Wednesday, April 8, 2015

TUTORIAL: Enhancing your Model Photography

We've all seen the impressive army shots from Games Workshop, or the really cool and cinematic pictures from Forge World. Well, more often then not those army shots have a little photo editing magic to make them look that big. Today I go over how I achieved a similar effect with my two recent Tomb King pictures.

In the picture above,  I have my king leading forth a column of chariots with a massive horde of spearmen marching beside them to vanquish his enemies. While it certainly looks impressive, in actuality I only have three painted chariots, and only 16 spearmen. My display board is also only two feet by two feet, not nearly enough to fill up this picture. So how did I make my army look so much more complete then it really is? With a little planning and some photo magic.

Here you can see the image in it's most unaltered state. At this point I have already extended the edge of the display board in the bottom right corner. I have also deleted the background and started extending the board in the left top corner. You'll notice there are a lot less models.

Nothing too fancy here. I have extended the sand out all the way and added some additional coloring and shadows to areas of it. You may notice my layers on the right hand side. All I am doing is turning on and off different layers to show you how the image is compiled.

The large spearmen horde is now in there. Like I said, I only actually have 16 of these guys painted. All I did was take another picture of the board at the same angle with my spearmen in the place of where the catapult is now. I also took my King out of the way so he wouldn't block them at all. This way they would already be in a somewhat correct perspective. I then cut them out of their image and plopped then onto this one. Through some careful cutting and copying I was able to make them look like a much larger block then they really were. I also applied some blur since they are in the distance and messed around with their size a bit.

The second row of chariots are now in. I simply retook the same photo but with my chariots in the second rank position. This way when I cut them out of their picture to put in this one I wouldn't have to worry about stuff like the pillar that's in front of them, since it really is in front of them in their picture.

Here you can see them in their original picture to get a better sense of what I mean. The only thing I changed in the composition is where they are located. This lets me blend the two photos together much more easily. I just did the exact same thing with the third rank of chariots.

Now let's take a look at the second picture with a slightly different style. My Tomb King on Chariot followed a lot of the same concepts in how I went about creating it, but I was aiming for something more cinematic as opposed to an army shot. 

Here's my picture of my Tomb King with nothing done except for cutting out the background.

I extended the pyramid in the background by taking a picture at the same angle without the King in it. This let me grab a row of the bricks and duplicate them. After adding some blur and clipping the edge of it to be the right angle it looks like that's how big the pyramid actually is.

Next I added in a background by combining a few different pictures I had. The sky, horizon, and birds are all separate photos.

The foreground felt a little barren to me, so I added in some extra ruined statues and pillars I grabbed from other shots I had of this same set up.

To give it a bit more life I added in some dust to let him interact a bit more with his environment.

The last few things I added were a color filter over the whole image to give it a bit more of a warm, unified look; some "glowing steam" coming off their eyes; and a lens flare on the sun.

I am really happy with how both of these came out. The most important part to both of them was the display board I had already made. It is a lot harder to make cinematic images like this if you don't have any scenery for your models to be displayed in front of. The rest of it was just planning and forethought. Before I took any pictures I had already planned out the basic steps I was going to do in Photoshop. If I hadn't done this then I wouldn't have half of the elements I ended up using, like the top of the pyramids, the spearmen, the extra chariots, etc.

I hope this was informative or at least entertaining.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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