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fieldarchy

Taking Pictures of Minis

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Does anyone have tips on what software to use to fix pictures of minis and also what equipment you should use when taking the pictures.

 

My pictures have come out very dark and the software that came with my camera and my computer only allows you to do a little bit of enhancement. They are VERY basic programs with no bells and whistles.

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Basic tools that I use:

 

At work I use what comes with Windows 2000. Picture size and color/brightness is all use there.

 

At home I have a version of Adobe Photoshop LE 4.0. This too I only use for size correction and/or color/brightness.

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I am still waiting on Kit or Mad Pat to put my photo seminar booklet online so people can download it (it's in pdf format). Once it's up I'll make sure to let you know.

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The best recommendation I can make, baed on your photo of Ametrine, female Dwarf, is that you might want to consider a darker background and more diffused lighting.

 

Three light sources, two to light the mini from front-left and front-right and one to light it from above and behind, will eliminate almost all shadows.

 

I've tried alot of backgrounds, but the one I've been happiest with is a nice medium neutral grey. A very white background almost always makes the model appear too dark because of the contrast. A grey or subtle earthtone backdrop won't detract from the colours of your mini.

 

Also, be careful not to put the light-sources too close. Sometimes even the fancy-schmancy daylight bulbs can give off too much red.

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Aryanun is the photo expert. But for programs, the defacto standard is photoshop, but that's expensive, even the cheap versions are 60 bucks or so. Being the incredible cheap skate that I am, I use Picasa, which you can find at google.com under the "more" link at the top. It's a good program, free, and allows you to adjust brightness, color, etc. All the things you need too. And it's auto correcting features are smack on, to my eye. It does a stand up job and it's free, so I was sold. There are some, inconviences, like importing pictures is counterintuitive, but overall it's worth at least trying that's for sure.

 

As for taking pictures, a camera with a good macro mode, allowing you to get right up to the mini, is essential. Without that, don't bother taking the pictures. A light box is highly recommended, although i don't use one. It helps smooth out the light, no light spots, etc. As for lights, I've seen people use all kinds, shop lights even. Make sure though, whatever type of light you use, make sure the camera is set for it. When you do that the camera will somewhat compensate for it automatically. So if you use incandesent, which give off an redish light (I think) the camera will take care of that extra red, somewhat.

 

Hope this helps.

 

@ Aryanun; what's the hold up? Why haven't they published it? You are one of the most knowledgable around (as far as I know) it would be a great help to everyone if they put that up in the hobby section, and even in the casketworks! Go kick thier butts!!!

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They've been busy. They got it just after ReaperCon, then they had A-kon two weeks later, Kit was moving at that time and having to deal with the new baby, and they're gearing up for Origins. It's Con season. Give them time. ^_^

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Thanks everyone for the advice. I will see what I can do about getting a better light set up and then maybe post better pictures of the minis I have done.

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That all reminds me. I need to get off my butt and make an article with proper step-by-steps on how to make my Cheap-Fu light box. I still have a copy of the Photography Seminar book PDF too if anybody would like a copy. Just ask and I'll send it via [email protected] attachment.

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As a suggestion for someone who wants to use photoshop for a low price......check out photoshop elements 3. It works pretty good for photo editing and cataloging. Does pretty good for layer editing as well.

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You can also use Paint Shop Pro (it's easier to use than Photoshop) or GIMP (which is free last I checked).

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Every one else has given some really good advice. In the pic Spike linked to, it looks to me like the light is falling on your background instead of your mini. That is another reason the mini looks darker than it should. The contrast of the white background and the darker mini just adds to the problem.

 

I found that getting a permanent studio set up really helped me with my picture taking. I know that not everyone has the space, but it really doesn't take much and it lets you get your ligths set up just once and you don't have to worry about it again.I guess I could post a pic of my set up, if anyone is interested.

 

I agree with Spike on the nutral grey background too. Although I have been experimenting with different backgrounds some. I found a use for all those racks and racks of scrapbooking paper at the hobby shop--some of them make pretty good backgrounds for minis!

 

I don't usually do any tweaking on my photos. If you get the lights set up and the balance set on the camera right, you shouldn't need to do any very often. Although some colors are harder for the camera to register, and may require some color adjusting to get it to look closer to the mini. I use Photoshop Elements 2 for the work I do. Mainly just croping and optimizing for the web.

 

Good luck! ::):

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I too have a light box setup. That and a few different backgrounds, but for the sake of consistency, I've started using the same background: A white sheet of paper with blue airbrushed gradients/gradiation (sp).

 

Flit is on the mark when talking about the right light setup & camera setting *should* get things right. At the same time, I've found that the light-box, setting the cameras white-balance, and one single photoshop "levels" adjustment gets me there (so I *do* need one software tweek).

 

The "levels" adjustment effecctively looks like a combination of saturation, color, contrast, and brightness controls to a layman (me).... I could be butchering the actual intent of the vocabulary I'm using...

 

If there was one factor that I'd consider the most important... it'd be the lighting: Diffused natural daylight being the ultimate objective.

 

Rgds,

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Spike's Cheap Light Box

 

The above is a great way to make one. I use parchment paper, myself, as it can take the heat of any kind of lamp without browning (just make certain you get the white parchment paper). It's also under $5 for a large roll (find it at your local grocery with the aluminum foil and wax paper products).

  • Parchment Paper
  • Tape (white duct tape can be found at Wal-Mart for pretty cheap)
  • White Foamboard
  • Pieces of material about 12" square in a medium gray, light beige (tan), and a slate-blue color (not too blue of a blue - more like a bluish-gray). These will provide your background colors. Use whichever color will most contrast with the overall color scheme of your mini (if it's overall a blue, don't use the blue).
  • Velcro that will stick to the material and the foamboard (so you can switch out the backgrounds when you need to)
  • 3 lamps with Reveal lightbulbs

That's really all you need.

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