictures. If you are interested, click the “Show Spoiler” button below for a list of some of my favourite interactions to take pictures of.

With a bit of practise you can get a good idea of which interactions and occurrences make for good shots, and before you know it you’ll be taking great candid shots! :-)

Bon Voyage Poses:

If you have the Bon Voyage expansion, you can pose your sims by using the Pose… option that came with this EP. To use it, make the sim walk to where you want them to pose, then click on the sim and select Pose…..[Whatever Pose You Want…..]. Make sure they’re facing the way you want them to be facing before you tell them to pose! If you want a sim to stand or sit next to them, you can click on the posing sim and select Stand Next To……[Whichever Option You Want….]. This gives you the choice of right, left, in front, front right, front left, behind, behind right and behind left. This enables you to stand two or more sims near to each other for a picture.

Bon Voyage poses are especially useful in places where you can’t use pose boxes because you can’t access the Buy/Build modes – namely unowned community lots (if you have Open For Business EP your sim can own a community lot, and then they can access the Buy and Build modes there) and vacation lots. See Image 6 for a picture that I took using Bon Voyage poses.

Using Pose Boxes:

Pose boxes are a little more complicated than using the Bon Voyage poses or taking candid shots. Basically, they are a type of custom content which allow you to pose your sims in poses that aren’t provided by the game.

First off, you need to download one or more pose boxes! Have a look on the Wiki (http://www.simswiki.info/wiki.php?t...ries,_and_Poses) or here on Garden of Shadows (http://gardenofshadows.digitalperve...hp?topic=1082.0) for lists of pose boxes; hopefully you can find some that you like! Download them and put the package files in your Downloads folder, the same way you would with any custom content (apart from sims and lots).

Now, you’ll need something to place your sims on to help place them closer together. Otherwise you may find that they won’t let you place them where you need them – this is especially the case if you are trying to place two or more sims close together. If you have Open For Business, you can download an invisible recolour of the Magisplay tray from here (http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=181208), if not you will need to download something called an OMSP, or One More Slot Package instead.

When you’ve put the pose box(es) and invisible Magisplay recolour in your game, load it up! Go to the household that you wish to take a picture of. If you look in Buy mode, you should be able to find the pose box(es) you downloaded (often in Hobbies… Creativity…. or Miscellaneous…., or Miscellaneous…. Miscellaneous….), and the Magisplay recolour (under Surfaces… Shelves….).

Place the pose box that you want to use on the lot, and go back to Live mode. Select the sim you wish to pose, and click on the pose box. Select the pose you wish to use (Note: It’s useful to keep images of all the poses for each box you have – I have a MS Word document where I keep all the details as I have about 50 boxes in my game!). Make sure you always follow any instructions given by the creator of the pose box – they know best!

Your sim should now be posing. If you want to place two posing sims close together, you will need to put one of them on a Magisplay tray, in Buy mode. Move them to the right place for the picture, then use the Recolour tool to make the tray invisible. Go back to Live mode to take the picture!

Important: Never save the game with a sim standing on a tray – always take them off it and delete the tray before saving. Also, if your sim(s) have children, never put all the teens/adults/elders who live on the lot on Magisplay trays at the same time, as the Social Worker will come and take their children! :-( You can avoid this by calling the Nanny if you really need to have all of the responsible sims on Magisplay trays for a picture. If the Nanny gets in the way, put her in a spare room and remove the door until you’re done! :-)

There are loads of different pose boxes, so there are loads of different options! I especially like couple’s pose boxes, as they allow my sim couples to pose together, rather than standing apart like they do if you use Bon Voyage poses. Have a look at Image 7 for some examples of pictures taken using pose boxes.

Of course it is also possible to combine candid shots, Bon Voyage poses and pose box poses in one picture. This can give you a huge variety of potential shots! :-) Have a look at Image 8 for some examples.

Location, Location, Location!

Location and lighting are really important for sims pictures, just as they are for real-life photos! If your picture has a nice background and good lighting it will look much better than if it’s poorly lit and there’s a crowded or unattractive background. However, a lot of this is subjective – what you like is what you like! Others may disagree with you, but it’s up to you! Personally, I prefer taking sims pictures outdoors, preferably with a nice garden/beach scene behind them. Of course, it depends on the circumstances of the picture – if something like an engagement happens indoors or at night, then it makes perfect sense to take pictures of it anyway! But certainly most of the weddings I take pictures for are in a garden, on a beach or at a pretty community lot of some kind, preferably with flowers or shrubs or a nice view behind the wedding arch! :-) If you really want some nice pictures, it’s worth setting up the lot nicely to make sure you get them! Also, be sure to make sure there’s nothing in the way – you don’t want to try and take pictures of your favourite sim’s wedding just to find that you can’t take photos of the ceremony because there is a tree in the way or because there isn’t enough space in the room if it’s held indoors…….

Basic Image Editing:

I don’t generally do much in the way of image editing when I take pictures in the Sims 2, but sometimes if I want to share them on the forums I will do a little bit.

Some of the easiest things to do are to crop pictures, add a border and/or to add text. I use MS Paint to do these things, but you can do them in any graphics programme. Have a look at Image 9 to see the process, and Image 10 to see the final image after I’ve cropped it, added a border and added text.

If you use a more advanced graphics programme like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP (which you can download for free here (http://www.gimp.org/)) you can try some more advanced editing. I won’t go into much detail here – have a look at tutorials for whichever graphics programme you use – I’m sure there’ll be loads of things you can try! I like making collages (see Image 11), and sometimes I sharpen images, add effects or change them to black & white or sepia to make them look old. A lot of people do even more with their pictures – but I’m not the right person to explain the really complicated stuff, that’s for sure! :-D

Basically, the possibilities are almost endless. If you bear a few points in mind, maybe use a few cheats, and above all get plenty of practise you’ll find that your Sims 2 pictures will just keep getting better and better!

Questions, suggestions, comments? Please post them here! Thanks for reading – I hope it’s been helpful! :-)
Test Subject
#2 Old 9th Apr 2011 at 6:22 AM
Hey pplz oh yea does anyone know how to take pics and stuff when a sim gets married or has there first kiss.
Test Subject
#3 Old 23rd Jun 2011 at 3:41 PM
Could you list where you got your poseboxes, and their names? Because I just got really into taking pictures, and I really love my couples and families. Do you know of any good couple/ family poseboxes?
Test Subject
#4 Old 13th Jul 2011 at 2:31 AM
Great tutorial! I'm actually not having too many problems with taking pictures, just with the displaying of said pictures in my Sims' houses. :-( Is there some way to make framed pictures smaller? I love that you can put pictures on a table or the wall, but you can only fit one. I have the OMSP's and either I'm doing it wrong, or that just doesn't work in this case. I'd love to have a small grouping of photos, like some of the buyable wall hangings, or smaller picture frames to go either on the wall or a table. If there's a mod for this I haven't been able to find it. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#5 Old 13th Jul 2011 at 10:15 PM
Macaylaluvsuguys - You can take pictures during the little cinematics that play during marriage ceremonies, first kisses and so on by using methods 4 or 5 from my tutorial. As far as I'm aware, there is no in game way to take pictures during the cinematics. If you do want an in-game picture of a sims first kiss or whatever, it is possible to turn the cinematics off. It's an option in one of the Options bits - think it's in Camera options, but I'm not sure!

Erin - I have a list somewhere on my computer, I think. Shall have a look for it and get back to you :-)

Flyingmouse77 - As far as I'm aware it should be possible to use OMSP's to display several pictures on a table. I haven't seen anything that makes the pictures smaller though, unfortunately, that would be helpful! If you have AL, I think it's possible to display 2 pictures on one bit of wall, one above the other. It's also possible to use the cheats move_objects on and boolprop snapobjectstogrid false to place pictures closer together on a wall, but I'm not really sure how to explain how to do it!
Lab Assistant
#6 Old 30th Aug 2011 at 8:45 PM
how did you add pictures to your tutorial. i am making one and need help!! btw very helpful tutorial
Test Subject
#7 Old 30th Sep 2011 at 2:32 AM
Thanks for the tutorial! Somehow I never realized there was a cheat to turn off plumb bobs and "headlines" so that was really useful. :D

Here's a silly picture I made of one of my families, using tips from this tut. I'll have to link because I'm not sure how big an image is too big. lol
Click to see it if you should like.

Still got a ways to go but this helped me so thanks again. :D
Lab Assistant
#8 Old 16th Dec 2011 at 10:58 PM
Hi im just wondering how do you make the photo's high quality and bigger
Field Researcher
#9 Old 20th May 2012 at 4:12 PM
Default pose box suggestions
Quote: Originally posted by lauratje86
Macaylaluvsuguys -

Erin - I have a list somewhere on my computer, I think. Shall have a look for it and get back to you :-)

Thank you for the tutorial. This will be very helpful as I am trying to build a website for one of my legacy challenges. I would love to hear your list of best pose boxes, especially for couples. If you put the list together for Erin, would you be willing to share it here? Thanks.

I couldn't stay away from my Sims, they help my creative side come out! Taking a break from my RV life to take care of family issues, so Sims helps me to unwind. Let me know what you are up to with your Sims so I can check it out!
Mad Poster
#10 Old 2nd Jan 2013 at 10:30 PM
One thing I do not see addressed is rotating the picture in tab mode.

I need to take floorplan screenshots and I cannot get the houses lined up foursquare in the frame. I can, with some finicky and delicate mousework, over a period of twenty minutes or so, get the grid lined up almost parallel with the sides of the screen; but the resulting picture always seems to have more skew than it appeared to have when I snapped the picture. I can't do it even that well outside of tab mode, as the rotation arrows always overshoot the mark.

I know it's possible because I see foursquare floorplans all the time in the download thread. But nothing I do looks remotely ready to present to the public in that context.

Ugly is in the heart of the beholder.
(My simblr isSim Media Res . Widespot,Widespot RFD: The Subhood, and Land Grant University are all available here. In case you care.)
Field Researcher
#11 Old 22nd Jun 2013 at 4:25 PM
Quote: Originally posted by leah10006
Hi im just wondering how do you make the photo's high quality and bigger

I found a program named FRAPS that allows me to take screenshots of my Sims without having to use the in game camera. It takes much higher resolution photos.

I couldn't stay away from my Sims, they help my creative side come out! Taking a break from my RV life to take care of family issues, so Sims helps me to unwind. Let me know what you are up to with your Sims so I can check it out!
Test Subject
#12 Old 19th Jul 2013 at 10:53 PM
Thanks for the tips!
Link Ninja
#13 Old 6th Jul 2016 at 8:41 PM
Since this thread is stickied I don't think it counts as threadcromancy but I wanted to add that the mod by beosboxboy that removes the red pause box is very handy and time saving in processing photos for storytelling. Just don't think your sims are frozen if the box is gone and your game is paused. Also be aware it may not work with other UI mods - read download page for details.

Uh oh! My social bar is low - that's why I posted today.

Link Ninja
#14 Old 20th Nov 2016 at 10:11 PM Last edited by Charmful : 21st Nov 2016 at 8:19 AM.
Hi back again with some more tips for picture-taking!

Don't know how common knowledge camera mode keys shortcuts are for sims 2 players, but I showed my sister this and she was legit mad she played for 10 years and never knew...so I thought I'd share.


So I will show some examples on the Q, E, -, and + handyness. I had to wake up Madeline Louis to demonstrate, but she'll get over it


Press 'Q' to lower the camera to almost floor level shots Like this:

Good for upward shots of night sky, getting shots of sims in ground-floor hot tub, pet-eye-view.

Press 'E' to raise the camera like this:

Good for semi-birds-eye-view, downward angular shots

Press '-'(minus) to zoom out of the scene like this:

Good for tight shots where you want to show the room and everything in the scene that's happening though all the way out will distort into somewhat of a fish-eye lens effect

Press '+'(plus) to zoom in without having to move the camera forward like this:

Good for detailed shots and closeups


  • You can also change day to night and vice versa by pressing 'L' in build mode.
  • Note that if in build mode, outdoors will show a grid on the ground and possible building tiles - to avoid this either switched to a paused live mode or you can avoid the grid by selecting a ground covering and then tab into camera mode. Just be sure to move your mouse so that the ground covering circle isn't in your shot!
  • If you forgot to put up your walls, don't fret! Once in camera mode, if you press 'Home' on an extended keyboard it will do the job for you so you don't have to lose your place by tabbing out and manually clicking the wall button in the UI.

Also, here are some cheats for picture clean-up if you don't want various game elements in your pics:
  • plumbbobtoggle off - this will remove the plumbbob from your shots
  • showheadlines off - wait a few moments for the sims to stop their current thoughts or discussion and now no notices will pop in the top right corner (like school bus or work notices) and the speech bubbles and thought bubbles should be suppressed


This may be useful for anyone who needs to make a quick post-processing. A free to use, browser-based photo-editing tool that @jacksonville pointed me to and I love! It's called Be Funky , there are a handful of basic tools like photo adjusting, sepia, b&w, blurring, cropping, etc that you can use to finish photos like these:

Uh oh! My social bar is low - that's why I posted today.

#15 Old 20th Dec 2016 at 10:00 AM
Probably worth adding that the cursor keys can be used to move the lens position left/right and forwards/backwards with very fine grain control (depending on your screen resolution pressing a cursor key once may not produce a noticeable shift in the lens position) Hold the cursor key down (so it auto-repeats) and the lens will slide left/right or forwards/backwards. With enough practice you can use one hand to slide the lens left/right while using the other to move the mouse right/left to keep the subject centre frame!

Just call me William, definitely not Who-Ward
#16 Old 7th Jan 2023 at 6:12 PM
Sorry for necroposting, but this thread is a tutorial, so I guess it's allowed, in hope that someone will reply.

I have trouble understanding method 4. I know how to take screenshots on my PC and how to save them. But then what am I supposed to do to have them show up in the game as sim photos? That was left unexplained.
Mad Poster
#17 Old 7th Jan 2023 at 7:03 PM
^ You can use this tutorial: https://chickadeelee.livejournal.com/13521.html if you want to use larger pictures for ingame pictures (BV ones, that is).
#18 Old 23rd Jan 2023 at 10:20 PM
I was recently told about the F10 key, which hides the user interface without making other changes. Both Tab and F10 can be useful in different situations. Tab sometimes affects the ground slightly, and deep snow, shadows and tile grid on it. It also makes objects with the flag Obstructs View opaque, such as trees, lamps and stairs.
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