Posted in Aimeraidoll, BJD, Buu, doll adventure, doll photography, graphic novel, Jinjur, miniature adventure, miniature photography, Mudoll, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, toy adventure, toy photography, Underfoot

Underfoot: A night in the shop

After being turned away from the hotel in their last episode, Jinjur and Buu take to the streets to find some place to stay the night.

Jinjur and Buu trudge through the snow, looking for a place to spend the night.

But the big world is not a safe place for little things

Jinjur and Buu come face to face with a cat.
Jinjur and Buu drop everything and run.

Looking for a place to stay, they spot a shop.

Jinjur and Buu spot a shop across the street.
Jinjur and Buu peer into the shop window.
A bulldog peers out of the shop window.
Jinjur and the bulldog lock eyes.

And use the mailslot to scramble in

Jinjur lifts Buu into the mailslot.
Jinjur scrambles into the mailslot.
Jinjur, Buu, and the bulldog meet in the shop.

Suddenly, they hear a sound and run for a place to hide

They hear a noise and dive into a nearby drawer.
And manage to hide just in time before the shop owner enters the room.

Once the shop owner leaves for the night, they exit the sewing drawer with their new-found goods

Rummaging around the drawer, Jinjur finds an object she fashions as a spear.
while Buu suggests a use for a bow they found.

As it starts to turn light, they gather their belongings and their new friend and make their way back to the streets.

Realizing it’s turning light and the shop will soon be opening, they gather their belongings and jump back out through the mailslot.
And take a quick nap on the sidewalk before continuing on their journey

*****

This may be more pictures than I’ve ever taken for an episode – I really wanted to give them some space to explore, and I wanted to drag out some scenes – like the first encounter with the dog.

And, I managed to finally get my husband into one of the shots 🙂

Posted in Aimeraidoll, BJD, Buu, doll photography, Jinjur, miniature photography, Mudoll, 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, BJD, Buu, doll adventure, general discussion, graphic novel, Jinjur, miniature adventure, Mudoll, 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 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 Amy, BJD, doll adventure, doll photography, Dollsbe, graphic novel, Iplehouse, miniature adventure, miniature photography, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, Strawberry, toy adventure, toy photography, Up Above

Up Above: Planning the treehouse

My Up Above doll adventure starts out slowly – two sisters sit in the glade behind their house and plan out how they might build a treehouse.

Amy and Strawberry talk about where to place the tree house
Amy starts sketching out plans for the tree house
Strawberry checks out the view . . .
. . . while Amy carries logs

*****

I got one day of clear weather, so I was able to take the last two shots outside (although I still photoshopped a background behind the picture of Strawberry in the tree.)

My PhotoShop lesson this week was about tweaking your photos, and I did a lot of that this week. I’ve started to get a feel for how to smooth the join between two layers. IMO, the picture of Strawberry in the tree is the most successful, suggesting that a pretty busy upper layer is a good way to merge in a background. The mixture of the two layers in the “Sketching the treehouse” is harder to make realistic, since they both exist on the same plane.

*****

I realize I wrote but never posted about the newest addition to the dolls house. Here’s a little background I wrote a few weeks ago.

I’ve been gathering together two groups of dolls. A smaller set of dolls (19 to 25 cm tall) for my Underfoot story, and a larger set (43 – 45cm) for my treehouse story.

Then, I went and fell in love with a doll who’s not in either size group. She’s Strawberry, from Dollsbe (also called Be With You dolls).

At 28 cms, she should be a good fit for the Underfoot crew, but there are three significant problems:

  • She’s bigger than Jinjur, and that seems to rob Jinjur of her primary role as protector of the group.
  • Although she’s just a few centimeters taller, her head is disproportionally large in comparison to the very small-headed Jinjur, and that just makes her seem completely out of scale. Buu is also big-headed, but she’s so much smaller that it seems in scale with Jinjur.
  • In her features, she’s far more similar to the toddler-like Buu then to the more mature features of Jinjur, and that makes her seem like an overgrown toddler.

Altogether, she’s just not a good fit for that story, although she bears such a strong resemblance to Buu that I keep wanting to make it work.

That leaves her to hang out with the tree house crowd. That cast is far less filled out (just Amy, so far) so it’s harder to visualize how she’ll fit in altogether.

Again, her enormous head poses a problem. Even though she’s a full 15 cms smaller than Amy, her head is larger. Even so, she’s a good fit for Amy – the two look like they might hang out together, even if they don’t necessarily look related.

As a doll, she’s absolutely fantastic. She’s far and away the easiest doll to pose – she moves into all poses easily – and she has a fantastic center of balance – she can stand pretty much no matter how you set her down. On her site, her creator (the very helpful YG) is able to get his dolls to stand on just one leg. I just have to fiddle with the poses to figure out where he’s finding that center of gravity, but I’ve gotten her almost there with just a little bit of time experimenting.

Since writing this, I’ve come to really like how the two dolls look together. Strawberry has a sweet wide-eyed look that balances Amy’s more cautious approach. And the mix of ages brings up all kinds of interesting subplots.

Here’s one I’m thinking about now. I plan for almost all of their scenes to take place outside of a conventional home. I’m planning a tree house, I have a rowboat, and I’m planning on getting some combination of RV and tent. So, really, there’s no space for them to also have a regular bedroom. That makes me think that maybe there’s not much home to go back to. That means either that they’ve been set adrift through the loss of their parents, or that something is very wrong in their house. I’m not really loving either option – i see the story as being sweet and dreamy, and I don’t want them bogged down by a grim backstory.

One idea I’m kicking around is that they have a loving but distracted father – he looks up from whatever he’s deeply immersed in and realizes he hasn’t gotten food on the table and doesn’t know where the girls are. That would give them a safe base, but also give them fairly boundless freedom. Anyway, I’ll see how that sits with the girls once I’m a few more episodes in.

Posted in Amy, BJD, doll photography, Iplehouse, miniature photography, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography

More Photoshop – creating outdoor scenes indoors

So, the rain hasn’t actually stopped here yet, so I have to use Photoshop for the first episode of my Up Above tree house story. I’m hoping I’ll still get one or two good days before Friday for a few of the shots, but I’m starting out just fiddling around with Photoshop to get my fake outdoors shots.

Here’s the picture I’m fiddling with:

It’s the two sisters starting to sketch out the design of their tree house.

The accessories – blue blanket, notebook, ruler, and pencil – are all courtesy of Our Generation dolls. That’s Amy nearest the camera – I’ve changed her wig to blond with braids – and that’s her little sister Strawberry behind her.

I started out with this photo:

Because, apparently, I can’t be bothered cleaning off my surfaces before I take photo. I paid for my sloppiness in a lot of extra time getting rid of extraneous elements. Note to self, don’t place white paper on a white surface and expect Photoshop to be able to figure out where the paper ends and the surface begins.

I added it to a free stock photo (from Pexels) of trees in a grassy expanse.

I did very little to the background photo, other than blurring it slightly and upping the midtones. On the layer with the girls, I softened the edges around their hair with a little bit of light erasing and a tiny bit of blurring.

The most significant change I made, though, was one of the simplest. With the background layer selected, I chose the Burn tool, and then I drew a shadow on the background beside their blanket, their book, and under Strawberry’s hair. It was a tiny change, but it made a huge difference – the shadow makes it look as if they’re resting within the background, instead of existing in an unrelated layer.

I know there’s more I can do with feathering (again, especially around their hair, particularly the crown of Strawberry’s head) to soften the edges between the two images, but that’s another lesson for another day. For this day, I’m happy with the result for a small investment of time.

Posted in Amy, BJD, diorama, doll photography, Iplehouse, miniature photography, toy photography

Cornucopia of fantastic doll accessories – things for an 18 inch doll

One of the very best things about having a 43 cm doll is that I can buy them 18-inch doll accessories.

I’ve been pining for American Girl-type accessories for ages, but they just loom over my 12 inch dolls. As soon as I got my first 43 cm (about 17 inch) dolls, I started shopping in earnest. Having now spent a few months searching under “18 doll accessories”, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what’s available.

Here’s the low-down:

* American girl accessories: If money is no object, start here. American girl hits a high point with some of their accessories (I’m looking at you, $400 Lea’s treehouse) that just cannot be matched by any other manufacturer. At their best, their accessories create a complete little working world. And it doesn’t always cost a fortune to buy a piece of that world. My sister got me an amazing little set, with a Secret Garden book, a little stuffed elephant, and a tiny yet completely functioning radio for around $25 on sale. It even had a few small posters to go on the wall. OTOH, if the set doesn’t have magic, you end up with extravagant prices for ordinary objects, like an $8 doll hairbrush. In general, I look at the pictures on the American Girl site, but I only buy if it’s right on target and under $30.

* Wellie Wishers: I always feel like I should love the Wellie Wishers stuff (same company as American Girl, but in a 14 inch size). It’s brightly colored and quirky, but nothing really feels like it’s part of a complete world. I feel like the company doesn’t have a good grasp on how these girls spend their days, and it really shows in their accessories.

There are three other major companies that all have their own brand of American Girl-type dolls:

* ToysRUs – Journey Girls
* Walmart – My life as a doll
* Target – Our generation

The ToysRUs Journey Girls line doesn’t really hit the mark, for me. If a set has the kinds of things I like – like a music room set with flute, violin, and guitar – then it’s rendered in such shoddy materials that it doesn’t seem fun. I like the idea behind them, and the cities-of-the-world themed set, but the execution just isn’t good enough. Some of their furniture looks nice, particularly a few of the beds, but they’re much more expensive than the other lower-tier brands and, from the reviews, suffer from the same shoddy execution as their other accessories.

Walmart’s My Life As is much closer to the mark. Although none of their play sets capture the American Girl magic, their furniture is cheap, cute, and seems sturdy. I’ve got my eye on a furry saucer chair, and may go with the bunk beds if it turns out my sister dolls like them. Decent, functional stuff.

Saving the best for last, Target’s Our Generation has some American Girl level magic at a budget price. I stumbled on them first when I needed some tree-building tools for the doll to create their tree house. For $6.99, I got a saw, hammer, jar ‘o nails, paint can, and tiny birdhouse, all fitting comfortably in my dolls hands. After a few more small purchases, I sprung for the big one – a rowboat, big enough for three (or maybe even four). It’s so evocative that it’s making me dream about Huck Finn-type adventures.

Amy steers the boat, while Strawberry and Bonnie ride in back.

So, for doll adventures, and all the accessories they need! 🙂