Posted in general discussion

Every (small) world needs a hero

I’m always struck by the strength and range of personalities in my dolls’ faces. From the still sadness of Camellia,

to Ester’s inscrutable wide-eyed stare:

each one brings their own history and their own future.

But only one of them possesses the natural loyalty and grit of a hero

I marvel that something so small can have such a complex vibe. Much as I love Buu from Mudoll, she’s far more of a one-note character compared to Jinjur from Aimeraidoll. Buu (Cosette, in this story) transmits on a single wavelength of trust and sweetness, while Jinjur (Mathilde, here) has that complex mix of expecting that the world will be cruel, without sinking into cynicism.

This week, Jinjur will get a chance to display her heroic chops when Buu wakes up on the streets with a high fever.

Posted in doll photography, general discussion, miniature photography, Photoshop, toy photography

Learning new things: Painting over stock photos

Once it starts raining in Oregon, all of my photography moves indoors. That means that, for my larger dolls who are too big for set-building, I use a lot of stock photos as backdrops. You can see some of them in the first Betwixt episode.



All of which is a nice, easy way to create a shot, but it’s an odd mix of my creative process and someone else’s work.

So, for my second Betwixt episode, I’ve been trying something different – using stock photos, but altering them in Photoshop with a mixture of brushes, filters, and textures. That gives me a background that’s really mine, and not just something I grabbed off the web.

Here’s a sample of the transformations:

Here’s an original stock photo:

and here’s its altered form:

In this case, I left the leaf alone, used a textured brush to alter the water, and then applied a filter over the texture.

Here’s another:

and the altered form:

In this case, I just used the photo like a coloring book and painted over everything.

I think this works particularly well for the dreamy segments, like this second Betwixt episode where they find themselves miniaturized and sent on a quest in the world where Ester has sent them.

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to deal with the dolls in these pictures. I might leave them in photographic form, or I might alter them as well.

In any case, that’s my project for this week but, before I publish the Betwixt episode we’ll catch up with Camellia on her ocean journey.

Posted in diorama, doll photography, Dolls, general discussion, miniature photography, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography

ABP – Always Be Photoshopping

You know your miniature world building has gone wrong when most of it is done in front of a computer. I don’t know about other miniature world builders, but for me much of the delight is peering into their tiny worlds, or glancing up and seeing them mid-action in their tiny world.

But, once I got frozen and then boiled out of my garage workspace, the quality of my world building has plummeted until now I’m pretty much just tossing dolls down on the desk to photograph them and then photoshopping them into something more suitable.

That’s ended up making my home much less magical. There’s a lot more magic in glancing over and seeing this setup in my dining/doll room:

than there is in this:

Or in this magical space

contrasted to this table top

Sometimes, of course, I have no options. There simply is no way I’m going to capture this

in my dining room.

But much of it is just sheer laziness on my part. I mean, could I really not have made this photograph using real world props?

Heck, I might even have gotten the scale and angle right.

My next episode is the second “In the Picture” episode, so I actually have to do photoshopping to get my dolls into the pictures. But, I’m trying to make their real world space more . . . well . . . real. We’ll see how that goes

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 Daisy, doll photography, Fashion dolls, general discussion, graphic novel, Lily, miniature photography, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography

The sequential art of dolls – Scott McCloud’s Making Comics

I read Scott McCloud’s “Understanding comics” years ago, when I was thinking of making an adventure game. It’s a high-level look at the art of comics – well worth a read if you’re doing anything in the realm of sequential art. I’d missed his more practical guide – “Making Comics” – which is totally fantastic for what I’m working on now.

I’m only through the first chapter, and I’m already overwhelmed (in a good way) with great ideas.

Here’s just one really useful way of looking at sequential art – what are the transitions between the panels? He lists six different types, and what they’re useful for.

* Moment to moment: A single action portrayed in a series of moments. Creates a movie-like effect, and is useful for slowing the action down. I notice I use this a lot for Camellia’s episodes, like the slow approach of the panther in Episode 13: Danger afoot or dolls in danger
* Action to action: A single subject in a series of actions. Efficient, and moves the plot along at a brisk pace. I tend to use this in my “plot-ty” episodes, where I’m trying to drive the plot forward, for example in Lily’s second episode where I have to communicate both that she has some special ability to paint lost objects, and that something has happened to her daughter.
* Subject to subject: A series of changing subjects within a single scene. Also drive the plot forward, but are used more for dialog. Since I don’t have dialog in my doll adventure, I don’t tend to use this much, although I did do it when I wanted to pick out what each one of Daisy’s friends was working on in Episode 15: Putting the pieces together
* Scene to scene: Transitions across significant distances of time and space: Help to compress a story by leaping across time and space. The most obvious examples of this in my doll adventure is the movement between Rosie’s real and dream states, like the distance between Episode 6: Rosie’s Doll Adventure, Part 1 and Episode 10: Rosie’s doll adventure, part 2
* Aspect to aspect: Transitions from one aspect of a place, idea, or mood to another. These create a sense of mood by making time stand still and allowing the eye to wander. Interesting idea, and I don’t think I’ve ever used it.
and finally
* Non-sequitur: A series of unrelated images and words.Because . . . why not. It may seem like I’ve done this, but I haven’t 🙂

And that’s just three pages worth of ideas.

I worked a lot on transitions this week. One that I’ve never really done is using framing shots to place an event. This is a kind of aspect-to-aspect that you see all the time in movies (start with a shot of a city, jump to a shop, focus in a single character), and it works to place the subject within a context. I used it this week to explain something that I’d have to explain in words otherwise (and, again, spoiler alert) – what’s the relation between the Secret Garden photo that Daisy has and the places where we see Lily?

So, spoiler, Lily owns the shop. Her apartment is behind it and out back from her apartment is the garden I often picture her in. Easy to tell if I were making a movie, but not so easy in a doll adventure. I was originally going to build a flower shop for her, but it just seemed like a ton of effort for a tiny piece of information. Instead, I’m using the aspect to aspect to tie the places together.

The curtain in the back of the shop is actually a separate image that I placed over what used to be the front door of the flower shop in the original image, and then I use it as a layer in the final shot and set the layer blending mode to “overlay” to make it so that you could see the picture of Lily and Daisy behind the curtain.

Anyway, Friday’s episode is going to be full of transitions – I even use a split frame in one to create a kind of dialog between two characters who are separated in space.

Posted in Fashion dolls, general discussion

Doll adventures need an action stand

Mid-adventure, I find myself (and my dolls) sorely in need of an action stand.

You’ve all seen doll stands. They look something like this:

and they hold the doll, upright, around the waist or the legs. Which is great, if your doll is just standing there. But, not so great, if she’s mid-fall, like this

Rosie and scruffy dancing

I ended up kind of pinning her dress around the stand to get her to hold still in this posture. Even something simple, like bending forward to retrieve a photo, like this

Daisy retrieves the photo

is surprisingly difficult to accomplish. And forget getting three dolls in a sideways dance pose, like this:

I had to lie them flat on the floor, and then photoshop the background in.

So, imagine my surprise at the ease with which a simple Japanese action figure can leap into action on her stand:

It’s very simple. The stand had a rod at the top

Action stand
Rod shown at top of action stand
Action stand hole
Hole for action stand in back of figure

which inserts into a hole at the back of the figure:

The figure can be turned in any direction on the rod, and the stand can extend and bend.

It all seems very simple. There are some shortcomings to the stand – I would prefer that I could tighten it in certain positions because there are some positions it simply can’t hold on its own. And I wish the base were heavier so that it didn’t tip if I move the figure too far over the edge.

But, really, those are small considerations for something that lets your dolls leap, dance, and fly. An adventure doll needs an adventure stand.

Speaking of adventure, next week it’s time to continue from Camellia’s storm at sea.



Tumblr, WTF?

I feel like I’m missing the point on Tumblr – what exactly is it good for? After a few weeks, I’m still struggling to find people who are actually making/doing/saying anything. Instead I’m lost in a bewildering world of reblogs, where I can watch the same damn post spread through my feed, like a contagion. Trying to follow anything back to it’s original source is well nigh impossible. It’s just z reblog y reblog x to infinity. I get the idea of curation, and I found a few feeds where people are scouring the wider web for their content to convert into a Tumblr post. But, in general, they’re not going any further than their feed to find material to curate.

Am I missing something?