We know now thanks to a new Netflix show that Snoop Dogg has a mural with Star Trek Online artwork on it hanging at his BLE Compound in Los Angeles. The mural was spotted by Twiiter user @justinhall who tweeted a picture from the show saying “Uh can anyone why it is that @SnoopDogg has a giant mural of Federation starships in his house? Folks I am absolutely stunned.”
The picture is from Episode 1 of the new Netflix series Rhythm + Flow which has been out since October 9th. The mural is actually a massive custom wall graphic that was created by Gamut Media called Star Wars vs Star Trek. Snoop has never been shy about his love for Star Trek, he has previously released music through Star Trak Entertainment and he was an executive producer on Unbelievable!!!!! A parody that had more than 40 former Star Trek actors in it.
Star Trek Online saw the tweet and asked Snoop if he plays STO and has invited him to appear on their Stream. Fans meanwhile have started calling for Captain Snoop to be added to the game, voiced by the man himself of course. So far there has been no reply from him but we’re going to be keeping our eyes peeled and our fingers crossed!
So there we have it, Snoop Dogg is officially a nerd and he’s got the massive mural to prove it. There have also been rumors going around for years that he plays Star Trek Online or at least did at one point in time but we can’t confirm them. What we do know is that his custom mural has Star Trek Online concept art on it and the whole thing looks totally badass.
Welcome to another edition of Art of Eorzea. This is the sister column to ‘Echoes of Eorzea’ and is dedicated to the artistic side of Final Fantasy XIV. In this article I will be giving you 10 tips on how to create images using only the Group Pose tool without ReShade.
As a long time user of both pure GPose and ReShade I’ve found a great joy and challenge using both for image creation. During my time in FFXIV I’ve met many wonderful screenshot enthusiasts using various combinations of GPose, ReShade and other tools to edit and create their imagery. On several occasions though I’ve been contacted by players who have mentioned to me that they believe they can’t take ‘good’ screenshots without the use or ReShade which they do not have access to. This is why I decided to try to dispel this misconception and offer some advice on how to create shots that looks similar to ReShade without the need for it at all. Please keep in mind, as always, I am no expert, these are just some methods I have picked up along the way through trial and error. I’ve tried my best to explain the light placement but I do apologize if it doesn’t make enough sense. It’s something that is very much easier to show than explain in words as you have a 360 degree field to play with. Light sources can create very different outcomes with fractional movement and adjustment. If you do have questions about a particular image please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I will try to explain further!
The current options available in the FFXIV Group Pose tool.
No imagery in this guide contains ReShade or third party edits of any kind.
Whenever you use a light source or filters within the GPose tool, it works with the environmental textures and colors in a manner of different ways. Adding metallic dyes to your main piece of gear can really change the dynamic of an image. It not only emphasizes the gear itself, but creates a new surface for the light to work with. It adds an additional point of focus to the image along with contrasting and highlighting tones. Dyes can be crafted, purchased from the market board or purchased with Chocobo feathers from the Calamity Salvager in major cities. Some armors already contain unique detailing and metallic features so it’s well worth having a play and seeing what results can be achieved when emphasizing reflective or metallic surfaces.
Location: Coerthas | Filter: Pastel 2 | Effect: Sakura | Action: Asuna | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 31 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 2 RGB – 1,8,10 to the lower right. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 10,3,7 in front. Light 3 – Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 in front.
On Use Items
On use items, such as Magicked Prism (wings), Magicked Prism (flowers), Magicked Prism (confetti) and so on can create unique shadows, lighting and effects not achievable in the standard GPose system. Before entering GPose, use the on use item first, then emote, then expression and type /gpose. The effect will then play as you perform your emote and will loop. For example, in the image below, Novi is using the wings, which provides a great deal of focused light that frees me to use the strengthened effects filter and three other light sources to tailor the image to how I would like it to be presented. The wings provide extra lighting and shadows around her and her dress.
Location: Sanctum of the Twelve | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Item: Magicked Prism (wings) | Emote: Panic with smile expression | DoF: Yes | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 in front to the left back two clicks. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 6,5,10 directly behind Novi slightly to the left (her right). Light 3 – Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 directly above her head a few scrolls out to soften the lighting and add a little more light to the shadowed parts of her face.
Strengthened effects is one of the GPose filters I use most often to replicate the presentation of ReShade. Although at first it appears ‘too strong’ in its natural form, with the use of the lighting sources you can nullify the heaviness of the filter and re-color the image without loss of contrasting tones. This filter combined with the ‘wet attire’ status effect can create a nice smooth result (if you’re not already in water).
Location: Costa del Sol | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1, zoomed out from face (warmed tone). Light 2 – Type 1 purple light source placed behind the camera slightly to the right.
Light Sources & Highlighting
Lighting placement can be key to emphasize a subject within an image, be it water, structure or a character. For a portrait shot I will generally set all sources to level one to start with and place one light source right behind her head or neck area (perhaps between the shoulder blades – don’t be afraid to scroll right in). Return the camera to the front, zoom out a couple of scroll backs on the mouse, then place the second light source diagonally down to the left and the last diagonally up from the right or vice versa depending on the composition and emote. There is a video linked below that will explain and show this a little better. Slight adjustments can be made at any time to make sure you are defining your character in the best way without over exposure. If the lighting effects appears too strong, try to adjust the natural color to a slightly warmer/different tone which will soften the light a fraction.
An example of highlighting a character with two light sources. The top image is Pastel 2 with neutral lighting. The lower image is Strengthened Effects with different color lights.
If I want a strong set of highlights (as shown above), I will use a slightly different method by placing two type 1 light sources behind her around the head and ankle area. I will then adjust the placement and color of these depending on the pose. If the features need to be more visible I’ll zoom out (with the camera facing her) and place the third light source a little way back, up and diagonal from her face so that it’s lit but not enough to negate the highlights and contrast created by the back lighting.
Note: Even with a black and white filter use remember that different color light sources will still affects the outcome of the image, you can see the biggest changes between green lighting and red lighting where different tones are emphasized. When using a black and white filter you can use the Brilliant 1 screen effect to brighten the image a little further.
Location: Apartment | Room Light 0 | Background: Black Stage Panel | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Wet Attire: Yes | I didn’t manage to write down the values for this image but there is a red light source just behind to the left, and a yellow source down to the right to provide highlighting. The third source is zoomed out, up and above her face area to provide some subtle lighting to her skin.
Particle, Sakura & Status Effects
The status effects can be a powerful addition to an image. Using the Particle effect can add a more ethereal and serene feel to an image, enhancing any spell animations which may have been used as the action. The Sakura effect makes a nice environmental addition to some Samurai action effects or in conjunction with similarly colored/themed environments. The ‘wet attire’ character status effect can also provide a more ‘shiny’ surface to work with, which will make the image and textures appear more smooth. This affect will darken the character though so be sure to put this on before lighting your character.
Location: House garden | Filter: Pastel 2 | Effect: Sakura| Item: Magicked Prism (petals) | Action: Oka (SAM) | Emote: Shut eyes | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 10 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 behind, providing definition highlights. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 10,4,7 to provide color highlight from the right. Light 3 – Type 3 RGB – 6,5,5 zoomed out facing the character, above slightly to the right.
Location: Umbral Isles | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Action: Benefic (AST) | DoF: Yes | Three light sources were used at type one strength, two behind Novi to add highlights and one to the left to enhance the shadows of her outfit.Sadly I wrote over the file name that had further details!
As a general rule, framing can really change the dynamic of an image. It generally dictates the flow in which you wish the viewer to read the image. There is, of course the general rule of thirds photography principle to keep in mind.
Rule of thirds grid.
“The rule of thirds involves mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as shown below. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet.” – Photographymad.com
“Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the centre of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.” – Digital Photography School.
Although making use of the framing (tilt and zoom) options can result in a more interesting image and make good use of negative space, it may be better to go with your gut feeling of how you would like to frame and present your shot. Photography principles are just that, principles, not rigid rules set in stone. Art is subjective. I personally frame an image with my subject and focus in mind, being conscious of excess redundant space within the image.
Try to make use of the zoom and tilt camera options to bring a more interesting dynamic to your image.
Depth of Field
As discussed at great length in the DoF Guide, depth of field usage can be used to create greater focus to your image, and in doing so adds, well.. Depth! With the more recently added DoF options within GPose a player now has more options to create a good depth of field without the need for ReShade. Both images below are created by using the Depth of Field option adjusted to focus the object in the forefront of the image with the Pastel 2 filter on.
Emotes, Actions & Spell Effects
Study your emotes frame by frame, note useful ones and utilize the favorites list. Due to the wonderful FFXIV motion capture used to create emote animations, each frame can change the image dramatically, actions and spell effects included. Spell effects can heavily control and dictate the feel of an image as well as providing a combination of lighting which will affect the image in multiple ways.
Note: Press the 1 and 2 key in quick succession to view the emote frame by frame (or as close to as possible).
Location: Palace of the Dead | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Action: Limit Break 2 (NIN) | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 behind Novi to create some highlights on her to balance with the strong animation of the action effect.
Location: Ifrit | Action: Ruin 3 | Lighting: Please see next image down for similar lighting setup.
One way to make your image stand out is to match or contrast the lighting based on your characters tones. Lighting is a powerful tool as is, but when you take color theory into account when lighting or creating a backdrop for your character, you can achieve enhanced results. Each lighting source has an RGB slider. You can use similar lighting colors (monochromatic) to your character to match or enhance gear, or choose a range of complementary colors to make your character stand out more. For example, if Novi’s natural tones are more towards the yellow end of the spectrum I would use blue’s and purple shades to provide a more dramatic contrast. If I wanted to enhance her natural coloring’s I would aim for pale yellows. If there is a specific part of your character you wish to highlight, for example blue eyes, you could add some items to the image that match the accent color or use blue lighting to add additional emphasis. Orange toned background could be used to provide contrast if blue is the accent color.
Within certain areas of the game a relatively unique effect can be seen on the environment and your character, for example the Ifrit arena and the Umbral Isles. These locations provide smoother texture over the character surfaces, increased shadows, smoothness and metallic enhancements. Combining the effects of the location with the gpose tools can create a powerful image, especially with the use of metallic dyes we discussed earlier in the guide.
Location: Ifrit | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Item: Magicked Prism (wings) | Emote: Swiftcast | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 19 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 10,6,4 down to her left. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 10,2,0 directly in front of Novi to provide highlighting. Light 3 – Type 3 RGB – 6,5,5 down to the right.
Weather conditions should also be kept in mind as the sun or moon position can create some nice additional highlighting and contrast to the area or character.
For portrait shots there are now many wonderful and inexpensive options in game to create a clean background for your image. The ‘Stage Panel’ can be bought from the housing vendors for 4000 Gil and placed within a house, apartment or FC room. Rectangular partitions are available through crafting or the market board, though these cost a little bit more. Both are dyeable and so can be used as a black or white backdrop, or a complementary/monochromatic color based on your character tones or outfit.
Location: Apartment | Room Light 0 | Background: Black Stage Panel | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Wet Attire: Yes | Emote: Eastern Dance | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 7 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 7,6,6 behind shoulders. Light 2 – Type 2 RGB 7,6,6 directly zoomed out in front of Novi.
Place your light sources after selecting a filter. This way you can color the lighting more appropriately to enhance the filter. You can always scroll through other filters to see how the lighting works with them, sometimes you might find a better combination!
Using the ‘wet attire’ effect will make your character more shiny and smooth. This surface works better in conjunction with lighting and depth of field effects.
If you pull the manual depth of field slider one click closer to your character you will get a softer outline, creating a slight gaussian blur effect.
Try not to heavily saturate, over-expose or create extreme contrast within an image. The exception for contrast being for black and white shots with noir/dramatic theme. If you feel your image is looking too over exposed either move the light source back a little or swing the camera up or down a little to place the light at a slightly different angle.
If you’d like to add more or less natural lighting to your character, you can do so by pressing the Escape, navigate to System Configuration then under the Display Settings (scroll down) there is a ‘character lighting’ slider.
Avoid visible clipping of armours, hair and tails.
Take pride in the images *you* create. Your creative journey is your own and we are all learning and have different levels of experience. Constant comparison to someone you feel is ‘better’ will only impede your journey and diminish your creativity. Having said that, surrounding yourself with work you find inspirational (without pressurized creative comparison) which can help you strive to learn and try more. It’s a strange scale to balance though!
If you are interested to become more involved in the screenshot communities of FFXIV please check out FFXIVSnaps and Eorzean Idols for more information.
Thank you for reading, I hope some, if not all of these tips can be useful to you! If you have any questions or would like clarification on anything mentioned in this article please drop a comment down below or get in contact either through here, Screenographic or Twitter.
Welcome to another edition of Art of Eorzea. This is the sister column to ‘Echoes of Eorzea’ and is dedicated to the artistic side of Final Fantasy XIV. In this series have already covered ‘Screenshot Basics’ and an ‘In-depth Depth of Field’ guide, however, within the very first article I specified that I’d be exploring many aspects of screenshot photography, expanding on each area, such as DoF, color theory, framing and lighting.
To ascertain what would be the most useful subject to cover next in this series, I asked the FFXIV community on Twitter by use of a poll. The highest percentage fell upon the creation of a ReShade preset guide and, as ReShade very heavily falls into the creative side of gaming, it’s a very worthy subject to be covering in my opinion. I really hope that this article can be of some use to you on some level. If you don’t know what ReShade is, the following articles may be of some use:
Before I continue I would like to take a moment to emphasize that I am no expert, and any creative opinions are entirely subjective (my experience can be found here). The following advice and tips are just explanations of the way I do things, they may not be perfect in the slightest!
Late afternoon in La Noscea.
Results will vary based on time of day, character clothing, hair color, skin tone, weather, how vivid the color in the environment is and many other factors. I’ve tested the preset in both day and night conditions and it ‘seems’ to work well (unless the light is too bright). Hopefully by the end of this article you will know enough to be able to adjust your filter to suit your environment.
Where to begin?
The first thing I think of when beginning the creation of a filter is an imagined ideal end result. Do I want it to look autumnal, or stark, or suitable for portraits? With the help of the new Group Pose time-stop feature, creating filters suited to environments has become a lot less stressful as you can now pause the time of day when entering GPose.
Today I will be starting with my usual filter basics and then leave you with some optional extras which will allow you to easily tweak the look of the filter.
Tip: Keep in mind that, even though you create your filter for a certain environment, you can test it out alongside the GPose filters and various lighting environments to see if it becomes more versatile.
Basic 10 Step ReShade Filter
For each shader I mention, I will reference the description from the ReShade Settings Guide (or summarize it) alongside my own comments if applicable. Ideally, this will be a basic environmental filter which will emphasize color, contrast and image depth with slight sharpening.
For the sake of comparison this preset was created at the Last Vigil in Ishgard.
Important: Please remember to disable GPose ‘Depth of Field’ setting before creating any sort of filter preset (it will throw off your DoF and sharpening).
The video above shows the before and after stages of this ReShade preset as well as some of the variables each shader can achieve. Sadly my screen recorder (Action!) crashed the game six times while trying to film the creation live, so I had to go back to film afterwards with OBS (and pray Ishgard weather conditions didn’t change). The best I could do was to deconstruct and reconstruct the filter to show you how the layers build up, I do apologize that there was not more. Should you not be able to discern the settings from the screenshots, they are available within the video. I have tried to not go over the top with the filter and maintain a relatively ‘neutral but enhanced’ look, though I’m not sure if I succeeded or failed in that regard but I hope you like the results.
ONE | MXAO
MXAO is at the top of my list because it gives me a good idea where character and object shading is going to be, then when it comes to adding in the contrast and brightness in other shaders. This way I’ve got a good idea what I’m working with and I won’t go overboard on the shadows, which could create very heavy and jagged lines.
Description: In Final Fantasy XIV ReShade, MXAO creates a very noticeable difference between images, creating depth and shade.
“MXAO can both apply little shading almost for free or heavy shading for screenshots to completely change the look of the scenery.” Source.
Keep in mind that this is an environmentally dependent preset, so one set of values may work for certain hairstyles, yet for others, you might have to pull the slider to the opposite side and lessen the intensity to create a more subtle effect or compensate for certain shapes. The most important slider here is Sample Radius (determines where the shadow will sit), so set that first before altering the others.
TWO | Adaptive Sharpen
Next, let’s sharpen the image a little to provide slightly cleaner lines and emphasise features.
Description: Adaptive Sharpen is versatile and its primary use is to provide definition around objects within an image. I tend to use this option in its default form more than any other sharpening shader. You may increase the sharpening strength to suit your need, although I would recommend having lower values for wider distance shots as it may make the image look very grainy or cartoon-like.
THREE | Tonemap
Tonemap might seem a rather extreme addition to the filter at this point and ‘washes out’ a lot of the color but when I build a filter I think in terms of building blocks. This shader provides the ability to lay down the foundation of the color changes and also provides the ability to make some basic contrast and brightness alterations. Keep in mind you can always come back to this at a later stage and make some careful adjustments.
Description: Tonemap is another color manipulation setting incorporating Gamma, Exposure, Saturation, and Bleach. However, the most important feature of Tonemap is the Defog setting. The color you choose in the bottom right is the color it will remove from the image.
FOUR | Clarity
Although subtle, I feel that clarity adds some more image depth that MXAO doesn’t quite capture and emphasizes objects in the image a little more with out excessive sharpening.
Description: Clarity essentially emphasizes the shadows in the image to provide more contrast. This shader is somewhat similar to the ‘strengthened effects’ GPose filter. There is a lot of flexibility in this preset and it’s well worth spending some time on as your image can get a great boost from it.
FIVE | Levels
Levels will act as the base for the image contrast, as you can see in comparison to image three, it has become significantly more bold and less ‘washed out’.
Description: Levels only has two settings to worry about, BlackPoint and WhitePoint. BlackPoint emphasizes the dark areas and WhitePoint, the lighter areas. This is a very simplistic way of adding contrast to the image.
SIX | FilmicPass
This shader is very much personal choice but I absolutely love including it within my presets, it makes the tones quite unique but keep in mind you may have to balance other settings around it. The shader itself also has great control of lighting and saturation so it’s great for multi-purpose use.
Description: FilmicPass provides both contrast and background darkening. The most important values to keep an eye on are Strength, Fade, Contrast, Linearization, Bleach, EffectGamma and Saturation. The values required for a daytime shot will be quite different as these values will over expose your character quite badly because they are designed to compensate for low light.
SEVEN | DPX
Here I’m using DPX to emphasize the cooler tones without losing saturation, depth or contrast.
Description: DPX is a powerful preset in terms of the color manipulation of your image. You have control over Contrast, Saturation, Colorfulness, Strength, RBG Curve and RBGc.These settings are relatively safe to play about with to see the color alterations that can be achieved. Having a play works best for a preset such as this.
EIGHT | Tint
Changing the color tone of your image can have a huge impact on your final image and in this instance I’m using the tint to add a slight warmth back into the more pale tones such as Novi’s skin and the sky. In effect, I am replacing the warm tones of the were lessened by Tonemap/DPX, but these tones are artificial and of my own choosing.
If I add a tint into images it may be necessary go back and edit the Tonemap again to make sure that the color balance is as desired.
Description: Sepia is a handy setting to use if you wish to subtly tint one of your presets. Just modify the RGB value (or enter your desired hex code) and adjust the strength.
NINE | Technicolor2
In all honesty I don’t know how my brain works, but here I can only assume that I’m using Technicolor2 to emphasize both the cold and (artificial) warm tone structure developed using the other color management shaders. In all honesty, I just do what my eyes tell me to!
Description: The technicolor setting aims to recreate the Technicolor three-strip process. Technicolor 2 has slightly more versatility and may play a useful part in slight alterations of color in conjunction with other settings.
TEN | Depth of Field
As a photographer I enjoy using depth of field in my images above any other style or technique, the same goes for my Final Fantasy XIV images. I don’t seem to be capable of creating a preset without it!
Description: The depth of field variables within the ReShade presets are possibly some of the more complex options in the lineup and can very easily break, so pay attention to what you are changing and note the value before changing it. For a standard preset with simple DoF, I will turn on the DOF_AUTOFOCUS and DOF_MOUSEDRIVEN_AF in the general DoF settings. Mouse driven AF simply means the mouse will determine where the focal level is detected. [Full DoF Guide here.]
Why leave DoF until last? It’s easier to see the whole picture during the color/light editing process, and then add in the DoF. If gamma/exposure alterations need to be made because of DoF bloom then you can go back to Tonemap or FilmicPass and alter those settings retrospectively.
Landscape versatility: Filter used in Eastern La Noscea on a bright, clear day.
Note: You are absolutely not obligated to use all of these shaders or even replicate the settings I have used. A similar filter could be achieved in fewer steps but I feel each of the color altering shaders offers something unique and it’s just my preference to use a few of them during the process of creating a filter base such as this one. I also based the main chunk of this shader around color and contrast management because these are the foundations of all my presets. Many other additional shader choices would be down to personal taste such as adding blooms, lens flares or special effects, so working with the basics seemed logical.
Please, please remember to back up your presets!
The above video displays some of the capabilities and uses of the addition shaders mentioned below.
If you’d like to add a little more depth and interest to your images, depth haze is a great way to do it. From steamy pools to eerie forests, this is a fantastic and versatile shader.
Description: Depth Haze is similar to Adaptive Fog although far more subtle. The shader places a fog effect in the far distance.
Description: Similar to DepthHaze but with greater flexibility and stronger effects. This preset is also wonderful for creating silhouette images for the background with the right configuration. It also makes a great green-screen!
Description: Emphasize gives you color in the foreground of the image, fading out to grayscale in the background. You can manually alter the color focus by using the FocusRangeDepth and the ManualFocusDepth.
Depending on the look you are going for, this shader gives you the ability to add a soft lighting effect without losing the sharpening effect from Adaptive Sharpen (as you may do with Gaussian Blur).
Description: This is a great setting for adding not only more light and contrast to your images but allows a subtle ‘bokeh’ type effect that I spent a very long time in the lens flare section looking for!
Description: Ideal if you want to add a slight bloom to your image without losing too much clarity. It is a wonderful effect, but sometimes this shader is bugged unless moved to the top of the use list in the preset .ini file. Please do not make modifications to these files if you are a novice user!
Tip: Depending on brightness of day use levels to realign the contrast and exposure.
Why am I not giving the preset away with this article? Simply put, it would defeat the object of me showing you how the filter is made and I’d like you to have a play with the settings! This way you may find something more suited to your tastes visually. If you do have a go please be sure to tag me @aeyvi on twitter to show me your screenshots (I really would love to see them)!
Portrait aspirations: Although the filter has very warm tones it still seems to work in a dark studio with one subtle GPose light source (level 1) positioned on Novi’s right side.
The ReShade Settings guide has a visual index of various other shader settings if you’d like some inspiration.
All the images in this article have been created using the same filter featured in the guide, as versatile as the filter has (luckily) proved to be, not all conditions worked well, as shown below.
Not so versatile: Light studio environments do not wield the best results.
If you got this far, thank you so much for taking a look at the article. I can’t tell you how unbelievably grateful I am for the support that I’ve received from the community in regards to this column and my screenshot adventures. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have the confidence to keep working on my screenshot portfolio or write these articles.