Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sims 3 Creating a Family Tree

I've been asked to give instruction on the process of creating a family tree for Sims 3 families.  My family trees are created using Microsoft Office Publisher 2003.  I hope this tutorial is clear & helpful! Please note, that I do not go into every detail of using Publisher.  This tutorial is best for those who are at least minimally familiar with Publisher.

Step 1 - Make sure to have a good picture of your Sims.  If you can, take a picture of your Sim while they are in CAS (or you can change their appearance in the mirror and take a picture of them there).  To take a picture of your Sim, just hit the "C" key on your keyboard. The picture will be found in Documents, Electronic Arts, The Sims 3 in the  folder.
Here's a picture of Tania Dean after clicking a mirror & changing her appearance.
If your Sims has a boyfriend/girlfirend or fiance that is not a part of your immediate household, you will have to take an in game picture of them (unless you are using a mod).  Just try to get a clear shot.
Here's an in game picture of Antwain, Tania's boyfriend

Step 2 - Open up the picture in your favorite photo editing program and crop it to your liking:
Here's the same picture of Tania, cropped to eliminate any excess background

Step 3 - Once you have pictures of everyone that you want to include in your family tree, now it's time to create the family tree. I like to use Microsoft Publisher  (Blank Print Document) for this process, but you may be able to use other programs that allow you to easily create boxes and add pictures.  These are the tools in Publisher that you'll need:
This is what the left side of my Publisher program looks like when I open it.  I am using Microsoft Office Publisher 2003.

Here's my completed Ward Family tree:
To create this simple family tree, I used the Text Box tool in Publisher and added the family name:

Next, I added pictures of Miles and Sephora.  To add pictures in Publisher, you go to Insert, choose Picture and choose From File.  Find the pictures that you want to use, size them and place them where you want them to go.  After adding Miles & Sephora's pictures, I added Text Boxes under the picture and added their names:
Now, I want to signify that Miles & Sephora are married.  I add another box to connect the two of them:
Right now the box is covering up their names and doesn't look right.  To remedy that, I right click the newly added box, choose Order, and choose Send to Back.
Now the box is where you want it to be, but there is an ugly black line between Miles & Sephora's name.  To get rid of it, create another box.
 Right now the box looks terrible.  Right click the box, choose Format AutoShape and the Format AutoShape box will pop up, like this:

Under Fill, go to Color and choose White.  Under Line, go Color and once again choose White as shown by the red arrows below:
 Now the box will be white, but it still does not look right:
Simply right click the box, choose Order, and choose Send Backward. If the box is not completely behind your pictures and name boxes, then right click the pictures and name boxes, choose Order and Bring to Front.  The end result should be this:
You want the white box to be below the pictures & name boxes, but above the ugly black line that you want to hide.
 This is a simple family tree.  If your two Sims have a child as Miles & Sephora later did, you add the child by adding a line:

Then add the child's picture and a Text Box for their name:
For more complicated family trees, you can change the colors of each connected line to indicate marriages, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, engagements and adoptions.  You can also change the lines to dashed lines, under the Format AutoShape box.  I use dashed lines to indicate divorces or breakups.
To change the thickness of your lines or shapes, go to Weight:

Here is one of my more complicated family trees, The Dean Family:

Please note the Key at the side of the family tree.  The key helps your readers understand what the different color lines and dashes mean on your family tree.  I also like to indicate what members are deceased on my family trees.  To create the Key, I use a Text Box.  I then add lines to the Key box, next to the appropriate label.  (See the red arrow below, showing that lines are added to the Key box.)

The nice thing about using Publisher to create your family trees is that they are easily altered to add new family members!  Make sure you save your family tree Publisher file for this purpose!

That's about it. Please leave feedback below to let me know if these instructions are clear and whether or not you were able to follow along.  I will adjust these instructions based on the feedback I get in the comment area.  Thanks!

Here are links to all of my current family trees for your reference:
The Pratt Family of Sunset Valley (This is a very complicated family tree that goes back 5 generations. I did not have good pictures of the earlier generations, so I just used what I had)

The Dean Family of Riverview (Again, I did not have good pictures of the earlier generations, so I had to use what I had - 3 generations)

The Price Family of Twinbrook (Slightly more complicated - 2 generations)

The Ward Family of Barnacle Bay (Simple family tree - 2 generations)

The Hamilton/Boyd Household (Simple family tree - 1 generation)


  1. Can this tree be opened when you click on the family tree button?

  2. It will look like the family tree on my family pages (such as this one -