Cool Blog: How to Create Application Screenshots with Compiz


Ted Haeger’s Blog: How I do Application Screenshots with Compiz

On some of my posts, I include an occasional application screenshots. The better ones that I have done may look something like this one of f-spot (which I made when frustrated with the quality of a screenshot in a presentation I was reviewing).

You might notice that it has really nice shadowing. Too nice. Casual conspiracy theorists could get the idea that my blog might be supported by a cadre of Novell graphics people as part of a underhanded—even dastardly—marketing effort by Novell.

For everyone else, the cool shadowing is simply courtesy of Compiz, the compositing manager that sits atop Xgl or AIGLX and provides all the cool Desktop Effects in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.

However, if you have ever tried to screenshot an application while using Compiz, you have probably found some issues.

First off, the Alt+PrtSc key combo that usually can grab a screenshot of the currently active window does not grab the window decorations (title bar, mainly) on the window under Compiz.

Also, without the window decorations, you lose the shadowing. Screenshotting a window is still an area that has not been fully worked out under Compiz.

This graphic shows the same window screenshotted as a single window versus one that has been taken with my alternate technique. For me, the one on the right a little more visual appeal.

A while back, I filed a bug to have the decorations issue addressed. But, thinking about it, I’m not sure how you would get a clean shot of a single window, since it now has a composited shadow effect around it. It may be a while. So in the meantime, I do this little sequence of steps in order to get a good window-only screenshot: I grab the whole screen, and then do a couple quick GIMP tricks. Here are the steps I use:

  1. First, I remove my desktop wallpaper and set the background color to white. (White because that’s the background color of my blog.)
  2. Next, I clear away any clutter on my desktop. (“You shouldn’t store so much crap on your desktop anyway,” I keep telling myself.)
  3. Then I open the windows I want to capture, and position them so that they have only the white desktop behind them.
  4. Now I capture the whole screen using the PrtSc key, and save the capture as a local file.
  5. Next, I open the file in the GIMP and use the rectangular area selection tool to select an area of the desktop containing just the windows I want to capture.
  6. With the window loosely selected, I first Crop to the selection (Image menu > Crop). That gets rid of any outlying icons that were on the desktop, setting me up for an Autocrop. Now, I use Autocrop (Image menu > Autocrop) to crop down the image, which reduces it down to just the windows their surrounding shadowing.

Viola! One professional-looking window capture, complete with subtle drop shadow.

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