Easels are objects in The Sims, The Sims 2, The Sims 3 and The Sims 4. They build Fun, and allow Sims to make money by selling their paintings. In The Sims and The Sims 2, painting at an easel builds the Creativity skill, and in The Sims 3 and The Sims 4, it builds the Painting skill.
In The Sims, the easel is called the "Dimanche" Folding Easel, though it does not actually fold. (In keeping with the artsy theme of this easel, "Dimanche" means "Sunday" in French.) The paintings made on it are not separate from it, and cannot be removed from it. A finished painting can be sold by clicking on it. A partially finished painting cannot be scrapped, but the easel can be sold with a partially finished painting on it. Regardless of who started a partially finished painting, any Sim can continue it, and may do so autonomously.
It can be used by children, but the painting they produce will be childish.
The Sims 2
In The Sims 2, the easel is called the Independent Expressions Inc. Easel. It costs §100 more than its counterpart in The Sims, but is considerably improved. With the Independent Expressions Easel, only the Sim who started a painting can continue it. Any Sim can scrap an unfinished painting, which will clear the easel, but Sims will not do this autonomously. The player can click on a finished painting to sell it, or use the hand tool in Buy mode to remove it from the easel and place it on a wall. The Sim who painted the painting does not have to be the one to sell it. Completing a painting builds the hidden painting skill, which increases the sale price of future paintings by that Sim.
Until the Sim has five points of Creativity skill, the only option is "Practice Painting". For Sims with at least five points of Creativity skill, this becomes "Paint", and the ability to paint a still life or portrait is unlocked. For both of those actions, the player will shown a red frame with the same dimensions as the easel. This can be used to select the view that will be painted. For a still life, nothing more needs to be done; the Sim will start painting, and can stop and continue as with any other painting. However, if the player chooses to have the Sim paint a portrait, the Sim to be painted will come to stand beside the easel. The Sim cannot be posed, and the player will need to use the red frame to line up the portrait. The Sim painting the portrait will only be able to work on it while the subject is standing next to the easel.
The Pets expansion pack added the ability for Sims with at least five points of Creativity skill to paint custom paintings from images on the player's computer, as long as they have the same dimensions as the easel's canvas. If FreeTime is installed, the easel also builds enthusiasm for the Arts and Crafts hobby.
Since children, and even toddlers, can gain Creativity skill in The Sims 2, the quality of a child's paintings will depend on his or her skill level, just as with adults.
A Sim may have a want to "Sell a Masterpiece", which is fulfilled if the painting sells for over §500, or a fear of selling a lousy painting, which is fulfilled if the painting sells for under §100. These wants and fears are only fulfilled if the painting is sold off the easel; they are not fulfilled if the painting is placed on a wall and sold in Buy mode. Also, they are only fulfilled if the Sim who has them is the one who sells the painting. The first time a Sim sells a masterpiece, he or she will receive a positive memory. A Sim who has just sold a masterpiece will often receive a minor want to quit his or her job. With FreeTime, Sims may roll the fear of selling a lousy painting and/or the want to sell a masterpiece once they reach level 3 in Arts and Crafts enthusiasm, and they can reach that level well before they have gained enough skill to sell paintings for more than §100.
An easel with a partially-finished painting can be placed in a Sim's inventory. The painting can be finished at a later time. However, if the Sim who has the easel in their inventory moves to a different lot, the easel will "forget" who started the painting, and the painting will have to be scrapped.
The Sims 3
Only the Sim who started a painting can continue it, though any Sim can scrap a painting. (Sims will not scrap paintings autonomously.) Sims can't however use easels on any lot but their own. Sims can paint in three different sizes - small, medium and large. With higher skill levels, Sims can paint still life or portraits. They can even memorize a scene to paint it later, and do stylized still lifes.
With The Sims 3: World Adventures, Sims can make a painting from a photograph if their skill level is high enough. Anyone from child to elder can paint, and improve their painting skill. There are also three toddler books that help give a head start to the painting skill when read.
Ricardo Richards' Easel
Slouch and Deliver Easel by Secret Bohemia
Matrixxe Holographic Easel by Korben Computing
Serious Artist's EaselThe Sims 3 Store offers one additional easel which is effectively just a reskinned Artsy Easel. It is more elegantly shaped than the blocky, school-roomesque Artsy Easel.
The Sims 4
In the beginning, only one Easel is available: E.A.S.L. Easel. It costs §350 and can be used at first to only paint Classic Paintings. As your Painting skill raises, other painting types unlock. Any Sim can paint, children have their own item similar to the Easel, Creative Art Thou Activity Table. Painting is heavily influenced by Emotions, and 6 special emotional paintings are available to paint.
The only Easel available at the beginning, it has a Painting Quality rating of 4 and comes in 3 colors: light brown, dark brown and blue. Each color exists in 2 styles, with or without paint stains on it.
Unlocked at Level 4 of the Painter career, it has a Painting Quality rating of 5 and comes in 3 colors: light brown, dark brown and black.
Pre-Owned Painter's Easel
Unlocked when choosing the Patron of the Arts branch of the Painter career (Level 8), it has a Painting Quality rating of 7 and an Inspiring Décor rating of 4. It comes in 3 colors: white, brown and black.
Deluxe All-Season Easel
Unlocked when choosing the Master of the Arts branch of the Painter career (level 8), it has a Painting Quality rating of 9 and comes in 3 colors: black, brown and white.