How to Take a Great Screenshot

One of the most common questions I get asked by my readers is how to take a screenshot. In this tutorial I will not only show you how to take a screenshot but I will share my tips for taking a Great Screenshot!

How to Take a Screenshot
Quality
Positioning
Day Time Pictures
Night Time Pictures
Make Your Subject Stand Out

How to Take a Screenshot (the basics)

To take a screenshot hit CTRL-P, Print Screen or F11. Your screenshots are saved as .JPEG and can be viewed in your My Documents/The Lord of the Rings Online folder on your computer. If you want to take a Great screenshot then remember to hide your UI by hitting F12 and to turn off floaty names by hitting N.

Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial

I personally like to use Fraps to take my screenshots. I use the free version and it allows me to save my screenshots in .BMP which is a much better quality than the default .JPEG format Lotro saves them in.

Quality 

To take great screenshots you are going to want to set your graphic settings to the highest quality you are able to. You do this by going to Options (CTRL + O) and then looking at your Graphic and Advanced Graphic settings.

Lotro Tutorial

You will want to begin with adjusting your Overall Graphic Quality setting. The higher you set this the better your screenshots will look. (see below)

Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial

Once you have set your Overall Graphic Quality setting you can then play around with the other options available to you in your Graphics and Advanced Graphic settings. If your curious here is what I currently use:

Graphic Settings
Overall Graphic Quality: Ultra High
Graphics Hardware Level: DirectX 11

Antialiasing: 8x

Ambient Light: 1.00
Brightness: 1.00
Contrast: 1.00
Gamma Level: 1.00

Advanced Graphic Settings
Object Draw Distance: Ultra High
Model Detail: Ultra High
Animation Smoothness: High
Material Detail: High

Landscape Draw Distance: Very High
Frill Distance: Ultra High
Distance Imposters: Checked
Atmosphere Detail: High
DX11 Interactive Water: High

Texture Detail: Very High
Texture Filtering: Anisotropic
Anisotropic Filter Quality: 16

High Quality Lighting: checked
Specular Lighting: checked
Surface Reflections: Ultra High
Landscape Lighting Quality: Very High
DX10 Distant Landscape Lighting: checked

Landscape Shadows: High
Blob Shadows: checked
Stencil Shadows: Ultra High
Environment Stencil Shadows: checked
DX10 Dynamic Shadows: Very High
DX11 Ambient Occlusion: checked

Post Processing Effects: checked
Glow Mapping: checked
Overbright Bloom Filter: checked
Blur Filter Quality: High
Bloom Intensity: 1.28

Positioning (getting the right angle)

You can move your camera around to find the perfect angle for your screenshot. You do this by holding down the left mouse button and then moving your mouse around.

Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial

You can play with your middle mouse wheel to scroll in close or pan out really far.

Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial

Day Time Pictures (find the light)

Lotro Tutorial

These two screenshots were taken at the same time of day and at the same location. The only difference was the direction I was facing. In the first picture I was facing the sun and the screenshot turned out much brighter than the second picture where I was not facing the sun.

Another factor in determining the quality of your screenshots is the time of day you take your pictures. The good picture above was taken in the Afternoon and it turned out really well. Compare this picture taken at the same location but instead of the Afternoon I took this shot at Gloaming.
Lotro Tutorial

You can tell what time of day it is by hovering your cursor over the time icon on your mini map. During the day the icon will look like a yellow sun and during the evening hours it will look like a moon.
Lotro Tutorial

It can sometimes be frustrating when you are ready to take a screenshot but the time of day in Lotro is not cooperating. (Believe me I know!) Knowing how long you will have to wait until the right time of day can be very helpful. A Lotro 24 hour cycle takes a little over 3 hours in real time. Here is a handy guide showing you how long each cycle lasts in real time.

Total Time Cycle Length in minutes
Day

lasts 1 hour 42 minutes 20 seconds

Dawn 9:32
Morning 28:42
Noon 17:47
Afternoon 27:58
Dusk 18:31
Night

lasts 1 hour 23 minutes 40 seconds

Gloaming 9:30
Evening 27:59
Midnight 8:59
Late Watches 19:1
Foredawn 18:11

Night Time Pictures

There may be times when you want to take screenshots at night. It’s a little bit more tricky for night time photos to come out well but have hope, it can be done!

The concept is the same as Day time photo taking, you have to find the light. What light? It’s in the middle of the night! During the night time hours it’s all about artificial lighting. Every character has a built in lantern. You can activate your lantern during night time hours by hitting Alt + F10. Hitting it once will cause a high beam of light to illuminate around your character. Hitting Alt + F10 a second time will put your lantern on Low settings and hitting Alt + F10 a third time will turn it off. (see pictures below)
Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial
Lotro Tutorial

Cool huh? But wait… we can do better. Using your lantern at night is definitely better than not using it but standing out in the open causes your lantern to illuminate your character a bit oddly. Wait! What’s that over there? *Devonna turns to see a beautiful gazebo*

Lotro Tutorial

F10 works so much better if you use it inside. Take a look now at the lighting in my screenshot taken inside that gazebo using my Alt + F10 Lantern.

Lotro Tutorial
Perfect!

Make Your Subject Stand Out (no boring screenshots)

Lotro Tutorial
Choose a good background. A good background should be simple so the subject stands out easily. Make sure there are no distracting elements like poles or random people. What’s that coming out of my head?

Lotro Tutorial
Use the Rule of Thirds. Imagine putting a grid on top of your screenshot so that it’s broken down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. The main focal points of your screenshot should be where  the lines cross around the center square. Focal points are the areas of interest in a picture. If you are taking a portrait, the obvious area of interest is your character’s eyes. If you are taking a landscape it could be a tree in the foreground.

Lotro Tutorial
Use emotes. Don’t just stand there doing nothing. That’s a bit boring to look at. Bring your character to life by trying out different emotes. You can see a list of all the emotes your character can use by clicking on the chat bubble to the left of the chat line and picking “emotes” from the menu.

Lotro Tutorial

While doing an emote take a lot of screenshots. You can get some really interesting poses by capturing the different movement parts of an emote. You can always delete the unused ones later.

And that’s the end of my tutorial. I hope you have found it helpful 🙂

*hugs*
Devonna

*Update 1/28/12*
A few more excellent tips to consider. Thank you Kaelin, Queen of Barad Gúlaran 🙂

“As an experienced screenshotter myself, a couple tips I follow:

  • I turn landscape draw distance to the max and lower animation detail. It’s a picture, not a movie, so I don’t care if my sword-swings are jerky. And landscape draw distance lets all the hazy mountains and trees far-off show up. Don’t be shy, though. Screenshots don’t move so if you’re at 5 FPS with everything running ultra-high, you’ll live. Turn it back down to ultra-low when you go raiding.
  • In the UI, also turn off all the floaty decorations like quest and shop icons, and also chat bubbles and floaty numbers.
  • In combat, turn off auto-target, show target’s vitals, and selection direction indicator. I think that’s what they’re called. This lets you take combat shots without all the stuff going on. You just have to hit esc to deselect your target after your animation starts.
  • Put your emotes on shortcut keys so you can flit about with the UI turned off. I think you do this by typing something like “/shortcut 1 /dance” and then you’ll dance if you press 1.
  • If you use the default LOTRO screenshot-taker, it starts to lag when the folder is full of pictures, because it counts them all every time to find out what to number the new one. So, you should move the pictures out of that folder periodically to prevent terrible horrible lag.
  • Lastly, THE most important tip to taking a good screenshot is to TAKE LOTS OF SCREENSHOTS. Tons and tons. If I made a 20 panel comic then I probably have around 600+ screenshots I’m working from.”
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33 thoughts on “How to Take a Great Screenshot

  1. Great tutorial! Sometimes I look at peoples’ screenshots of places like Elrond’s Library and realize that flipping some graphics settings turns it into an entirely different game. The landscapes and details take my breath away when I remember to crank things up.

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  3. Very nice, thank you.

    One issue I’ve been wondering about… A lot of the time the coolest shots in the game seem to be while some NPC is talking. The text displays above their heads a lot of the time. Can this be turned off? I know we have the option to display “text bubbles” for player chat, but I’m not certain if this affects NPC dialogue?

    I also sometimes want to take a shot and there’s a ring over a NPC’s head. I’ve never figured out how to hide that either. Maybe I’m just missing something simple.

    • I’m not aware of anyway to turn off the chat bubble NPC have.

      Is the ring your talking about above the NPC’s head, like a quest ring? Or is it on the ground because you have them targeted? If it’s because they are targeted just hit ESC to untarget them. I Don’t think you can get rid of Quest Rings above an NPC’s head.

      • You *could* always, you know, do the quest :P.

        Great guide, Devonna. I’m definitely gonna share this with some friends. I always cringe when I see a screenshot with low-res textures and no anti-aliasing. I understand not playing with those settings if your comp can’t handle it, but even if you’re only getting 1 FPS it’s worth it for a screenshot.

  4. As an experienced screenshotter myself, a couple tips I follow:

    I turn landscape draw distance to the max and lower animation detail. It’s a picture, not a movie, so I don’t care if my sword-swings are jerky. And landscape draw distance lets all the hazy mountains and trees far-off show up.

    Don’t be shy, though. Screenshots don’t move so if you’re at 5 FPS with everything running ultra-high, you’ll live. 😉 Turn it back down to ultra-low when you go raiding.

    In the UI, also turn off all the floaty decorations like quest and shop icons, and also chat bubbles and floaty numbers.

    In combat, turn off auto-target, show target’s vitals, and selection direction indicator. I think that’s what they’re called. This lets you take combat shots without all the stuff going on. You just have to hit esc to deselect your target after your animation starts.

    Put your emotes on shortcut keys so you can flit about with the UI turned off. I think you do this by typing something like “/shortcut 1 /dance” and then you’ll dance if you press 1.

    If you use the default LOTRO screenshot-taker, it starts to lag when the folder is full of pictures, because it counts them all every time to find out what to number the new one. So, you should move the pictures out of that folder periodically to prevent terrible horrible lag.

    Lastly, THE most important tip to taking a good screenshot is to TAKE LOTS OF SCREENSHOTS. Tons and tons. If I made a 20 panel comic then I probably have around 600+ screenshots I’m working from.

    Great guide, Dev. d^^b

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  7. Brilliant guide! I will definately be checking my settings against these, i found the in game screenshot feature for me took worse screenshots than actually using the prt scr option and copying/pasting/cropping to my paint program and saving them then which was strange, however now my in game screenshot button has changed to the prt scrn lately somehow and i need to get rid!

  8. My lantern works on Alt+F10, not F10 solo. I don’t know if that is the default setting or if I’ve changed it myself at some point, but I thought I’d mention it.
    I started using Fraps and I am amazed at the difference in detail. You win first prize for Best Lotro Tips if there were one. Thank you!

  9. Good tutorial, I only just found it. 🙂

    I have fraps but didn’t realise it took screenshots as well. I thought what Hymne said on her blog meant that she pulled a frame from a video. 🙂

    Interesting about the personal lantern. I always thought that it lit you from different directions rather than different intensities – from the front, and from behind. 🙂

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  12. A HA! shortcut for emotes…I thought there must be a way!
    A lantern…wow..ALt F10…
    Now I must research which emotes I like…how many r there?

  13. My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was
    entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  14. Thank you for the great guide and tipps! Off to LOTRO, it’s time for photosession for my characters 😀

    • Check your anti-aliasing setting – make sure it’s set to 8x for screenshots. That’s the option that does the most to smooth out jagged edges.

      Side-note – I thought the lantern is front and back rather than high and low..?

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