Posted in Aimeraidoll Jinjur, BJD, doll photography, miniature photography, Mudoll Buu, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography, Underfoot

Taking action shots of inanimate objects

I’ve spent more hours than I’d care to guess trying to prop up my figures for motion shots. For my fashion dolls – all four of the My Doll Adventure figures – I rely on some kind of stand. For my ball-joint dolls – all of the characters in the Underfoot and Up Above stories, I’d try to keep them balanced while carefully getting them into the position I need.

I still do this if I’m going to use my own background – either a dollhouse room, a diorama, or the great outdoors. But, I no longer try to pose my dolls upright for the majority of my photoshopped action shots.

Instead, I realize that I get far more realistic shots by laying the dolls down and photographing them from above.

Here are a few examples from the episode of Underfoot that I’m working on.

Here’s the finished shot of the “The chase”

and here’s the setup I photographed:

and then I Photoshopped it onto a copyright free image from Pexel. It’s so much easier to pose them this way. Not only can i get the details of their posture right, I can also arrange their hair so that it seems to be streaming out behind them.

In another scene, I have the girls climbing into a mail slot.

Here’s the original scene:

and here they are, again photoshopped onto a Pexel image:


Some shots require that I photograph them with the dolls standing up, like this shot of them trudging through the city:

Once I have objects in different planes, like Jinjur’s suitcase or Buu’s bag, it’s just too much work to photograph them all separately and then put them together. So, I set up both dolls on the carpet, each on a sheet of plexiglass, to give them an even surface, and then spent forever getting everything in right position without toppling them all over like dominoes.

Jinjur and Buu are about to get into lots of adventures, navigating the big city, which will give me a lot of time to perfect my non-action action shots.

Posted in Aimeraidoll Jinjur, BJD, doll adventure, general discussion, graphic novel, miniature adventure, Mudoll Buu, photo novel, toy adventure, Writing

(Doll) character development

I entered doll adventure land through a side door – somewhere between play and play therapy – so many of the building blocks of photography, miniatures, and writing are unfamiliar to me.

Because I could see their effects in every shot, I focused my learning on photography and miniatures. But, as I start to branch out into new adventures, I’m really seeing the gaps in my story-telling abilities. So, this week, in my mini-adventure land of Underfoot, I’m working on character development.

My Doll Adventure has mostly believably static characters. Most of Rosie’s development lies in front of her, and most of Lily’s lies behind. In the few months in which we capture them, they’re understandably unchanging. Camellia’s most drastic change happens right before the story begins – before she puts her foot on that boat. We’ll catch up with her at the moment in which she has to make a decision and a drastic change, but won’t know her well enough at that point to understand who she was before that night when we first meet.

Daisy, though, *should* have changed and grown during the adventure. It’s really a complete oversight on my part that she hasn’t – that there’s no moment when she really grasps that following the call to adventure means giving up the Daisy she’s known and becoming the Daisy-to-be. Some of that is because she was carrying so much of the weight of the developing plot that it just consumed her own development, but most of it is because I got so distracted with other things that I couldn’t see that I needed to dedicate some time to allowing her to grow into her new character.

I’d thought, right up until this week, that I’d work on the final version of my doll adventure right after I finished posting the draft – in a few months from now. Now I can see that there’s so much that I don’t even know that I don’t know that I should take a year or two to learn before I try a more final form.

Which is all to say that Jinjur, unlike Daisy, is going to change during the Underfoot adventures, starting in this, her second episode. It’s possible that Buu will, as well, down the road. But right now, it’s Jinjur who has to adjust to her new understanding of the world. The world, it turns out, is not a place where two 1/6 scale dolls can walk into a hotel, hand over an eyeball, a bag of playmobile coins, and a dime, and get a room for the night.

And, as she learns in this episode, the world is a dangerous place for little things. And it will take a different Jinjur to navigate this world.

Posted in Camellia, Daisy, doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, Lily, miniature adventure, miniature photography, My Doll Adventure, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, Rosie, toy adventure, toy photography, Wildflower dolls, Wildflowerdoll Jacqueline, Wildflowerdoll Jane, Wildflowerdoll Rosie, Wildflowerdoll Ruby

My Doll Adventure 29: The Stranger’s Story

We ended Rosie’s last episode with Frank placing a story in the local paper seeking any info on the girls’ (Rosie and Daisy)’s mother, Camellia.

This week’s episode starts with someone reading that article.

Over coffee, someone reads the day’s paper and spots an article

which recalls a day 12 years ago

She makes a call

Half a world away, Lily and Daisy are looking through old papers and letters

When Lily receives a call

The stranger tells her story.

“12 years ago, I received a note . . .

The note: “Please take my girls somewhere safe! I can no longer protect them, and if I keep them with me, they will perish. When Daisy turns 18, give her this half of a photo. She’ll know what to do with it. God bless, Camellia.”

. . . I followed the instructions, gathered the girls, and fled, while their mother escaped by boat,

. . . dropped them somewhere where no one would ever find out who they were or where they came from

. . . and waited and watched until I was sure they were safe

. . . I kept watch on Daisy and, when she turned 18, I gave her half of the photo.

while the sranger drops a torn photo

Lily drops the phone, and takes Daisy’s hands

and then paints a picture of . . .

an island.

Posted in BJD

Another world, another scale – entering the land of 1/3 scale dolls

I’ve finally settled on characters for my last story line, although they’re months and months away from joining the cast.

Like most of my doll decisions, I got them on the way to getting something completely different.

I’d been looking for another cast member for my “Up Above” story with the sisters in the tree house (even though I am already over the mandatory 4-doll limit on cast members in that storyline :)). I so much liked the idea of the girls having a distracted-but-loving father that I spent ages looking through doll photos trying to find him.

The problem is that it’s very hard to find someone who looks like an adult in 1/4 scale, much less a male someone. In ball-joint-doll land, 1/4 size dolls are mostly teenagers, and the adults are all in 1/3. That makes zero sense to me because a 1/4 scale doll comes up to just above the waist on a 1/3 size doll, making the size comparison much more like adult to 6 or 7 year old. I did find a few male dolls who looked around the right age, but none of them really clicked. Somewhere in my search I fell in love with a female 1/4 doll who could maybe pass for a parent.

Here she is, from the Mydolling site:

And that got me thinking about them living with a mother, instead of a father. That change would alter the storyline – a father can be distracted-but-loving. A mother with the same characteristics would be considered negligent. This particular doll looked very, very sad, so maybe she’d just been through something awful??? But, I didn’t want another very very sad storyline – not with my Camellia doll having caused the death of her husband. There’s only so much tragedy one can take in doll land, and I want none of it in the Up Above story. So, probably no Mydolling Heeah for my cast, although I still love her face.

Anyway, nothing was quite working, and then I got my Aasta doll and the storyline wrote itself. (I know I’m drifting off from the 1/3 scale story. I promise I’ll get back to that after I rave a bit about Aasta).

Of all of the 1/4 dolls I picked, Aasta (from Supiadollz) was always the one I was most certain of. She has a direct expression which connects without needing anything. The few I’d seen online just seemed magical. Anyway, once she got here I could see that she seemed older than the other dolls, but still young enough to be a just-barely-adult sibling. And that created an obvious storyline, with her taking care of the two younger siblings. What happened to their parents? No idea, but I’m sure it was something lovely, like a rapture.

Here are the three sisters together in their (Our Generation) car:

And I’ve finally managed to give them names – this time with a tree/forest theme. Aasta, the oldest, is Willow. Amy, the middle child, is Olive. And Strawberry, the baby, is Fern. I love having a doll named Fern – it reminds me of my mom reading up Charlotte’s web (which she always had to have my brother Mark finish reading because she was crying too much by the end).

OK, diversion over – back to the 1/3 dolls.

So, in my very methodical way, I looked at every single doll from every single doll company I could find. The number must literally have been in the thousands. And I noted every company that made a doll I liked in any size – 1/6, 1/4, 1/3 and then animals. And, though I did not find a male doll I liked in 1/4 size, I did find some I very much liked in 1/3 scale. But, the 1/3 size, especially the few male dolls I really liked, are just crazy expensive. Like, close to $1,000 expensive. And I don’t even have a storyline – just a whim to get a doll.

On my umpteenth round through to find some male doll I could get, because now I was really in love with the idea of creating a storyline for a male doll – I stumbled across a cheap-er doll experiment at Granado. Granado makes crazy beautiful dolls, most in the $800 to $1000 range. But they’re doing this experiment with using vinyl instead of resin and stretching it over a jointed (but not ball-jointed) body. And, because it’s vinyl, it’s significantly cheaper than the rest of their dolls.

Right now, there’s a single sculpt in their vinyl Vindoll line. And, even though it’s not my favorite of their sculpts, it’s just a million times nicer than any other male doll in that size at a fraction of the price.

They don’t have exactly the doll in this picture – mine is Udell but in the tan color. The tan Uranus doll is very similar, but a little more chiseled in his face.

Different skin color makes the same sculpt look different

This is an experiment for Granado – I’ve seen one of their models in motion, but they’re just in production right now and I’ve no idea if their experiment is going to work out. I hear from their feed that their designer is pretty much living the factory trying to get everything right. I guess we’ll find whether or not it all works out in the fall, when the doll becomes available.

Because I liked the father-daughter type storyline that I’d been planning for Up Above, I’m getting a young-looking SD doll to go with Udell. Here she is from the Dollmore site:

SD dolls are so big (the male doll is around 26 inches) that it’s going to be almost impossible to give them any accessories. I’m certainly not going to build a room (although I may build a window). I have a few chairs in the right size, but that’s about it. I hear pet furniture works, so I may end up getting a bed or sofa, but not much more So, I suspect they’re going to spend an awful lot of time outdoors, or in largely darkened rooms where you can only just figure out their surroundings.

Given those constraints, their adventure is going to take place in a kind of in-between world. They’ll spend a little bit of time in the real world, and then much of their time in a fantasy world, with the young girl being a wizard in training, and the adult either a father or a teacher. The story is called In-between (to go with my Up Above and Underfoot theme) and it likely won’t launch until next year.

And that, I hope, is the end of my storylines for awhile. Once my doll adventure story reaches its conclusion in a few months, I’ll cycle between the four stories each week:

Underfoot: The adventures of 1/6 scale dolls living in a 1/1 scale world (next week’s adventure)

Up Above: The adventures of three sisters (and a few friends) in their treehouse and beyond.

In-Between: A wizard in training leading a seemingly normal life when she’s not off changing toads into princes, or whatever it is that wizards in training do

And My Doll Adventure where we’ll continue to follow the Daisy, Rosie, Camellia and Lily’s story once they all find each other.

Posted in diorama, doll photography, Fashion dolls, Lily, miniature photography, Photography, toy photography

Attention to detail – creating a sense of a complete world

Attention to detail has never been my strong suit. It always seems to hinder my mad rush forward.

But a world without detail, even a very little world, starts to feel as if it’s floating in space – unanchored to time or place. So, I’m trying to force myself to slow down enough to get detail into scenes.

Here’s the evolution of one scene – the stranger reading the newspaper article that Frank and Rosie were looking at in her last episode.

The starting shot is my “just the facts, Mam” attempt. I take the pink coach from Daisy and Rosie’s living room, put it on top of the wood tiles from Rosie’s room, sit the stranger on the coach, and give her the newspaper:

It doesn’t get any more bare bones than this. it serves its purpose to convey the necessary info, but communicates absolutely nothing else.

So, I decide to at least give it some sense of place. I grab one of my Barbie dining sets, give her a cup of coffee (and, yes, that is real coffee in there), and a cookie from one of my Our Generation sets, and try again.

In my opinion, this is significantly better. I have some sense now of time (looks like it’s over breakfast) and place (probably some cafe). I could have added more detail by photoshopping it into a cafe scene, but I actually think that might have distracted from the important details.

I haven’t started my shoot of Lily and Daisy’s room – that’s on the schedule for today – but I do have their room set up. Here’s a picture of the setup:

I tried to put everything I’d used before in the shots, including Lily’s letters and photos, Daisy’s photo album, and the torn photography. I put Lily’s slippers under the bed, and gave them each something to look at. I gave Lily a cat and, although you can’t see them, I put Daisy’s suitcases from the last episode up on top of the wardrobe.

Lily’s room is still pretty barren – she seems like the kind of person who would have pictures on the wall and little things on the window sill. I may try to get those elements in for the final shot, just to fill out her character. Or I may get impatient and just start snapping photos 🙂

Some of this emphasis on detail comes from reading through graphic novels and noticing how complete some of the worlds are, but much of it comes from the sheer delight I’m finding in setting up the amazing detail of the Our Generation accessories. Here’s just a sample of what that world looks like:

In addition to the big new detail – hello, Aasta doll from Supiadollz – there’s just a ton of elements in here. Aasta has both a pot and a laddle. Amy has a guitar, as well as her notebook and pencils (maybe not visible in the shot :)), and Strawberry has one of those chemistry models and a stuffed elephant. In the background are a cookie jar (with cookies you can take out) and a bottle of soda. And there’s actually stuff in the refrigerator and under the sink (which you also can’t see in this shot). After a few days of setting up this stuff, any shot without details just seems really really empty.

This week I’ll be working on the stranger’s story, and what she can tell to help Daisy and Lily find Camellia.

Posted in doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, miniature adventure, miniature photography, My Doll Adventure, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, Rosie, toy adventure, toy photography, Wildflower dolls, Wildflowerdoll Rosie

My Doll Adventure 28: Rosie’s pirate adventure, part 1

In Daisy and Lily’s last episode, Daisy, Lily and Frank talked about the day that Frank had found the girls – toddler Daisy and her baby sister Rosie – at the library where he worked.

This week, Frank joins the effort to find the girl’s mother, by placing an article in the local newspaper.

Rosie looks over Frank’s shoulder at the computer.
Together, they read through an article online
An article retells the story of the day James found Daisy and Rosie

And then Frank and Rosie settle down with a good book:

James reads to Rosie from Treasure Island

Which sends Rosie on a whirlwind adventure, safely in her room:

A plastic parrot perches on Rosie’s shoulder
Rosie holds a sword
Rosie as a pirate.

Rosie continues reading at bedtime:

Rosie reads Treasure Island

and later that night . . .

Later that night . . .


This is an episode that screams out for a good layout, but I’ve only downloaded and never used my new comic layout tool. For now, streaming the photos down the page will have to do 🙂

In Rosie’s next episode, we’ll see where those pirates are taking her.

Posted in doll photography, Fashion dolls, miniature photography, Photography, toy photography

Pirates on the windowsill

There’s always that moment in a Rosie adventure where I try and figure out who going to whisk her away on her dream adventure.

For her doll adventure, I always knew that it would be my “big” dolls (China girl, Blythe, and doll Rosie)

and, for her fairy adventure, I already had a fairy picked out long before I photographed the scene where the fairies haul her away.

Rosie is grabbed by the fairy

The bird adventure was a little harder. I knew that I’d use my felted falcon somewhere in the adventure, but it wasn’t until I saw him in the shot that I knew he was the right one to whisk her away.

The faclon flies away with Rosie

Yesterday, I really struggled with the pirates.

I started with my main pirate – puss-in-boots type figure I picked up from Goodwill. But . . . he doesn’t bend, and looks oddly placed standing in the window.

Then I used my Monkey Queen, or whatever she is, but she’s all floppy and looked odd sprawled across the bed.

Finally, I took a few shots with some of my Lego pirates.

So far, the Legos are winning the battle, but we’ll have to wait until Friday to see who eventually carts Rosie away to her pirate adventure.