Posted in Camellia, Daisy, Fashion dolls, Photography, Photoshop, Writing

Photo Stories then and now: Comparing Among the Flowers episodes over the years

At almost two years into learning to create photo stories, and reshooting the Among the Flowers storyline, I can start to see what I’ve learned over these years.

It started with Camellia’s episode, which launched the series. Although I left the first two shots largely unchanged, I fixed the very odd “exit stage right” shot at the end of the episode to instead pan out and show her dwarfed by the ocean.

Here’s how it looked, back in August, 2016

Camellia’s first episode, then

and here’s how it looked when I redid it at the start of this year

Camellia’s first episode, now

 

I also did some Photoshop filters (I think this one is oil painting) to give it a dreamier look.

Daisy’s first episodes have gone through much more drastic changes – the story, the setting, even the dog are all different.

Here’s the sum total of Daisy’s original first episode (when I found this, I had to go back to my files to be certain I hadn’t missed anything. Nope, two shots and zero story. No idea why I thought that constituted an episode. Anyway, here are those two shots:

Daisy sits in her window seat
Daisy and Annie get ready to go for a ride

I have to say, the pink wainscoting behind Daisy looks just fantastic. I spent hours creating it – I hope I can find a use for it some day. And the shots altogether are OK – a little thin in storyline, but perfectly acceptable.

Now, comes the embarassing part – Daisy on the bike ride in her next episode. I recall being very proud of myself at the time that I’d managed to get the bike even roughly photoshopped into the landscape but, dear lord, what a bad job I did.

Yep, totally believable 🙂

Anyway, fast forward to the present. Here’s Daisy’s new first episode (now covering the activities of her first two). I started her outdoors and put her in a setting where her bike doesn’t look so ridiculous:

What this shot misses in a sense of motion for the positioning of the bike in the previous photo, it completely makes up for in believeablility. Not sure why I couldn’t bother to get the dog in focus, though.

Once I get Daisy taking pictures of her dog, we can do a couple of shot-by-shot comparisons:

Photographing the dog:

Then

Daisy takes a picture of Annie

And now

Original shot is actually pretty cute (I especially like her crossed legs) although very poorly photoshopped, but the second communicates much better. Plus, the new camera is kick ass.

Lying down with the dog

Then

and now

No contest at all. Why was I blurring the entire background? It’s not a dream sequence. Plus, I just love the upsidedown perspective, and the relationship between Daisy and Prince (or Argo, as I think I’m calling him now).

But the biggest growth is in an area that never even entered the original episode – the push and pull between Daisy’s fundamentally happy and sound personality, and flashbacks to her as a child in an unsettling and dark time. Here are the pre/post flashback shots in the new episode:

In addition to reflecting more depth of her character, these two are clearly influenced by my much better ability to manage Photoshop. I was just learning the tool back in 2016 (in fact, I think I was using Photoshop elements and not the full-powered verison). I could never have managed the reflection in the toy story window two years ago (although, even when I created it recently, it took me a shockingly long time to figure out if it was Daisy or the window that should be partly transparent). In the Post flashback shot, I used Liquify to remove her smile and widen her eyes.

I have a few more episodes to get through for the comparison, but that’s enough for one post. For the next few weeks, I’ll be working on the new Betwixt episode where father and daughter try to understand the scope of their new powers.

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Posted in Among the Flowers, Camellia, Characters, doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, miniature adventure, miniature photography, miniatures, photo novel, toy adventure, toy photography, toys, Wildflower dolls

Among the Flowers 03: Adrift on the Endless Sea

***********************

One of the hardest parts of creating a story built around actual figures that I can see and touch, is that I feel an enormous weight when I set them onto some awful path. Yes, I understand that Camellia is a doll, but I pass her every day in the bookcase, still lying in her boat, and feel a responsibility for getting her out of the situation I’ve gotten her into.

Maybe it’s no easier when a character is drawn or written, but I know that it’s hard when they can look back at me at the end of the episode.

Since this is the second go-round for this story, we all know that it turns out OK in the end. Somehow, that hasn’t made it any easier.

***********************

In the visual space, I’m still playing with filters for Camellia’s scenes. She’s moved out of black and white, but still not into full color.

In terms of the story line, I’ve moved this piece of the story (where she tosses things off the boat) from the end to the beginning of the story. That choice really has to do with wanting to get it over with in one place. Once she finally gets out of this boat, I won’t be sending her back in flashbacks. But she still has a few more episodes to go before she reaches land. Right now, she can’t imagine that she’ll ever get off the sea.

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

My Doll Adventure 35: The End

Last time we checked in, all of the characters were converging on the airport in an attempt to find Camellia.

Did they make it?

Let’s see.

Well, hmmm, not sure. Let’s see if we can get another angle

Oh, yes, I think I can make it out. Let’s try one last angle

Ah, good, looks like they all made it there. Oh, where are the rest of the dogs?

Ah, there they are. And then, they turn and . . .

. . . it looks like it’s time for us to go.

*****

Thanks to everyone for following along for this last year. August 22 was the official anniversary of *my* adventure, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have.

I’m going to make some changes going forward.

First, I’m going to split my behind the scenes mirror sites (mydolladventure.com and mydolladventure.wordpress.com) from the production site (coming soon – to be named Small Life Stories). That gives people the choice to watch what it looks like constructing the adventure, or just to follow along with the adventures themselves, or both.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to play around with constructing more substantial sets, and I’ll probably slip in an Underfoot episode while I’m doing that. Then I’ll cycle between the various adventures.

On the topic of Underfoot and my other adventures, I got one of my 1/3 scale dolls this week, and he’s totally bonded with little Ester (who was supposed to appear in the Underfoot adventures.)

So she’ll be joining the Betwixt adventure as a kind of fairy/sprite, leaving Buu and Jinjur to continue their journey alone. That actually works out a little better, I think, because it leaves a space for Buu to grow into.

Buu is also (I’m almost sure) going to also take a supporting role in the second draft of the Mia Fiorello story as young Daisy. She’s pretty much the right size, she looks a bit like Daisy, and she has all of those great joints that my toddler Disney doll is missing. There are going to be a few more recasts in that story, but the main Wildflower dolls will go on in their current roles.

So, thanks again for joining me on the first phase of my adventures, and happy doll adventures to all of you.

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

My Doll Adventure 33: Back to the beginning

Camellia recalls the night she fled.

There had been a dance.

Camellia dances with the stranger, and then sees that Cado is watching

And then, when she realizes that Cado has left, she goes upstairs to find him . . .

and finds him holding Daisy, with a gun to his head.

************

As the late publication might suggest, I had a terrible time with this episode. I’d finished taking the photos with my original ending, and then felt like it was just too much – too much threatening of Daisy, and too much vilifying of Cado.

Here are those picture:

But, really, holding a gun on a toddler Disney Rapunzel? It’s just not right 🙂

So, we’ll go with this as the beginning, and, next time around, I’ll figure out a clearer way of moving towards it. And Camellia will shoulder a little more of the blame.

But, that’s it for the beginning. Now we’re on to the end.

Posted in Camellia, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, miniature photography, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography, Wildflower dolls

Turning a photographic novel into a graphic novel

Looks like I’m playing around with the second version again, while I’m supposed to be finishing the first 🙂

But I had an idea I wanted to see the adventure in more of a graphic form. Fortunately, Photoshop (and, in this case, Photoshop Elements) has some cool filters for quickly transforming photos into sketches and paintings.

Here is the original of the last panel of Camellia’s open ocean episode:

. . . dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean.

You can make some changes with Photoshop, but I find it more difficult to navigate for this kind of thing, and its painting filters are pretty limited. So, instead, I mostly use PhotoshopElements. Open the photo in Expert mode, and click on the FX tab. You’ll see a list of 50 or so filters. Here are the effects of the ones that turn the photo into a graphic:

Oil painting

. . . dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean.

Oil pastel

. . . dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean.

Pencil sketch

. . . dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean.

Watercolor

. . . dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean.

I ended up really liking the second one – the Oil Pastel filter. It retains the detail of the original, but gives it a kind of dreamy quality.

I don’t think I’ll turn the whole novel into a painting, but it’s possible that I’ll play around with Camellia’s early episodes.

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

My Doll Adventure 30: Kissing the children goodbye

Sitting by a waterfall, Camellia recalls the night when she parted from her daughters

Sitting by the waterfall, Camellia recalls the last time she saw her daughters.

Holding the note she’s just written, she tries to comfort Daisy

Camellia tries to comfort Daisy

Then tears a photo in half, and hands half of it to Daisy

Camellia hands Daisy part of a photo

And reaches into the crib to kiss Rosie goodbye

Camellia reaches into Rosie’s cradle to kiss her 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.

Posted in Camellia, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, miniature photography, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography, Wildflower dolls

The freedom to change one’s mind

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:

Feet at sea
Knees at sea
Camellia at sea – enter stage left
Camellia at sea – exit stage right

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:

A pair of feet come into view.
. . . then a pair of knees . . .
. . . and finally Camellia is seen in a small rowboat . . .
. . . dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean.

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.