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Sims 3 Custom Pattern Tutorial for Photoshop (No Masking Required)

Welcome to my Custom Pattern tutorial (aka Custom Patterns for Dummies). This tutorial will explain how I do my custom patterns with Adobe Photoshop for The Sims 3. I am in no way saying that my way is the best. You may find that it is not for you, and that is perfectly okay! I am only posting this tutorial in the hopes that it will help others who are struggling to learn how to create custom content for the game.

I do not use alpha masks, therefore I stick to a maximum of three colors. With alpha masks, you have more control over your colors (which I would prefer if it didn’t confuse the heck out of me. So, if you know how to use ’em, use ’em!), but I like this method just fine.

Before we get started…

To use this tutorial, you need the following programs / plugins:

  1. Adobe Photoshop (I use CS2 in this tutorial).
  2. TSR’s TS3 Workshop
  3. MV’s Color Replacer Plugin (for PS)

Let’s Begin!

In this tutorial, I will be using the following image as an example. I recommend using this image while reading this tutorial so you can work step by step along side me.

As you can see, my starting image is not 256×256. 400×400 or above is my preferred starting size (and you’ll see why), but 256×256 will do as well.

starting pattern

When you have the pattern you want to use as custom content, open it in Photoshop. Always double check your pattern to make sure it is seamless and will properly tile in the game.

Do the following to your image:

Image > Adjustments > Desaturate

Image > Adjustments > Invert (This can be skipped if you prefer, but 99% of the time I invert).

With the above image, our goal is to have THREE colorable palettes as there are three colors, so:

Adjust the brightness and contrast of your image until more than one shade is distinguishable (Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast).

adjust the contrast of the pattern

IMPORTANT! Remember the following order for recoloring:

Always add color in the following order: Red – Green – Blue

Red is the base, which should always go on the ‘background’ of the image. The base color for this image would be the lighter of the greys.

Green is the next lowest color, followed by blue, the highest.

In this step we will be using the color replacer plugin. If it is properly installed, you get to the plugin by going to Filters > MV’s Plugins > Color Replacer

A box should pop up.

Your cursor should be an eyedropper. Select the first color you want to replace, which is the lighter of the greys. On the lower of the color boxes, click it and select a red color.

select a red color for the Sims 3 custom pattern

Tolerance is VERY important. Make sure to use that slider to get the effect you want. If it is not high enough, your color may not all be selected. But don’t OVER slide it, as at full strength it will cover the entire image.

Use the slider until your red is only covering the areas you want it to.

Hit OK before using the plugin again to do your next color.

Note: If it refuses to stick to one area, your Brightness/Contrast was not good enough and your shades are too close together.

Repeat this step for the next two colors.

Green will be the petals, blue the center of the flower.

Sims 3 custom pattern tutorial

Not exactly the prettiest picture in the world, but it is for a purpose! This is why I start with 400×400 or above. The color, especially around the circle of the flower is a little rough, but because my image is larger than 256, I can resize it and it should smoothen everything out.

Resize your image to 256×256.

resized image

Not perfect, but should be good enough to move to the next step. (You can spend some time touching up the rough spots if you’d like — normally I would, though most of the time my results are not rough like this. But of course it happens with my tutorial image, eh?).

Save your image as a PNG and open it with TSR’s Workshop tool.

open custom pattern in TSR Workshop

This is what you should see after opening your image.

Select Red, Green, and Blue. Click each box to choose the colors you want to appear on the initial pattern.

Click “Show as tiled” when you are finished, and double check to make sure the image tiles correctly.

check the image tiles

Sweet! If everything is to your liking, Add a title and a description, and be sure to put the item in the right categories. By default it starts up with Abstract > Cloth. Occasionally I’ll forget to change this.

Once everything is set, click the “Upload to TSR” button.

This step is very important. It can be tedious to do for every pattern, but you should not skip it. TEST your patterns. (I have had patterns not install in the launcher or patterns that installed fine for me but did not work for people on TSR, so check them!)

Go to your TSR submissions page:

Check “Get It From my File Storage” and find the .Sims3Pack you just uploaded. Once complete (when it takes you to the edit page), go to the Uploads tab and click the magnifying glass next to your submission.

sims 3 custom pattern submission

On the next page, click the Icon to download the .Sims3Pack file and open it with your launcher.

download icon

Did it work?

download successful

Test it in game. It is always important to test everything before submitting to TSR as you cannot edit submissions once they are approved. This is also a great time to take screenshots for preview images!

Sims 3 custom pattern tutorial

Bright, but very pretty! Success!

Make sure to edit your page details — put in an appropriate Title, Description, and be sure to note how many recolorable palettes are in the pattern — and of course, create a preview image, as it will make your submissions look that much better.

Hope this tutorial helped!

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