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How to make World of Warcraft Panoramas

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#1 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 01:02 PM

How to make World of Warcraft Panoramas

This is a guide on how to take panoramic pictures in World of Warcraft, an amazingly popular MMO. Panoramic pictures are great for wallpapers, especially across multiple screens, posters, to use for stock photos on projects, etc. Making them isn't terribly difficult, and I'll go over the steps with you.

What you need
  • A high res monitor - The higher the resolution, the less work it will be to get your desired size. I'll be doing this guide with a standard 1080p monitor.
  • Good image editing software - I will be using Adobe Photoshop 5, but there are a few free panoramic softwares you can use for image stitching and import into GIMP.
  • A powerful computer - You're going to be running WoW at above ultra settings through the console, this will bring even the most powerful gaming rigs to their knees, so we're not shooting for frame rates, just the ability to use all of WoW's graphics engine.
  • Macros - There are a few macros to use, I'll get into these later.
The Basics
  • The first thing you're going to need to know how to do is hide your interface, you can do this with ALT+Z in game.
  • You always want to scroll to a first person view, that way you don't have your toon in the screen shots.
  • Remember to find a reference point in each screen shot. You want something that ever two have so you can line them up. A tree, building, rock, anything will do. (I'll show you a macro later to get around this, but it's still good practice)
Here's an example. Notice the tower in both pictures.
Attached File  example 1.png   2.72MB   12 downloadsAttached File  example 2.png   2.95MB   24 downloads

Macros
I use two macros to bring the level of graphics higher than "Ultra" using console commands.

The first, I just name GFX1 is this:

/console overridefarclip 1
/console farclip 8000
/console horizonfarclip 10000
/console groundEffectFade 1500
/console groundEffectDist 500
/console groundEffectDensity 256

The second, GFX2 is:

/console detailDoodadAlpha 100
/console smallcull 0
/console gxDepthBits 32
/console characterAmbient 0
/console SkyCloudLOD 3
/console SpellEffectLevel 100
/console screenshotFormat TGA
/console screenshotQuality 10

You can combine these into one macro if you want, I just keep them separate because I'm weird.

Now, to show you the difference. A screen shot at full ultra:
Attached File  ultra.png   2.92MB   31 downloads

Here's a screenshot after the first macro, notice view distance and ground clutter.
Attached File  gfx1.png   3.24MB   38 downloads

And one after the second macro, There are no spell effects in use here, but you can see the cloud change. This also makes higher than normal quality screen shots (which I'm already using anyways)
Attached File  gfx2.png   3.25MB   32 downloads

Taking the screen shots and putting them together

I use a third macro as well, to pan the camera and take a screen shot.
/run FlipCameraYaw(45) Screenshot()

Now that things look pretty, we're going to take some screen shots and upload them into photoshop. In total you should have 8 screen shots for a full 360* view. Normally, I'd also use the WoW Machinima tool to remove all the fog, but it hasn't been updated to 4.3 yet. Once loaded into photoshop, you're going to use the Automate Photomerge tool to put them together. Here's the location in CS5:
Attached File  photomerge.png   1.03MB   23 downloads

The photomerge tool is pretty simple. I find it best to just go ahead and open all the screen shots you want to use, then click "add open files." After that, just click "done" and let photoshop do the work. It could take some time depending on how powerful your computer is and how many screen shots there are.
Attached File  photmerge2.png   733.07K   28 downloads

You're going to end up with a picture like this:
Attached File  panorama1.png   10.09MB   36 downloads


Finishing touches

Now we want to crop it out to a nice size and get rid of all the transparent areas. Mine ended up like this:
[Attached File  panorama2.png   8.19MB   31 downloads

After this, I like to play with the colors a bit to make things look interesting. I start with HDR toning, here's where it can be found:
Attached File  hdr.png   663.19K   16 downloads

These settings are never going to be the same twice. Spend a lot of time tinkering with them until you get a feel that you like for the panorama. Here's what I ended up using.
Attached File  hdr2.png   1.34MB   10 downloads

I also play with the color balance a bit, you can find that option here:
Attached File  color ballance.png   1.43MB   16 downloads


I ended up with this, but you can change everything to your tastes:
Attached File  panorama3.png   9.57MB   22 downloads

Tips
  • Find an area that looks nice already, you can't polish a turd.
  • It helps to take the 8 screen shots, then lift or lower your screen 50-75% and take 8 more for a bigger panorama.
  • Avoid moving things if possible, try to keep other players out of your shots
  • Look around the area first, decide what's the best point to take your panorama.

Attached Files


nmjUGDL.jpg

#2 (V) (`m`) (V) ︵ ┻━┻

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 01:11 PM

That's so kewl.

I love looking at it after you've taken a picture of all the areas together because you never get to see them all at once.

"you can't polish a turd"
Now mythbusters has disproved that. <__<

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#3 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 01:29 PM

Yeah, it's pretty cool to be able to see it all laid out like that. When I get a multi monitor setup again, I'm going to use one as a wallpaper I think.

It still looked like a turd to me.
nmjUGDL.jpg

#4 (V) (`m`) (V) ︵ ┻━┻

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 02:32 PM

That'd be awesome.

A panoramic of Zangramarsh would be kewl as hell. >.>


A polished turd.

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#5 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 02:35 PM

I'll see if I can put one together in a bit for you. :)
nmjUGDL.jpg

#6 (V) (`m`) (V) ︵ ┻━┻

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 02:43 PM

Oh, I meant for you.

But hot diggity dog, ok. =D

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