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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
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.
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.
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.