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Snap good quality screenshots in LDD


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#1 Calabar

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 09:11 AM

Here is a short guide created to help users to obtain screenshots with a decent quality with LDD.
The guide consists in a list of suggestions, that the user can suit his/her needs.
It is mostly thought to be used for thumbnails of the sets inserted in the Official LEGO Sets made in LDD topic.

  • Set your display at the maximum resolution available   [1]
  • Use LDD in Full Screen Mode, hide all sidebars.
  • Place the model properly.
    - Dispose elements inside the model so that it is not too "scattered". Try to avoid blank spaces inside the scene.
    - Choose the right angle so that all the model is well visible and not too "flat".
    - If the model is higher than large, you can rotate the model 90° to better fit a wide 3D display area.
  • Fit the image to the 3D display area, using the fit on screen button.
  • From LDD options, set the maximum graphic quality available. Save the model and Restart LDD to make the changes effective.    [2]
  • Take the screenshot (CTRL+K or Command+K on MAC) while you are in "Building Mode".
    Choose the folder where to save the screenshot, so that you will be able to find it later.
    In older version of LDD, the screenshot was saved in your Images folder (Documents/Images for Windows users, User/Image for MAC users).     [3]
  • Open the image file with photoediting software (see below)
  • Crop the image removing blank stripes
  • Resize the image at the desired size
  • Save the modified image, using PNG format and keeping transparency as Alpha Channel.
Now you have your screenshot/thumbnail with a good quality!  :wink:

NOTEs
[1] Sometimes it is possible to set a resolution greater than the maximum supported by your display.
With Windows XP for example you can use "pan and scan virtual desktop". Else you can use "downscaling" (scale an hight resolution to the resolution supported by your display) if your video card allows that, but that's more complicated.
[2] If your graphic settings are already at the maximum available quality, you can skip this step.
If your computer is enough powerful to allow you to work with these settings, this step can be done first.
[3] Starting from LDD 4.3.6 it is possible to choose a different folder as a default folder for screenshots.

LDD and transparent colours
The present version of LDD has a problem with transparent bricks, that results washed out.
A trick to partially fix this issue consists in overlap the (with transparency) screenshot with itself: inside the photo editing software copy the whole image and past it few times (usually 3-4 times are enough to obtain a good result).
(thanks to Zinfinion and Aanchir for the hint)



For Windows Users
As photo editing software, I suggest you to use PixBuilder Studio: it is extremely light, powerful and you can use it as a portable software (don't need any installation). Obviously you can use any other software you are more at ease with.
- CROP image with pixbuilder: select the area you want to save, then from the Menu Bar on the top: Edit -> Crop Selection.
- RESIZE image with pixbuilder: from the Menu Bar on the top: Edit -> Image Size.
Select a proper value for the longer side and make sure that "Constrain Proportions" checkbox is marked.
The default algorithm is the standard bicubic one and it is good for this, don't modify it.
For example you can set 512 pixel for big sets or smaller values for smaller sets, if you are creating a thumbnail for the "Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic.

For Mac Users
As photo editing software, it is possible to use Preview, the default image and PDF viewing software provided with OS X. Obviously you can use any other software you are more at ease with.
- CROP image with Preview: just click and drag to select, then go to Tools -> Crop (or Command+K).
- RESIZE image with Preview: go to Tools -> Adjust Size.
Select a proper value for the longer side and make sure that "Constrain Proportions" checkbox is marked.
(Thanks to Brickdoctor for the hint)
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#2 Calabar

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:52 PM

Software Guide


ImageMagik [Win|MAC|Linux] [Standalone] [OpenSource]
Use ImageMagik to automatically batch crop and resize more images with a single click.
  • Windows
    • Prepare the ground
      - Download the zip (portable) version of ImageMagik for Windows here.
      - Open the archive and extract these two file: mogrify.exe (executable) and vcomp100.dll (library).
      - Create a new folder and put inside mogrify, vcomp100 and a copy of all the images you want to batch crop and resize.
      Warning!: the images in the folder will be overwritten and replaced by processed images.
    • Create the batch/command/bash file
      - Open up your favourite text editor and paste in the following command:
      mogrify -trim -fuzz 0 +repage -thumbnail 256x256 *.png
      pause
      This will create thumbnails no larger than 256x256 pixels with the blank borders trimmed.
      - Edit these dimensions according to the requirements (typical size are 512x512, 448x448, 384x384, ...).
      - Save this file in the same folder as the files you want to convert, with a filename like "resize_256.bat".
    • Start the process
      - Double click on the .bat file and all the .png files inside the folder will be processed.
    • A "Ready Pack" for Windows is available here.
  • MAC
    • Prepare the ground
      - Mac Version of ImageMagik is available through their repository (Click here for further informations)
      - From the program folder, take these two file: mogrify (executable) and vcomp100 (library).
      - Create a new folder and put inside mogrify, vcomp100 and a copy of all the images you want to batch crop and resize.
      Warning!: the images in the folder will be overwritten and replaced by processed images.
    • Create the batch/command/bash file
      - Open up your favourite text editor and paste in the following command:
      mogrify -trim -fuzz 0 +repage -thumbnail 256x256 *.png
      This will create thumbnails no larger than 256x256 pixels with the blank borders trimmed.
      - Edit these dimensions according to the requirements (typical size are 512x512, 448x448, 384x384, ...).
      - Save this file in the same folder as the files you want to convert, with a filename like "resize_256.command".
    • Start the process
      - Assign to the command file the proper permissions to allow it to run:
      Linux and OSX users may need to edit the file's permissions to allow it to run: right-click on it, click on "Show Info", then change the permissions under "Permissions" to show 755.
      - Execute the command file.
  • Linux
    • Prepare the ground
      - Linux Version of ImageMagik is available through their repository (Click here for further informations)
      - From the program folder, take these two file: mogrify (executable) and vcomp100 (library).
      - Create a new folder and put inside mogrify, vcomp100 and a copy of all the images you want to batch crop and resize.
      Warning!: the images in the folder will be overwritten and replaced by processed images.
    • Create the batch/command/bash file
      - Open up your favourite text editor and paste in the following command:
      #!/bin/bash
      mogrify -trim -fuzz 0 +repage -thumbnail 256x256 *.png
      read
      This will create thumbnails no larger than 256x256 pixels with the blank borders trimmed.
      - Edit these dimensions according to the requirements (typical size are 512x512, 448x448, 384x384, ...).
      - Save this file in the same folder as the files you want to convert, with a filename like "resize_256.sh".
    • Start the process
      - Assign to the bash file the proper permissions to allow it to run: set permissions to 775.
      - Execute the bash file.

NOTE: at the moment the procedure has been tested on a Windows PC only.
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#3 DLuders

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 11:06 PM

...or, you could use this free software to take a screenshot VIDEO of your LDD model being rotated or manipulated.   :classic:

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#4 Calabar

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 11:14 PM

Very interesting software, but I think that it goes beyond the intent of this guide.  :classic:
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#5 Brickdoctor

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 11:58 PM

Mac users can just use Preview. To crop, just click and drag to select, then go to Tools>Crop (or Command+K). To resize, go to Tools>Adjust Size and enter the desired values in the dialog box.

#6 Calabar

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 08:49 AM

@Brickdoctor
A pair of questions:
- is "Preview" the image editing software provided with MacOS by default?
- does it correctly managed transparencies?
- about resizing, the procedure is the same I described for pixbuilder? (the point is the maximum value related to the longer side)
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#7 Aanchir

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 05:12 PM

Nice guide. One addition I'd like to make, though. While it's great to use screenshots with transparency (I almost always do), one disadvantage is that transparent parts will be extremely see-through, so much so that it can be hard to make out which color is being used. Also, I can't remember if this issue has been resolved, but it used to be that anything covered up by a transparent part would also have transparency in the screenshot.

My solution for this has always been to copy the entire (cropped) screenshot and paste it on top of itself several times using Photoshop. This deepens the color of the transparent parts, although after a certain number of layers the transparency of those parts is lost. However, I still think this is preferable to transparent blue colors you can't tell apart, transparent green colors that are almost grayish-looking, etc. It also means the colors will be crisp on any color of background.

Look at this image When viewed on Brickshelf's default blue backdrop, the transparent bright green and transparent blue parts look extremely faded and almost "ghostlike". Next view the same image with four duplicate layers pasted on top of the original image. The transparent colors are a lot brighter, with a bit of transparency remaining. Finally, here's the same image with eight duplicate layers on top of the original. The difference is negligible, but the clear parts' transparency has been completely removed. The number of duplicate layers you want will thus vary depending on how much transparency you want transparent-colored parts to have and what background you will be displaying them against.

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#8 Brickdoctor

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 05:18 PM

View PostCalabar, on 24 June 2012 - 08:49 AM, said:

@Brickdoctor
A pair of questions:
- is "Preview" the image editing software provided with MacOS by default?
- does it correctly managed transparencies?
- about resizing, the procedure is the same I described for pixbuilder? (the point is the maximum value related to the longer side)
Preview is the default image and PDF viewing software provided with OS X, but it also can do basic resizing and color adjustments. It does handle transparency properly. As long as you have 'Constrain Proportions' checked, you can enter the desired size of either the width or the height, and the other dimension is automatically calculated. (and you can adjust the resolution from that dialog box, too, though you won't need to since I believe LDD outputs screenshots at 72 ppi)

#9 Calabar

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 06:34 PM

@Brickdoctor
Fine, added to the guide. Take a look at it.
Another little question. CTRL+K is the key shortcut for LDD Screenshot in windows. Is it Command+K in the MAC version?

@Aanchir
Good hint. About see-through problem of transparent parts, I'll add Zinfinion's trick (that is the same you suggest) to the guide.
I can't see your example because the gallery is not publick and you don't hotlink images.
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#10 Brickdoctor

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 06:56 PM

View PostCalabar, on 24 June 2012 - 06:34 PM, said:

Is it Command+K in the MAC version?
Yes, it is.

#11 Calabar

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 07:21 PM

Thanks, and what is on MAC the default path where LDD places its screenshots?
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#12 Brickdoctor

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 07:33 PM

View PostCalabar, on 24 June 2012 - 07:21 PM, said:

Thanks, and what is on MAC the default path where LDD places its screenshots?
On Snow Leopard it's User > Pictures. For most people, that'll just mean the Pictures folder in the Dock. I'm not sure what the exact path is in Lion, but I'm 90% sure it's the same.

#13 Aanchir

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 10:57 PM

View PostCalabar, on 24 June 2012 - 06:34 PM, said:

@Brickdoctor
Fine, added to the guide. Take a look at it.
Another little question. CTRL+K is the key shortcut for LDD Screenshot in windows. Is it Command+K in the MAC version?

@Aanchir
Good hint. About see-through problem of transparent parts, I'll add Zinfinion's trick (that is the same you suggest) to the guide.
I can't see your example because the gallery is not publick and you don't hotlink images.
Sorry, forgot it wouldn't be public immediately. Hotlinking the image would defeat the purpose since the reason I hosted them on Brickshelf was to demonstrate how they would appear on a colored background.

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#14 bbqqq

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 06:22 PM

Some ipad 3 apps can make ipad screen become secondary display of PC or Mac, ie idisplay.
Run LDD on ipad3 screen then can take retina resolution 3M+ 2048x1536 screen shot with AA on.
Not sure the new Mac book with retina can take 5M pixels LDD screen shot or not? :classic:

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new ipad 3M+ pixels retina LDD screen shot 2048 x 1536 by Nachapon S., on Flickr

Edited by bbqqq, 05 August 2012 - 06:39 PM.

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#15 DLuders

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 10:42 PM

In both Windows Vista and Windows 7, there is a program in the "Accessories" group that is called the "Snipping Tool".  You can just draw a box around your LDD screen, and save the resulting "snipped" (cropped) image as a .JPG.  To find the "Snipping Tool", go to the "Start" button on the lower-left corner of your computer screen, then select "All Programs", then the "Accessories" folder.   :classic:

#16 bbqqq

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:48 AM

Thanks, DLuders. This is a multi-monitor screen shot capture by Snipping tool, iconia W500 + ipad3 = 4M SS 2848x1536.
I leave the LLD interface for easier to see the SS size.
System with 4 full-HD multi-monitor should make a 4K SS(3840x2160, 8M+ pixels), or a 8k width SS (7680x1080), maybe. :classic:

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Edited by bbqqq, 06 August 2012 - 03:00 AM.

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#17 Calabar

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:44 AM

View Postbbqqq, on 05 August 2012 - 06:22 PM, said:

Some ipad 3 apps can make ipad screen become secondary display of PC or Mac, ie idisplay.
Run LDD on ipad3 screen then can take retina resolution 3M+ 2048x1536 screen shot with AA on.
Not sure the new Mac book with retina can take 5M pixels LDD screen shot or not? :classic:
I think LDD can maximize taking advantage of any available resolution of the display.

The real problem is that it is not possible to easily set a "virtual resolution" using virtual pan and scan, but we are limited to the display resolution. Probably we need a driver that simulate a monitor with any resolution... does anyone knows something similar?
Zinfinion uses the "downscaling" trick, supported by his video card, but it is complicated and a bit risky for the hardware.

PS: you told you used AA and the screenshot seems to use advanced graphics. I made some test time ago, and I was not able to use AA and Advanced Graphics together. What kind of AA did you use?

View PostDLuders, on 05 August 2012 - 10:42 PM, said:

In both Windows Vista and Windows 7, there is a program in the "Accessories" group that is called the "Snipping Tool".
What's the advantage to use this tool? Perhaps it is useful to solve multimonitor problems, if any?
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#18 DLuders

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:01 AM

View PostCalabar, on 06 August 2012 - 08:44 AM, said:

What's the advantage to use this tool? Perhaps it is useful to solve multimonitor problems, if any?

The Windows "Snipping Tool" is an EASY way of displaying EXACTLY what one sees on an LDD screen.  What good is a high-resolution LDD screenshot (from another computer), if you are limited by YOUR screen resolution?  Why be concerned with HUGE screenshots if Eurobricks limits pictures to 800x600 pixels?

#19 Calabar

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:22 AM

View PostDLuders, on 06 August 2012 - 10:01 AM, said:

The Windows "Snipping Tool" is an EASY way of displaying EXACTLY what one sees on an LDD screen.  
Ok, than it is a simple screenshot tool (I use Hoversnap, it should be something similar, I guess).

For LDD screeshots, anyway, it is better to use integrates screenshot function, because it generate an image of the model only, without grill, buttons and toolbars. Besides, the result is a PNG image with transparency, whose quality is much better that jpeg compressed image (obviously many screenshot tool allow PNG screenshots, but it is more difficult to obtain transparency = independence of the model from the background).

View PostDLuders, on 06 August 2012 - 10:01 AM, said:

What good is a high-resolution LDD screenshot (from another computer), if you are limited by YOUR screen resolution? Why be concerned with HUGE screenshots if Eurobricks limits pictures to 800x600 pixels?

Because downsampling strongly increase the quality of the image.
If you snap yous screenshot at 2560x px and then resize it to 800x px, the result is much better then take a 800x px screenshot directly.
Besides it is ever possible to insert hight resolution images as clickable thumbnails and text links.

The hight resolution is one of the main "trick" illustrated in this guide.
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#20 bbqqq

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 04:06 PM

Calabar said:
PS: you told you used AA and the screenshot seems to use advanced graphics. I made some test time ago, and I was not able to use AA and Advanced Graphics together. What kind of AA did you use?

I can not use AA and Advanced Graphics together, neither.
Hi-res screenshot is good for complicate model.

Edited by bbqqq, 07 August 2012 - 04:09 PM.

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#21 Calabar

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 12:06 PM

Is there anyone who knows if is there a software for mac than can provide batch resize and smart crop?
"Official LEGO Sets made in LDD" topic: Read guidelines before posting!

#22 theDeanoRama

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:15 PM

How does one configure so that brick separation is evident? A good example here is bbqqq's LDD screen shot of the Star Destroyer above. Even with High Quality rendering set with maximum shading I don't get any indication of brick lines, they all meld together. Is this a limitation of my resolution (1920x1080) or how well my video card renders 3d (radeon HD 6740M)? Screen shots aside, I don't even get this level of detail within LDD while working.

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#23 Calabar

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:37 PM

There is a specific option called "Outlines on Bricks". You have to check the relative checkbox.
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#24 theDeanoRama

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:57 AM

View PostCalabar, on 25 October 2012 - 11:37 PM, said:

There is a specific option called "Outlines on Bricks". You have to check the relative checkbox.

After some looking I did find it, but I guess the reason I never noticed it before this is is that it was a very grayed out option (blended in with the background a little too much for these tired eyes).
Posted Image

Turns out I have to have high quality for the brick palette checked as a precursor to being able to show the brick lines on a model - which to me seems like an odd choice since I don't care how well rendered the palette is vs the model I'm building in the scene but I guess there must be a reason behind it. I just don't like turning system overhead over to something that doesn't really need it.

Thanks for the tip as you got me looking a lot closer :blush:

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#25 Calabar

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:31 AM

Exactly, if you want to outlines on Bricks, you have to enable all other advanced graphics features.
The hight quality rendering of the palette is not so unuseful, anyway. The preview of the bricks are small, and often it is not easy to distinguish some pieces without the hight quality rendering.
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