Strike a Pose – Challenge 5

I must admit, I wasn’t too excited when I learned that we had a farm theme for our fifth Strike a Pose (Cycle 3) challenge.  My biggest concern was that it was to be an outside shoot, as I still have the problem with pixelated shadows that I feared would interfere with my image quality.  However, I managed to work around that issue, and I warmed up to the cowgirl idea once I started sifting through the custom content.  There really is quite a bit out there that can be used for a farm scenario.  I started with a lot of different ideas, but actually getting them to work for a photo was quite challenging.  I’m very thankful for the ChaosCarrier mod (at ModtheSims).  It enables you to have your sim carry an object while performing animations; it really helped make this shoot a success.

You can see the photos I wound up submitting over at the Strike a Pose site.  The first photo I submitted is of Meg feeding the chickens.  I think it’s a good shot, but I really chose it because of the effort it took to figure out how to get the pose and other elements just right.  The second photo is of Meg staffing a fruitstand.  It is a colorful photo, and I think Meg’s pose is very cute.  I also chose both photos because I thought their scenarios were more likely to be unique.

As always, I have some outtakes to show you.  In addition, I’ll show you some of the photos I really liked that wound up on the cutting room floor.

Outtakes:

“You’d better buy this apple…”

“The cow is licking me.  Please make it stop.”

“Ugh.  I think the pig farted.”

Rejected Photos:

I really loved Meg’s expression in this one, but there was a lot wrong with the picture.  I should have had a seed in her right hand so that it wouldn’t have looked clenched around nothing, and I wasn’t paying attention to the time of day; the background was too dark.  I actually went back into the game and tried to recreate the shot with the elements I wanted, but I just could not get her with that cute expression again.  I thought I had written down the animation she was using, but I must have gotten it wrong.  I didn’t sweat it too much, because I figured gardening would probably be a common choice among the other contestants anyway.

I loved Meg’s pose in this one, but there wasn’t really enough going on in this shot to make it worth submitting.  It’s just cute.

I really liked the lighting and Meg’s expression in this one.  It just has a simple beauty and was a strong contender for submission in my mind.  However, I already had her feeding the chickens and knew I was going to use that shot.  I didn’t want her performing the same essential action in both shots.

This is one of my favorite shots, actually.  I love the lighting, Meg’s expression, the colors, and the way I was able to make it look like she was really sitting on the step ladder.  I went back and forth several times on submitting it.  But even though I thought it was a very strong, beautiful shot, I felt like it would be something of a cop-out to use it when the shoot called for the model to be engaged in an activity.  Ultimately, I have no regrets with the photos I chose, but I’m glad I can still share this one and the others here.

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Strike a Pose – Challenge 4

In theory, the fourth challenge for the Strike a Pose (Cycle 3) competition was an easy one.  The theme was natural beauty.  Our models had to be stripped of make-up with their hair pulled back and attired in a plain white shirt and blue jeans.  We needed to submit a headshot and either a mid or full body shot.  We were asked to incorporate the model’s trait(s) in the shoot, and that was it as far as requirements went.

My model Meg is adventurous, ambitious, good, a perfectionist, and has an eye for photography.  I threw the ambitious and perfectionist traits out of the running right away, but I wound up setting up scenarios and photographing all three of the other traits, so I complicated matters for myself a bit.  It was tough choosing among them, but I wound up settling on her “good” trait, as the idea and story for it popped into my head very early on, and I thought it was a more original and creative scenario than the others. 

However, just for fun, I’ll show you the final shots I would have submitted for the adventurous and photography scenarios, had I chosen one of them.  To see the “good” shots, just head on over to Strike a Pose and look up my model.

Adventure:

Photography:

I love doing head shots, and I’ve done a good number of them previously to promote the various sims I’ve offered here on the blog and on the Sims 3 web site.  I’m pleased with how all of them came out.  I’m more ambivalent about my body shots, but overall, I think that they’re pretty good.  The competition is pretty tough this round though; it’s anyone’s game at this point.

Here are a few outtakes from the various scenarios that I liked.  For more outtakes from me and others in the competition, check out this Sims 3 forum thread; it’s great fun.

Too dark, too red, can’t see!

Okay, who’s the wise-ass who put the teddy bear in the shot?

Thank god these aren’t real traps.  Right?

Banner Sims

I thought it was about time I posted the sims that make up the banner on my blog.  These attractive ladies and gents are yours to enjoy with a single click!

First is Brevin Wells.  He was a CAS genetics experiment, and I think he has an interesting, a-typical look.  Just click on his picture to download him.

Next is Anne-Marie Garson, another CAS genetics experiment.  I think she’s sultry and exotic.

Michael Silver is – you guessed it – a CAS genetics experiment.  Yes, I really love throwing sims together in CAS and seeing how their genetics combine.  Michael turned out well, I think.

Finally, here’s Darla Frio.  Darla is not a CAS genetics experiment (gasp!).  She was born in game, the daughter of Jeremy and Kristen Frio and is a 3rd generation Frio.  Her father was the son of Connor Frio and Glory (Bernard) Frio.  Glory was featured on this blog a while back and is featured in my Friends…Enemies…Sisters story series.  Darla will eventually show up in the story as well.

Just a note on my sims: I do use a variety of custom content hair and clothing and a little cc make-up (mostly lipsticks).  I don’t remember what any given cc item is off the top of my head, so I’m not listing them all out here, but if you want to know something specific, you can ask, and I will make an effort to identify it.  As for defaults, I do use Escand’s “Oh My Eyes” eyes but no facial skins and no facial sliders (I do use Delphy’s breast sliders).  I want my sims to look the same in your game as they do in mine, but of course if you’re using a particular skin, I’m not sure whether that skin will change their appearance (I’d be interested to know this actually).

Friends…Enemies…Sisters – Part 2

                                                                                                                             

Chapter 2

When we left off in part 1, Veronica had just gotten out of prison and was not thrilled to find Jared Frio and her sister Glory looking cozy when she got home.  Glory insists that it isn’t what it looks like, and Jared just tries to keep out of the way.

                                                                                                                             

But he can’t escape Veronica’s wrath for long.  “How could you go after my sister when you know your brother is in love with her?”  Veronica doesn’t really care about Connor Frio’s feelings; it just seems like a good angle.

                                                                                                                             

“I wasn’t really going after Glory.  I was just lonely; I missed you.”  Jared definitely knows what a woman wants to hear.  It looks like Veronica’s softening a bit…

                                                                                                                             

But no, she’s not taken in that easily.  “You missed me, huh?  Well, how come you never visited me or even called during all those lonely days I spent in jail?  I’m out of here!”

                                                                                                                             

Jared’s got other things on his mind, so he doesn’t pursue Veronica.  He just found out that he’s a father!  Claire Ursine gave birth to a baby girl that he believes is his.  Now, he’s gone over to her house to meet his daughter.  He rings the bell, but there’s no answer.  He tries pounding on the door, still no answer…

                                                                                                                             

He steps back and peers through a window.  Aha, Claire is definitely home, and there’s the baby!  He calls to her and then goes back to ring the bell some more, but she never lets him in.

                                                                                                                             

In the meantime, Veronica’s decided that she can do better than Jared Frio.  She spots a guy at the gym that she definitely thinks could have potential

                                                                                                                             

But unfortunately, he turns out to be yet another goody-two-shoes.  This town is just full of ’em.

                                                                                                                             

She takes out her aggressions on River McIrish.  Veronica’s mollified.  It looks like she’s found another nemesis.  You can never have too many!

                                                                                                                             

Jared continues to haunt Claire Ursine’s doorstep in an attempt to see his daughter.  Claire continues to ignore him.

                                                                                                                             

Veronica keeps scouting the town for eligible bachelors but she’s mostly just making more enemies.  This is her third fight in the park today!

                                                                                                                             

Jared has finally caught Claire during one of her walks.  “Claire, please.  I know I was a jerk to you, ignoring you after we spent that night together, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about our daughter.  Family is very important to me.  Please let me see her.  I just want to get to know her…”  The most Claire will do is agree to think it over.

                                                                                                                             

Veronica returns home and is feeling a bit desperate.  She decides to put the moves on Connor, but he rebuffs her.

                                                                                                                             

After Connor asks her what on earth brought that on, Veronica admits that it’s really Jared she wants, but she’s been too angry with him to admit it.

                                                                                                                             

By the time he gets home from his encounter with Claire, both Jared and Veronica are ready to put their fight in the past.  Veronica butters him up with a deft massage.

                                                                                                                              

And Jared finally takes her in his arms.  He needs some comfort, and here it is.

                                                                                                                              

They have their first kiss at last.

                                                                                                                             

One thing leads to another, and they find themselves in the bedroom.  Jared is eager to forget his troubles.

                                                                                                                             

But Veronica senses something’s not quite right.  She realizes Jared’s mainly trying to distract himself from his family issues, and that isn’t the kind of woohoo she wants.  Jared’s disappointed, but he’s not angry.  He understands where Veronica is coming from.

                                                                                                                             

In the meantime, the highlight of Glory’s night is cleaning the sink!

                                                                                                                             

The next morning, Jared goes over to Claire’s house again.  This time he’s determined that he won’t take no for an answer.

                                                                                                                             

Persistance pays off, and he’s in!  Unfortunately, a little while into their first civilized conversation in over a year, it’s clear why the two of them didn’t really mesh beyond their one-nighter.  They end up arguing, and Claire tells him to get out.

                                                                                                                             

Connor’s gotten a bit desperate lately in his attempts to further his journalism career.

                                                                                                                             

But he always remembers to shower when he gets home.  That certainly helps when he decides to ask Glory if they can woohoo.  And he scores!

                                                                                                                             

He knew his chances with Glory were slim anyway, but when Jared sees the closed bedroom door and realizes what his brother is up to, he boohoos like a nooboo. 

                                                                                                                             

Glory is vigorously pursuing her political career.  She’s starting to really win friends and influence people.  It’s easy to appeal to most of them due to her good, friendly nature and her focus on putting the family first.

                                                                                                                             

Today is Jared’s lucky day.  Claire has decided to let him visit their daughter, Lucia.  She’s a toddler now, and Jared is thrilled to finally hold her in his arms.

                                                                                                                             

He’s overcome with emotion.

                                                                                                                             

And in the heat of all that emotion, he makes a run for it with his daughter.

                                                                                                                             

However, not long after they return to the Frio household, the reality of caring for a toddler on his own sets in.  Guess who winds up doing most of it in the end?  Yep, poor, sweet Glory gets conned into it.

                                                                                                                             

Veronica is not happy at all when Jared breaks the news to her.

                                                                                                                             

And whenever she finds the little brat alone, she doesn’t hesitate to steal her candy.

                                                                                                                             

Jared didn’t see what happened.  All he knows is that Lucia cries…a lot.  He’s beginning to wonder if taking custody of her was such a bright idea.

                                                                                                                             

Veronica can’t stand the wailing at all…even though she causes most of it.

                                                                                                                             

She heads to the gym.  “I’ve still got it.  Do I really want to keep dating a guy with a kid?  Hmm…”

                                                                                                                             

Glory and Connor are at work, and Veronica wouldn’t help even if she was home, so Jared is left with responsibility for some jobs he really hates.  For him, emptying the potty is like wading through a sewer.

                                                                                                                             

But later, when he gets a giggle out of Lucia, it all seems worth it.  He does love her.

                                                                                                                             

Jared takes a good deal of pride in teaching her new skills too.

                                                                                                                             

As they spend more time together, it looks like Lucia may have inherited her father’s interest in cooking.

                                                                                                                             

Veronica is irritated to see the depth of his devotion for the little interloper.

                                                                                                                             

As usual, she takes out her aggressions on an innocent bystander at the gym.  The woman is so frightened that she pees herself.  Could anything be more humiliating?  Veronica feels much better though.

                                                                                                                             

Connor and Jared have a little heart-to-heart regarding their relationships.  Connor is madly in love with Glory, but Jared’s not at all sure where his relationship with Veronica is headed.

                                                                                                                             

And it’s Jared’s birthday!  He’s an adult now.  Maybe his newfound maturity will help him in his role as a father as well as in his relationship with Veronica.

                                                                                                                             

Although Veronica is out of the house most of the time lately, jogging and working out at the gym during the day and pursuing her “career” at night.

                                                                                                                             

Glory’s finally getting some good promotions an earning more political responsibility in the town.

                                                                                                                             

Lucia has found the perfect hiding place for the rare times when Veronica’s around.

                                                                                                                             

Jared’s had a rough day at work.  Today’s Lucia’s birthday.  They hadn’t hired a clown, but now they’ve got one anyway!

                                                                                                                             

He’s surprised to see Claire at the party, not only because he thought she’d still be angry regarding his essential kidnapping of their daughter but also because she looks so fit and trim now.  Apparently, life without the responsibility of childcare has been good to her.

                                                                                                                             

Lucia is thrilled to have both of her parents there for her birthday.

                                                                                                                             

And here she is, a child now, ready for the next phase of life.  Will she continue to live with her dad as she grows up, despite the nasty treatment from Veronica?  Will the two couples move forward with their relationships, or are big break-ups in the making?  Find out in Part 3.

SAP Report

Wow!  I actually ended up winning the second Strike a Pose challenge!  I was very pleasantly surprised.  Winning granted me immunity for the third challenge and an extra day to turn it in. 

I thought I might need the extra time when I wound up deciding to scrap the first set that I worked on Monday.  I was so frustrated with the outdoor lighting in the game; it makes my sims look pasty and alien.  I brainstormed a bit and came up with a new concept that took them indoors instead.  I’ve since gotten some good tips throughout the week that should help me if I attempt outdoor daytime shoots in the future.  However, even though I’ve managed to get my sims to look pretty decent outside now, there’s still a big problem: my shadows are incredibly pixelated and blocky.

Look at the shadows on her neck.  It reminds me of graphics from the Commodore 64!  Completely unacceptable.  I started playing around with settings, made sure my graphics driver was updated, etc., but nothing helped.  Then I posted a thread on the EA technical forum as well as a post about the issue on the SAP forum thread.  From the responses plus googling the issue, I’ve found that I’m definitely not alone. 

The problem was apparently reported in mid-2009, yet it’s still going on (like many issues with the game).  I don’t understand EA at all.  Most companies strive to fix issues with games (or any product really) as quickly as possible, but this one seems to ignore most of them as much as possible.  I’m going to get to the bottom of this issue though; I won’t let it go.

Anyway, getting back to SAP, our third challenge was to have our model embody a female cartoon character that we were randomly assigned.  I got the Flinstones.  I wasn’t really too excited or inspired by the challenge until I started getting into it.  Once again, it took tons of time just hunting down the custom content I wanted and coming up with a scenario.  I started with an outdoor shot that I was going to make similar to the picture of the cartoon that was sent to me.  I hit on the idea of putting a jeep in the shot and replacing its tires with boulders and then also placing a dinosaur (CC) such that it would look like it was in the jeep.  My original idea for the roleplay was that Meg would be doing a photoshoot for Durastone, a new tire company, with the motto “Come back to the Stone Age.  Our tires never have to be replaced.”  When I decided to scrap this idea, I skilled up one of my sims in photography and took some set pictures first.  I later used them in my interior shot, and I think it really added a lot to the shot.

For more information on the roleplay and shots I wound up submitting, check out the SAP website.  I’ll end this with an outtake I liked:

More on SAP

I was pleasantly surprised that I scored pretty well on the first challenge of the Strike a Pose competition, since I really hadn’t known what to expect.  My only disappointment was that 2 of the 3 judges did not recognize the “green screen” in my photos and wondered why I was randomly using the color!  One judge suggested that I use more angles.  Just goes to show how much of a newbie I still am when it comes to sim photography, as I didn’t even realize that it was possible to use angles.  Shift-A and shift-D are my new best friends!  

So, on to the next challenge.  It was to show the “bridal side” of your model.  It involved setting up two separate scenarios instead of just one.  We could choose to photograph the bachelorette party and wedding or planning the wedding and the wedding itself.  I didn’t have too many ideas to start with, and as with the prior challenge, I went with the first strong idea I had.  I had no clue what I would do for a wedding planner scene, so I wrote it off immediately.  Maybe if there was more party/wedding clutter in the game, I might have attempted it, but there is very little.

I went with the bachelorette party/wedding scenes but decided to throw in a twist.  I’m really focusing on my model’s stated traits in order to prompt story ideas for these challenges.  In this case, Meg is “good” so I imagined that her real challenge was facing a shoot where she was asked to portray a woman discovering that she might not be ready to get married after all.  I imagined her discomfort when having to pose in front of  scantily clad male dancers at the bachelorette party and then when actually calling off the wedding. 

I’m very pleased with how the pictures came out, especially the bachelorette party picture.  Everything came together just as I’d hoped for that shot, but it took *forever* to set up.  The wedding wasn’t as easy.  I was pretty tired by the time I got to it.  Setting the scene wasn’t difficult, as I already had a nice church in mind, and with a little updating of patterns, addition of cross, statues, etc., it was ready.  I had to spend some time on the wedding attire of course, but I had a pretty clear picture of what I wanted there too.  My main difficulty was with the extras.  

I use Chaosmod to set up animations for my sims, but there seems to be a limit to the number of sims that can have looping animations at once.  I had 8 sims total in the scene but could only get about 5 of them to keep animating.  I don’t know if it’s a limit in the mod itself or has to do with my system, but I had to just eliminate one of the background characters and hope for the best with the other two.  They were all mostly cooperating in the final shot, but it’s not exactly what I wanted.  I’m not sure if the judges will notice that the model is pointing to her left hand as if to show there’s no ring on it either.  If they don’t, they may wonder about her pose.  Hopefully, my bachelorette shot is strong enough to overcome any weaknesses in the wedding shot.  I don’t hold out a high hope of winning, but it would be nice, as it would grant immunity on the next challenge.  Wish me luck!

A couple of outtakes from the bachelorette party:

I loved the humor of both of the shots, but the goal was to show the model overcoming her discomfort, so I didn’t use them.

Asian Inspiration

I’ve created and generated quite a few Asian sims recently, and I’d like to share a few of them with you today.  I’m not sure if I was inspired by World Adventures or just stumbled into creating them by accident, but the resulting sims are quite attractive, I think.  Just click on the image to download the sim.

Connie Lassiter

Connie Lassiter

Drea Chang

Drea Chang

Lee Chang

Lee Chang

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith