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

In my last tutorial, I explained how I’d create a sloped ceiling to match an inspiration picture I’d been given. This time, I’m going to be using similar techniques, but with the addition of 3D beams. I’m going to try to keep things as beginner-friendly as possible, but I’ll assume throughout that you’ve already read and understood that previous tutorial.

Here’s what we’ll be working towards:

I’ll be using the base game monorail fencing to create the beams. I’m going to get them pushed up against the ceiling like that by creating a very thin level just for them. To help you visualize what I mean, here’s how the empty room would look if I colour coded the three different levels purple, red, and yellow:

Let’s get started…

 

Method Two: With Beams

My basic structure will be similar to the one I made last time. It’s a 7×10 box with the chimney pieces and clearstory windows.

This time, I’m going to need three levels.

I have to tile the floor of the third level (or the ceiling of the second level – however you prefer to think of it), otherwise I’m going to struggle to place any ceiling lights I want to use. I’ll be able to delete these tiles later on.

I’m going to make my roof hang over by an extra tile to the right and left. I plan to have my beams extend out past the exterior walls, to make it look like they’re supporting this overhang. You don’t have to do this; I just wanted to demonstrate the idea. I mustn’t forget to tile the area where my roof will be.

I’m also going to add extra rows of tiles where those further bits of beam will go.

I still want some more tiles around the areas where I’ll be doing cfe work. This time I’ve coloured them red so you can see more clearly.

Now the monorail fence can be laid. It goes on the floor of the third level.

It’s time to create my construction towers. I’m going to have four – the usual two on either side for dragging across, but this time two in the center to get the heights for the two different levels I’ll be editing.

The first central one is the same as last time. It’s two levels high and six clicks down.

I’m going to expand the six-clicks-deep sunken area out to use as a starting point for my second tower.

Okay, here’s where we have to do a bit of rather fuzzy maths. The fence itself it just a fraction shorter than the height of one click; the ceiling tile that will be directly above it is just a bit shorter than that. To accommodate them both, my third level will need to be about as tall as 1.5 clicks. (Tests I’ve done have shown that two clicks will leave a gap between the ceiling and the beams, and at one click the beams will be embedded in the ceiling too much, so we do definitely need to aim for something in between.)

You may remember that a full wall is 12 clicks, so that means I’ll have to make the equivalent of 10.5 clicks down. But how do I make half a click?

First, from my already sunken starting point, I need to lower a square by ten further clicks.

Next, I’ll expand the area out to give me a bit more space to work in.

Now I can lower one tile one click (in each corner) further down.

My strategy is to use the soften terrain tool to bring this lowered tile up just a little bit. When doing this, it’s a good idea to surround it with floor tiles, so that the tool only brings the lower area up, and not the higher area down.

Keeping my brush on the softest, smallest square, I’m going to click gently a few times until my lowered square looks about half way between its original height and the height of the surrounding tiles. One click in each corner should do it.

There is a longer and more precise may to check sure you’re at exactly half the height of a click, but that’s really not necessary here, since I don’t even know whether 1.5 is the best possible height (rather than, say, 1.4 or 1.6): we just need ‘something in between one and two’.

When I’m happy with my height, I’ll use the level terrain tool to flatten my tile, as softening the terrain will have made it a bit wonky.

I don’t need these tiles any more.

Now I can find my sunken tile and drag across to level out my lower area to that height. The base for my second construction tower should now be around 10.5 clicks lower than the base for my first one, and around 16.5 clicks below ground level.

My tower needs to be three levels tall.

The ones at the sides should also be three levels. I’m also going to make them a bit longer this time, so that I can easily use them to take heights from both central towers.

At this point I need to turn testingcheatsenabled on and constrainfloorelevation off.

It’s time to begin leveling across to the main build. I need to start by bringing down the second level.

When we’re working with cfe, it’s almost always better to do the lower levels first, because altering their height will usually mess up any sculpting we’ve already done above.

Now I’ll bring the third level down too, using my three-story construction tower.

You may want to check that you’re happy with the height of your third level. I’m going to delete some tiles for a moment, just so I can see what’s going on.

Yep, this is fine.

I can hit undo to put the tiles back.

Okay, let the sculpting begin. This is going to be accomplished using the same technique we covered in the easier version of this tutorial. I need to send my two-story construction tower down by one click, level across to my outer constructions towers, then level across to just before the center of my build on both sides.

See how all this sends the tiles above shooting upwards?

Now for the three-story construction tower. Don’t worry, there’s not going to be any more imprecise terrain softening. It’s just going to be one click with the lower terrain tool in each corner, exactly as I did for the other construction tower.

I can level across in the same way too.

Then I’ll lower the next rows down, first using my two-story construction tower, then my three-story one.

I can keep going like this until I reach my red tiles.

I don’t have any more sculpting work to do, so I need to turn constrainfloorelevation on and testingcheatsenabled off.

The red tiles at the top of my second level are no longer necessary; nor are the rows of tiles supporting my exterior beams. However, it’s important that I don’t delete any of the tiles inside my build just yet, otherwise there won’t be a grid for my lights to rest upon.

The red tiles at the top of my third level can also be deleted.

Oh, and I should delete and undo to fix that floating roof. (I forgot the picture for this one, but you know what to do.)

While I’m correcting little bits and pieces, now seems like a good time to put one tile back temporarily and place my cursor underneath it to make the ceiling appear. This is the same trick I used last time, and one you’ll find necessary for any cfe work involving slanted tiles.

Let me get rid of all this nonsense.

I need to put the lighting for my third level in now, while I still have the tiles to support it. The level’s so narrow that it’s difficult to see the lights at all, but they are there. If you’re not sure how many you need or where you want them, err on the side of excess. ‘It’s easier to delete than to add’ is one of the golden rules of cfe. You may or may not need moveobjects on.

Now I’m going to take a backup of my save, and I recommend you do the same. I’m about to delete the slanted tiles forming the base of my third level. Once I’ve gone into live mode and can no longer ‘undo’ the action, I won’t be able to get them back without redoing all the cfe or rolling back my save to this point.

I’m not deleting the tiles at the top of my third level (those are my ceiling!), just the ones at the top of my second level. Here’s how my room looks without them:

I’m going to paint my ceiling white.

Here’s how it looks when I go into tab mode:

The undersides of the beams are very shadowy, I know. There is a sort of workaround for this, but it’s not going to be right for every situation. Let me show you quickly.

What I can do is delete one of these wall segments. It’s right underneath the roof, so you’ll never even know it’s missing when you’re looking at the build as a whole.

Opening the room up like this allows the beams to be lit by natural light while the sun is up.

Even at night they don’t get unacceptably dark.

The problem with this solution is that it takes the lighting of the upper level completely out of your control during the daytime. I’d favour this approach if I didn’t mind my upper level being a different colour from everything else – if I’d CASted it to look like a strip of wood or something – but for this example I want my walls to be brilliant white all the way up, so it’s no good, and I’ll have to live with the shadowy beams. I’m just going to hit undo to bring my wall back.

Now I can set up the lighting for the second and first levels. These levels both have flat bases, so I don’t need to worry about tiles for my lights to rest upon.

Once I’ve unloaded all the furniture I used in my last version from my inventory, all I have to do is CASt my beams. I could have done this at any stage, but I like to wait until the lighting’s in.

And there we are!

Again, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. I’d also be open to writing more cfe tutorials by request, so if there’s an inspiration picture that has you stumped, or if you’ve been wondering how I did something in one of my builds, do share.

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2 thoughts on “CFE Tutorial: A Mid-Century Living Room, Method Two

    • Thanks 🙂 I imagine most people will go for the first version, but I wanted to provide this one too, just to show what’s possible! It’s definitely very fiddly at first, but the more you do it, the more like second nature it becomes xx

      Like

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