Learn How to Take Great Warcraft Screenshots

Learn How to Take Great Warcraft Screenshots
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Taking Great World of Warcraft Screenshots

One of the greatest things about MMORPGs is that they are so much more than just a game. Azeroth, the continents and dimensions that make up the World of Warcraft, also present its visitors with blazing sunsets, sweeping desert vistas and colorful city streets. While some gamers are enjoying the thrill of the hunt as they murder monsters, there are other players who are doing what any appreciative visitor would do, taking pictures. Or, in this case, screenshots.

MMO games are evolving rapidly as is the technology that is used to design them. Residents of Azeroth, part of the vast collection of dimensions and zones that make up World of Warcraft, have seen their world change to reflect these advances in design over time. Screenshots were more of a utilitarian nature then, used to record pivotal moments during group action and pvp duels. Today, even the most hardcore gamer can’t help but see the northern lights in Howling Fjord or a pale sun rising over Tirisfal Glades and think to themselves, “Can I get a shot of that?”

Well, fear not, those gamers who might feel like tourists. Because you can get a shot of that. Whether you just want to capture that moment when you finally equipped that complete Midsummer Fire Festival Set or won the Stranglethorn Fishing Contest, its easy and fun to take great World of Warcraft screenshots.

Real Photography in a Pretend World

Screenshot Before Hitting Alt-z

The designers ay Blizzard have been outdoing themselves with the last couple of expansions. The art of screenshots and video has become more than just a way to record that epic raid on that opposing faction city or studying boss fights. The techniques of taking good pictures are the same in real life as they are in Azeroth, but mechanics are vastly different. You need to learn how to use your in-game camera angles effectively before you begin.

Normally, your World of Warcraft gaming screen is lined with features like your action bar on the bottom or right side of the screen, various chat options in the bottom left, your map in the top right and your own character’s portrait in the top left. If you hit your “Print Screen” button at this point, you will take a screenshots that includes these features. Pushing “alt” and then “z” will remove these frames and leave you with a more aesthetic view. The next step is getting the angle that you want.

It’s unlikely that you want to take a picture that includes the back of your character’s head. To change your camera angle, left-click and hold on your mouse button and drag the screen wherever you want. By changing the camera angle you can not only capture images of your own character but also change the perspective of your pictures to improve their quality. Remember this is not the real world, and your in-game perspective is not limited by your physical body. Instead of always pointing your camera ahead, turn your camera straight up or straight down. You will be surprised and impressed by the ornate ceiling in the dingy Undercity or the colorful, delicate flowers that line the harsh meadows in the Barrens.

screenshot without action bars

Places and People

You don’t have to fly your level 85 character to Vortex Pinnacle or run a Zul’Gurub raid to see something worthy of your photography prowess. The photos that win the daily Warcraft Screenshot of the Day contest are rarely of epic, end-game content (not to say that some aren’t, however), but often feature a striking landscape, the effects of an interesting trinket or a character in a unique pose or situation. Such moments can be difficult to capture, especially if they involve gaming action or simultaneous conversation, which frequently happen concurrently in the World of Warcraft.

Ironically, some of the most high-quality animation and action scenes you will see are part of the cinematic portion of the game, when you will not be able to take screenshots. A cinematic is a brief film that will play after being prompted by a certain event, like your character finishing an important quest. During the time this film is being shown, you will not be able to control your character, nor will you be able to take screenshots - at least, not with the conventional Print Screen button. If you have some technical knowledge and want to expand your ability to take photos and videos, there are several software programs that will run independently of Warcraft that might work, but the success rate of such programs is variable and depends on your own computer system. Fraps is the program to start with if you’re a Windows user. This program is available in freeware and supports both screenshots and video.

Another point to remember is that you can edit, crop and alter your screenshots like conventional photos. Use the photo editing program that came with your digital camera or monitor to change the size, shape or color of your screenshots. If you forgot to hit alt-z, but you still think you have a winning shot for the screenshot contest, crop the action bars out. You might not win the contest, but you will still impress your gamer and “noob” friends alike with your keen eye.


Midsummer Warlock

Outlands, Shattrath City

New Barrens

Moon Over Orgrimmar


Howling Fjord

Skies Above Brill


Old and New Desolace

Hyjal Summit