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Figure Photography: Good Smile's 1/7 Jeanne D'ArcFigure Photography: Good Smile's 1/7 Jeanne D'ArcTutorial

EXkuroganeEXkurogane5 maand(en) geleden
Hello everyone! Today I have my first post and first photography project of year 2020 for everyone to check out – featuring Good Smile’s 1/7 scale Jeanne D’Arc from Fate/Grand Order…. And Fate/Apocrypha. I’ve prepared a short article here, and also a video for anyone who prefers to watch (instead of reading). The video is 23 minutes long but contains a deeper insight into the process I went through to produce this one photograph of Jeanne.

This article is in reference to this photo: PICTURE #2366804

If you’d like to watch the video, you can skip reading the rest of this article because the video features the similar content as this post but with more detail in the post processing / editing stage.



……
I preordered this figure early and received her back in late May last year, but I didn’t really know what to do with it in photography. Being a huge figure itself is not yet the main issue, but her dynamic pose made it difficult to make her stand without her base, especially with that imbalanced weight distribution. I shifted focus to some of my other figures first and this one was shoved aside for several months due to the lack of a clear direction on what I should do.

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With a running pose like hers, you have to design a scene to matches her pose. Any movement has to be accompanied by a pathway, like the examples shown above. So, she could be running along a walkway in a church, a cathedral, or through the main gate of a castle. You need to create a path, and doing so means making a giant diorama. After all, I’m not a fan of using prints/posters as a background to cover up for being lacking in diorama building because a flat printed background lacks depth and dimension. If you have trained eyes, you can instantly tell apart a “real” background from a flat printed one, no matter how well you conceal it with your photography skills. The only occasion where I would use a print, is only for the skies, but not for three dimensional spaces or objects.

Admittedly it feels demotivating when the thought of having to build a giant setup comes to mind, but I sucked it up and did it anyway. To optimize the size of my setup, I decided to design a flight of spiral stairs because I would not need to make a setup that’s like, 1.5 or 2 meters long, because of the need of a pathway. However, curved parts are never easy to make. For a setup this huge, you can’t 3D print the whole thing because it would take too long and impractical in terms of material costs, so I had to revert to handmade parts mostly, except the floor tiles and the windows. I also omitted Jeanne’s flag because it is a big nuisance and will only spoil the composition of the final photo, not to mention I’d need an even bigger setup to accommodate it.

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I printed pizza-shaped floor tiles, and then sliced blocks of Styrofoam to follow its shape and curve, while leaving extra space behind for gluing. I would repeat this process six times.

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I used a large semi-cylindrical Styrofoam block I purchased from an art store to guide me on curving my stairs. Initially I intended to use this cylindrical block of Styrofoam for the inner wall, but a plain curved wall is boring so I omitted it.

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I would then build a curved wall following the outer curve / circumference of the stairs. Literally cementing pieces of Styrofoam together like how you would build an actual brick wall – only with different materials. I would build the wall to go around the windows I 3D printed in advance.

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After I’ve built the wall to a satisfactory height I’d coat the entire wall surface with plaster of paris, and then wait for it to set (around 1-2 hr depending on the mix ratio).

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When the material has hardened it’d intentionally compress and break them, creating cracks.

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Some fragments will fall off and I would glue it back to the wall with silicone or latex filler material.

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With this you can create nicely cracked walls, and the painting process will make it look more realistic and add details.

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I’d use acrylic-based spray can paints for the overall walls. They are less corrosive towards Styrofoam (should the paint seep beyond the plaster and comes into contact with the styrofoam) than lacquer-based paints but also way more expensive.

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And then I would hand brush shading / weathering details onto the cracks with regular Mr. Hobby or Tamiya paints.

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Those broken roman pillars are polystone casted parts that were reused – I have used them in the past in some of my photos, such as the night sky shot of Akemi Homura. If I were to manufacture those again today, I’d just rely on my 3D printer to do it.

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For keeping the figure standing without her base, I made my own plastic peg for her foot, inserted it into her foot and plugged it into the stairs’ surface where a hole was drilled.

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Additional support comes from a fishing thread that was looped around her ponytail from behind, which is pulled under tension to keep her standing upright, and the thread is then hot glued to the side wall to hold the figure in place. The thread will be removed later during image editing.

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The photography process isn’t really unique in any sense. I shot it on my balcony during a warm afternoon, isolating my setup by covering it with large sheets of Styrofoam on the sides and top to isolate it and make it darker on the inside.

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And then I added a giant 200W studio bulb on the outside of the first window with no filters, no diffusers, to purposely create hard light effects on the figure of Jeanne. Any additional lighting effects will be manipulated later in photoshop.

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The post processing / editing is standard stuff – adjustment and color grading is the first step. I would apply the same adjustment to all 35 shots I have taken in Adobe Lightroom. I did 35 shots with different points of the figure in focus in order to focus stack them later.

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All 35 shots are then focus stacked in Helicon Focus. Together with manually blending some parts, which took me an hour to complete, the result is a figure that’s entirely in focus. From head to toe, including her spear.

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By the way, her spear was borrowed from Alter’s 1/8 scale Houzouin Inshun from Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls.

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The thread above her head was cloned out during the stacking process, but the same thing could be done in photoshop too.

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This focus stacked result, while looking fine the way it is, isn’t good enough by my standards. There is “no feel”. You’d want to create an atmosphere where you can capture the feel of a fight scene where Jeanne is dashing around a crumbling cathedral, so you’d definitely need special effects that can only be added in photoshop.

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I do not use Adobe photoshop, but an alternative software called Affinity Photo – which is pretty much 95% the same thing as photoshop but at a fraction of the price for the purchase of a copy. The first thing I did was to manipulate the light by making it more directional from the left window. I already used a giant bulb on that side in the first place, so this process is an easy one – I just have to reinforce that effect.

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I have always kept an open mind. While I usually avoid heavy handed photoshop, I would still use it in order to elevate a photo to its full potential. Never restrict your own potential by creating a strict set of rules. With that being said, the slash effect that originated from her spear was something I captured on camera on my own, with a technique called light painting.

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In light painting, you would be doing long exposure in the dark – the use of a shutter speed of several seconds. It’s completely trial and error. During that few seconds where the camera shutter is open, you swing around a light source (I used a concert light stick) and at the end of the exposure you will get light streaks.

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I extracted this light streak as a vector object and manipulated it with perspective distortion in Affinity Photo in order to create the slash effect. Other manipulations involve adding motion blur and Gaussian blur, liquefying the object to shape it manually, and lowering the opacity finally until I can create a convincing slash / shockwave effect. Making this one slash effect alone on my own would take me an hour or so.

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The overall shape of the effect looks something like this.

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When added to the image with its opacity tweaked, you get a nice slash effect.

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Other additional effects added to make the photo look more “anime-like” are sand and dust splashes around her feet, where I only used license-free stock PNG images and manipulated with blur effects and color tweaks.

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I also used these stock images to create custom brushes and added sand dripping effects from above, which would indicate a building that is collapsing where debris and sand are falling. It’s supposed to be happening in the background and out of focus, so it was gaussian blurred away with opacity dropped low just to create a mild hazy effect.

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As a final touch I added a bright flare on the brightest spot of the spear. In this case it was near the neck of the spear. Ideally you’d want the bling on the tip of her spear but that area is darker, which doesn’t make much sense. The flare was also added with a custom brush.

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And with that you have a final result that looks like this.

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As we reach the end of this article, I could say that all of these ideas came with a lot of planning in advance, and I studied lots of anime scenes and screenshots in order to obtain the ideas in the first place. Prop building and painting took me a couple of weeks, and the editing process of the images required another few hours. I have always did photos that were more to slice of life genre, and this sort of action scene isn’t something I do often but you can expect that to change this year. This is only the first one out of a few that’s coming for the rest of this year. With this post I hope it can be beneficial to y’all who are interested in figure photography or diorama making, or perhaps both. Thank you for reading!
1,512 hits • 28 favorieten13 berichten

Berichten13

Wondering why is not picture of the year after all this effort ?
5 maand(en) geleden
As usual, your BTS articles are a treat, Kurogane. It was a pleasure reading this one, you really did wonders with that Jeanne scale.
5 maand(en) geleden
Man that's some super dedication! Really awesome work. It's always fascinating to see what work goes on behind the scenes, it really shows how much prep and talent goes into presentation.
5 maand(en) geleden
You remain a legend among figurephotography ;3
5 maand(en) geleden
This is unbelievable! This is going beyond for sure. The consideration for photo framing. The building. Best of tutorials! Thank you for sharing your process.
5 maand(en) geleden
Wow, this is really informative & fascinating, thanks for sharing!
That diorama turned out excellent and I learned a lot about photography techniques from your article.
5 maand(en) geleden
Taralen Elf Hoarder
I'm absolutely blown away by the amount of effort you put into this. Just amazing.
5 maand(en) geleden
Great work and a very interesting article. I've been thinking about getting into diorama building, so this is really helpful. I probably would have lowered the opacity of the light effects a bit more, but that's just my personal taste. The picture turned out great. I like the result.
5 maand(en) geleden
This is amazing! Thanks for sharing this. You're truly dedicated to shoot this!
5 maand(en) geleden
Thank you for showing your diorama-building process in such detail! It's a great resource for those of us that want to make dioramas, but don't really know where to start.
5 maand(en) geleden
Great Figures, Amazing Service, Fantastic Price!

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