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.
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 our last episode, Camellia received a gift of clothing and food.
The next morning, she leaves the camp to gather fruit. The panther doesn’t follow and stays in camp.
When Camellia returns to camp, she sees the panther standing by a stranger . .
Together, they work on building a hut . . .
Until they’ve completed a rough structure
The stranger builds a fire . . .
. . . while Camellia starts to tell her story.
So, hey, who found the “render clouds” filter on Photoshop? 🙂
I ended up learning a lot about all of Photoshop’s filters. I also spent a long time standing in the dark in my workshop garage waiting for my camera to gather another light from the LED tea light to expose a photo. I’m really happy with the result – warm light, and I accidentally managed to make the whole crew one-eyed!
I’ve really enjoyed my backwards week – it’s given me a clear task to work on each day, and given me enough time to really work out some kinks before I post my story.
We’ll see how it works next week, when Rosie’s bird adventure continues.
On Monday I wrote about getting the right shots for the start of Camellia’s next episode. Today I’ll show you my experiments on bringing fire in miniature photography, and the makings of a hut. By Friday, I should have everything ready for her episode.
I’ve seen different suggestions for making a fire that looks like a fire but, as you know, I’m not much of a stickler for details (an anomaly in miniature photographers, I know.) What I really wanted was the glow on their faces. If I had to Photoshop a fire in afterwards, that was fine.
Fortunately, I got my effect on the third try. For the first try, I gathered together two types of led lights. One is a string of tiny, warm led lights, and the other is a 50 cent LED tea light from the dollar store.
So I put Camellia and Moana on my desk to experiment with the different lighting sources. Here’s the effect with some light in the room, and both types of light together.
Nice, but the fire light is overwhelmed by the room light. On the second try, I turn the room lights off.
Better, but three problems. One is that the light is now so bright adjusting for it throws the rest of the scene into total darkness – I want to be able to see the hut behind them. The second is that the light is so overpowering that it becomes the focus of the shot. And the third is that the white is too white – I want more of a warm glow. Although I can fix it in Photoshop, I’d prefer to get the actual image right.
So, I turn off the string of LED lights, and just leave the tea light, and I get exactly the effect I want – a warm glow cast on Camellia and Moana’s faces.
For another take on fire on miniature photography, here’s someone I follow on Instagram using a miniature Link and a matchstick to great effect
The final problem was making a hut for Camellia. I’d been looking through images of primitive huts when I stumbled across what I think is a bird cage at Goodwill. Here it is with Moana perched on top.
I can’t locate a picture of how this looked before I modified it, but it had an attached rounded door where the opening now is. Unfortunately, it was a little too short for my dolls, so I had to remove it and just leave a rough space. I’m not sure why it has those extensions at the top – it made the whole thing look very odd – but I’ll just photograph it without that part for my story.
So, that’s the set up for this week’s episode. The one trick I have remaining is to somehow get the hut into the background of the fire shot. It’s too big to fit in the diorama space, and I don’t have any surface high enough to prop it up between the diorama and the backdrop, so I may photograph it and pin the photograph to the backdrop. Or, maybe I’ll figure out something else. Anyway, that’s tomorrow’s problem 🙂