CFE Tutorial: A Mid-Century Living Room, Method One

I was asked last weekend by the author of Sim Creates to write a tutorial to help people use the constrainfloorelevation off cheat to create sloped ceilings.

Sim Creates provided me with a lovely picture, which I’ll be recreating in my game.

Here is the picture.


I’m going to show you two different versions over the course of two posts, one without 3D ceiling beams and a more advanced version with them. Both will be step-by-step guides and should be comprehensible to people who have never done any cfe work before, but the second one will take longer and might get stressful for beginners.

Of course, to make a basic sloped ceiling you don’t have to use cfe at all: simply don’t put any tiles under the roof. But if you want to be able to paint the ceiling, read on!


Method One: Without Beams

Before I start building anything, I always like to turn off autoroofs and make sure the lot is completely flat.

Now I’m ready to build the first level of my structure. I don’t want to complicate this tutorial too much, so I’m not create a whole house, just a concept model for the living room. I’m going to make my room 10×7.

Then, I’m going to add another identical room right above it. It’s perfectly possible to create a sloped ceiling with just one level, but I want to use the ‘clearstory three-tier window’ from Lucky Palms to match the inspiration picture, so I need to use two. I’m going to place the windows now to help you get a sense of what I’m up to.

Next, it’s the roof. You may have noticed that I sometimes sculpt my own roofs using the platform tool, but that’s really something that needs its own tutorial. Here, I’m just going to use the standard tall gable roof, dragging it out to cover the entire 10×7 second level.

If you want to add any interior walls, now’s the time to do it. You’ll need the walls to stretch up to the top of your second level. I’ll create a little room in the corner of my structure just to show you what I mean.

This would also apply to the chimney if you want to use the wall tool to create yours. I’m just going to use the ‘color me chimney’ pieces from the store.

We’re about to start our cfe work, but first I’m just going to create a row of extra tiles on each side of my roof. I always do this when I’m using cfe, as they can make it a little easier to correct mistakes.

Another thing I like to do is put up construction towers off to the side so that I’m not messing about too much with my build itself. These towers can be raised or lowered using the terrain tools. The resulting heights can then be applied to the main build by dragging across to it with the level terrain tool.

I’m going to build three towers – one to lower down, and two on either side to let me reach the right and left sides of my roof. They all need to be two levels high because my build is two levels high; it is not possible to drag across between different levels.

To make my tower shorter, I’m going to use the lower terrain tool on the ground beneath it. I always use the smallest square brush at the softest setting to do things like this. Here is a little guide to how far different numbers of clicks with this brush will take you:

  • 12 clicks takes you up/down the height of of standard wall
  • 4 clicks takes you up/down the height of a frieze, or 1/3 the height of a standard wall
  • 3 clicks takes you up/down the height of a foundation, a four-step flight of stairs, or 1/4 the height of a standard wall
  • 1 click takes you up/down 1/12 the height of a standard wall

The tallest part of my second story is going to be half the height of a standard wall. That’s six clicks down. Taller than that (i.e. fewer clicks) would also be fine, but shorter than that (i.e. more clicks) would leave us with the window poking through the roof  – if you’re using the same dimensions and layout as I am, that is.

So, at last we can activate the cheat. I need to hit ctrl+shift+c  to bring up the cheat box, type testingcheatsenabled on into it and press enter, then bring it up again, input constrainfloorelevation off and hit enter again.

Next, I’m going to bring my camera down to the lowest level, and very gently click six times at each of the four corners of the base of my tower. It’s easy to click too hard by accident, but you’ll get used to spotting when this has happened and undoing the last click.

Something I find helpful when making these little clicks is to keep the top of my construction tower untiled. If its base is uneven, the grid will disappear, and I’ll know I’ve clicked too many times in one of my corners. If the grid is still visible, I’ve probably haven’t messed up, as I’m unlikely to have made the same mistake four times in a row.

As you go along, it’s best to keep a written note of how many clicks up or down you are meant to be from ground level, in case you lose count and need to start again.

I’m going to use the level terrain tool to expand the lowered area out a bit, just so I’m not working in a tiny hole.

Now that I have the height I want, I’m ready to select the level terrain tool, and drag all the way across to my roof.

Sometimes when you’re doing a lot of leveling, you’ll notice the tool gets stuck and doesn’t have any effect. When this happens, simply select another tool for a moment, then switch back to the level terrain tool.

My roof is now floating high above the rest of my build but there’s an easy trick I can use to fix this later. Don’t worry about it for now.

The incline of the clearstory window is exactly the difference of one click, which works out perfectly for me. So, I’m going to lower my construction tower with one click in each of its four corners.

If you ever need to go down exactly three clicks, you can make things much easier for yourself by using the stairs method described towards the end of this post. But that would be too steep for my purposes here, so I’m stuck doing it the fiddly way.

Next, I’m going to level across to my two other construction towers, to bring them down to the same height.

And here’s where the sculpting begins. I’m going to level across from my two outer construction towers to one tile before the center of my roof.

Doing so should create a little point like this.

Then it’s down another click with the central construction tower. After that, I can bring the outer ones down to its height, and level across to one tile before the slope begins on each side of my roof.

Down one more click.

The ceiling is really starting to take shape now.

The next click down will take me to my outermost row of tiles on each side. I can leave these ones flat because they’re not going to be part of my ceiling.

At this point it’s crucial that I enter the cheat constrainfloorelevation on. I don’t need to do any more cfe, and I don’t want to mess up my hard work. I should also turn testingcheatsenabled off because I don’t need it any more.

I can delete my construction towers and level over the hole I made in the ground.

To fix the roof I left floating in the air, all I have to do is delete it with the sledgehammer tool then hit undo. This method will work provided that all four of the corners of the roof are resting at the same height: the raised tiles in the center have no impact on where the roof thinks it needs to sit.

I don’t need these tiles any more.

Using the ‘adjust roof height’ tool to lower the roof gradient  will get rid of the little gap between my tiles and roof.

We’re nearly done, but you will notice that when you bring the camera down you can’t see your ceiling at all!

The remedy for this is to add a tile just past where your slope ends. The moment you put the flat roof or ceiling tools anywhere near the underside of it from below, your paintable ceiling will miraculously appear. The extra tile can be deleted afterwards.

You can’t paint sloped ceiling tiles individually, but you can hold down the shift key to cover the hole thing at once. I’m going to use a white tile with a wooden edge to look like beams.

In tab mode, the whole ceiling can be viewed from the second level.

Now all that’s left to do is decorate!

I hope this tutorial was helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments section. Next week, I’ll publish the second half of the tutorial, expanding on the techniques introduced here to explain how I’d build the same room with 3D ceiling beams.

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