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 Aimeraidoll Jinjur, BJD, doll adventure, general discussion, graphic novel, miniature adventure, Mudoll Buu, 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, Fashion dolls, Writing

Plotting the central mystery

I’ve ripped out and completely redone the central mystery at least 20 times. Maybe more.

Here’s the problem. Daisy is a young woman who knows that there is some mystery in her background. The premise of the story is that an event, a meeting, kicks her out of her life and around the world to solve the mystery.

For that to work, she can’t start out the story with so little information that it doesn’t hold some interest for her, but she can’t have so much information that she could solve it on her own.

So, she has to have something that points strongly to her past. Then the adventure starts when she comes across a matching piece of info she can use to figure out where to go and what to do. Sounds simple, right? And it would be, if I didn’t have to find tiny objects to illustrate the plot.

I knew that I wanted a meeting with a stranger as the call to adventure, but the shape of that meeting and the knowledge they transfer had always been murky.

At first I thought that she’d have some unique necklace that identified her to someone else. I spent some time trying to find a tiny-yet-unique necklace. No real luck – apparently, there isn’t alot of great art in the doll jewelry world.

img_20161122_101242
The fine art of doll necklaces

Then, I thought she could have a necklace with some kind of family crest or amulet. Apparently, Twilight beat me to that idea, so that wouldn’t work.

I have these tiny clay bluebirds.

img_20161122_090548

I had some crazy idea that her mom gave her one of these bluebirds, then someone else saw it and recognized her. But, jeez, really, under what circumstances would someone suddenly discover that you had an clay bluebird? And I’d already decided the scene would take place at a diner, so what was she doing taking a clay bluebird to work? I actually tried to the force the thing into her tiny apron. Poor Daisy – she’s been very patient through all this.

Finally, I threw away the idea of someone-identifying-Daisy-through-a-unique object. So, if they didn’t just stumble across her and recognize her through some identifiable object, then how do they meet? It has to be that the person meeting her has known where Daisy is all along. And that person has to have a piece of information which is also mysterious but which, by itself, does not clearly lead anywhere. Hence, the two halves of the torn photo.

while the stranger drops a torn photo
while the stranger drops a torn photo

You’ll see, when we put the two pieces of the photograph together next month, how that works out.

Posted in Fashion dolls, Writing

Writing without words

Early on, I decided that my doll adventure would rely very little on words. What entranced me were the the story and the images, and everything that pulled me away from that felt like a distraction.

The problem with that strategy is that it threatens to make my images a little pedantic – pictures in support of a plot detail simply aren’t going to be the best possible images. I really felt that in the difference between Rosie’s doll adventure (last week’s adventure) and Daisy and the mysterious photos (this week’s adventure). Photographing the first felt like an act of creation, of bringing things to life. Photographing the second felt more like solving a puzzle, of putting together little pieces to communicate specific details.

*****

On the contents of the torn photo:

I knew from the start of creating the adventure that it would circle around a photograph. Daisy is a photographer, and the adventure is ultimately from her perspective. I also knew that the photo had to be complete enough that it was clear what Daisy was looking for (someone who could help her find her family), but not so complete that she’d know how to begin the search. And the second half of the photo (the second shoe) had to provide that completion and give her enough info that she could figure out where to go.

The contents of the photo, though, were in flux almost up to the moment I created it. At one point, I had young Rosie in the photo. At another, I added a gift her mom had given her. One version had the numbers from a street address. The final photo, though, had just two recognizable elements – a woman and the word “secret” in Italian. On the back is written the word Nonna (or Grandmother, again in Italian).

*****

On the characters in the photos:

young daisy with photo

Young Daisy (in the first photo and the newspaper article) is played by a mini Rapunzel doll with a curly wig.

P1040269

For those who know my mom, you may recognize her as they mysterious woman in the torn photo. The full photo is a picture of my mom with her brother and sister and their spouses after her high school graduation. That’s my mom in the front, her brother Vincent and his wife Peggy on the left, and her sister Claudia and her husband Frank on the right.

This is the last big event photo where Claudia appears – she dies young of a stomach infection before my mom finishes college. My mom’s other brother, Mario, dies before she’s born – drowned at 16 while boating on a lake. My mother, Marian, is named after him.

Of the 5 Miletti children, only two (my mom and Vincent) make it to old age, and only my mom has children. So all that’s left of the original family is myself and my siblings, some pottery from my Grandpa, and a pile of old photos.