This is a brief rundown on how to get up and running with the new blueprint and be creating objects in no time.

Obviously, you have to launch the program to start the ball rolling. After doing that, blueprint loads up references to all the Sim objects it finds (both on the hard drive and inside FAR files). You then need to either open or start a new project. Click on “File | New” or select the “New” button on the toolbar. A file dialog appears that asks you what type of project do you want to create? Currently only New Object is available, but there are other projects like FAR file, Sims Scene that are completed by not available in release 1. Future releases will allow you to create new character animations and other goodies (at least that’s the plan).

After selecting New Object and clicking OK, the Object Wizard begins and asks you what you want to call your object. The object must be unique from any other object in the Objects folder beneath where blueprint is installed to. If you duplicate the name, blueprint will ask if you want to overwrite your previous object. Step 2 asks you what object you want to base your new one on. Then the base object is cloned and put into the Objects directory with the new name you gave it and the 4-way split view of the scene is displayed. The upper left corner contains the front view, the lower left contains the top view, the lower right contains the side view and the upper right contains the Sims view. The Sims view is the same projection as seen in the game, so what you see here is basically what will be in the game (give or take a few pixels).

At this point you’re ready to start creating your object. blueprint has all the information about the object that The Sims needs, but there’s still the new graphics that have to be created. This is done by building a 3D object and having blueprint generate the sprite imaages for you to complete the object. blueprint comes with a dozen or so primitives, building blocks that you can use to make new objects with. Things like cubes, spheres, cones and rods fall into this catagory. Combining these primitives allows you to build new 3D shapes fairly quickly. You can also import pre-created 3D files into blueprint and use that as the base for your object. Release 1 supports 3DS files but more are on the way.

Once you’ve defined the geometry of your object, you can apply materials or assign textures to the object. For example, a simple set of blocks applied with some stone becomes a brand new concrete planter for The Sims. Mix and match texture and materials and combining 3D files with blueprint primitives will make your objects unique in The Sims world.

After importing and detailing your model, it’s time to setup the sprites to render. Sim objects are made up of a number of images, or sprites. Each sprite handles the various rotation and zoom factors but you don’t have to worry about those. Just launch the Sprite Editor from the Object menu. The Sprite Editor allows you to selectively choose the elements in blueprint that will be used to construct a new sprite. Select the sprite you want to replace, then select the blueprint element(s) that will be used. Click on Generate Preview and the image is created and stored for you. YOu can always come back to this dialog box as often as you need to tweak your object.

Then it’s just a matter of clicking on File | Export and your object is deposited into the game, ready to be played with. All objects are exported to the “Downloadsblueprint” folder where The Sims is installed to.

Stay tuned for more news as the release draws nearer.