Life In Plastic: A Typical Photo


Every so often people ask me, “How do you take your photos?”

Well, I already have one post dedicated to good toy photography on a budget (and I will probably write a new version sometime soon), and it has easily gotten the most traffic of anything in this column.  But let’s go look at one particular photo, and show exactly how my setup works.


See this?  This is a Gauth.  It is from Dungeons & Dragons, and is related to the Beholder monster.  The miniature is about an inch tall, and rests on a round black base.  Now, do you see that cool cavern?  Notice how it really looks three-dimensional, and so real that you wish I had zoomed out a little so you could see more of it?


AH-HA!  I fooled ya!  I really only cobbled together what you see in-frame, though that big pillar is mostly there to support some other pieces.


Note the little scrap I put over the Gauth’s base.  I can’t always do this – sometimes doing so would obscure a figure’s feet – but it worked this time.  That scrap was the base from a small Lord of the Rings figure.

Gauth-Set03See how the back wall isn’t really a wall at all?  It’s just a single terrain piece, but I used lighting and forced perspective to let your imagination fill the rest.  Also, those stalactites are actually a mountain range-esque figure base turned upside-down.

Gauth-Set04Yes, I use a black dropcloth over my dresser.  Sometimes the cloth shows, but if the lighting is right then it looks like clouds!

Gauth-Set05Here are all the individual pieces.  Coincidentally, they pretty much all came from McFarlane Dragons.  And yes, I know about the little wizard up there.

So, how did I do it?  Well, I used a handheld light source (you can buy them anywhere, or just use a smartphone.  Really.  Smartphones are awesome), and positioned the photo carefully.  A big trick with toy photography is that you only need to make the viewer think that the set is real.  It’s the same thing with movies, TV shows, and the like.  The illusion often makes up for the lack of reality.


I hope this odd little guide helped shed some light on how I do these things!  ANd hey, maybe it will give you some ideas on how to do the same!



One response to “Life In Plastic: A Typical Photo

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    how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone.
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