Flonkerton’s Guide to Screenshot Manipulation

If you ever venture to any Office fansite or hang around Office LiveJournal communities, you may notice people have taken boring ol’ screen shots from The Office and adjusted the color and texture to make cool looking headers and icons. How do they do such a thing? Today, Flonkerton is here to give you some tips. Note: you’re going to need a good photo editing program, like Photoshop CS or newer. I also recommend that you’re fairly familiar with layers in Photoshop before trying out some of these tips.

Step 1: Get your screen cap
There are a couple way to get the screen shots you desire.
A. Find screen caps online Some places you can go are:
Office Caps @ LiveJournal find seasons 1 and 2 and deleted scenes here (a couple months behind on season 3)
Toxic Cloud @ LiveJournal find nearly all of season 3 here
Time – Enough.net find high quality screens from some of the more JAM-centric episodes of season 2 here
Sparklies Gallery high-res Season 3 promo shots here.

B. Make your own Caps
From the DVDs: the ease of doing this depends on what DVD player you use, look for a “screen capture” option. I personally had very little luck capturing screens from a DVD until I found this tutorial for capturing with Windows Media Player. Even then it’s still wonky.
From iTunes episodes: open them up in QuickTime, pause at the frame you want, go to View > Copy (or even easier, hit CTRL+C) then paste in your preferred photo-editing program.
From an avi/mpeg/wmv/whatever file on your computer: You can open these files in a program like VirtualDub (mpeg2 or mod version) then save either a single frame or an image sequence (a must if you want to make animated icons).

Step 2: Brighten up your screen caps
So now you have the exact screen cap you want, but it’s looking a little dull. The Office isn’t exactly a bright, colorful show to begin with, and a computer screen only makes it look more gray and dark. So how do you go from
this to this ?
This tutorial on vibrant coloring is a simple but effective guide to making those dull screen shots usable. But trial and error is still the name of the game, so play with the opacity and the color of the layers to get the colors your desire (you will definitely want to tone down the screen use for lighter caps).

Step 3: Get Creative
It is time for you to take that shinny, bright screen cap and make something pretty. What to make? Well, that’s up to you. Play with the colors, use stamps and brushes to add details, put a quote in there, or throw in a texture. The sky is the limit.

  • LiveJournal is a great resource for tutorials, brushes, whatever. I just found a community called Icon Tutorials, which is exactly what it sounds like, and has any kind of tutorial you could want. Also at LiveJournal, check out the user info of your favorite icon makers or icon communities; they will often have the resources they used listed there.
  • deviantART is another good site to find tutorials, textures, and brushes.
  • For fonts, DaFont.com is just about the best place to find cool, free fonts.
  • And if you want to venture into animated icon making, here’s a nice, easy-to-follow tutorial for that.

Making nice graphics is going to take practice and a lot of trial and error, so you may want to have a notebook handy so you can easily write down the techniques that do and don’t work for you.

If you’re like me, or Karen Filipelli, and need a “project” to get the creative juices flowing, you can participate and icon/graphics making challenges. I’m personally participating in Office LIMS round two, and Jam Stillness looks like a good place to get involved on a challenge to challenge basis.

Appendix: just using other people icons
If after all this you decide it’s not really worth it make your own icons and graphics, don’t worry, you can find plenty of pre-made images. The LJ Office Icons and Office Fanworks communities are a good place to start.


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