Hey there, Citizens!
I’ve been getting tons of messages lately from people asking how I take my screenshots so I figured I’d do a quick guide for those who want to know how I do it.
Before we jump into this, there are a few things you guys should know…
- NONE of my screenshots were edited, with the obvious exception of shots like this where I added text. Other than that, everything you see that I have posted here, believe it or not, was taken AS IS in-game. No filters, no special effects, no color correction. Just like IRL photography, we want to get as good of an image as we can straight out of the camera (in this case, the game).
- This guide will assume basic knowledge of composition and lighting, but even if you aren’t familiar, don’t worry I’ll include a
really badcrash course below so you aren’t lost.
- People think I’m running some special graphically modded edition of Star Citizen on a NASA supercomputer to get these shots. Don’t be silly, they’re just regular 1080p/1080p ultrawide screenshots. No mods, no ReShade, no supercomputer. This shot was taken on a cheap gaming laptop with a 1050 Ti.
- I am not a professional photographer, nor am I the best at taking screenshots. But I love doing it, and I want you guys to know that YOU can take great screenshots too.
- This guide is aimed towards newbies wanting to take better screenshots. A lot of what I’m going to tell you might be things you already know. Take what you can, and improvise/adjust as you see fit.
- I personally use Snipping Tool, but you can use whatever screenshot tool you want. Just make sure it saves it in PNG and not JPG/JPEG to preserve quality.
- PATIENCE IS KEY. Don’t rush it. Take your time, plan your shots, make sure everything is perfect; it’ll be worth it. If you’re here because you want to spam PRINT SCREEN to get amazing shots, you’re in the wrong place.
Let’s go over the controls.
- Pressing F4 goes into third person mode. Holding Z and moving the mouse lets you orbit the camera around your character. Pressing Z instead of holding toggles this freecam mode.
- While holding F4, you can use arrow keys UP/DOWN to move the camera away/towards your character and LEFT/RIGHT to pan it left or right. Use PAGE UP/DOWN to raise or lower the camera.
- While holding F4, you can tap HOME to add depth of field (blur) and END to remove it. Keep tapping to gradually add the effect. To focus, simply move the camera away/towards the subject until you get a solid focus.
- While holding F4, you can adjust the FOV(field of view) by tapping NUM -/+.
- You can save presets which stores the current view including camera angle, FOV, and depth of field by holding F4 and holding NUM 1-9. To recall them, simply hold F4 and tap any of the numbers. Hold to save, press to load. Just remember that.
Now, composition and lighting!
I won’t go into too much detail but here’s what you should know:
- Rule of thirds is important. Remember this term as I’ll provide examples below so you know what I’m talking about. Basically, your subject doesn’t always have to be in the middle of the screen and shifting the position can create some interesting shots.
- Know when to take a closeup and when to go full wide FOV. If you’re capturing a landscape scene, go wide. Taking a selfie or doing some product photography? Reduce the FOV and get tighter shots.
- If you’re a photographer, you might be familiar with the “Golden Hour).” Apply this knowledge when trying to choose the right spot to take a photo. I like to QT to a spot where the sun (Stanton) is low for those dramatic sunset/sunrise shots.
- Avoid places with harsh lighting. For example, I’m not a fan of taking shots at Port Olisar or any moon-like surface, such as Yela or Delamar. Not saying you can’t get good shots there, I just personally avoid those locations.
Here are some recommendations; totally optional.
- Set your graphics settings to max. Sure it might slow down your game, but if it’s just a screenshot and it won’t matter anyways. Set it back to your desired setting after you’re done.
- 4K screenshots are great, but not necessary. 99% of my screenshots were taken in 1080p. But if you’d like to take higher resolution screenshots and don’t have a 4K display, don’t worry. DSR is here to save the day! Click here to see how.
- Ultrawide monitors are great for screenshots, especially when dealing with landscape shots or other photos dealing with a wider field of view, like this one.
Now let’s go through a few of my favorite shots.
Notes: I took this at Hurston where the crashed satellite is. It was night time and the fires added to the dramatic lighting, casting a nice glow on my character and the gun. My main focus was the weapon I was holding.
How I did it: F4 to go into third person mode, panned the camera around with the mouse while holding Z until I got a good view of the weapon, zoomed in with F4 + NUM-, blurred the background by holding F4 and tapping HOME until it was out of focus enough, then fine tuning the camera with F4 + ARROW UP/DOWN until I got the right focus.
Notes: This shot ignored the Rule of Thirds but I did intentionally as it would end up being one of the images on our org’s website. It’s also one of the easiest shots I’ve taken and I did it within seconds. The sun (Stanton) was low and to the left (my left, your right) of my Reclaimer. Notice also how the Reclaimer isn’t facing directly towards me. It’s sort of at an angle and adds a nice sense of dimension.
How I did it: F4 to go into third person mode, panned around the ship, then used F4 + NUM+ to get a nice wide shot.
Notes: This is easily one of my absolute favorite shots, and a CIG employee actually made it his wallpaper! Again, there was no editing involved other than adding the “LYRIA” text. This is how it looked in-game. Absolutely breathtaking. Take note of the Rule of Thirds being applied here with my character on the right side of the screen, not only adding a creative touch to the shot but it being positioned in a way that doesn’t obstruct the view of the scenery.
How I did it: F4 to go into third person mode, pressed F4 and held ARROW LEFT until my character was on the right side of the shot, then F4 + NUM+ until I was happy with the wide field of view. I then imported the image into Photoshop and typed out LYRIA with some tracking between the characters, using the light variant of the Montserrat font.
Notes: A LOT of people called me out on this shot, one guy even private messaging me telling me to stop posting fake photos on Reddit LOL. Believe it or not, this is not a render and taken straight from the game, again no edits whatsoever. How I took the photo is another story, and it took me 38 minutes to get it right. For those wondering, you can find this coffee machine in the VIP lounge at Area 18, and you can see the Rule of Thirds being applied here as well, with the room lighting adding a nice glow to the shot overall. These macro shots, or “product photography” as I like to call them, take a bit of messing around and luck since you have to use obstacles around you to modify the camera angle and composition.
How I did it: F4, then F4 + ARROW LEFT and ARROW UP until my character was no longer in view. Moved towards the coffee machine, moving the camera around until the table obstructed the camera, making it zoom in further than usual. I then added DOF by holding F4 and tapping HOME and made final adjustments using ARROW UP/DOWN until the center of the coffee machine was in focus. NPCs walking by ruined the shot momentarily, and even the slightest movements can offset the camera and mess up the composition. This is one of those shots that took a lot of patience, and I wish I recorded it so you could see what I’m talking about. You can find a similar shot taken at the same location here.
Notes: This was a fun one. I got stuck on a delivery contract when the boxes kept clipping through my ships so I turned it into the perfect photo op. It was night time with plenty of lights around the scene, and I decided to stack the boxes a certain way, slapped on the Covalex Shipping logo, and made a little ad. Turned out pretty well. Another shot where the Rule of Thirds not only applies creatively, but also conveniently as it gave me a bit more room to add text.
How I took it: I had to crouch for this shot to get it right. With these product photography shots, you have to do some extra work to get the camera where you want it, like my previous shot above. F4 to go into third person mode, added DOF using F4 + Home, then walked around a bit to get the composition and focus right.
Notes: Not much going on here, but the simplicity of it is the reason I like it so much. The 600i is a gorgeous ship, and with under the right lighting it can almost look real.
How I took it: F4 to go into third person view, F4 + ARROW KEYS to pan the camera and get my character out of the shot, and finally F4 + NUM+ to add a bit of FOV.
Notes: Landscape shots are probably some of the easiest screenshots you can take in this game. All you have to do is find the right spot. I QT’ed to a location on Hurston where the sun was setting and I waited to get this shot. Notice how the sun on Hurston appears orange when it’s low on the horizon compared to, say, Lyria? Well, just like IRL, the atmosphere of a planet/moon affects the color of the sun! It’s just another little detail that’s often overlooked, but highly appreciated if you’re into that sort of stuff and really good to take advantage of artistically.
How I did it: F4 to go into third person view, F4 + ARROW KEYS to pan the camera and get my character out of the shot, and finally F4 + NUM+ to add a bit of FOV.
Now it’s your turn.
Hopefully this guide was helpful! I have tons more screenshots but I won’t spam this post with them. Just look out for them as I plan on posting a ton of screenshots on this Subreddit.
If I missed anything or if you have any questions, feel free to ask or hang out with me and my org on my Discord server!
Awesome stuff!!! 🙂