I’ve made a rather large image tutorial and decided that I wanted to add more elements and be able to edit it. There is much I didn’t include simply because it was getting so long; this way, I can just add stuff when I think of it! Awesome!
We’re going to start with the basics. Firstly, I recommend you install Reshade. I can’t stress enough how much it can change your game, and how much more pleasing to the eye it is. I can’t play without it anymore!
What is Reshade? Well, I don’t know the technicalities of how it works but it is a 3rd party program that actively changes the way your game looks. You can adjust sliders very similar to Photoshop effects such as color balance, brightness/contrast, and there is a very nice Depth of Field option. There are things like adaptive fog, shadowing, bloom & lens flares…. you can even set up a green screen for your character! While the last thing tends to crash my FFXIV, it doesn’t crash others, you just have to try it.
You can get Reshade from Reshade.me. There are many installation tutorials so I will not cover that part, but this guide was most helpful to me. Other than that, I will say that I had problems getting this to run properly until I went to C:\Program Files (x86), right clicked on SquareEnix and went to Properties, Security, and gave the entire folder Modify permissions. I also installed Reshade as an administrator, and run FFXIV as administrator.
If you already have Reshade or have it now and would like the preset I typically use, you can get it here! Just copy the paste data into Notepad. Save it as whatevernameyouwant.ini, and make sure to set it to ‘all file types’. Then move the file to C:\Program Files (x86)\SquareEnix\FINAL FANTASY XIV – A Realm Reborn\game
*This is for the Windows version, Steam will have a different Game folder you need to find.
Press F8 to turn DoF on/off. Go into the settings and play around if you’d like stronger DoF or to turn off bloom, etc! My DoF is pretty slight, you may want to punch it up a lot more.
In 2013, FFXIV responded that Reshade is allowed however it is ‘at your own risk‘. This means that if it were to somehow break your game, you would be on your own fixing it. You can see the official post here.
Heres a before / after of the original in-game look vs. my reshade preset. The very last screenshot is not using my preset, rather just playing around with things like adaptive fog and intense colors. However, it looks very much like I plopped that into Photoshop, doesn’t it? Reshade is insanely powerful! Using it makes it so that you can get great base screenshots that don’t need a whole lot of post-processing, and I love the sharpening effect it has – but you can still get away with not using it, too.
Start by taking a nice screenshot in-game! This can’t be stressed enough. Your lighting, composition, focus and subject are all things that can only be adjusted slightly afterwards so it’s best to start with a good image. Basically, you want to apply real-life photography rules here!
Familiarize yourself with all of the functions of /gpose, as they are very important. There are lots of useful camera tilt functions, different zoom options, lighting effects (hint: where ever your camera is at is where your light will be. so if you zoom your camera way out and place a light source, only a tiny bit of ‘fill light’ will hit where you need it on your character).
Some basic ideas to keep in mind are the rule of thirds; imagine a 6-box grid over your screen. Your subject of focus may look more aesthetically pleasing resting along one of the lines, not directly in the center.
You’ll typically want your subject to be well-lit, although there are plenty of ideas where the opposite is true! However, for lighting; soft is better. Blowing out the highlight areas can be hard to fix, so move into some shade or turn away from the sun. Remember that gpose has lighting effects, too. I find them really useful if you’re in a sunny area that is casting a hard shadow on your face, just like a fill light in real life would do. Just try to watch for harsh shadows & sunlight and adjust your pose accordingly. The lighting in-game changes by the hour, and weather, just like in real-life.
The horizon line behind your character may also benefit from the rule of thirds, in that it should be under or over the center, but not directly center. You can also play with the tilt camera function in gpose, to get some interesting angles!
Again, these are just guidelines for what has long been deemed ‘aesthetically pleasing’ to the eye, that you can apply to your screenshots but are in no-way set in stone. Sometimes, breaking the ‘rules’ make for a better image.
Lastly, take lots of shots! Change the angles just slightly. Wait for the lighting to change (it changes fast). You can always delete what you don’t use.
I use Photoshop and thus all of my terminology will be based here. There are other programs such as GIMP that are free and have similar capabilities, in some cases identical to that of Photoshop. But, you’ll need to translate my Photoshop talk into other programs!
Let’s start with some really basic editing. This will include the fastest editing options, without cutting your character out of the background (see part 2 for that). This is great when you have a nice screenshot already, that you’d just like to enhance a bit, without going crazy.
So go over your screenshots until you find one you like the composition of and open it in Photoshop.
Here is what I’m going to use. Feel free to try editing it along with me!
I always start by Duplicating the ‘background‘ image in the ‘Layers‘ tab, so that I always have the original handy if I need it. You can do this by right-clicking the original layer and selecting ‘Duplicate Layer‘. Then make sure you have your newly duplicated layer selected to work on.
After that, I like to see what ‘Auto Tone’ looks like. It doesn’t always work out, but sometimes it does. Click ‘Image‘ located along the very top menu, and click ‘Auto Tone‘ In this case, I like it, so I’m going to work with it.
Next, I’m going to tone the image a bit to my liking. You can do this by going to Image > Adjustments and directly changing the image,
or we can click the little half-filled circle icon at the bottom of the layers panel to apply mask that can easily be turned on and off. This is a good option to use if you are batch editing screenshots that are all similar in lighting and color, because you can then just drag these over to another photoshop file!
Here, I did Brightness/Contrast, Color Balance, and Selective Color. Here is what I did on each one:
And we end up here.
Now I want to apply some blur, and I’m going to use Iris Blur for this. So with the background layer selected, go the the menu up top ‘Filter‘ > Blur Gallery > Iris Blur. This will bring up a tool that lets you adjust the power, size and radius of the blur. This blur is shaped like an oval and it’s the one I use most for this, but you can play around with tilt shift and the others, as well!
Just play around with it until you’re happy with how it looks. You can make some minor adjustments afterwards with the blur tool, located on your left panel menu. Typically, for the brush properties, a large round at 0% hardness and about 70% Strength is what I use.
Now here is where we are. Let’s go and add some layer effects to give the image some pop in areas!
I’m going to start by creating a new layer above our earlier color adjustment layers. Do this by clicking the little paper icon at the bottom of your layer panel, on the far right.
Then I’m going to select a rather large soft brush. It’s a default brush at 1100px, 0% hardness.
For the color, I’m gonna go with a light peachy orange, specifically #ffb998. Then, on our new layer, I’m gonna dab around the background – you want to off-center your brush. The center will be the most powerful, but what we really want is the gentle faded edge parts. Here is where my dabs went.
Then, I’m gonna set that layer style to Overlay and the Opacity to about 65%. This creates a lovely glow. Play with the other layer styles; and other colors!
Next, I’m going to create another layer, drop my brush size down to about 30px and keep the other settings. I’m going to dot along some of the gold bits on the outfit, to create more intensity in the shine. I’m going to set that layer to Overlay at 100% opacity.
We’re nearing the end! It’s standard that you add back in the FFXIV Watermark that is put on screenshots by default, which Reshade sometimes takes away. So I’m going to use the text tool to make a new watermark, located on your left hand menu.
This is something that can add to the overall ‘wallpaper’ look of your image, it doesn’t have to be boring! Get yourself loads of new fonts to try out, rather than the default options. One of my favorite places is 1001fonts. Just install them and Photoshop will automatically detect them, no need to restart.
I’m going to use this font.
Here is what the original watermark says:
Copyright (C) 2010-2017 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. FINAL FANTASY XIV
Feel free to rearrange it to your liking.
You can set the Type layers to Overlay or screen or anything you want, just like our previous brush dabs. This can add more interesting looks to them.
And here is the final results!