Trying to get good screenshots

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Artfinder
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Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Artfinder » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:28 pm

Hi guys,

Not sure if anyone can help or if I'm in the right forum! but I'm an artist and I'm trying to get my hands on some zx spectrum game screenshot images.

The spectrum holds alot of nostalgia for me playing as a kid and I basically want to make some paintings directly from screenshots of some classic and niche games (odd job Eddie anyone?)

The low resolution of the spectrum should lend well to creating a faithful pixel by pixel painting using a grid system?

I can find various screenshots online but the resolution is not good enough for me to be able to print out and copy into a painting

Im not too sure but I should be able to take an image from a emulator and literally be able to clearly see the pixels so I can transfer that onto a drawing to make an accurate copy. I know originally pixels were displayed differently through the tv, but I've found various emulator videos that show clearly defined pixels.

Unfortunately any image I find online that is clear is either on a YouTube video or I can't find a way to get an image. My only solution so far is to trace an image from YouTube while it's playing on my 42 inch TV. Bi it's really isn't practical.

So any leads or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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Rory Milne
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Rory Milne » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:55 am

Any Spectrum emulator will let you take screenshots, you'll just need to make sure that there the one you use has all of the display filters turned off.

I use ZX Spin - you can download it from here. It's a zip file full of files and folders, which you'll need to create a folder for somewhere.

After that, just double click ZXSpin.exe from the folder you made, then click 'Tools,' then 'Options,' then 'Display,' then 'Effects,' and in the section marked 'Display scaling' make sure that 'None' is chosen as the 'Scaling method'.

To get some screenshots, you just need to load in whatever game you want to get shots of and then hit the pause icon at the bottom left of the emulator when you have a nice looking shot, then click 'File' and hit 'Save current screen.'

Best of luck! :)

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Rory Milne
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Rory Milne » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:59 am

P.S. Load TZX game images by typing LOAD "" - there's an onscreen keyboard helper listed under the 'Help' menu if you struggle to find the 'LOAD' button. Hit the 'Command finder' tab and then 'Symbols' from the drop-down to find the " symbol, and finally hit enter and the TZX should load the game.

Artfinder
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:08 pm

Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Artfinder » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:26 pm

Thankyou so much for your response, yes I'll. Definitely look into that emulator. I have tried before from an emulator a while back , I'm not sure which one it was, but I found the screen shots to be lacking in enough detail to work from accurately or to make physical print outs from . But I'll definitely try this one.

Another Question !

Looking at mages online, the individual pixels seem somewhat rectangular rather than square (see donkey kongs pupil in image below) would that be correct? I'm a bit confused by this. My life would be far easier if the pixels were square!

I've attached a cropped image to show

This is from an image from the retro gamer website which is actually a really good example of what I'm after.
Attachments
SS-Donkey-Kong-Arcade-Level-1_01.png
Rectangular pixel
SS-Donkey-Kong-Arcade-Level-1_01.png (1.81 KiB) Viewed 147 times

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Rory Milne
Posts: 358
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Rory Milne » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:05 pm

Most Eighties' games have graphics built from square pixels, although there are exceptions. I won't get into vector graphics, because they don't use pixels.

In the case of the Donkey Kong shot in your post, all of the pixels used are sqaure and are of the same size, *but* some of those pixels are of the same colour and are sat next to each other or above one another, which produces rectangular areas of colour.

So from a visual point of view, it looks like you have all sorts of sizes and shapes of pixels in the Donkey Kong screenshot, but actually all of the pixels used are the same size and shape, it's just that some are positioned next to each other and are of the same colour, and therefore a grid of single square pixels of the same size *looks* like an arrangement of pixels that are a mixture of shapes and sizes.

Just to confuse matters, some computers, like the Amstrad CPC 464, have graphics modes with pixels that are twice as long as they are high - fat pixels, some games artists call them, and so you get screenshots like this one:

Image

Others, like the Commodore 64 can do cool things with sprite enlargement, where pixels are stretched horizontally or vertically or both, so you get shots like this one:

Image

You should be safe with ZX Spectrum shots, though, because the system only uses square pixels, and as long as the emulator you're using has anti-aliasing switched off then you'll get a clear set of square pixels that you can cleanly blow-up in an arts package. As with the Donkey Kong shot, there will be pixels of the same colour grouped together, but all of those pixels will be the same size and each one will be square.

Hope all of that makes sense! :)

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Rory Milne
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Rory Milne » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:09 pm

Just thought, some arts packages allow you to place grid lines over the top of the image you're using, where you can specify the distance between the grid lines. They aren't saved as part of the image, they're just guide lines, so you could use a grid to identify each distinct pixel regardless of there being same-coloured pixels grouped next to each other.

Artfinder
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Artfinder » Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:31 pm

SS-Donkey-Kong-Arcade-Level-1_01_01.png
SS-Donkey-Kong-Arcade-Level-1_01_01.png (294 Bytes) Viewed 134 times
Yeah photoshop has a pretty in depth grid system that is quite useful and non destructive.

Theres a reason I'm picking spectrum games to make an image from, its Because it's so basic lol I don't think it would be possible to do say a mega drove image unless you made the picture very large to be able to paint each pixel! Luckily or unluckily I never owned a commodore 64!

Just back to your points regarding the pixels. I get what you're saying about the pixels looking like different shapes when grouped. But I believe I'm looking at individual pixels, I've cropped an image again below to show, the blue diagonal line is made of four individual pixels, yet each pixel looks rectangular, I don't believe they are made up of more than one.

If so, that would mean the pixels, and whole game is stretched slightly through the emulator, is that for authenticity? or just to fit a modern screen better? I'm not sure, I wonder if anyone else could weigh in on this.

Thanks again

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Rory Milne
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Rory Milne » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:45 pm

I see what you mean about the Donkey Kong shot - the diagonal row you've highlighted is made of rectangles. It's running on bespoke arcade hardware, so I've no idea if that diagonal line is made from single square pixels grouped together or if the coin-op's system board uses rectangular pixels. Either is possible to be fair.

Artfinder
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:08 pm

Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Artfinder » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:50 am

Apparently it's something to do with the pixel aspect ratio ( different from the picture aspect ratio)

Most of the articles I've read though say that the spectrum has a perfect square pixel, yet all the modern captured images I'm seeing have that slightly rectangular shape.

Im way out my depth technically and very confused lol

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Rory Milne
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Re: Trying to get good screenshots

Post by Rory Milne » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:55 am

I can't speak for the captured images you've been finding online, but here's a shot I took of the Spectrum original Stormlord II. All the pixels in the shot are perfect squares. Any rectangular shapes in the shot are made up of perfectly square pixels lined up next to each other or on top of each other, the screenshot is 256 pixels wide by 192 pixels high, each pixel is square in shape. They say a picture says a thousand words, so I hope this helps. :)

Image

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