Screenshots are great, Planetside 2 has the potential to be a very pretty game and many people capture screenshots. All the images on Squadside have been captured in game by myself then edited to the way I like them, this is my workflow.
(I use Fraps, Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Bridge for these images. There are alternatives and newer versions available)
Special thanks to Kezyr for being a lovely model.
Part one generate an image.
I use Fraps to generate an image setting the program to record a screenshot at 10 second intervals with the option to take a screenshot at will anytime something spectacular happens, this method is very inefficient and will generate maybe one “keeper” from every 1000 images, however I play the game first and photograph second so compramises must be made (plus there are occasions when something really fantastic is captured).
Once I have my mountain of images I use Adobe Bridge to sift through the file marking any that may be worth editing with a label before deleting the rest. These labeled images are then moved to a folder where they await editing.
Open File – First Steps.
Once a suitable image has been found I open it in photoshop.
I will then explore cropping options for the final image (it is important not to crop now as you may need data from the unused area of the image later)
Colour tone and sharpness.
Now we start to alter the image properly, first with levels (shortcut Ctrl + L). We do this to set a White and Black point you can if you wish also move the midtones, but I normally leave this alone.
Tip: Holding Alt when moving the levels shows the highlight / shadow clipping makign it easier to avoid losing data during this process.
The next tool is Curves (Ctrl + M). A small adjustment is all that is needed here bringing the bottom half of the curve down to make the shadows darker and the top half up to make the highlights brighter.
We now sharpen the image slightly, there are many methods, but I prefer High Pass sharpening. which is achieved first by duplicating the background layer (Ctrl + J), then applying a high pass filter(Filter – Other – High Pass). The amount of sharpening depends on your resolution, but try to aim for a point where you can visually make out the edges of an object but not much more.
Then set the blend mode of the layer to Overlay and with the high pass layer (grey one) selected merge the layers down(Ctrl +E).
The final global adjustment is to adjust any colour cast (Most areas will have a recognisable , strong colour cast which can look odd in a still image). The easiest way to identify this is to push the saturation (Ctrl + U) up to 100% temporarily to identify any dominant colour (don’t apply the saturation change).
This image is quite neutral but there may be a slight yellow bias especially on the rocks and characters in the image.
To counter this we need to add blue. We use curves again (Ctrl+ M) but this time select Blue in the tab at the top of the graph. Pulling the center of this graph up adds blue to the image.
Colours and their opposites in curves
- Blue – Yellow
- Green – Magenta
- Red – Cyan
Removing the UI and other unwanted elements.
- Removed map and HS/NV optic whilst preserving fault line on rock
- Removed weapon adn increased size of dirt / grass area
- Rebuilt Walkway, watch the textures and edges.
- Removed grass clipping through walkway
- Removed edge of plant (Winter Camo guy also removed in final image)
- Removed crosshair, all doritos, names etc
- Removed evidence of “Mariet’s death” from the armour. Try taking similar textures and repainting camo when cloning high detail areas such as this.
This is the tricky part, and involves using the Clone tool to transplant one part of an image over the other to hide areas of the UI. (other tools exist such as the Healing Brush and Patch tool, but Clone is imo the most useful most of the time).
To use the Clone tool first alt+click on the area of the image you wish to borrow pixels from, then click and hold to “paint those pixels over the area you wish to fill in. This is why we retained the areas of the image we will not be using, as it is often difficult to keep the image from looking like it is patchy or filled with repeating patterns, and with lower than life textures this is alsways an issue so every patch of data counts.
- In later versions of Photoshop you can see a preview of your painting before you click.
- Setting hardness to 0 is often desirable, but this can cause a loss of definition on edges, if you are cloning near hard edges and your brush “paints over them” set the hardness somewhere harder (30% is a good place to start)
- Don’t automatically choose the nearest source point, it makes any repeating patterns more obvious
- As planetside 2’s models can sometimes lack fine detail (compared to a photograph) you can often rebuild an area pixel by pixel (works well on characters far away or sections of armour)
- Zoom in to 100% to see the detail, but don’t forget to zoom out occasionally to see the larger picture.
- Ctrl+Z undos your last action, this can be a godsend.
- [ and ] make your brush larger and smaller
Once cloning is complete it is safe to crop the image. (after a final check I decided to leave the right side in the final image and cloned the few elements outstanding there.)
Final touches Shading and optional colour alteration.
Use the Dodge and burn tools to selectively lighten and darken areas of the image (burn darkens, dodge lightens).
Set Burn to Shadows – 3% and darken the shadows
Set Dodge to highlights – 5% and lighten the highlights
Optional Step, adjust colour balance (Image – Adjustment – Channel Mixer) I set this to 70% red 30% green, this mutes the dominant red tones. After this step the image is complete.