Getting a Screen Capture - for PC
A lesson’s thumbnail image, like we’ve discussed, is something like the cover to a book. While it shouldn’t matter to anyone, it does. While making a custom graphic is a great idea, it’s easier (and often even more effective) to capture an image from some other point in your lesson. To do this, we’ll take a screen capture, or screen grab; these are basically just terms that mean that you’ll take a snapshot of what you’re screen is showing.
In the interest of catering both to our authors who prefer visual instructions and our authors who prefer text instructions, I’m going to include both a screencast and a text-based description. Screencast first:
Now the text-based description for the readers among us:
First, you’ll want to find a point in your lesson where you like what’s being shown (and think it’s appropriate and representative enough for a title image). Once you have that snapshot, you’ll want to capture what’s being shown on your screen. Note that this is done with the ‘Print Screen’ key on PCs. Depending on the layout of your keyboard, you may have to hold down another key in conjunction with that one. Shift or the Fn key is commonly needed; you should be able to tell by looking at where on the key the ‘Prnt Scrn’ is shown. If it’s shown in a font and color that matches that of the Fn key, you’ll need to press that key while pressing the Print Screen key. If it’s shown towards the top of the key, you’ll want to hold down the ‘Shift’ key while you press Print Screen.
Once you capture the image this way, you’ll still need to manipulate it. The easiest way to do this is in Paint. Open up Paint (which comes with virtually all PCs) and paste in the image you’ve just copied with the Print Screen control. You can paste it in with Ctrl-V. In Paint, you can use the cropping tool to cut out extraneous portions of the image that you’ve captured but that you don’t want included in your final picture (you will find the crop tool under the “Image” category at the top of Paint). When you’re done, save the file as a .jpg, and you can upload it to your lesson to gussy it up a bit. Nothing says ‘buy me’ like a shiny new book cover…err, thumbnail image.
Now, go do it… but, first, remember… a good thumbnail image:
1. Isn’t dark or fuzzy or ambiguous or otherwise off-putting to the casual observer
2. Fits with the lesson’s title but isn’t just the title written out - it should somehow be illustrative of what user will learn. It’s more important to have a descriptive image than it is to include the lesson’s title.
3. Is approximately the same size as the video player such that there isn’t any stretching (and aren’t any black lines on the edges)
Coming soon… ditto for Mac - in the event that you, like most of the people in our office, use a Mac!
- Pingback: Creating Title Images on the Mac | MindBites the Blog on July 22, 2009