Posted in Fashion dolls, Granado Udell, How to, Marcelo, Photoshop, Set construction

When dolls go mad: Building a crazy wall for Marcelo

Has a real person ever created a crazy wall? Or does that only happen in films? In any case, if ever I saw a doll who might create a crazy wall, it’s Marcelo (Granado Udell). And, after the last episode, where he suddenly found himself and his daughter in mortal danger in another world, it’s really to be expected.

So, he needs a crazy wall – a nice big crazy wall, with lots of pictures and string going every which way. But, how *exactly* do you build one? Those are the questions I had to answer this week.

First, what to include in the crazy. I went a couple of different directions – one involved fairies, one involved parallel universes, and one involved just straight up crazy. In the most miraculous of miraculous discoveries, I found an honest-to-God article about fairies and the multiverse, here. I didn’t actually read it, because what could it say that would be better than the fact that there actually is an article about fairies and the multiverse. Let me know, though, if it says something interesting. The non-article items came out of google searches on public domain images, and I ended up with a bunch of really fantastic pictures. Here are a few of them:

To print them out, I resized them to 1/3 scale (about 2″ across for the photos and 3.5 inches long for the articles) and printed and cut them out.

Next, to layout and connect the images. I’d already decided that I was going to photoshop the wall onto another image, so I did my layout on a dark green foamboard that would be easy to replace in the final image. Then, I got the images roughly where i wanted them, and attached and connected them using map pins and embroidery thread. I’m not sure there are any official rules about how to organize a crazy wall, but mine was grouped into a few themes: fairies, parallel universes, and crazy. Lots and lots of crazy. I used different color thread to connect the images in each grouping. Here’s the entire wall on the green foamboard. That’s fairies in the upper left, parallel universes down the right side, and crazy all through the middle.

Finally, the image behind the crazy wall. I decided Marcelo wouldn’t work straight on the wall, mainly because I don’t have a wall that I want to put a bunch of tiny pins in. I’d gone pretty far in the bulletin board direction but, really, if you’re going crazy, do you actually put up a bulletin board first to contain all that crazy? I finally decided that I wanted a big image in the background, preferably a map. And, since it was parallel universes, I used a NASA picture of deep space, like this:

For the final, I shot the wall over Marcelo’s shoulder and brought the image into Photoshop. I removed all of the green by using the magic wand tool and selecting the foamboard, then deleting it. Finally, I copied the NASA deep space image behind it all.

I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I think the real images attached to the wall with push pins and strings look much better than what I could have photoshopped together.

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I’m moving very slowly on this episode because I’ve decided to actually try to realize my initial plans for an episode, instead of giving up and just throwing stuff together. That goes so much against my grain, apparently, that it’s taking me weeks to prepare each shot. Fortunately, my plans for the rest of epsiode aren’t so grand, so I should be able to get through it more quickly.

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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.

Posted in doll accessories, doll pets, Fashion dolls

Horses for dolls: Finding the right size horse for your 1/6 and 1/4 scale dolls

After spending a year absolutely obsessed with getting the right dog for each of my dolls (every doll *must* have a dog, according to my rules :)), I find that I have a new obsession; horses!

Unfortunately, for reasons I cannot figure out, doll manufacturers appear to) believe that a horse is around the size of a large dog. Emphatically, it is not. It is a big beast which ought to tower over a doll, and not something that looks like it might break beneath their weight.

Here are some dolls and their proposed horses from several manufacturers.

1/6th scale dolls like Barbie

Barbie and a great dane-sized horse

1/4th scale dolls like American Girl

The height isn’t terrible, but the relative head sizes are completely off.

And the dolls don’t seem to work any better with classic horses, like Breyer. Here’s Daisy with the larger of the Breyer horses.

My solution, as with apparently all of my solutions recently, is to see what the Our Generation dolls at Target have to offer (I swear I am making no money from this brand – all of the money is flowing the other way.)

Here’s Daisy again with one of the Our Generation foals.

I think they look pretty good together.

Even better, I think, are the Our Generation full size horses for my 1/4th scale dolls (who, at 16″ are just slightly smaller than the 18″ dolls these horses were designed for.) Here’s Olive (Amy from Iplehouse) in various poses with the poseable Morgan horse from this line.

And here she is with both the full sized horse and the foal (who looks tiny without Daisy standing beside him).

The poseable Morgan horse is no longer available from Target, but I got him at the great price of $13 off of ebay. There’s a new poseable Thoroughbred now at Target, along with a bunch of horses which aren’t poseable. My one wish for the big horse is for his head to be poseable – as it is, only his legs are.

My 1/3rd scale dolls are horseless – I don’t have room for anything that would fit them – but if you want a good laugh, here’s the big guy (Granado Udell) posing on the foal.

So, my house is now completely horsed up. I got so deep into it that I got a stable for the foal, which you can see a bit of in this shot:

For this, the Our Generation stable was simply too big for Daisy – it’s sized for the 1/4th dolls. But Battat (the same company that does Our Generation) has some items for 14″ dolls (like Wellie Wishers) in their Glitter Girls line. That’s where I got the stable. Oddly, although this is supposed to be a Target brand, it doesn’t show up on their site. I had to buy it at Amazon.

Here’s a better picture of the stable, along with the Glitter Girls horses who weren’t realistic-looking enough to make it onto my wish list:

 And that’s all of the horse news for today.

Posted in Among the Flowers, Fashion dolls

Among the Flowers 04: Daisy and the Secret

In our last episode with Daisy, she was starting to dimly recall memories of her early childhood – a day taking pictures at the lake and a dark shadow falling over her. We join her again a few weeks later.

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For this episode, I’ve decided to be much more deliberate in laying out exactly what’s going on. That goes against my tendency to just photograph it and let people figure it out :), but it also means that I don’t have to photograph all those boring “here are the details” shots.

If I get a chance, I’ll post a comparison between this version of the episode and the original version I did a year ago. This is the first time in this series that I can see how much my style has evolved.

Finally, I’ve gone insane over horses! In addition to the Our Generation foal that I’m using in this series, I’ve bought two (2!) large poseable horses for my 1/4th size dolls. Now I just have to shoehorn them into some episodes.

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

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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.

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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.