Taking Great Screenshots

I’ve had lots of lovely comments about my screenshots over the years, often trying to make each one unique although more often than not, I use some sort of image manipulation in them (usually to clone something out). If you look back over my library of ‘Silver Dragon‘ shots, you’ll see a discernible difference in the quality of shots. As I’ve mentioned before, around the time I started my screenshot collection of rares, it all began with a Rak’shiri pic from Winterspring. Hugadarn actually takes credit for the pic after I asked him to take it. It was also instrumental in my desire to try and capture every rare in the game. This collection has taken on a life of it’s own since then and was probably the hardest part about migrating my blog over recently – it holds over 400 images alone but it’s still a collection that I’m proud to maintain.

For those of you who are looking to improve the quality of your in-game shots in WoW, try these tips, if you haven’t already. I’m going to assume that your computer is capable of running/displaying high quality graphics.

  • Set your video settings to ‘Ultra’. Found under ‘Game Menu’ > Options > Graphics > Ultra.
  • In your graphics settings, bump Multisampling to x4. Anything less will give you jagged edges – even if the rest of your settings are on Ultra.
  • Also set your resolution to a higher setting to give you better clarity for images.
  • Highlight yourself (or whoever is the focus of your shot) with your mouse.
  • Turn off your in-game UI using the Alt+Z (or ⌘+V) command.

Since 2.1.0, WoW defaulted to saving your screenshots as .jpg, (JPEG format). This cut down the file size but will also destroy some detail due to JPG being a lossy format. People who want to change the format back to TARGA (TGA) will need to use the following command:

/console screenshotFormat tga

You may also set the format to JPEG but change the quality (decreasing compression and increasing size) with the following commands:

/console screenshotFormat jpg
/console screenshotQuality 10

You can also look for and edit (or add) the 2 lines in config.wtf:

SET screenshotFormat "f"
SET screenshotQuality "q"

Where f is the format (jpg or tga) and q is the quality (1-10). Note the double quotes. The change will be reflected the next time you start the game.

Note that screenshotQuality only affects JPEG screenshots (TGA screenshots always use lossless quality). There are reports that an older version would compress the images to JPEG and then save them as TGA (causing a loss of quality) but this does not happen with the current patch. Also, note that anything other than “tga” in screenshotFormat sets it to the default (JPEG).

If you want to revert to the original settings you can use these commands:

/console screenshotFormat jpg
/console screenshotQuality 3

Let’s compare the quality of JPG vs TGA

Standard JPG Quality (3)

Best JPG Quality (10)

TGA Quality

You’ll notice at normal resolution (100%) you won’t always see much of a difference but let’s have a look when we zoom in at 400% resolution.

Comparing JPG with TGA

You’ll notice a lot more artifacts in the top picture being a JPG. But personally I like using JPG for my screenies (at the highest quality setting of 10). Mainly because it offers me the quality I need and you can easily see the thumbnail versions in Windows Explorer without having to open it in a secondary program like Photoshop.

OS X / Mac limitations for screenshotFormat & screenshotQuality

As of 10th March 2012 (4.3.3)

  • .tga is not a supported format for screenshots on Macs. This is due to the removal of the QuickTime APIs that was used for this.
  • The screenshotQuality cvar is not supported on Mac.

Source : http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4366252520#5

Lastly, one of my favourite addons is Multishot – a tiny addon that automatically takes screenshots of memorable events in your World of Warcraft career. It’s a photo diary of everything you come across in Azeroth, Outland and Northrend. It’s great for boss kills and can even take a pic when you ding or various other achievements – although its also one of the fastest ways to get a huge screenshot folder.

The Nightmare is Over

Coolidge and I finally finished Nightmare Difficulty tonight. I last left off with us just entering Heaven for the final Act.

I just love the look of Auriel, she’s probably my favourite Angel. Their wings look so different to the ones in WoW but different game so it makes sense. Although the other day Coolidge told me about the boars on D3 looking just like the ones in WoW. I even read a blog post about it but can’t remember where I saw it =/

We’ve all seen this screen before but there’s a reason I’ve linked it today. We were in the Radiant Chapel doing what we do, which usually means Cool holding the big guy while I pick off the little ones. In this instance, there were a lot of those mobs that drop those frost grenades. I usually Diamond Shield if I’m close to them but this time I had quite a few on me and my DS and pot were on CD. So I died…

No real interest there right?

Well, waiting there for Cool to finish off everything, I was lying there dead (minding my own business) when some more of those grenades were thrown around where I was lying. Once they blew, I was blasted as well which is why my body was blown away from the grave. All of a sudden I saw my corpse flying head first straight into the railing… at the time I thought it was hilarious and even looking at the pic now it makes me giggle.

I didn’t even realise that could happen once you were dead. Although come to think of it I have seen some really funny things in WoW when people are dead. One involves Hugadarn dying towards the entrance in AQ40 when we were 2P’ing the first mobs for mounts. He had died towards the portal but started sliding backwards across the sand, up the big boulder and then down the other side. LMAO!

Last night, I wasn’t content to log out since Coolidge had just managed to ding 50 and I was just a sliver from dinging as well, so we headed through the Gateway to the Silver Spire, killing a few groups of mobs before I levelled as well.

Here we are the night before. I had just managed to get the achievement for colouring everything one colour. I wish you could see which colours you had used on an item already without having to zoom in. That doesn’t always help me as the dyes aren’t always that distinct, esp on the shoulders. So I probably ended up colouring the same item the same colour a couple of times trying to figure out which item I was missing for the achievement. I’ve since noticed that you can’t colour your bracers or weapon (didn’t think you could but I just thought I’d try anyway) :P

Surprisingly, killing Diablo wasn’t as bad as I expected. Even the shadow phase wasn’t that bad, The worst bit was the third phase back in our realm, when s/he did the spray. I’m just glad I didn’t die but it’s pretty rare that I’ll die on a boss.

I had started talking to my followers for the chat achievement as well as taking a pic when I saw the pop-up that asked if I wanted to leave Nightmare and go to the next level of Difficulty. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise there was timer counting down and thought I could just close the thing and exit later. I was annoyed at myself the first time round as I wanted a pic of how I looked on the Character select screen with that cool Heaven backdrop but I didn’t know how to get the backdrop back so I was determined to get one this time ’round. While we were discussing this, Cool told me there were only 6sec left until were were dropping out… I hadn’t even started looting yet… so I raced over to at least pick up the yellow item and was trying to pick up one of the purples when I saw a black screen. Oh well, I really only wanted the yellow anyway.

On a positive note, Cool told me we could just switch back to Nightmare difficulty and select the last quest for the Heaven shot, so without further ado, here it is :)

Nightmare Difficulty complete! Bring on Hell :)

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