Recently, I sat and gave a full, in-depth tutorial to my friend about how I posed some of my more recent story shots for After the Calling. She turned to me and said: “Too bad I’m not a sim story writer, or else that would have been really useful”.
Then, this past weekend, I was introduced to the concept of sim secrets when someone linked me to a secret based on my poses, and induced one major livejournal-binge on my part (how did I go this long without know anything about live journal? Pardon me, but, wank???? Glorious.). So, I figured that maybe I would stop giving pointers to my (ungrateful) friends and actually post techniques somewhere that it may be of help.
Thanks to some awesome creators in the community, I’ve been able to get the majority of my poses from in-game animations. There has been a huge influx of poseboxes lately, but I’m finding that many of their poses can come off as stiff, having lost live action fluidity. Using animated posing gives a more realistic feel to your shots, and I’ve developed some methods to manipulate them.
It is not always easy to catch a mid-animation pose, so my methods are pretty hard to use unless you have the following:
- JD’s Animboxes http://www.jd-movies.com/moviemakinghelp.p
- All of Decorgal’s talk hacks http://www.decorgal.com/designs/download.p
- Decorgal's Modeling Pose box with face overlays http://nene.modthesims2.com/browse.php?f=4
- Aikea_Guinea’s 'Animation Painting of Bedlam & Catastrophe' http://www.insimenator.org/index.php/top
- Aikea_Guinea's 'Animation Painting of Chaos and Doom' http://www.insimenator.org/index.php/top
- Squinge’s Hula and More http://www.insimenator.org/showthread.ph
- Treeag’s freezer clock (If not this, then excellent timing) http://www.modthesims2.com/download.php?t=3
- SilentLucidity’s shiftable, angled, etc. OMSPs http://www.modthesims2.com/member.php?u=2
- Look At Me Now hack from maybesomethingdunno’s Fourth Wall Options http://www.modthesims2.com/download.php?t=2
- AnoeskaB’s object rotators http://www.thesimsresource.com/downloads/d
etails/category/sims2-sets-objects/title/O bject%20Rotators%20-%205%20degree%20angl e/id/816644/
- Slow motion cheat (slowmotion 0-5)
I wrote this tutorial with the assumption that you know of moveobjects and boolprop cheats to place and angle your sims.
All that said, I do absolutely use pose boxes. I avoid most, but Decorgal’s set poses, Poses in a cup, miyanna’s pose boxes and aikea-guinea’s pose box are frequently used and abused within my story. Some things really just can’t be done.
Although I did not use much of what’s here in this tutorial, this is my usual arsenal.
Before I begin, I want to highly suggest avoiding maxis-made facial expressions. Most are over-exaggerated and unrealistic. I very rarely use game-given expressions, and almost always set my sims’ expressions with decorgal’s face overlays prior to posing. The expression of the sim makes the difference between catching a fish and punching someone in the face. Not to mention that the eye animations are unaffected, so even if your sim has a set expression, their eyes will still move. This little tidbit can completely backfire, but it’s usually completely awesome.
For illustrative purposes, my models kept the same expression across (almost) every example to show the distinction.
Okay, let’s do this. I used my characters Chloe and Jax as models, and my lighting is a bit wonky.
Generally, in upright, single shots of sims, I try to think of how an actual person would stand in a given situation. Most people don’t look like this when they’re doing... anything.
This is an easy fix, however. If you set the facial expression, and then use essentially any animation, you’re suddenly met with a slew of new stances.
These casual poses are some of my favorites and come from (in order left to right):
Base game (Hula and More) – Talk, shy
Apt. Life (JD’s anibox) – Kickout, friendly
Seasons (JD’s anibox) – Snowman, add accessories
Nightlife (JD’s anibox) – Do you like what you see?
University (JD’s anibox) – Bonfire, dance reject
Now that you have a normalized stance, you can place two sims together to make a realistic looking conversation shot. Even more naturalized than a maxis animated conversation.
Posing natural looking seated shots are harder because, while in chairs, sim legs are fairly motionless, which is balls. I usually go for pose boxes on these shots, keep leg action out of the picture, or just avoid it completely. Mostly avoidance. However, there are some in-game sitting animations that are salvageable.
Interactions with the monkey shrine and the lucky shrine in Bon Voyage have some decent sit poses, as well some of the hammock animations.
This is BV Misc - Monkey Shrine, play with water.
One way to create a sitting stance, or a leaning stance is to add one of SilentLucidity’s angled, shiftable omsp’s to the mix. You can take a sim who is bent over, shift them backward (or in whatever direction works), and place them on a prop, creating the appearance of being seated, or leaning.
This is a Freetime idle animation, Hobbies – Music – Drumming on leg [standing]. Jax is shifted backward 30 degrees to give the appearance of leaning. This shot is hardly story-ready and would have been better with a little bit of camera finagling, but I wanted to show you exactly what was done.
This is a Bon Voyage animation – Misc – Lucky Shrine – Falling coins. Jax is shifted backward 30 degrees to give the appearance of sitting… unhappily apparently.
I chose these animations because they are very obvious, however, there are tons of more subtle animations where shifting can be applied.
I can’t stand most of Maxis romantic interactions, so I generally try to mix and match animations to create my own. Again, try looking at animations outside of what they are meant for, and you can figure out a bunch of new ways to stick sims together.
The following poses are a bit difficult without treeag’s freezer clock, but they are not impossible.
One of my favorite animation sets comes from the Seasons fishing interactions. If you see a pose in my story and you are not sure where it came from, 8 times out of 10, somebody is fishing.
The pole animations are excellent for romantic poses, as can be seen here. Ignore the floor images. Paintshop shenanigans.
When it comes to coupling, especially in romantic poses, you want to make sure that the respective animations do not mirror each other. Meaning that if one sim is leaning to the left, the other sim must lean to the right. This is probably obvious, but not paying attention to that will only lead to a lot of body smushing and clipping. You eventually gain an eye for countering poses.
Isolating animations from their targets allow you to take a good look at it for alternative purposes. Itemized animations, like the fishing pole animations are excellent for coupling because the sim is not only holding onto their item, they are also focused on that item. Replace the item with a sim and you have a holding position. Another good example of this are the interactions associated with the bass from University.
There are a few issues surrounding these animations, but once you get used to them, they are unnoticeable.
First, you actually have to use the bass to get interactions from it. To my knowledge, the animations from that instrument have not been isolated. Second, after separating a sim from the bass, you have to either freeze them with the freezer clock or take the photo in build mode, as their hands will still be connected to the instrument no matter where you’ve put them on the lot. So unless you want a shot of distorted arms, you’ll want to take note of that.
I usually place the sim I want to be held nearby the bass-playing sim so I can get a good look at how the pose might end up. Once I see a shot that I like, I stick them together.
She’s frozen in an overlayed pose. Her legs are one of the teen disgruntled poses from JD’s photo pose box, and her arms are in a yawn.
One thing you should be aware of, with bass playing poses, the fingers are idiotic (as you can see in the shot on the right). But with some camera awareness, you shouldn’t have an issue. Just shoot around it. From this side of the pose, shoulder up, the picture would have been fine.
Note: Jax is propped up on a shiftable OMSP to appear a bit taller.
Look out for animations with swinging arms, or exaggerated arm motions. There are tons. Nearly all of them can be used to feel up another sim.
Chloe is doing the Bon Voyage ninja looking around, and Jax is doing Free time idle animation Hobbies – gaming – wrist stretch. However, neither of these are imperative for this particular look. I’ve created poses very similar, if not identical, to this one from play animations, talking animations, and dancing animations. Maxis uses big arms for conversational emphasis, or just to make a sim look like an idiot. You can put those arms to better use by slinging them around another sim’s waist.
Turning and talking
All teaching/instructing/storytelling loops have animations that are great for holds, especially when paired up with animations that turn, like when a sim is looking for something, ducking from something, or confused about something. (I hope that makes sense)
I place this pairing together because talk loops are generally face on, and if you put two sims directly in front each other in hopes that they will look cuddly, it won’t work. Their arms may look great but their faces will mush together and ruin the shot. If you pair a talking pose with a turning pose, you may not get a face to face look, but you can get something of a hug.
In this shot I’m using the Bon Voyage Dragon legend animation for Chloe and the OFB Customer-Need Help animation for Jax. There are many Need Help animations, and all of them are awesome for this type of thing.
These shots often take a bit of patience and camera work because clipping will happen with face-on poses, as you can see in the picture on the left and the right.
Last tidbit on couple poses. The consolable cry animation in the game is adjustable. If you are careful and move the consoler around to the front of the person being consoled, the consoler’s hand will remain attached to the consoled’s shoulder. The arms will adjust and snap into place. It might look weird from behind, but the front view makes for a sweet shot.
I forgot to take a picture of this pose with Jax and Chloe and didn’t feel like going back into the game, so I’m using a picture that I used in my story. It takes a few tries to get it right, just don’t move the consoler to far away from the sim being consoled.
Poses Lying Down
Shiftable, angled OMSPs are necessary for these poses. Treeag’s freezer clock is very recommended.
With shiftable OMSPs, whatever a sim can do standing, they can do lying down. Easy enough.
This is another example of mixing and matching animations. She’s near the end of the Leap Into Arms animation, but on the bed, his end of that action doesn’t look right. So I switched him over to the Squeeze animation.
Again, careful with the camera. I didn’t take much time on this pose, so there’s a bit of clipping.
All these poses where angled at 90 degrees (forward or backward, whatever was necessary) but you can play with angles to get poses that more or less angled, off center, ect. You can really pull a lot more out the game with these things. Both of these poses are overlays from JD’s photo animbox.
These methods are simply founded in imagination. I can only insist that you try to find ways to use animations outside of what they were originally made for. How many times did I say that? I’m still learning myself, and could not have figured any of this crap out without the information at simshaven and modthesims2. So big thank you to these awesome community members, and to the creators who made it possible to even do this sort of thing. I do hope this was helpful, and if anyone wants more advanced tips or alternatives, I’m willing to post more of my methods.
All the methods, poses, and models I used here have been, or will be used in my sims story After the Calling. Thanks to everyone who has supported it and inspired me to write this tutorial!