I’m one of those hardcore gameplay enthusiasts who plays huge families. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, lots and lots of cousins, my families can easily span over 100 Sims sometimes. One of my favourite things to do with my Sims families is get everyone together for the holidays. I always celebrate when the holidays come around in the game, but when the holidays are here in the real world, I go the extra mile and create a holiday card to post on my social media.
Why? Well, because it’s fun and the people who read my Sims stories enjoy the extra effort I put in.
Today, I’m going to teach you how to make the perfect holiday card featuring your Sims 4 family! I’ll be focusing on creating a Christmas card for this tutorial since my family celebrates Christmas which is just around the corner but you can absolutely create your own holiday cards to reflect any holiday that you and your Sims celebrate!
What You Will Need
- The Sims 4
- Any image editing software. I will be using Photoshop CS6 for this tutorial but Paint.NET is a good free alternative.
- (Optional) The Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack
- (Optional) Any reshade preset you like
- (Optional) Pose Player, the Sim Teleporter, and any custom poses you like
- (Optional) The TOOL mod
This tutorial will not teach you how to use custom poses, the TOOL mod, or reshade. They are only listed as optional tools in case you are already a mod user who is familiar with using these in your game. But you can follow along with this tutorial without any mods at all.
Set The Stage
Don’t underestimate the importance of the backdrop! Get this right before anything else. The backdrop is what’s going to really sell your photo as a holiday card.
Open the game and go into any empty lot. Change the lot type to Generic so your Sims can visit it but other Sims will not be able to visit and photobomb your nice family photos. Alternatively, if you have a nice holiday backdrop in your Sims’ home already and want to use that, you can do that, too. Just make sure you clear out any furniture that might be in the way. You’ll want some open space in front of your backdrop for your Sims to stand.
Start setting up your perfect holiday scene. For the best lighting, build your little set facing the direction of the sun and take your photos in the early afternoon in sunny weather. You don’t want to build an entire room. Just a wall and some flooring facing the sun. I’ve opted to use a custom photo backdrop by Ravasheen here but you don’t need to do this. Any little background scene you’ve built will be fine as long as you have good lighting.
Once your backdrop is ready to go, it’s time to make sure your Sims are dressed the part!
Costumes & Blocking
Make sure all your Sims have a holiday outfit if it suits the particular holiday you’re taking a picture for. I’ve decked out all 18 of my Sims in this family with their finest silly Christmas attire. From ugly Christmas sweaters to snowpal earrings to Christmas tree costumes, everyone is looking equal parts ridiculous and festive which is exactly what I want for my photo.
Once everyone is in their holiday finest, it’s time to set them all up for your photo. Depending on how big your family is, this could become very tedious and time consuming. If you do not use mods in your game, I don’t recommend trying to take one holiday photo with multiple households of extended relatives. The Sims outside your household will continue to act with free will even with autonomy turned off, causing headaches for you. If you are not a mod user and cannot use custom poses to your advantage, it’s better to take a different photo for each household and create either a collage card or multiple cards. Just turn autonomy off in the game settings, then instruct your Sims to either sit or stand where you want them. As long as they are all in a positive emotional state, they should be smiling by default.
I am a mod user and a big fan of custom poses. I make a lot of my own poses for the game so I’ve used the Sim Teleporter, the Pose Player, and a mixture of single poses to get all my Sims situated where I want them for this photo. Due to the number of adults I had in this photo that I needed to squeeze into tight proximity, I knew I would need to elevate the back row so everyone would be in view. Platforms will work for this in a pinch. Just plop down a small platform and have your Sims stand on it to achieve a tiered look where everyone’s face is visible.
Even with my mods, it still took me a good hour to get everyone set the way I wanted them. Half the Sims decided to leave their assigned positions and walk several feet away before they posed facing the wrong direction. This used to drive me crazy. I would have to break all the poses by placing down more teleporters and start all over. Since I added the TOOL mod to my collection, that frustration is a thing of the past. I was able to use the mod to nudge and rotate all of my Sims back into their proper places without breaking any of the poses.
When you finally have everyone set up the way you want them, take a screenshot by pressing TAB and then getting the camera angle you want before pressing the C key to generate a screenshot in your Sims 4 folder. If you use reshade, toggle your preferred reshade preset on and then take your picture with whatever key you have assigned to take pictures with using reshade.
If you would like an in-game photograph to display on the wall as well, add a random Sim to the household, give them a camera and max out their photography skill. Then have that Sim take the picture. If you own Moschino Stuff, I highly recommend using the tripod for better control over your shot.
Creating Your Holiday Card
You could of course just share your raw screenshot you took. If you set up everything nicely, it will be a beautiful holiday card all on its own. But I like to dress mine up a little bit and make them look like a real holiday card someone might stick onto their fridge. For that, I use Photoshop CS6. You can use any photo editing program you have but make sure you spend some time familiarizing yourself with it before jumping into this tutorial. Every program is different so what I’m doing in Photoshop may not be the same for you if you are not also using Photoshop CS6.
We’re going to give our holiday card a festive border and add some text to it. To do that, find a large, good-quality image of a patterned holiday border. My go-to is pixabay.com for images that are free for public non-commercial use. I found a red Christmas tree pattern I liked on Pixabay and opened it up in Photoshop, along with my raw shot.
Because I used a reshade preset to take my picture, most of the editing is done for me already. I don’t need to adjust the screenshot but if you want to brighten up your screenshot, you can do that by going to Image > Adjustments > Brightness & Contrast and playing around with the brightness and contrast sliders until you get the results you want. Brightness lightens up the photo. Contrast deepens the richness of the colours.
I copy my screenshot by hitting CTRL+A to select the entire image and then CTRL+C to copy it. Then I go to my red Christmas tree pattern and hit CTRL+V to paste my screenshot on top. My screenshot is just a little too big to have nice even borders on the top and bottom but this is easy to fix. With the screenshot layer selected in the right sidebar, I press CTRL+T and then drag the corners of the image inward while holding SHIFT to manually resize the image while keeping the same dimensions. I also crop the image to cut out a lot of the dead space in the background.
I use the Move tool (the arrow icon at the top of the left sidebar) to drag the resized image to the middle of the Christmas tree background. The background is now too wide on either side but that’s what the Crop tool is for! Select the Crop icon from the left sidebar and drag the sides inwards on either side to where you want to crop it. Then hit Enter.
My holiday card is almost ready! I just want to make the image in the centre stand out more. To do that, I select that layer in the right sidebar, right-click it and select Blending Options. I’m going to add a 5px white border and a drop shadow to the image to make it pop against the red border. From the Blending Options menu that pops up, I select Stroke, change the size to 5px and the colour to #FFFFFF which is the hex code for pure white. Then I select Drop Shadow from the same menu and hit OK since the default drop shadow settings are fine for what I want.
And voila! Our holiday photo now pops beautifully against the border! Just one more thing left to do; add a nice holiday message! To do this, select the Text tool from the left sidebar, choose your font, size, and colour from the top horizontal sidebar, and type whatever you want anywhere on the card you like. I chose the bottom right corner. You can adjust the placement of your text with the Move tool if it’s not exactly where you want it. To make the text pop, I once again use the Blending Options to add a drop shadow to the text.
Share the Holiday Spirit
And now our holiday card is complete! Save it as a .png file and post it anywhere you like. Send it to your Simmer friends, post it on your social media accounts, or print it out and decorate your room with it. Whatever you want!
I hope this tutorial inspired you to get creative with your Sims families this holiday season. Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, Sims Community wishes you a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!