Yeah, it’s easy to take screenshots, but it takes a bit more than just pressing a button to get the best grabs. Only the best grabs get printed in magazines. Here are my tips for getting good grabs.
- Think like a photographer. Especially if you’re playing in a 3D environment where you can position the viewpoint. Use perspective and framing to your advantage.
- Timing. Getting a good grab can be a matter of timing. And – unlike real life – you can try again and again to get that perfect grab.
- Information. If a grab conveys a lot of information, that is a good thing. Especially if you are capturing a key moment in the game. Make sure important text is legible.
- Humour. Grabs can be funny sometimes. Funny grabs are worth their weight in BitCoins. Stuff like extreme close-ups. Or bits of dialogue that are funny. Or ridiculous storylines. Bugs. All kinds of stuff.
- Light. Just like in real life: you need light to make a grab (or a photograph) interesting. If you’re grabbing a game that uses subtle lighting effects: use them to your advantage. Use light in the distance to backlight things.
- Be a good editor. This is crucially important. What I mean by that is: only pick the very best shots. Take a lot of shots, but get rid of anything that isn’t too interesting. So that you’re only left with the best grabs. Be ruthless in your decision-making.
- Set up a comfortable grabbing key or button. Define a way of taking grabs that makes it quick and easy for you to take them. In Steam, for example, you can define which key press takes a screenshot in the options menu. The same kind of thing on most modern consoles. Set it up so that it’s easy for you to take grabs.
- Quality counts. Try to get the best quality screenshots that you can. Low quality JPEGs really don’t cut it, but you will be surprised what you can get with different file formats. Lossless file formats are best. PNG, TGA, TIFF, but high quality JPEGs will do.
- Throw enough mud and some will stick. If you have to: take a lot of screenshots. Not all games require this.
- Always check your first grab. This was rule number one back in the old magazine days, although it’s less relevant today. A lot of grabbing techniques back then involved using software grabbers, which would not always work. So you had to check your first grab before continuing. Otherwise you could play through an hour of gameplay and end up with no grabs in your screenshot folder. It IS worth checking that your grabbing is actually working though, because it is frustrating to look into your screenshot folder after a frenzied grabbing session and find nothing in there…
The King of Grabs
11. You don’t have to play well to get good grabs. Sometimes bad play makes good grabs. Grabs of your high scores and achievements are cool though!