Sitting by a waterfall, Camellia recalls the night when she parted from her daughters
Holding the note she’s just written, she tries to comfort Daisy
Then tears a photo in half, and hands half of it to Daisy
And reaches into the crib to kiss Rosie goodbye
Even with an impulsive day off from posting to the blog this week and a late posting today, I still didn’t manage to get all of the pictures taken for this episode. There was supposed to be handoff of the note from Camellia to the stranger. Oh well, I guess we can assume it got to her, since we saw her with it in the previous episode.
Also, some day I have to get an infant doll. Poor Rosie hardly makes it into any scenes, since I don’t have a doll small enough to pass for her.
If there’s one thing I was certain of on Friday, it was that I was going to take a year off from reworking the My Doll Adventure series once I’d wrapped up the first draft.
Naturally, the first thing I did on Saturday was start working on the revised version. I still think I’ll hold off on working on it in earnest for some time, but who knows.
The most significant change I want to make (other than redoing a lot of the photographs) is to spend time letting Daisy and Camellia develop and change in response to their circumstances. I’m also going to change the triggering event for Camellia’s story. Since you haven’t seen that yet in the current version, I won’t say too much about it, other than to say that it makes Camellia a more complex character.
I’m frustrated enough with trying to pose my two unarticulated support cast members – Daisy’s and Rosie’s adoptive father and the stranger character – that I’m going to completely recast them, probably with some Hot Toys-type action figures. I’d like the adoptive father to be much older. I fell in love with a hyper-realistic Morgan Freeman doll (and, yes, this really is a picture of a doll)
But my son tells me that he’s so darn realistic that he can’t be anything other than Morgan Freeman. So, unless I want to claim that Daisy and Rosie were taken in by Morgan Freeman, that really won’t work.
So I’m going to try a somewhat less realistic Michael Caine character instead (and, yes, this is also a doll).
It isn’t so much that he isn’t realistic, it’s more that it’s not quite so identifiably Michael Caine. Either that or it’s just that Michael Caine himself is not that identifiable 🙂
I haven’t started searching for the stranger character yet – I’m going to finish re-doing the plot to see what she’s supposed to be like first.
So, anyway, I spent the whole weekend working on redoing the plot, that thing I wasn’t going to do at all. Hopefully I’ll have enough time during the week to work on the current episode I was supposed to be working on 🙂
Anyway, back to redoing the past. Going through my original photos, I had enough shots of Camellia in the boat to redo those images in Photoshop, and then lay them out in a new comic layout tool I got.
Here’s the original shots:
The first two aren’t so bad, although the boat does look like it’s rearing up in the ocean instead of actually resting on the water. But the last two are pretty bad. She looks like she’s in a bumper car.
Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned in one year, shown in the reworked images:
Apparently my biggest Photoshop accomplishment is that I’ve learned how to skew objects and add a shadow layer. But I feel like my eye has developed, especially as seen in the two versions of the last photo. The recent version of that photo is pretty good, IMO – I’m starting to get a sense of her lost in the ocean, and that gives it an emotional tone that the first version was totally lacking.
As I was doing this I had yet another crazy idea that I’d just redo the whole darn thing every year to gauge my progress. We’ll see how long that idea amuses me for.
Here’s what it might look like layed out on a page, using a comic layout tool called Comic Life:
If you’re ever interested in laying out photos, and adding speech, this is a cheap (I think it was $29) simple, flexible tool. It did everything I needed it to do, and I could figure it all out in 30 minutes or so.
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.
At the end of Camellia’s last episode, she had encountered a stranger on the island and, together, they began working on a hut.
This week they continue working on the hut, and Camellia tells about her escape.
Camellia and Moana travel to a remote part of the island to gather fibers for the hut.
Around the fire that night . . .
. . . Camellia continues the story of her escape.
Once she’s out to sea, she drops her gown and Daisy’s teddybear into the ocean
Where the tides will eventually carry them to the shore.
I struggled a good deal with this bit of the story – how does Cado realize that Camellia has gone by rowboat, and what leads him to believe that she’s taken the children with her? Unless he sees her leave, the only thing I could think of was that something identifiable is left on or washes up on the shore.
Once I decided that she’d drop the items overboard to be washed up on the shore, I made Camellia responsible for whatever repercussions that caused. And we’ve already seen, in Cado’s story, what those repercussions are.
The first series of shots I took of Camellia, before I started the doll adventure, were of her escaping the ball. I love the idea of her in bare feet with her skirt lifted up fleeing down some marble steps.
Here’s the shot I took of her:
Like so many of my early shots, I end up with a shot I love on a background that’s very difficult to remove. My early shots all have tiny bits of red mixed in their hair and around the edges of their dresses.
Because I hadn’t really taken the time to learn Photoshop before, I used some combination of selecting, pasting, blurring, etc to remove the image I wanted from the bright red background.
This weekend, I took the lesson on selecting and masking, and I finally have an image where Camellia isn’t shrouded in red.
The select and mask tools themselves are 90% of the solution. Between the select tool, for getting the big pieces, and then the refine tool that you can use to refine the selection, most of the red is easily removed. But, even after I’d removed all of the visible red, as soon as I put the background behind it, I could still see a tiny halo of red all around her.
If you see this after you’ve used select and mask, choose “decomtaminate colors” and output to a new layer. This strips out I the last little bits of red.
I still had to tinker with her dress and legs, because the red backdrop had put a red tint on these objects. I adjusted the hue on those pieces and, even though her legs looks a little ghostly, they’re good enough for me.
And that’s Camellia escaping from the ball.
Making Comics has a terrific section on expression and gestures, but I feel like that’s learning for some future episode, and my Photoshop book is about to do a lesson on text. So, for Wednesday, I’ll show the results of getting the wrinkles of out my backdrop, and hopefully I’ll also have completed the front of the hut by then.
In Lily’s last episode, she held a picture of Daisy and painted her standing outside the Secret Garden shop. We continue her story later that same day.
I had a lot of fun with the transitions this week – panning through the shop, doing the split screen call, and following James’ story of finding Daisy for the first time (with an intentional throwback to the picture of Daisy, terrified, in the Cado/Camellia fight scene). The one thing I’m really struggling with is that it feels more like a technical exercise than an artistic one – interesting, but none of the wow feeling I get when something seems a little magical. I’m assuming that I’ll learn how to blend the technical with the artistic and get back to wow.
I also used the puppet warp trick to get James to hold a phone. James, like most male Barbie-type dolls, is barely bendable. I can line up his arm with his ear, but it’s a good inch or so away from it. So, I selected the arm and choose Edit – Puppet Warp. Then I put in a few pins to define the areas I wanted *not* to warp, and then put one pin in his hand to grab for the warping. Then I dragged that pin into position to move his arm. Not nearly as realistic as Lily’s Made-to-move Barbie arm placement, but better than what I started with.
And I used the Overlay blending mode one more time to overlay the Hero Librarian story on the picture of Daisy and James.
Next week, I follow one of my other stories. If the weather holds out, I’ll let the two sisters in the Up Above treehouse adventure go and plan out where they’re going to start building. Fortunately for me, we had a real bang up wind storm here a few weeks back, so I’ve got lots and lots of branches to choose from to find the right tree 🙂