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Realistic Miniature Photo Scenes

Updated on June 28, 2013
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) You are free: to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work  to make commercial use of the work
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) You are free: to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work to make commercial use of the work | Source

I like playing with my toy soldiers. There I've said it. Although this was when I was a child. Nevertheless I still play, more or less, with them. But nowadays I do it with another purpose in mind other than to fantasize about being in a real war or scy-fi movie.

You see, I use many of the actions figures that you can still get in almost any large toy store. I also do not solely use war figures. I use whatever figures will fit the particular theme that I have in mind.

Toy figures like GI Joes and others lend themselves well if you want to use them in a photography project. There are basically three keys to making the scene "come" alive and for it to seem realistic enough, to the point where a viewer has trouble telling whether they are real or not.

The first thing is to use a lens that allows you to come in and out so that you can judge whether the images show too much detail such as the figure's joints. The other key is to make clothes for your figures. Most have their clothing and other regalia painted on and this usually does not work well in front of a photographic lens.

You have to either buy or make your own. Remember the old style GI Joes that had actual clothes or even Barbies with their many "designer" outfits? Those are the types that will serve you well.

The next item of importance is the location. For example if you are going to re-create a war scene then you need to select an appropriate spot and prepare the scene complete with suitable props. After you are comfortable with how the scene looks, then get on your belly and focus on the subjects at eye level. This gives the impression that they are life size.

As far as lighting, use a soft diffused light source to minimize the chances of creating reflection and harsh shadows. Keep tabs on the ambient light as well. If you are shooting a scene which is intended to occur during dusk, for example, then the light must also match. Some photo filters allow you to create this atmospheric look as well as most digital editing programs. Just experiment with some first.

You must also be attentive to the background. Unless you use fake trees, buildings and other details that are made to scale representative of the scale of the figures then the scene is quickly recognized as being a miniature.

A better alternative is to build the spot using real materials such as twigs,rocks, and mud and arrange them carefully where you will pose your action figures as well as using a wide aperture on your lens to throw the background into an out of focus highlight.

Making the props is not difficult and can provide you with endless hours of entertainment as well. You should also work of the "facial" figures of your subjects to make them appear more life like. Often you have to rub some diluted solvents to get rid of their glossy features, very common with plastic figurines.

The theme does not have to be based solely on war or action scenes. Most every holiday theme or everyday can be used. Just apply the same concept of trying to make everything as realist as possible and keep all elements within acceptable scales.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • breakfastpop profile image


      5 years ago

      You are incredibly talented.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      breakfastpop: Thank you

    • breakfastpop profile image


      5 years ago

      The photos are quite unbelievable. Up and awesome and interesting too!


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