Posted in Dollmore Manuier, How to, Type

Building rooms for dolls: A place for my 1/3 scale Dollmore Manuier doll

My 1/6 scale dolls all have sets, although some of them are in pieces currently. Daisy has her room with the pale pink wainscotting, bookcases, and the window seat.

Rosie has her blue room with the casement windows that let in dreams.

Rosie tries to fly like a fairy

Lily has a small room with a large wardrobe full of old letters and photos

Lily looks through old photos

and Camellia has a set full of sand and flowers and a sadly wrinkled blue sky backdrop

Camellia turns to the sound

The Underfoot cast lives in the real world, so they don’t need a set. My windowsill will do for them.

My 1/4 scale dolls mainly have furniture instead of sets, like the kitchen where the two sisters in In the Pictures sit

 

“Why not Alice in Wonderland?”

While the On Our Own crew has a nice trailer home.

But, once I run out of complete furniture for the 1/4 scale dolls, and all of the time for the 1/3 scale dolls, I’m left with just photographing them in various spots in my house and hoping it looks realistic.

The In The Pictures cast often ends up by a sliding glass door in my husband’s home office

or in a corner of my dining room

They return to their room

while the 1/3 scale cast sits on a table in the doll room

But, for the episode I’m working on, I wanted to give Marta (the Dollmore Manuier doll) a real room. Well, as real as doll rooms get, which is basically two walls and a floor.

Unfortunately, I’m having a heck of a time building one for her.

Problem 1: The materials I normally use for walls (foamboard) is not large enough to serve as a backdrop for standing dolls. At 20″ x 30″, even standing on its side, the boards are just a few inches taller than Marcelo’s (Granado Udell’s) head. (Please ignore his ridiculous shorts – I simply cannot find doll clothes that fit him).

So, to build them a set, it has to be a sitting set, or the lying set which Marta is modelling.

So, first problem – wall materials are the wrong size. Second problem is that the way I normally decorate the walls don’t work in this scale. For the 1/6 scale dolls I cut the 20 X 30 walls down to . . . actually, I can’t recall now – maybe 15″ x  12″? Anyway, with the wainscotting I put on the bottom of the walls, I can fill the top of the walls with a single sheet of decorative paper (standard size of 12″ x 12. So, I never have to worry about having a join in the middle. But, if I’m using the full 20 x 30, the only thing I can use is wallpaper, which I’ve found difficult to work with. Also, really, teenage girls do not normally have wallpapered rooms. They have painted rooms like, well, the rest of us.

So, I decided to paint a sheet of foamboard. I’ve used a bit of wet material on foamboard before (mostly glue) and it went OK, so I figured that paint would also be alright. Turns out I was wrong. Or, at least, not the watered down paint I was using. Although everthing looked OK at first, within a few hours the edges had curled up. So, reading online, I saw that I could weigh it down and repair the curve. Sort of true, I guess. The original curve went away, and now it just curved in another dimension. More reading and I learned that I could paint the other side. I tried that – nope, now it just has a sort of wavy pattern.

I looked online and found these very cool 2′ x 2′ paint samples, but I’m too impatient to wait for them (although I suspect they’ll solve my problem) and I had a nicely painted (although curved) wall that I wanted to use. So, I cut a few narrow pieces of wood to size and glued them down the back of the curved part of the wall and that *seems* to have fixed the problem. At least, it fixed it for long enough for me to take photos.

Before I show the solution I went with, I wanted to share one other solution that also works, and that’s to Photoshop the background. I don’t mean to just paste in an image. What I mean is, to take a picture with the dolls against using a plain white wall (preferrably) or whatever wall you have (less preferrably). Then, select the wall in the image and paste it into it’s own layer. Then, take the paint blush and start painting the wall. You might want to mix colors, or blend, or use a spattering effect so that you don’t just have a flat color. Then, copy and paste the original wall again and make it pretty transparent. You’re just using it for the shadowing and texturing – not to pick up the initial color (hence why white is better than a more saturated color). That effect actually worked pretty well for me, but I wanted to use the actual painted wall.

So, here is Marta’s room, with the blue-only-slightly-curving wall beside her.

Of course, if I’d know that the shot I liked best would only include the narrowest strip of the wall, I would have just used the wall from Rosie’s room. But, I didn’t know until I’d finished taking my photos. I suppose I could use the shot that shows more of the wall, but it’s just not as cute as the previous shot.

Also, interesting aside from this episode. I learned, while building Marta’s room, that she’s a big Joanna Newsom fan. Which is funny, because I’m a big Joanna Newsom fan as well. What are the chances that we’d share such an obscure interest?

Anyway, that’s how I’ve been spending my time – painting and uncurving foamboard, and making tiny books on fairies for Marta’s shots. Next, I have to work on the shots for Marcelo. While the fairies have given Marta a great big headache, they’ve pushed poor Marcelo right over the edge (granted, he was perched pretty close to the edge to begin with), and he’s going to have a full on crazy board (you know, those things with pictures and strings that people seem to create spontaneously when they go slightly mad)? So, I’m finding tiny tacks and string to give him a big crazy canvas to work with.

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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.

*******

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 BJD, Characters, doll adventure, doll photography, Dollsbe Strawberry, graphic novel, Iplehouse Amy, miniature adventure, miniature photography, miniatures, On Our Own, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, Supia Aasta, toy adventure, toy photography, toys

On Our Own 03: Fern’s Story

*****

Fern is now my official representative in the 1/4 scale dolls. I love Willow’s quiet grace, but I am neither quiet or graceful. I love Olive’s take charge spirit, but that’s not me either. Fern, little as she is, is someone I completely understand. Which is why I knew, when she was sad and missing her mom, that a dog would be just the thing to cheer her up. Turns out I was right.

I’ve enjoyed spending time with the On Our Own family so much that I think I’m going to spend an extra week or two with them and see how Olive’s story turns out. Olive reminds me very much of my sister, Melanie, so I’m going to send her on the kind of adventure she would have loved when she was a kid.

***

I mentioned last week that many of these pictures come from the Columbia Gorge. Fern’s brave sword stance is by the creek at the top of Multnomah falls, while the pictures of her holding onto a rope on a trail are on Eagle Creek Trail (the center of last year’s Columbia Gorge fire), and her plunge in the water takes place in Punchbowl falls, also on the Eagle Creed trail. Olive’s bike ride through the woods is at Cape Lookout, on the Oregon coast.

Posted in BJD, Characters, doll photography, general discussion, miniature photography, miniatures, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography, toys

Suggesting Motion with Still Life: Photographing Dolls

One of the hardest parts of creating an action adventure with dolls is that they’re, by nature, immobile. And, often, somewhat difficult to pose. So, how do you get them to look like they’re moving?

I mostly start with seeing if I can just get them to stand in an action-like pose, which works better with some dolls than others.

Here’s Fern (Dollsbe Strawberry) in the shot I used to make her look like she was hiking up the Eagle Creek trail, along with the final photoshopped image:

and here she is dancing with her sisters, in original and photoshopped versions:

Her sisters are modelling my second technique – doll stands. I resort to doll stands with all my dolls once they have one foot off the floor and, for some dolls, even with both feet on the floor (I’m looking at you, Dollzone Gill).

Like Fern, Mathilde (Aimeraidoll Jinjur) rarely needs a stand, although I did have to drag one out for her when she was carrying Cosette (Mudoll Buu) through the streets of Paris.

For unusual action-sitting shots, I generally have them perch on something. Here’s my Granado Udell and Dollmore Maunier ridiculously perching on a very small horse:

which looks much less ridiculous once I photoshop them onto their snails:

But, for the big action shots, none of this works, and I have to use my posing-of-last-resort effort – lying down. I resorted to this yesterday after spending 20 minutes trying to get Olive (Iplehouse Amy) to perch on a bike. Here’s what I finally resorted to, and the photoshopped version:

I used the same method to get my Granado Udell and Dollmore Manuier to climb a tree:

And to get Emily (Dollzone Gill) up the scaffolding:

So, there are all my secrets.

What do you do to get your dolls moving?

Posted in BJD, Characters, miniatures, On Our Own, toys

Playing with dolls, again

It’s seems an odd reminder to someone whose hobby is photographing and creating stories around dolls, but I seem to have forgotten all about playing with the little things. I got so caught up in the posing and the photographing and the photoshopping and the layout that I’d entirely forgotten the magic at the center – creating a tiny, inhabited world. This week, I’ve been recapturing that magic.

If you watched one of my photography sessions – especially the last one with the Bronte-esque sisters Charlotte and Emily – you’d think I’d been forced into playing with dolls as penance. I’m all tense and grumbly, trying to get them into the right pose (in fairness, the poses for the last episode were terrifically hard, and those particular dolls are unreasonably hard to pose). But, still, really. I mean, it’s a hobby – the thing that’s *not* work. But I can get into this space where I’m so focused on the distance between what I’m trying to accomplish and what I’m actually capable of, that I forget that I actually just enjoy the process as a process.

So, this week I spent much more time playing. Of course, it helps that this set of dolls are a dream to pose, and that every angle I photograph them at seems like the right angle. It also helps that I’m emotionally attached to this story in a way that I’m not with the In The Picture premise.