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The Sims 3 Create A Pattern Tool Guide

By Norma Blackburn (aka Twinmum)

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The Sims3 Create A Pattern (CAP) tool lets you design your own patterns to use in the Create a Style tool in game. You can use inbuilt patterns and images or you can use images from your computer. CAP is available to download from http://www.thesims3.com/game/tools/pattern

So fire up CAP and let's get started by getting to know what's what.

This is the main screen you are presented with when you first start CAP. Let's take a look at the individual components.

This is your work area or canvas. This is where you will create your designs. By default, it opens in this view, but by using the slider beneath it, you can zoom in to see just the work area, or zoom out to see how a pattern will look over a larger area.

This is the layer panel. Patterns can be created using several layers to create an effect. For example, you may want a series of small images on a striped background, so it would be made on a number of layers. Layer 1 is the background layer. You can edit the color, but you can't add stickers.

This is the Layer properties panel where you can adjust individual layers. We'll look at layers and their properties in more detail a bit later.

This is the control panel with basic tools that you will use. Some of the buttons here (movement buttons) are used when in preview mode.

The options menu. From here you can save, export to game and open new or saved patterns.

This is the sticker library. Stickers are just images that you can add to your design. You can use any one of the many stickers already in the library or you can add your own from images on your computer.

Lesson One - Using Your Own Images Instead of the Inbuilt Ones

The sticker library has quite a range of images and patterns that you can use, but you are by no means restricted to these. You can use any image of your own as long as it is in jpeg, bmp or png format. To add you own image to the library click the add new sticker button in the control panel.

This will bring up a panel where you can search your computer for image files to use.

When you locate the file you want to use, click it then the accept button. *Note* there is no image preview here, so you need to be able to identify the file by name.

Ideally, images should be no bigger than 256 x 256 pixels in size. The program will resize images provided they are not too large. If they are too big, you will get a message to say that the image needs to be resized. If this happens, open the image in an image editing program and make it smaller (400pixels wide is small enough) then try making the new, smaller image a sticker.

When you add a new sticker, it is automatically added to the sticker tab you had open at the time. Here you can see I've added an image of a sunflower, but had the animals tab opened at the time. Not a problem though, when you select a custom sticker, you get an extra panel to the right. Just click the category drop down menu and select the correct category for it (in this case, nature)

Once you have added your own images to the sticker library, they are available to use in your new pattern creations.

Lesson Two - A Simple, Single Layer Design.

OK, to get started, we are going to create a simple, single layer pattern using just one sticker.

Open a new canvas. For this lesson, I'm going to use the sunflower image that I made into a sticker last lesson. Click and drag the sticker you want to the canvas. It will appear as a small image on the canvas that can be dragged around and placed where ever you want. Once on the canvas, you can resize it to whatever size you want. I want it to cover the whole canvas so I am going to resize it to 256 x 256. When you have a sticker selected, you can see it's properties to the right of the sticker library. Change both the W (width) and H (height) properties to 256. This will make the sticker the same size as the canvas.

The x and y value relate to the position of the sticker (the centre point of the sticker) on the canvas. X 1 Y 1 would be the top left hand corner with x going horizontally and the y axis going vertically. To place a 256 x 256 sticker in the centre of the canvas, both values should be 128.

Before we go on, let's have a play with the other sticker properties buttons. The flip buttons will do just as it says, the sticker will flip either horizontally or vertically. The rotation button will turn the sticker in an anti-clockwise direction up to 360. The opacity button controls how much can be seen through the sticker. The lower the number, the more light will pass through. So we now have the making of a new pattern. Now what? Well let's see how it looks in the game. Hit the Preview Mode button on the control panel.

Preview mode lets you try your pattern on different items that are in the game. While in preview mode, using the mouse wheel will zoom in and out, and holding the left mouse button down while moving the mouse will rotate your view. Alternatively you can use the directional buttons on the control panel.

Let's select an item to try the pattern on. From the object list select an item. I'm picking the side wall to try. Next hit the apply button to place your pattern on the wall.

OK, so this particular print is not really suited to be used as wallpaper, but you can see how a pattern will behave on a wall - One section of wall in the game is 768 pixels high and 256 pixels wide, so any pattern will be repeated 3 times up the wall.

After you test your pattern on an item, you can hit the reset button to remove the pattern. You don't have to remove it, but it can be a little distracting if you want to see how it looks on other items.

Once you have seen enough, hit the Edit Mode button to return to the work area.

When you are happy with your pattern you need to export it to your game to be able use it. Select export from the options menu. Here you will be prompted to name the pattern, assign it to a category and give it a description.

Once exported, you still need to actually install it in your game to work. According to the built in CAP tutorial, you need to first locate your file, copy it to another folder, then open the game launcher, select downloads, select the patterns tab then select the new pattern and hit install. This seems rather cumbersome, especially when there is a much easier way. The tutorial also gives you the easier way which is to simply find the file on your computer and double click it - too easy!

Files are usually located at the following location

C:\Documents and Settings\{user name}\My Documents\ Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\Exports If you want to install it through the launcher you will still need to locate the file at the above location, copy it and place the copy into C:\Documents and Settings\{user name}\My Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\Downloads

Once a copy of the file is located in the downloads folder, you can open the launcher and install it through there if you want to do it that way.

Now that your pattern is installed, it will be available to be selected from the Create a Style tool ingame.

Lesson Three - Using Layers

So now you have a basic knowledge of making patterns, the next step is to improve on that knowledge and create patterns with more detail. In this lesson we will learn about using layers.

Let's first look at the layer panel in a bit more detail. There are six layers that you can work on, although you can only add stickers to four of these. Layer 1, or the base layer, is situated at the bottom of the panel and can't be moved from that position. It is used for your background and the colour is the only thing that can be changed on that layer.

Layers 2 to 5 are where you will do most of the work. It's on these layers that you will add stickers and control properties. These layers can be moved up and down in their position on the panel - stickers on lower layers will appear behind stickers on higher layers,

Layer 6 at the top is the specular layer. This layer is used to add a shine to all or parts of you pattern. You don't have to use this layer if you don't want to.

Lets create a multi layer pattern. First we need a background. This could be a layer with a full sized sticker similar to what we created last lesson or it could be a color. I've decided to go with a color - a nice dark blue, like a night sky, so select the background layer in the layer panel and then select the color in the layer properties panel.

Next, I'm going to add some stars so we need to select layer 2 to make it the active layer. Next I'll drag one of the star stickers from the Basic Shapes tab of the sticker library onto the canvas. Now I'm not fussed on green stars and while you can drag the color selection tool around in the layer properties panel, it doesn't really take away the green. Have a play with the color selection though, just to see what it does. Anything you do in the layer properties panel will affect everything on that layer, so if you have multiple stickers, they will all be changed.

So we couldn't really change the color, no problem, there is a way around it. Click the button on the bottom right of the layer panel. This toggles between sticker mode and stencil mode. When we click to stencil mode, the sticker we places becomes a single color shape that we can change as we please.

This affects all stickers on that layer, so if you want some to be different colors, you will need to place them on different layers.

Let's change the color of the star to a nice yellow and then add a few more stars to our pattern. When adding a number of stickers to a layer, it's a good idea to place some so that they overlap the edges. If all the stickers are within the square, when the pattern repeats, you will get a distinct border of background color.

It looks nice, but to make it less uniform, I'm going to change some of the stars by either rotating them or resizing them. Click on one of the stars, you'll notice it has a white box around it. As well as moving it around, when a sticker is highlighted, you can rotate it by grabbing the little white dot at the bottom right hand corner of the sticker or resize by grabbing one of the squares in any corner.


Keep working till your pattern looks the way you want it too. You may want to add another layer with different stickers. When you are happy with it, save, export and install to your game.

Lesson Four - Using the Specular Layer

Select the top (specular) layer. Adding shine to part or all of your pattern will make it behave differently in game according to the light reflecting off it. It's a nice touch to items that have a polished finish.

The easiest way to see what the specular layer does is to start with just a background color, so start a new pattern and using the base layer add any color you want. Next select the last sticker in the second row of basic shapes - it's just a square. Now, grab one of the corners so that is covers the canvas from one side to the other, but not all of the canvas from top to bottom.

Now go to preview mode and place the pattern on a wall. Move the view around a bit and you will see how the light behaves differently on the area with the shine. You can add a shine in the shape of any of the stickers in the library. Play around with them, some of the stickers in the decorative section give a nice embossed look to a plain color.

Hopefully after reading this, you will now have the ability to go and create your own patterns to add to your game or to share.







Comments (6)

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Lily87 says...
Thank you for this tutorial! I couldn't make head or tail of CAP without it :)
23rd December 2012 3:13am
gang wang acca says...
many thanks for your tutorial. It saves lots of my time for learning
26th March 2013 8:12am
Kaydda says...
wow! thats for he tutorial. I didnt even know you could make patterns till now! XD
11th May 2014 8:28pm
Sassa says...
How do I make wall pattern sets like they have in-game, without it being boxy like it is here, where the picture just shows up over and over in squares. I wanted to divide a picture into even sections so that each piece goes on one wall panel, but I can't get it to work right.
7th June 2014 4:05pm
Glitchie says...
After tinkering with the program, I see that you have four picture frames above the tv that you can in fact change. My question is, how can you make custom pictures for all four frames. I have several original photographs I want to put in that are in sequence, but not sure how to do it. Thanks!
11th June 2014 9:31pm
Veronica says...
Is there any way to create re-colorable patterns? So I can change the background color when I'm using it in-game without changing the color of the sticker?
14th July 2014 3:53am
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