Contributing to the site
What potential contributors - and we welcome those! - should know. This section includes the template.
Last modified: 25th of January, 2013.
All items can be clicked to go straight to the corresponding answer.
- 1/ Are you looking for new contributors?
- 2/ How about people who don’t play DCH or DCA?
- 3/ How can one contribute?
- 4/ What is the expected level of quality for a writeup?
- 5/ Does one have to follow a specific format?
- 6/ Advice #1 - aim small
- 7/ Advice #2 - reuse stats
- 8/ Advice #3 - multiple reviews
- 9/ Can a given character be written up several times?
- 10/ How do I edit an entry of mine that’s already on the site?
- 11/ Do I have to provide illustrations for my writeups?
- 12/ Are you looking for volunteers to provide illustrations?
- 13/ How do I prepare WORG-style illustrations from comics?
- 14/ Scanning comics
- 15/ Image edition tutorials
- 16/ Video games screenshots
- 17/ DVD screenshots
- 18/ Prepping images for publication
Most definitely. In fact it’s broader than that - we’re looking for new community members to join the discussion on the DC Heroes Yahoo! Group and the DC Adventures/M&M forum thread. Comments, questions, suggestions, rules discussion, discussion about the characters, discussion about use of the characters in a RPG context, spotting mistakes, offering ideas, etc.
Writeups.org is just the archiving site for Internet discussion communities who enjoy super-hero role-playing games, super-hero comics and movies, action-adventure movies and games, etc. It’s not a content mill or a company, but the result of people talking with each other. If there are no people talking to each other there’s no Internet discussion community and thus no archive.
We’re often hovering at the threshold of sustainability - if a few key people happen to be busy elsewhere, the amount of discussion plummets. Overall the volume of discussion has been steadily decreasing on the DC Heroes side as folks move on toward newer systems, and our DC Adventures presence hasn’t generated enough discussion to make up for this attrition.
So yeah, we’re looking for new blood. If you might be interested you could do worse than read this FAQ.
Not a problem. There already are active contributors on the Yahoo! Group who are not role-players and just like the discussion about characters. If somebody wants to write about a character but can’t do stats, it is probably possible to partner up after some discussion to coordinate.
Everyone’s welcome as long as they behave - there’s no secret handshake.
Most people joining the communities behind writeups.org do so to ask questions, offer comments and generally contribute to the discussion. This by itself is appreciable.
The next level of commitment is posting something that’s not intended for publication - for instance a character you intend to play, a house rule specific to your group, the quick-and-dirty stats you use for a published character in your game, the broad outlines of a scenario you’re looking for feedback about. There’s no special procedure to follow in these cases, post what you have. Just keep in mind that we’re low on manpower so there might not be as much feedback as you’d like (and it might take a few days).
The next level of commitment is pitching something that you would like to see archived on writeups.org. To do this, you need to know things.
Back in the 1990s things were simple - just write. Over time things got more sophisticated, quality standards kept rising, a neutral voice emerged for the site, and a workflow was developed to handle the logistics such as encoding documents. So nowadays there are standards to be met for writeups.org archiving — which is why we spend so much time rewriting older entries that no longer match our current output.
We’ll help as much as is reasonable - the goal is not to stand in judgement until people pass some arbitrary demands, but to support folks who want to contribute. Plus, new contributors have an important edge - they can see a large number of writeups done to modern standards. It’s much easier to align with, or surpass, standards you can see in action than to develop them over time.
But unless you have a lot of writing experience - please don’t assume that it’s going to be quick and dirty. The goal is to produce the best material we can, because we love the material and do not believe in half-arsing it.
And of course - spell-check and grammar-check. If you don’t have germane word-processing software, a very simple solution is Google Docs though the dictionary has some inexplicable lacunae. Note that we don’t mind helping if English is not your first language — it’s not the first language of most contributors either, webmaster included.
Ideally, a writeup.org entry will be the best guide to the character, ever.
What you wish to see archived must respect a very precise format. Specifically, you have to copy this template, paste it, then strictly follow it when posting a character profile on the Yahoo! Group. The template changes from time to time, but the changes are always discussed on the list and the document is always hosted at the same place.
This is necessary since there’s a PERL script that encodes the text to make it web-publishable, and a script can only recognise the exact text that it is expecting, down to the case and spaces. If the script doesn’t recognise something, the webmaster will have to encode that part by hand, which is tiresome and may well lead to a decision not to publish the entry due to a lack of time and low appetite for menial work.
The template also includes advice and explanations - we try to make it self-contained.
There’s a similar template for posts in the Atomic Think Tank thread - it’s here.
5.1/ Can you explain the bit with the headings again?
Headings are where we introduced a very light use of HTML in the template, so an extra round of explanation might be preferable. Here goes.
The headings used in the articles are h4, h5 and h6 - respectively a class 4 heading, a class 5 heading and a class 6 heading. Here are examples for each:
This is a class 4 heading - h4
This is a class 5 heading - h5
This is a class 6 heading - h6
h4s are the big building blocks — the game stats, the background block, the history section, the personality section, the quotes, etc. are all class 4 headings.
To create a class 4 heading, you have to use two tiny bits of code. Where the heading begins, type <h4>, followed by the words in the heading, then close using </h4>. The “/” means “stop doing this” - in this case “stop making the text into a class 4 heading”. For instance the code for the h4 above is <h4>This is a class 4 heading - h4</h4>.
However, the headings do not exist in a vacuum - they are usually sandwiched between paragraphs. Thus to avoid me wasting time we’ll add two little bits. The full beginning is </p><h4> (“p” means “paragraph” so this sequence means “stop applying the rules for a paragraph and start applying the rules for a class 4 heading”) and the full end is </h4><p> (“stop applying the h4 rules and start applying the paragraph rules”).
h5s are subsections within a h4 section. It’s best to use these every 3 to 6 paragraphs, depending on the flow of the text. These start with a </p><h5> and end with a </h5><p>. Feel free to use them in the personality section, the powers & abilities section, etc. if these turn out to be long.
h6s are headings used to separate sections of text with a complex layout. As such, they are usually used to separate game statistics in articles with multiple sets of those. You can guess the code.
Here are the sequences ready to copy-paste:
</p><h4>Class 4 heading</h4><p>
</p><h5>Class 5 heading</h5><p>
</p><h6>Class 6 heading</h6><p>
(Actually the code is more complicated as I need to declare a class since Internet Explorer cannot handle gradients calculation normally, but the script takes care of that so don’t worry about it).
How do I do lists, special characters, typographic effects, etc.
Don’t generally bother with these - just make sure that parts in need of a special formatting are highly visible in your document. For instance if there’s a list of bullet points don’t bother learning the code (unless you want to) - just use plenty of whitespace and begin each item with a double dash so I can’t miss it whilst glancing at the text.
One bit is if you want to use special characters, usually for foreign words. A lot of computer and Internet stuff treats characters outside the basic English language set as alien and frightening. Furthermore, spotting a estset or a e-acute while I process your text can be difficult. If you use non-standards-compliant word processors, said letters might even disappear or get garbled when read by a standards-compliant text editor, leaving me to guess or ask you what you meant.
Thankfully, it’s trivial to know the code for any possible character - ask a HTML encoder. Personally I use the Forret one. Paste the character you need in the first white area, click on the button and copy the code it spits out.
For instance if you need a “é” to write “fiancée”, paste a é into a HTML encoder and it’ll tell you this character is coded é — so you write “fiancée” and every browser in the world will display the word just like you wanted (a more human-friendly code is é, but it only helps if you’re familiar with acute and grave diacritics).
If your keyboard doesn’t do diacritics, hit a Wikipedia article to copy-paste from. For instance if you need a ō (o-macron) to write a transcribed Japanese word, hit a article with a word that has it (say, the article for “Shōgun”) and copy the character there.
This is the only approach that works for web browsers all over the world, but it works for everything. If you need to write 将軍 somewhere, just drop the kanji in an HTML encoder and it’ll tell you these are kanji number 将 and 軍, respectively.
Technical aspects (italics)
If you want something in italics - which is normally how we write titles for books, comics and other creative works, as well as the name of ships and spaceships - then it’s simpler if you use the tiny bit of code that does the job. It’s even simpler than a heading.
Everything between a <i> and a </i> will be in italics. That’s it. <i> means “start italicising” and </i> means “stop italicising”.
Technical aspects (banner images)
The code for images has gotten more complicated (there’s a PHP echo), so if you need to specify where a banner illustration goes in your document it’s better to do it visibly and in plain English. Leave a few blank lines before and after and put in an all-caps note such as “BANNER OF CHARLIE AND TED GOES HERE”.
Technical aspects (text encoding)
If you can, set your software to the international text encoding standard - UTF-8. The primary goal of this is to avoid non-standard Microsoft characters that have been forced in lieu of control characters - Microsoft single and double quotes, Microsoft ellipses, Microfoft en- and em-dashes. Outside of a Microsoft environment those become garbage or may even disappear altogether. UTF-8 also helps a lot if you use international characters, so they are not irretrievably mangled.
A simple test to see how your input looks in a standard environment is to read your messages on the Yahoo! Group’s web interface.
A common issue in genre fiction discussions is people focusing on the big-name, famous, prestigious events and characters rather than those with a lesser marketing presence. Given the standard writeups.org “research it all!” approach, the feasibility constraints are obvious. Thus, aiming small is much preferable. You’ll finish the job quicker and it builds up experience.
Some possibilities to aim small:
- Characters from movies, video games and other non-episodic or limited-episodes media. Research can be as simple as running the material with a finger on the pause button and the rest on your keyboard to take notes - and taking proper screenshots.
- Minor characters with few appearances - for comics check appearances lists on specialised sites (see the Links section of our FAQ). Getting and studying these issues can usually be done cheaply and easily, and such minor characters can often be very useful for GMs looking for a convenient villain or NPC.
Sites about obscure characters, such as Marvunapp, are great for this - if you see some character you like double-check their appearances list, get these comics and write your own article about the character. Somebody with a half-dozen appearances might be just right. The one downside is that most people will be unable to comment about the character since they’ll presumably not be familiar with the material.
- A specific era for a more major character, with a clear beginning and end so you don’t have to work from an unreasonable number of comics (or other source). Just be clear that the entry is about the character as they were depicted at that point, without using elements from outside the era under consideration. An example of this approach is our Robin (Dick Grayson) (1972) entry, which just covers a specific set of appearances in backup stories.
When you start an entry, check a similar character written by Mayfair (or on writeups.org if you can’t think of a similar character from Mayfair). It cannot hurt, and it helps with coherence in statting - something we’re big on. You could paste these numbers in as placeholders and change them as the research goes on.
Keep in mind that there are differences between our current statting practices and the Mayfair material, as explained in the technical chapter for in the FAQ. The differences between writeups.org stats and Green Ronin stats are explained in OMACS II and the technical chapter for DC Adventures in the FAQ.
For most folks it’s better not to post right away once the writeup is done - but to let it rest for a week or so, taking two or three re-reading and rework runs in order to iron out things that lack clarity, add new ideas, delete things that just do not work, etc. The idea is to take a critical look at your work once you’ve gained some distance from it.
Writing clearly and engagingly is a professional skill that takes years to develop, especially if English is not one’s first language. We make no claim that writeups.org is written with anything approaching professional quality (some older articles are just awful), but it is nevertheless important to do what can be done to improve one’s skills. As the saying goes, most of the work is not in writing but in rewriting. Be determined and always sincerely and cleverly strive to do better !
There’s a lot of material out there for writers to improve, and it’s difficult to say what will click with any given person. Writeups.org’s webmaster found Zinsser’s On Writing Well to be useful in getting rid of some bad habits and developing good ones, though having an article heavily annotated in red by a friend and professional writer (Marcin Wrona) was the most formative input.
Once the finished work is posted on a discussion space there will hopefully be comments allowing to finalise-for-now the article. Scheduling a further review taking place, say, one year after publication is highly recommended.
This happens rarely - out of a general desire not to duplicate work since we lack resources - but it’s kosher. There’s no “one official writeups.org approach” to a character.
These entries will usually be listed as being an “alternate take” or something along these lines.
For most contributors, revisiting an entry that was done some months or years before can lead to huge improvements - as mistakes, style and diction issues, unclear bits, exceedingly long paragraphs, etc. become much easier to spot. Furthermore, the 2012 layout and typography on writeups.org make it far easier to spot typos.
Contributors are heartily encouraged to revisit old entries of theirs, since just a little work can provide great results - it’s an efficient effort. To find your entries, use the main search engine and search for “By Firstname Lastname”, *with* the quotes. Searching with just your name would also bring up the entries where you are listed as a helper.
If you want to entirely redo the entry because it’s just too old, use the normal procedure for a writeup.
If you want to change parts of an entry, we’ll distinguish two sorts of sections in an entry - strong layout and weak layout.
“Strong layout” are the parts with more code - the stats grids, the rest of the game stats (powers, skills, etc.) and the Background listings (Known relatives, Group affiliations, etc.). If you want to make small changes in those, it’s easier to tell me “change STR to 03” or “add Bob (father, deceased) to Known Relatives”. If you want to make lots of change, consider redoing the writeup as a whole.
“Weak layouts” are the parts like the History, Personality, etc. which just have paragraphs and the occasional subsection title. If you want to make changes, please provide the entire rewritten section or subsection, so I don’t have to seek-and-destroyindividual paragraphs. If there’s just one typo redoing the section should still be considered, so a/ I don’t have to hunt for one typo in a sea of text to correct it and b/ because I’m trying to trick you into doing some rewriting for quality now that you have cut-and-pasted the whole subsection in your text editor.
Redoing a weak layout section in practice
- Copy the text you’ll edit from writeups.org.
- Paste it into a raw text editor. If you paste it into something fancier like a word processor, the software will try to replicate the worg layout with stupid results. Recommended raw text editor on Mac OS - TextWrangler. Recommended raw text editor on Windows - Notepad++. Both are free. Set the encoding to UTF-8 to be thorough.
- From there you can copy-paste it into any piece of software you like - the text is now clean. Please have some sort of spellchecking running ; if you don’t have anything use Google Docs. Once you’re done, let it rest a while to do a few re-reads, then post away. If possible make sure that your word processor doesn’t do non-standard characters such as Microsoft quotes, Microsoft dashes and Microsoft ellipses.
- Remember to have a <p> between each paragraph, like in the writeup template. And re-check question 5 if you have questions about italics, headings, accents, etc.
Please. We add or revise hundreds of entries every year, and concentrating the workload on one person is completely unfeasible - to give a sense of scale, as of 2013 there are about 50,000 images on writeups.org. We strongly advise that you grab pictures as you do the research, then select the best ones from the accrued material - it’s usually easier this way.
The objectives when it comes to illustrations are:
- High-quality. In the 1990s, we were going for small shots - everybody was using 33.6 or 56k modems back then, and illustrations weighing less than 100K were a good thing. This usually meant a single 200-pixels-wide, low-res .jpg picture. Standards have changed; though there are still many people using dial-up most sites nowadays are expected to serve broadband visitors.
- Generate our own shots. Time permitting, we do our own comic book scans and our own screen captures. This generally results in better images (a lot of scans and captures used on other sites are small and low-res - especially for characters who were most popular in the 1990s and 2000s), fits with our general policy of not using content created by other folks, and generally readers are interested in pictures that they haven’t seen before. We suspect that many people don’t quite read the entries and are chiefly interested in the art. A combo scanner/printer is like $50 nowadays.
- Long entries need to be particularly well-illustrated. They have room to provide clear shots of the character’s face, body/costume, and some action scenes in the column. Long entries also need to have their texts broken up by banner illustrations, to leave some breathing room to the reader and not leave them staring at a wall of text. One banner every 4-5 paragraphs is a good rule of thumb, though in practice it chiefly depends upon how many suitable banner images can be done.
- We have some standard techniques, particularly when it comes to detouring - that is, having the character stand against a plain white background so the focus is entirely on how they look. Those will be explored in a later question, but it’s part of the writeups.org “look” - we strive to assemble clear, crisp character shots without clutter.
- If illustrations from the Internet are to be used - for instance promotional still photographs that are much better than what we can get by screencapping the movie - use the advanced functionalities of Google Image searches to make sure you have the biggest, highest resolution version of that picture that can be found online. Hit images.google.com, click on the small camera in the input field, feed it the URL of the picture you have and rummage through all the results to make sure you have the best, crispest version there is.
- Also use images.google.com to verify that an entry only include commercial art - if there’s fan art and you want to keep it, we need to obtain an authorisation.
Most definitely - we’re badly resources-starved and it’s slowly getting worse. If you like working on images let us know on the Yahoo! Group - we most certainly can use the help, and there’s a pretty good chance you’re more competent at it than we are. The more people help, the more characters we can discuss, and just one skilled person wishing to help can make a huge difference.
This is doubly true when it comes to redoing illustrations. There are thousands of pictures on the site that were done years ago in resolutions that are now mediocre, and have since gone through multiple rounds of degradation through size changes and lossy .jpg compression. The only solution is to redo them from scratch using the current, much superior procedure. If you see an image that looks so-so and know that you can scan/screencap/whatever a clean version, then go ahead and read on.
First, some preparation:
- Forget that you’re not an artist, you can’t draw, etc. The sort of basic image preparation we do doesn’t require any design training or talent. You just have to click on things.
- Read through the entire process once - questions 13 to 18.
- Do your own scans and captures whenever possible. We’ll use scans and captures done by others when we can’t reasonably make your own, but this is not the preferred approach.
- Get image editing software. Your three main options are:
- Adobe Photoshop™. Photoshop is a professional tool and is priced to match, making it unaffordable for the vast majority. The trick is to check with professors and students around you for the academic rebate they get - these can push the software back into the semi-affordable range, given that as a non-professional you will probably use your old edition of Photoshop for many, many years since you won’t need to upgrade. There’s also Adobe Photoshop Elements™, but I’ve never checked it out since I have my old copy of Photoshop bought with student discounts.
- GIMP. This image manipulation program is under the GNU licence and thus free. It is well-regarded, and its somewhat opaque interface has reportedly been much improved with 2.8 and later versions.
- Something else. Google up a recent article comparing image editing software for your OS of choice, there are further alternatives such as Pixelmator.
Doing it right is simple, but you have to be aware of the basics.
- 1/ Get a scanner if you don’t have one. As mentioned previously, scanners are stupidly inexpensive nowadays, especially in the US. The Canon Pixma I’m using can be had for about $50.
- 2/ Select your source. If the source is an old floppy, check that issue out on comicbookdb.com to see if there were reprints - these will result in much, much better images. Then click on an Amazon link on writeups.org and see how much the reprint (usually a TPB) costs. Just like Amazon prices can be absurdly high, they can be stupidly low - TPBs sold for $3 or $4 (or less !) are not uncommon, and unless your finances are really constrained it’s worth getting it just to scan at this price.
You should also check Marvel, DC and Comixology for digital reissues - the resolution is not as high as we’d like, but these are fully recoloured and thus superior to old floppies in almost every way. Do keep in mind that thicker book - especially omnibuses - are poor scanning material. More on that below.
- 3/ Physically prepare the scan. Namely :
- check that the glass is clean - fingerprints, dust, etc. do build up.
- keep the book as flat as possible. This is really important for image quality, and that means that the sort of books we recommend to WORG readers because they’re nicer to read and to have (hardcovers and omnibuses) are not good scanning material compared to thinner books. You want every part of the page hugging the glass like white on rice.
- this may mean forcing the binding a bit. I know that it hurts the soul, but you’re only going to do it once for a given book if you’re thorough. Putting a large hardcover book or three on the hood of the scanner to squeeze the book therein flat works best, and is the sort of well-distributed stress that good bindings can endure without permanent damage. The difference in results is obvious. Large role-playing games rulesbook and the various DK comic book guides are great as weights, as are coffee table books and textbooks.
- if a TPB is available at a really low price, you can sacrifice it by killing the binding and keeping it as loose leaves, perfect for scanning. Microwaving books tends to cleanly murder the binding glue. And heh, you could learn artisanal bookbinding to put it back together.
- conversely, on floppies, inserting an opaque sheet of material (say, construction paper) behind the page can prevent bleedthrough, where one can see the ink on the other side of the page because the paper of the comic is too light. It prevents artefacts such as a paler band inexplicably crossing a character’s face because there was white space between panels on the other side of the page - or odd little traces caused by black inks in word balloons on the other side.
- 4/ Scan and save. Specifically :
- we’ll go for a 600 DPI (dots per inch) scan, saved as a TIFF file. Yes, it’s huge, and the file will weigh a lot. It’s OK, we can deal with that. 600 DPI is a bit high (400 is okay-ish) but I think (I might be wrong) that it makes for better pictures after the image has been shrunk. TIFF and handling large files will be discussed later in this FAQ, keep reading.
- you can crop the image to get rid of all the stuff we don’t need, but please don’t resize the image unless you use a professional-level algorithm from Photoshop or GIMP (see above). Again, we’ll just deal with the file’s weight. Resizing pictures is when most of the damage to image quality occurs.
- your scanner presumably has an option called "descreening". Descreening is our friend when scanning older printed material, which we do a fair bit. When looking at the page you’re about to scan, can you see the "screen" - the pattern of dots used to print, forming a moiré pattern ? Here’s an example from scantips.com :
If you can see this pattern, you absolutely want to activate descreening (at about 180 lpi if you have a choice - lower that for particularly crude, old printings). Descreening is the main image processing algorithm that is done more cleanly when scanning than later. In some scanners, descreening can be hidden in the options or even the TWAIN driver, but it’s definitely worth hunting for it. For instance on my Canon Pixma I don’t use the app on my desktop - I have to fish up something called MP Navigator EX 4.0 then go a-digging into various advanced menus until I can finally get an interface with the options I need (and descreening is called "eliminate moiré" to fool the unwary).
(How do I know this ? I read the effin’ manual, as the traditional saying goes. Scanning is not a complex job (at least for our needs), but it’s a technical job and when you do something technical you read the documentation.)
If you don’t see this screen printing pattern, because your source features good modern printing on quality, glossy paper - don’t descreen. It’s a blurring algorithm, so if your source is clean you absolutely don’t want it. It’s when things look like a newspaper or, well, an old comic book, that descreening is your friend. A superb reprint on glossy paper with vibrant colours means no descreening (and it also means I’ll have very little work to do to prep it, which I appreciate). Generally, most books printed since 2000 or so, and some books from the 1990s, will do better without descreening.
- generally speaking, turn all other options off, because I will use much more powerful tools than what your scanner is packing. Usual suspects include unsharpening masks, colour restoration, sharpness accentuation, dust removal, grain correction, etc. - we don’t need ’em, Photoshop does it all better. One possible exception is if the page looks bad because of what is clearly a lighting problem - for instance it looks overlit and there are reflections on the black ink. There, using the light management options of the scanner probably work better than Photoshop, so experiment a bit.
The tutorial is presented as two short videos — both are just a Photoshop screen with a voice-over. The techniques demonstrated are very basic, and are the straightforward use of just-click-it tools.
Video 1 (coming soon)
Video 2 (coming soon)
ALWAYS SAVE YOUR WORK AS A .TIFF FILE. Do NOT change its size unless you do so using Photoshop or equally advanced resizing algorithms.
Taking good screenshots of modern, high-resolution games isn’t always simple - but it can provide beautiful illustrations for germane articles. Here’s a general checklist:
- Check the control panel for your graphics card. In particular you want to see whether you can force a higher level of anti-aliasing (say, 8x) or even a higher resolution for that game. This will likely ruin the FPS, so note the settings you’re changing for when you want to play rather than take screenshots.
- Check the settings for screen shots in the game - there’s often a slider or number you need to push. For games with numerous graphic options, hit a search engine for advice about how to optimise the display of your game. Generally you’ll want to max out anti-aliasing, texture quality and lighting quality to take the screenshots, and switch back to lower settings to play. But unless you’re extensively knowledgeable about the subject, look for advice on the web - understanding exactly how the graphical settings for a single game engine work takes a lot of time.
- Game engines such as the Unreal Engine or the Source Engine have a number of functions, which are not usually disabled in the game. If you want to take screenshots from games running on those engine, you can achieve excellent results by reading the documentation. For instance:
- The Unreal engine has such functions has TOGGLEHUD (makes the interface appear and disappear), TOGGLEFLYCAM (the movement controls move around a flying point of view rather than your character) and TILEDSHOT (a trick that magnifies the resolution of your screenshot - I usually go with tiledshot 4 1920 for settings).
- For Source, check this advice from Valve.
- Furthermore, it is possible to manually edit the configuration files of many games to get options that are not offered in the in-game menus. Again, use a search engine to look for advice about each specific game.
- Games with a strong community will often have texture packs reworked by fans, usually using the Texmod application. These can include higher-res texture packs, which are a key asset for high-quality screenshots.
- There are third-party anti-aliasing injectors, which can make 32-bits games prettier even when not taking screenshots. As of this writing (late 2012), the best injector seems to be SweetFX. The learning curve isn’t short, but dramatic image improvements are possible.
- Since my PC sports an Nvidia video card, I've been heavily using software called Nvidia Inspector, which allows for forcing image processing through the video card’s driver over the game’s settings. This is particularly useful for older games. Common settings of mine are Enhanced Antialiasing (using 4x4 Multisampling), Transparency Multisampling (using 4x sparse grid), FXAA disallowed, user-defined anisotropic filtering (using 16x with filter and sample optimisation, plus a negative LOD bias), high quality texture filtering, high quality ambiant occulsion, and power management set to prefer maximum performance — plus SweetFX.
- Games with no screenshot functionality can always be screenshot using FRAPS, or shot using a running anti-aliasing injector. SweetFX does captures in .bmp - and important asset since we do not want to have a round of .jpg or .png image quality loss before we've even started to work.
- Once the screenshots are done, time to hit your usual image editing software.
We haven’t researched the matter so far, mostly because PowerDVD has been good to us.
With this process, you’re now left with huge TIFF files. Why ?
- Shrinking or enlarging an image is where the quality of the picture is the most damaged. Thus we are going to do that as few times as possible, using the most powerful tool possible. If you don’t have a full version of Photoshop, I’ll handle the size changes since I do.
- TIFF files (which use the extension .tif) can be saved as many times as you want, the image quality will never degrade - this is a format without compression. It is lossless. By contrast, the format used to publish on the web (usually JPEG, though PNG is more appropriate in certain cases) degrade the image every time it is saved.
Thus, I have a vault - figuratively speaking - where all the images for the right-hand stack of an entry are saved as 500-pixel-wide TIFF files, and the banners as 800-pixel-wide TIFF files. When an image is published a smaller JPEG is done based on this master recording, but the master recording remains untouched so we can use it as many times as needed. Furthermore, with the 2012 format for WORG images are published individually rather than as one big image with all the images in it, greatly diminishing how many times an image must be prepared for publication.
However, with such large files using e-mail is less than optimal. What you want to do is to keep all the images you have prepared on Google Docs and keep this well-organised folder shared with my account (“ghostwise7” is the user name, and it is a GMail address). That way I can grab the images when I need them, and nobody’s e-mail space quota gets murdered. When I’m done I’ll tell you so, so you can unshare these images (and remove them from Google Docs if you wish to save space). Simple and effective.