Screenshots are still images of the action in a Combat Mission game. This article is about how to make ("grab") screenshots and videos in CMBN.

Screen Grabbing Edit

There are several ways to grab a screenshot.

All versions of Windows have a built-in screenshot function, which you get by pressing the PrintScreen (Prt Scr) button. On most keyboards it is found just right of the F12 button. PrintScreen copies the current screen buffer to the clipboard; from there you can paste it into a new image in any image editor. (Use alt-tab to suspend CMBN while you open the image editor and paste.)

Unfortunately, PrintScreen does not work with CMBN under Windows 7 and Windows Vista, at least with most (?) hardware. (In this case PrintScreen does capture the window, but it is all black.) Also, if you want to create multiple screenshots it is inconvenient to have to switch back and forth from CMBN to your image editor for each paste. In these cases you will have to use a screen grabbing utility program.

There are several popular screen grabbing utility programs which work with all versions of Windows. Fraps is the slickest and most popular. Others exist including IrfanView. These programs vary in many ways, but both allow you to specify a hotkey to trigger screenshots with, and a folder where all screenshots will be stored. To make a screenshot, fire up the game and hit the hotkey; the program creates the file itself giving it an automatically-generated filename. You don't have to paste anything, nor do you have to leave CMBN.

Composing the Shot Edit

It is up to you what you want to show in a screenshot. Sometimes you'll want to show the entire UI (both the battlefield view and the controls). But if you're looking for realism, here's some suggestions for composing your shot before you take it.

There is no way to hide the controls in the game. Sorry -- you are going to get them in all screenshots. Controls can be removed from the shot later via digital editing (see below).

For an "art" shot, you'll generally want to turn off everything artificial in the battlefield view:

  • Icons: alt+i toggles icons on/off.
  • Trees: alt+t toggles trees through three states; rotate until all trees show.
  • Texts: alt+h toggles hit texts. The "Game is paused" text is not shown if you pause the game via Shift+Esc.
  • Quality: '{' to decrease; '}' to increase; you want the highest.
  • Zoom: 'z' zooms, 'x' unzooms; zoom allows you to change the perspective to a "flatter", more parallel projection.

Digital Editing Edit

In general, you will want to edit any screenshot you make using an image editor, for several reasons. To do this you need to install an image editor. GIMP is a good choice, as is; both are freeware. Of course you can also use pay software like Photoshop or PaintShop Pro.

Cropping Edit

Cropping is reducing the size of a picture by cutting it down to a smaller rectangle, removing the parts of the image outside of the cropping rectangle. (It is called "cropping" because in the analog world one crops a photo by literally cutting off parts of it with scissors.) For a CMBN snapshot, you'll often want to crop off at least the bottom, where the controls are. The compass in the upper right is another intrusive element often cropped. You may also want to crop uninteresting parts of a screenshot on any side, top bottom left or right.

Scaling Edit

Scaling an image is reducing its size in pixels, without changing the content of the photo. It is not uncommon for modern monitors to be 1920x1200 or larger in pixels. When you grab a screenshot, all of those pixels get captured; this creates a fairly large image. If you intend the image to be seen at roughly the same size (i.e., full screen on a large monitor), then you won't want to reduce its size. But typically, you will. For example, if you post it online where people will view it with a web browser, it only needs to be perhaps 800x600 pixels.

Format Conversion Edit

By default, Fraps captures images in "bitmap" (.bmp) format. This format is lossless, which is nice, but it makes very large images. By changing the format to a lossy format such as jpeg or png, you can often reduce the size of an image file to small fraction of its original size. As a rule of thumb, a screenshot for web use should be around 100-300 kB. If your image is larger even after saved in a lossy format, try scaling it down more.

Format conversion is usually performed when saving the image, using "Save As". The Save dialog should present options including the format of the file. Jpeg (.jpg) is the best for making compressed images. Jpeg is a lossy format, meaning that the image saved is not exactly the same as the original. Depending on how much compression you use, the difference may be unnoticeable or very noticeable. PNG is similar to jpg, but seems to result in somewhat larger files. On the other hand, it is a free format, unlike Jpeg which is proprietary. Your choice. Both Jpeg and PNG support lossy and lossless images.

Posting Screenshots at the Forums Edit

One thing lots of people like to do is post their screenies at the Battlefront forums. There is a usually a stickied "Screenshots" in each Combat Mission forum for this purpose.

The forums do allow you to upload pictures there. But this doesn't work that well for what most people want; the forum automatically scales a picture down to a stamp size. Most people first upload their screenies to a web hosting site. Some people have private web-capable accounts. But everyone can do this by using an online image hosting site. There are many such sites, including ImageShack, Photobucket, TinyPic, Imgur, and Flickr. All of them are free, for modest amounts of storage. (If you really need more, you can pay to get more.) Some require registration; others do not.

After you've uploaded a screenie, you can get a URL for it. This URL is what you use in a forum posting, inside [IMG] tags, to get a nice inline screenshot.

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