Posted in diorama, Fashion dolls

Creating backdrops – a new experiment

While my indoor rooms have walls, my outside dioramas need backdrops – the sky, trees, flowers – something that defines their space as existing somewhere other than in my garage workshop.

I’ve tried a number of different backdrops in Lily and Camellia’s episodes.

The backdrop behind Lily here is a printout of a photo onto 8 1/2 x 11 paper, and then I hot glued sticks and plastic flowers to it.

For her next episode, I needed something taller, so I just strung a flowery scarf around the set, which wasn’t entirely effective, but it looked better than the back of my storage shelves 🙂

Camellia has an actual photo backdrop behind her, but its so big that I have to hang it from the ceiling, making it hard to easily switch it out (since that requires a ladder and a whole lot of leaning and reaching)

The full set

I also have an official backdrop holder, which looks roughly like this one:

But it’s base is so big that I have to stand it on the floor, while my dioramas are at counter heights.

Which is all to say that none of the normal backdrop methods are working out all that well for me. So, I decided to go another way. I had a few jerry-rigged setups, with sticks anchored to shelves, which had a germ of the right idea to them. I tried to create a framework out of tinker toys, but either I don’t remember how they used to work, or they’ve gotten substantially worse, because they just did not seem to fit together very well.

Finally, I found something called Fort Magic, which lets you build, well, forts. The pieces are the right lengths (12 and 24 inch, mainly), they fit together well, they’re endlessly flexible, and they come with cloth clips that let you easily attach fabric around the sides.

Here’s something I put together in about 5 minutes, with my (very concerned) dog in the shot for scale. I made it pretty big, but it still fits well on the table and makes it so that I don’t have to shoot at odd angles.

The next step is to find some light blue jersey-type material to attach to it (as a sky backdrop).

For a better sense of how it works, check out the pictures on the fort magic site.

I think, as a present to poor Daisy and her slap dash spaces, I’m going to do her next episode in a nice park outdoors, and we’ll see how well the new backdrop method works.

My next full episode – Daisy making sense of all of her photos – will be after the holidays. I’ll try to drop in a few pics and asides before then, and may all of your holiday doll adventures be happy.

Posted in doll adventure, Dollhouse, Fashion dolls, My Doll Adventure, Rosie, Wildflowerdoll Rosie

My Doll Adventure 14: Rosie’s fairy adventure

Another quiet night at home, playing with paper fairy dolls.

Rosie and her fairy paper dolls
Rosie tries to fly like a fairy
Rosie lies down and plays with her dolls
Rosie drifts off playing with her dolls
Rosie is carried to bed
Rosie is put to bed
The fairy appears
Rosie is grabbed by the fairy
Rosie out the window

It’s hard to keep all of my dolls safe. As soon as Camellia safely washes ashore and tames the panther, poor Rosie is kipnapped by fairies.

She’s about to enter another painted world – one of the paintings is already outside her window. It’s a little blurry, so probably a bit hard to recognize. Also, as a bit of a hint, although he’s well known for painting nature, his most famous series are more watery than the scene out the window.

I don’t have much to take you on a tour through this week. We’ve already seen Rosie’s room, and I’m not using any new photographic techniques (just trying to learn Photoshop!). So I may take you through other things I’m experimenting with in doll world.

Posted in Camellia, diorama, Fashion dolls

Creating a tropical beach diorama for Camellia

Here’s a quick tour around Camellia’s topical beach diorama.

The full set
The palm trees are candlesticks I snagged at Goodwill
The lean-to is a stick with pieces of plastic fronds hot-glued to it
The left side of the diorama is a cardboard folding scene, with plastic feathers stuck in it
The background is full of plastic flowers

And that’s it. Camellia will be adding to her set by the time you next meet up with her.

Posted in Camellia, diorama, Fashion dolls, Photography, Photoshop, video

Adding cinemagraphs to doll pictures

I’m slowly learning to add motion to Camellia’s adventures through cinemagraphs, so I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

Basically, a cinemagraph is a fancy animated GIF. You create a stack of photos where just one element changes, and then merge them together into an animated GIF. Here’s what a real one looks like (not mine! :))

The best way to create one is take take both photos and HD videos of something that actually moves, make each photo a layer in Photoshop, and then save them as an animated GIF. Here’s a good explanation of the process:

I’m brand new to photoshop, so I didn’t create a mask. I just duplicated the entire photo for each layer. Next time, I’ll try it with a mask.

The big issues in using this method for doll photography is that nothing in the doll environment moves on it’s own. For my two cinemagraphs, I used a public stock video and either pasted still elements into it (like Camellia’s feet in the waves)

Or pasted a video element into a still picture (like the moving palm fronds while Camellia is sleeping)

Camellia sleeps

In theory, I like the second effect better, with two huge caveats. First, the videos you can get for free online are not HD, which means that the element you’re adding in are just tiny. Those little palm fronds in the corner are roughly half of a full screen low density video. Probably, I need to go take my own videos in order to capture them in HD, I just haven’t had much opportunity to get to the beach or be around palm fronds recently 🙂

The second issue is that, even though the process of creating an animation is the same for both methods, the feet in the waves works fine as an image, while the moving palm fronds only works on some sites. I’m not really sure why that is, but I’m hoping that, by the time we get to Camellia’s next adventure, I’ll have that piece figured out.

One note on Camellia’s outfit. I don’t normally photograph dolls in their underwear, but I couldn’t figure out what else she’d be wearing after only a few weeks on the island. I’d toyed at first with having her wash up with no clothes, since that both made sense in the plot and also gave her a poignant sense of vulnerability in the shots with the panther. But, that somehow threw her into a whole odd underworld of naked dolls, which I really did not want her wandering around in. Camellia is *so* not that kind of girl. So, I left her in her underwear until she can find something warmer to put on, which should happen by the next episode when she spots a boat on the horizon.

On Friday, I’ll take you on a tour around Camellia’s little island.


Posted in Camellia, diorama, doll adventure, Fashion dolls, My Doll Adventure, Photography, Wildflowerdoll Jacqueline

My Doll Adventure 13: Danger afoot or dolls in danger

Dolls in danger as Camellia’s story continues, after her storm at sea.

Feet on the beach
Camellia on the shore
Camellia and raven rest
Camellia sleeps
The panther watches
Camellia wakes to a sound
Camellia turns to the sound
The panther approaches
Camellia extends her arms to the panther
Camellia and the panther meet
The panther watches over Camellia as she sleeps

So, Camellia has landed safely on shore and continues to draw things towards her – a raven and a panther so far have entered her orbit.

I’ll talk a bit Wednesday about adding movement to these photos. I realize, on seeing the photos on the page, that the movement in the second photo is so subtle that I suspect no one but me noticed it. Let me know if you noticed that there was a second photo with movement before I pointed it out. (this comment is going to be mysterious to readers on the WordPress site, since the second GIF does not appear to be animated here. You can see it here.)

On Friday, I’ll show you around Camellia’s set.

As an aside, I find Camellia’s space very peaceful. It’s sprawled across one of my work tables in my garage workspace and, every time I glance at it, I just want to shrink myself down and rest against the rocks with my feet in the sand.


Posted in Fashion dolls, general discussion

Doll adventures need an action stand

Mid-adventure, I find myself (and my dolls) sorely in need of an action stand.

You’ve all seen doll stands. They look something like this:

and they hold the doll, upright, around the waist or the legs. Which is great, if your doll is just standing there. But, not so great, if she’s mid-fall, like this

Rosie and scruffy dancing

I ended up kind of pinning her dress around the stand to get her to hold still in this posture. Even something simple, like bending forward to retrieve a photo, like this

Daisy retrieves the photo

is surprisingly difficult to accomplish. And forget getting three dolls in a sideways dance pose, like this:

I had to lie them flat on the floor, and then photoshop the background in.

So, imagine my surprise at the ease with which a simple Japanese action figure can leap into action on her stand:

It’s very simple. The stand had a rod at the top

Action stand
Rod shown at top of action stand
Action stand hole
Hole for action stand in back of figure

which inserts into a hole at the back of the figure:

The figure can be turned in any direction on the rod, and the stand can extend and bend.

It all seems very simple. There are some shortcomings to the stand – I would prefer that I could tighten it in certain positions because there are some positions it simply can’t hold on its own. And I wish the base were heavier so that it didn’t tip if I move the figure too far over the edge.

But, really, those are small considerations for something that lets your dolls leap, dance, and fly. An adventure doll needs an adventure stand.

Speaking of adventure, next week it’s time to continue from Camellia’s storm at sea.



Tumblr, WTF?

I feel like I’m missing the point on Tumblr – what exactly is it good for? After a few weeks, I’m still struggling to find people who are actually making/doing/saying anything. Instead I’m lost in a bewildering world of reblogs, where I can watch the same damn post spread through my feed, like a contagion. Trying to follow anything back to it’s original source is well nigh impossible. It’s just z reblog y reblog x to infinity. I get the idea of curation, and I found a few feeds where people are scouring the wider web for their content to convert into a Tumblr post. But, in general, they’re not going any further than their feed to find material to curate.

Am I missing something?