Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Doug Sundseth

Photographing Translucent Miniatures

Recommended Posts

In this thread, Reaperbryan mentioned that he was having trouble getting detail when photographing the translucent Bones figures. I made some suggestions there, but I decided to do a few experiments, and this thread is the result.

Principles: Transparent and translucent subjects are a bit tricky to photograph. There's an old adage* in photography that, "Light reveals; shadows define". Translucents under even light have almost no shadows, so there is no definition and thus no detail. In many ways this is similar to painting OSL or NMM. You need to put light where you need it for highlights without killing the shadows that provide the shapes you're trying to show.

Now, not being Reaper meeple, I don't have any of the Reaper Bones Translucents to shoot, so I decided to make do with a mostly unpainted D&D mini that I had around. For reference, this seems to have been washed with a couple of colors, which does enhance the appearance of the figure. The only post processing is cropping to remove dead space and an automatic lens correction to correct optical aberrations. Here are the results:

8293730666_320de9a343_o.jpg
D&D Miniatures Caller in Darkness



Technique:

1) Backdrop: A sheet of white seamless paper. In this case, it was an offcut from a full roll of seamless (like this), but it would have worked just fine with any white paper.

2) Fill light: Translucent and transparent subjects usually work well when backlit. In this case, I used a speedlight (Lumopro LP-160, if you care) aimed at the backdrop and snooted (black craft foam cylinder attached to the light) to keep most direct light off of the figures. The backlight shows the inherent colors of the figure well. The light was at 1/16 power, about 18" from the backdrop behind the figure, and camera right approximately level with the figure.

3) Key light: To get shape and detail, I added a second light pointed directly at the figure. This light was another LP-160, also at 1/16 power, about 9" from the figure, shooting through a Lumiquest LQ-III mini-softbox. (Much the same light could have been obtained by using translucent paper in front of the light, but the softbox makes things easy.) I tried several different positions, but ended up preferring camera left, level with the table, about midway between camera and subject. Note that different figures might look best with different key light positions. You would probably do well to move the key around to see what looks best for the figure you're shooting.

Note that none of the positions I chose were similar to the position of a pop-up flash. Pop-ups are almost directly on-axis with the lens, which results in very flat lighting, which is exactly the opposite of what we need.

4) Room light: I chose an aperture and shutter speed that killed the ambient completely. When the speedlights were not shooting, I got a nearly completely black frame even though there was standard dining room light directly over the subjects. This makes it easy to work and easy to control the lights that will actually be seen. For reference, I was shooting at ISO 400, 1/250 second, at F/16-ish after sunset.

Cheaper version: If you don't have a camera that can shoot fully manual and a suite of photographic lighting equipment, you can get much the same results with a point-and-shoot camera and a couple of desklamps. In that case, you'll probably want to shoot in a mostly dark room, set the lights in about the same configuration I used here, and use a much longer exposure. I chose to use a tripod here, though it really only gained me a consistent camera position, because the flash duration is so short. When shooting with much dimmer continuous lights (and trust me, all continuous lights are much dimmer than strobes), you will need to stabilize your camera, probably with a tripod. But definitely do not use a lightbox with very even lighting, or you'll get flat photos that don't show any detail.

Finally, here are a couple of BTS (Behind The Scenes) shots to help illustrate what I was using. You can see the two speedlights to left and right and the tripod in front of the table.

The first was shot with the same settings as the figures:
8293730278_854c7efa5b_c.jpg


The second shot shows the room with the camera adjusted to show the ambient light and the strobes turned off. (If the strobes were on, the center of the image would be completely blown out.) Here you can see the lights on either side of the figure and the tripod (sans camera) near the edge of the table at left:
8293730444_f6d3cbe735_c.jpg

* FWIW, I read it first from Rick Sammon, who might have even said it first. But he's been saying it for a long time, so it's now an old adage. ^_^

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a chance to view a translucent bones mini at ReaperCon today. I decided to let my camera have a look also. Results:

p200dpi261.jpg

p200dpi260.jpg

p200dpi262.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Kuroneko
      I'm sure many of you can sympathise- we see a cool model in a kickstarter, finally get it delivered and then sit flummoxed whilst trying to figure out exactly how to paint said mini. This Mystic Portal has been sitting on my painting desk since last June and I finally figured out what to do with it.
       
      Imagine that your players have just finished ransacking your meticulously planned dungeon/keep/cavern system. They've breezed through the encounters, possibly due to good dice rolls or possibly that they're a bunch of min/maxing little murder hobos. What you need is one final encounter, one last chance for them to shine or to let them spectacularly fail.
       
       There's one last room left and it's securely locked. It'll certainly be magically warded and if I know my players then that's a challenge that they won't be able to pass up. Inside the room is a single portal, made of nondescript stone but with stunning looking gems set into the eyes of it's carved dragons. Surely none of them would be daft enough to trigger an obviously dangerous portal?
       
      You haven't met my players
       
      My plan to paint one side of the portal the naturalistic stone colour and to paint the other side the fully active, just about to summon a multi headed dragon, portal. This means that when they invariably trigger it, all I have to do is spin it around and savour their worried/confused faces Here's hoping that I can actually do it justice.
       
      This is the portal. It's cast in translucent bonesium, which I like because it gives you a choice between taking advantage to it's see through quality or to just paint it like a normal mini. I opted to paint it as normal.
       

       
      There was a slight bit of warping on the base piece, but the old 'boiling/ice water' trick sorted it out in 5 minutes. I'm planning on setting the base on some warning runes, so I used the Greenstuff World Dwarven rolling pin on some foam to see how it would fit onto the pattern.
       

       
      On to the painting! I painted the inactive side of the portal Cloudy Grey 9089 and the active side Pure Black 9037.
       

       

       
      I'm not sure if I'm going to fuzz up this line or leave it as a stark contrast.
       

       
      I added a black/ green wash to dirty up the stone and added a little bit of orange to the stone to give it a little bit of texture
       

       
      The real work begins! I started blocking in the colours for the active side of the portal. Red, purplish black, white, green and blue. It's almost as if I'm trying to match my half finished Ma'al Drakar
       


       
      My coordination went a bit wobbly with the foo dogs(which are awesome, btw!) so that's where I left it for tonight. We've got a storm coming in tomorrow, so I'm hoping to get some more work done on it tomorrow. Any comments/criticism/suggestions are, as always, warmly received.
       
    • By Inarah
      Speed paint job that I did as part of my 4th of July Paint Binge this year.  I was vaguely going for crazy Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner, with the white hair. 
       

       
       
    • By Iridil
      This was a fun sculpt - orange octopus definitely inspired by others :)


    • By Inarah
      Got this guy in my Bones Paint & Take Home Survival Kit earlier this year.  He was done with lots of sloppy washes and dry brushing. I put flock on its exposed twigs, for decency's sake. 
       

       
    • By Inarah
      Durgam Deepmug, one of several figures I picked at random to paint for table use during the early weeks of covid-19 lockdown.  I tried a little magical/ ice effect on his sword. 
       

       
       
       
       
  • Who's Online   26 Members, 0 Anonymous, 48 Guests (See full list)

×
×
  • Create New...