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January 28, 2013

HOBBY: Making Cinematic Photos of Your Models

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We have all seen the amazing pictures that Forgeworld makes to bring its models to life. They give 40k a truly cinematic sense and help give the models a more real presence. I know this is what most of us imagine when we play a game of 40k, well today I'm going to show you how I went about making an image similar to this.

I have wanted to make something like this for awhile and once I finished painting my Chaos Cultsists I knew they were the perfect test models. 

Inspiration from Forgeworld
Like any good picture featuring miniatures the first step is to get good quality pictures of the models themselves. I use a Sony Alpha 200 Camera, a sheet of white paper, a tripod and an OTT lamp. I could go into a whole tangent about how to take pictures of models buts that's a separate topic. I use the OTT lamp (basically a super powered daylight lamp. I use it for painting as well, highly recommended) to light the model and the paper as a back drop. You also want to light the model in a more dramatic way then normal. You are not trying to show off every detail, you want him to fit a scene, so it helps if you have an idea of how the lighting will work in your final picture.

Lit, cropped and tonally adjusted in Photoshop.
Once you have the picture you may want to slightly adjust the tones or exposure in Photoshop. I then take the Magic Wand tool to select the white areas. I have to use a mask to go around the edges and refine the selection from the wand, otherwise I will have a halo of white around the figure.

Picture with a mask

Ideally you would want to have at least 50% of your picture consist of actual models and terrain. For this one I mostly just found images online to use. The downside to this is the only pictures I could find were low res which restricted the size of my finished image.

My foreground.
I decided early on that I wanted a muddy, blasted battlefield look. After much searching I found this, which I think is just a slightly large puddle, but after some cropping became my battlefield.

Then it just becomes a matter of making it seem like a believable warzone, commence more searching online.

My main smoke cloud
The Hive under siege
The source of some of the smaller fires
I then went through the same process of using masks to cut away the parts of the images I didn't need and arranged them together. Using varying sizes and clever cropping I made that puddle look like a battlefield that stretches away miles into the distance. I also had to go through and add translucent layers of color over most of the objects to tie the color scheme together and painted in a few lighting effects. The trickiest part is making the objects seem like they are interacting with each other, I had to search for splash and ripple images to put my cultists in the pond. The fog in this one helps hide some of the transitions in the background.


This was my original composition which I decided I was not happy with so I added in a few more guys and did a little selective cropping.


Which leaves me with my finished image. A Chaos Cultist scouting group venturing out into the waste lands at the siege of an Imperial Hive. These types of images are a lot of fun and help give your models a bit more character as well as a sense of existing in an actual universe. If you have Photoshop or another photo editing program I recommend giving it a try.

Are you a fan of Forgeworld's photography style? Have you always wanted to see your models making a heroic last stand in a ruined hive or exploring the depths of a Space Hulk?

Tyler is a life long painter and hobbyist and took home his first Golden Demon award at the 2012 Chicago Games Day. More of his work can be found at his blog, Mengel Miniatures.










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