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How to take a screenshot, edit it and post it

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So many people have asked about this that I thought I'd lend a hand and write a more comprehensive guide for doing so. This is for Windows, if any Mac users need help, just ask. Okay, here we go:

1. Grab a Kodak moment

First of all, let's say the obvious: think what you want to do with your screenshot. If you want to show how a specific mechanic in the game looks like, it's okay to show it au naturel. But on the other hand, if you saw a breathtaking moment and want to share it with others, it's a good idea to turn off all the extra fluff, like icons (alt+I), make sure that trees are shown etc. Whether to show hit texts depends on what you want to show - you decide. Bumping up the 3D Quality for your shot is a good idea. The zoom option is also your friend. But perhaps most importantly, be aware that the 'Game is paused' text can be hidden if you press Shift+Esc to pause the game.

Now to the screen grabbing business! There's a few ways of doing this. Windows by default supports screen grabs by pressing PrintScreen, which copies the screen to the clipboard, after which you can paste it to an image editing program (see below).

But with some versions of Windows there are incompatibilities in this regard, and anyway it can be easier to use a screen capturing program to capture multiple screens without alt-tabbing out of the game in the meanwhile. A popular program for this purpose is FRAPS, but there are also ***FREE*** alternatives, such as IrfanView. I won't go through the specifics of how to use them, but you get to specify the screenshot hotkey and where they are saved, and possibly other details. Just make sure that the hotkey that you want to use is not used by the game to avoid hilarious accidents.

2. Make it look nice (and small)

Now that you have a screenshot - either waiting in your Windows clipboard or saved in your screenshot folder - it's time to think how to use it. The idea is to post it in the forum, so you probably want to make it suitable for the purpose - not so large in area that people with narrower browser screens will have to scroll the view, not so large in size that people with slower connections will have to wait for the screen to load.

First of all, you need an image editing program. GIMP is a good choice, as is Paint.net and they both are also ***FREE***. But everything told here can be done with Photoshop or PaintShop Pro or whatever you're using.

First of all, consider what you want to show. The user interface takes up a large portion, so unless you actually need to show it, you probably want to dump that. For just showing scenic shots the compass in the top right corner is also a big off-putting. To avoid these, we use the Crop Tool. Select the Crop Tool, then paint with it the area that you want to limit the image to, and double click on it. Now your image is a bit smaller.

But for internet forums, we want to make it a little bit smaller still. Especially width counts for most forum dwellers. A good average image width varies between 700 and 1200 pixels. If your selection fits between those marks, good. If not, no worry: we can scale the picture to a smaller size (in GIMP, Shift+S). Then save. With saving there's a choice of format to make: for web publishing, you will be looking at JPG, GIF or PNG. GIF is limited to 256 colours and is mostly used for animation. JPG is the best for making compressed images. It is a lossy format, meaning that the compression loses little tricks to cheat the eye that distort the image. Depending on how much you compress it, the difference may vary from unnoticeable to noticeable. You will have to experiment to find the line. Then there's PNG, which offers a lossless alternative but can also be a lot bigger in size compared to JPG. You're best to do a little experimenting first to see how the file sizes go. As a rule of thumb, your usual screenshot for the forums should be no bigger than 100-200 kB. If it goes over 1 MB, you should look at ways to reduce its size, such as increasing compression or reducing overall size.

3. Post it so we can mock you

First of all: even though BFC forum allows you to attach a picture, you shouldn't normally use this because it automatically scales it down to a stamp size. It's a better idea to first upload your picture to an online image hosting site. There are many of them: ImageShack, Photobucket, TinyPic, Imgur, Flickr and so on. What's common between them is that they're ***FREE***. I've become fond of Imgur because it allows you to easily upload a multitude of pictures with no hassle, but there's really no lack of competition in this market so try out a few of them and see which ones you like the best. Some require registration, some don't. After you're done uploading, you are provided with the URL(s) for your screenshot(s). Typically there's a bunch of different ready-formatted versions listed. For BFC forum you will want the one beginning with tag . Or you can just use the raw URL of the image and use the Insert Image button in the forum interface, or manually insert the [img]your image tags.

And that's all it takes!

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I can't get any screen grab tool to get the CM Normandy window. They all default back to the desktop.

Loaded IrfanView and tried the snipping tool both with the same result

I'm using Windows 7 Professional is there a step I have left out or is it just me!

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First I tried the PrtScn Button (but that would only capture the desktop)

Then I used Windows 7 Snipping Tool (Tried all 4 methods Free-Form Snip, Rectangular Snip, Window Snip and Full-Screen snip all methods take great desktop screen grabs)

Finally I tried Irfanview (Tried Capture Area: settings 1),2),3),4),5) and 6) and I was still ony getting the desktop. I would have thought 4) Foreground Window - Client Area would have done it.)

I have WITP AE on my machine I will try taking a screen grab of this while in play and see what happens. It may be an all over thing or just CM Normandy

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When I grab the screen of CMBN, I just get black.

Same here. Running Win7 Ultimate with dual monitors. I get a nice shot of my desktop on the second monitor, but just black on the CMBN screen.

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  • 2 months later...

I just went back to see if someone answered this question.

But I am now trying to capture images and find I have the same problem, print screen is grabing images of my desk top, not of the game. I figure there might be a easy fix in that maybe its a switch option in the windows program, does anyone know the answer to this.

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Free software worth mentioning includes ImageMagick and FFmpeg

Imagemagick is particulary useful if you need to do the same thing to many images e.g resize.

ffmpeg is astonishingly powerful software - in this context you can use it convert between video formats, extract slices of a video or generate images for each frame in a video (and tons of other things).

Both are free and there are links to Windows binary downloads on both sites.

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No luck, sure seems funny how it is only CMBN I cannot get the printscreen to work on, it just does not seem to reconize it is there. I tried some other programs and it captures the program fine, I have a good photo program so I really should not need a freebie, plus that would really not change what I am capturing in the buffer.

Plus anyway, it brings up the question of why not have something within the game to capture images. Most of my other games have a button asigned and a folder location to save images you want while you are playing. We have all these wishes for major improvements in the game, but it still lacks some pretty basic helps.

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  • 4 months later...

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