Cover-recreation-lego-my-world

Lego comic panel recreation - My world

This behind the scenes post is on the recreation of ‘my world’. Strabo brings Barry to the entrance of Eno, located in the secret basement of the antique-store.

My world – the original panel

Figure 1 below shows the original panel from episode fourteen of the first Foolish Lego Comic.

lego photography my-world- behind-the-scenes
Figure 1; the original “My World”

The original image – positives

The focus is on the globe… the new world, everything else is out of focus and so secondary. With that in mind this image does what it had to do; introduce another world!

The original image – Room for improvement

Of course, again the photo suffers from the lack of proper lighting, it really falls flat in that department. There are also a few elements, like the dragon and owl in the image. The dragon is ok, but did not really work in the rest of the panels. The owl however, was a bit strange. An owl has nothing to do with Eno, the whole story is about the Godlike dragon. To my defence, I did not know that yet at that time ;).
Furthermore, this was the first of the larger stages; in this image it doesn’t show and that should not be a problem, there were other panels following. What is a problem though, is the fact that I wanted to convey the feeling this was a secret cave with the portal embedded in it. This stage looked more like a basement, with a cave-ish wall.

My world – the recreation

Figure 2 below shows the remake of this panel.

lego photo- alternative world recreation
Figure 2; The recreation of “My World”

The stage

I rebuild the stage with the idea this originally was a cave. The size of the set is even a little larger than the original now. I tried to make the MOC a little more interesting and less square. Look for example at the completely self-build door. Figure 3 shows a behind the scenes build with another globe (at that point I could not find the actual globe 😛 ). Also, there is still an owl, later replaced with a Dragon-statue because that fits the story much better.

lego-photography-behind-the-scenes-my-world
Figure 3; Behind the scenes of the recreated my world stage.

You can compare the new stage to the old one as seen in figure 4.

Lego comic stage
Figure 4; the original “my world” stage

Composition

I went for a long shot, showing the cave-like room. I wanted this image to be a bit more impressive, more in line with the impact of finding a “new world” on Barry. The globe is less present, but still in there.

Color and mood

Bright lights on the second floor, and the closer you get to the portal, the more red and dark the scene becomes, signifying the growing uncertainty of the situation for Barry getting closer and closer to a new world.

Before and after

Below are the before and after images joined in one image. You can use the slider to show the one or the other.

Happy creating!


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cover recreation lego comic panel

Lego comic panel recreation - Heavenly forest

This behind the scenes post is on the recreation of the heavenly forest. Actually, this forest is not as heavenly as Darryl hoped for. At this point in the comic, Amida is not in for a friendly talk with our friend.

Heavenly forest – the original panel

Figure 1 below shows the original panel from episode eleven of the first Foolish Lego Comic.

lego-original before recreation
Figure 1; the original heavenly forest.

The original image – positives

There isn’t too much going on in the image. However, the one thing that is going on, i always liked. I felt the posing of Amida as well as Darryl’s face was spot-on.

The original image – Room for improvement

Again the photo suffers from the lack of proper lighting, i remember shooting this image on a table in front of glass garden doors. I also remember this set was really small, just one green plate large. When I didn’t have much to work with, i used a close-up so I didn’t have to worry about the background. Yet, it did not work, if you look very closely, you can even see the corner of he table in left upper edge of the image.

The set in itself is pretty disappointing too… a baseplate and three trees. Pretty remakable the panel worked in the comic, now that I think of it.

In the next panel, Amida hits Darryl over the head with a stick, however, there is no stick in sight in this panel. Also, there is dust all over.

For the recreation I decided to keep what I liked, the posing of the characters (with a small adjustment), and Darryl’s expression.

Heavenly forest – the recreation

Figure 2 below shows the remake of this panel.

Lego photography forest
Figure 2; the recreation of the heavenly forest

The stage

I still used a small set. But filled it with all kinds of different plants and trees. I wanted the feel of a large, dark forest and the original image was far from that. By by changing the angle and using a printed background I feel I was able to create the illusion of a large forest even with using a relatively small stage. Figure 3 shows the behind the scenes.

Lego-photography-forest-behind-the-scenes
Figure 3; behind the scenes

I also gave Amida a stick (behind her back)… this time she is ready to hit darryl over the head ;).

Composition

In stead of a close-up, I went for a Full-shot, showing a little more of the surroundings. This way, Darryl and Amida go up in their surroundings. I used a lower angle and focused on Darryl’s bedazzled face. As compositional help, I used the Fibonacci spiral, making sure there is also enough negative space in the image.

Figure 4; compositional help by the Fibonacci spiral

Color and mood

Dark, gloomy and green are the main colors. I also added a red glow on the back of Amida and the stick, conveying the danger Darryl’s in.

Before and after

Below are the before and after images joined in one image. You can use the slider to show the one or the other.

In conclusion

You don’t need a gigantic set, to create the illusion of grand surroundings like a forest. Play with the angles, background and lighting and I’m sure it’ll work out.

Happy creating!


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storytelling photography tips tricks

Storytelling in Lego photography

Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of Lego-photography. Photos that are nothing more than beautiful will certainly attract your attention and you may be momentarily awed by them, yet, you probably won’t remember them very long. It’s the images that tell you a story, the ones that speak to you, that will linger in your mind for a much longer time.

How does a single image tell stories?

A (Lego-)photo is an image frozen in time. As such, it does not tell the viewer what happened before or what lies ahead. The art of storytelling with a single image involves persuading the viewers to create their own version of a past or future, based on the image you presented them with. In short; a (Lego-)photo doesn’t tell the story, the photo motivates the viewers to create their own personal, emotional stories! And since all people are different, these stories will differ, amongst other things depending on memories, personality and experience.

This also explains why some pictures will tell an elaborate story to one person and are quiet to another. I cannot give you a straightforward recipe. I mean, storytelling through Lego-photograpy can be really hard. However, I can give you a few basic tips to increase the chances of your Lego-photo telling a story.

I need a hero

First off, who or what is the hero in your image? Is it a person, animal or maybe even an inanimate object (for example an old abandoned car, or a lonely house on the hill)? Then ask yourself if your protagonist is interesting enough to make people wonder.  Simply taking a picture of a tree or Lego-minifigure just won’t do it. You’ll have to provide the viewers with some context concerning your hero and ultimately take control of the entire frame. Thus, inviting viewers to (unconsciously) start thinking.

lego photography - lego wizard home potion
Figure 1; Willy, the one-eyed wizard

For example, Figure 1 shows Willy the One-Eyed wizard. As you might know there is an elaborate backstory on him in the first Foolish Lego Comic, and an even more elaborate backstory in my mind. Yet, I wonder, what is your story for him when you see this image? And maybe this Lego-photo fails to tell you a story at all, but, even that is interesting to think about! Why doesn’t it speak to you, what would you have done differently?

 The story is in the details

Second, it may be a good idea to include details! These may be larger or smaller details. And sometimes even the smallest of details may just be enough to get the train of thoughts of the viewer rolling. And a story is born.

Lego photography - Lonely elderly rain
Figure 2; lonely

Figure 2 shows the photo “Lonely”. There are quite a few details in there. For example, the ring and the closed umbrella even though he’s standing in the pouring rain. That alone could trigger a few (love?) stories. Another detail is that the protagonist is an elderly, so maybe he just became a widow? Besides, what is he doing street side, dressed up with a bow tie, but not caring about the rain? Enough to think about.  There are quite a few stories in there as long as the Lego-photo is inviting enough to make people care to look at the image long enough to find the one stories that appeals to them.

Plastic emotions

Third, storytelling through (Lego-)photography is all about emotions! And conveying emotion can be difficult with our little plastic friends, especially because not every facial expression is present in the Lego line-up. Also, body language can be a challenge.

Lego photography - elderly couple happy sunset
Figure 3; good old times

The first thing you need to do is to find a facial expression that fits your image or find a way to work around the facial expression. Take a look at figure 3; I wanted a loving face for the elderly lady, buy could not find one. Yet, by hiding the lady’s face, I myself create the loving face I wanted. On the other hand, other viewers might feel this guy has to make up for something while she is looking quite angry. Again, there are many stories in this one image.

Also, you need to pay attention to the stance of the Lego-minifigures. That is the closest thing to body language they have. And if there is a stance that seems impossible; sticky tack could be the solution to many problems. Also remember to pay attention to the hands of Lego minifigures; you wouldn’t believe what a difference the rotation of the hands can make for conveying emotions.

Lastly, do not forget the surroundings, lighting and especially color. These three elements can drastically change (or destroy!) the emotion and thus the potential for storytelling by your (Lego-)photo.

Go right… AND left

Fourth, if you’d like, you can add ambiguous or contrasting elements in your images.

In general, there are three types of stories that can be told through (Lego-)photography; personal stories, documentaries and lastly ambiguous stories. Documentaries generally don’t benefit from ambiguous elements. Also, don’t use this tip if you are looking to tell a singular story.

That being said; adding ambiguous elements in your Lego-images could increase the potential of your photo for telling more than one story, potentially reaching a wider variety of viewers.  However, don’t overdo it! You don’t want to completely confuse the viewers… unless you do ;)

Lego photography - Lousy hitchhiker with an axe
Figure 4; Lousy hitchhiker

Figure 4 shows “lousy hitchhiker”.  What happened here? And why is this person (M/ F?) carrying an axe in what looks to be a desert? Besides, why is (s)he still holding on to that axe, etc. Questions bring theories, theories bring stories, stories make a Lego-photo memorable.

In conclusion

Storytelling through Lego-photography is hard, especially because our little plastic friends generally make it more difficult to convey emotions. I hope to have provided you with a few tips and tricks to get the viewers thinking about your image, thus, creating a memorable image. For now, my last two tips on this subject are; be careful naming you image, because a name could guide away the viewer from a story if you’re not careful. And lastly, create technically good photos! People tend to get distracted if there are obvious - non-intentional - technical difficulties with a (Lego-)photo.

Now go and practice, because as you know; practice makes better. I look forward to seeing your creations and if you have any more tips and tricks, let me know in the comments.


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Cover-remake-disappearance-Darryl

Lego comic panel recreation - Darryl's disappearance

This behind the scenes post is on the recreation of Darryl’s disappearance in the first Foolish Lego comic. In a sense this was the point of no return for Barry. When Darryl disappeared, he could not back out of the adventure anymore.

Darryl disappearance – the original panel

Figure 1 below shows the original panel from episode eight of the first Foolish Lego Comic.

Figure 1; The original panel

The original image – positives

This stage was one of the first ones that was a bit larger than the others. I remember putting a more time into building it, yet, I still missed a lot of the building skills that I have today. What I like is that it does look like a library somewhat, and also a library that has been messed up by Amida in search of some kind of letter. Also there are some antique’s in the back, connecting the library to the Antique store. I also love the choice of face for Darryl. Because it’s almost the only thin we can still see of him, it really conveys his fear.

The original image – Room for improvement

As with almost all panels from the beginning the atmosphere in this photo suffers from the lack of proper lighting, I simply wanted to have everything illuminated and that was it.

A thing that also annoyed me, is that the style of this stage was completely different from the style of the shop itself. There was no indication of a connection beyond the few antiques in the back of this stage.

Concerning the perspective, the high point of view is not too bad, however, the use of depth-of-field is (again) confusing. The one thing that is in focus are the books, and they are not that important. I’m guessing the attention of the reader will eventually reach Darryll, but it’s almost as if it is not THAT important. The lack of importance is also somewhat stated by the stance of Barry. He looks like he’s casually walking towards Darryl, not trying to reach him or anything. You might think he is in shock, but then I would’ve expected him to stand in place.

You might also think the right lower corner is wrong; you can see the end of te floor there. However, this did not actually matter. The first comic had a different aspect ratio than the current comic. This meant that I needed to crop all photos in height, and thus, this mistake did not show up in the comic.

Darryl’s disappearance – the recreation

Figure 2 below shows the remake of this panel.

lego-disappearance-dispersion
Figure 2; The recreation

The stage

I use the same style elements in this build, I used for the inside of the store, and even for the storefront; they are all combinations of wood and stone, creating the feeling of looking at on building. I still wanted to have some books, but also displayed a few other elements. The most striking difference in this panel is the addition of the statue. Eventually, this statue will be the entrance to the basement. A small visual hint to this is the key she’s holding. When Strabo speaks his ‘magical’ words, her candle wil light up, and the passageway will open.

Composition

The one and only focus in this panel is the interaction between Barry and disappearing Darryl. Barry’s running towards Darryl, almost able to grab his hand, however in the next panel, he would’ve fallen to floor and Darryl would be gone. I also changed the perspective in such a way that both the faces of Darryl (the same expression as the original panel) AND Barry can be seen. NOW the fear/ fright of Barry shows, while Strabo looks more detached.

Color and mood

Again, the color and mood are brought more in line with the inside of the store. With the addition of the blue color emitted by the (upgraded) effect of darryl disappearing. The effect of course is the same one used for the teleportation of Amida.

Before and after

Below are the before and after images joined in one image. You can use the slider to show the one or the other.

In conclusion

Continuity is important in comics, not only story-wise, or concerning the location of characters and objects, but also concerning styles used. So, always try to build related stages to actually SHOW that  they are related.


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recreating the inside of a lego store

Lego comic panel remake - Strabo's store

This behind the scenes post is on the recreation of the inside of Strabo’s store. This one was more difficult than the first two recreations, because I feel the original Lego stage I build was not that bad.

Strabo’s Store – the original panel

Figure 1 below shows the original panel from episode five of the first Foolish Lego Comic. However, strickly speaking, the panel I created, is not in the original comic. It shows Darryl peeking into the store whilst Strabo is busy. This would’ve been a panel I would have added before the whole episode – “panel zero” – to give a feeling of the store atmosphere, before Barry and Darryl went in. It probably would’ve been a separate episode. Funny to realise how different everything would’ve been if I rebooted the story… or if I’d given the comic a bit more thought back then 🙂

Lego inside the old store
Figure 1; the original

The original image – positives

There are many old objects lying around. I still remember stuffing the scene with all kinds of old-looking Lego items. To me it does feel like a store in antiquities. I also like the perspective of this shot. It’s kind of an over the shoulder shot, the store seen from the viewpoint of Barry. Lastly, I really like the way Strabo is positioned. Casually looking at/ cleaning, straightening the image on the wall. All in all, I’d say, not too bad for the purpose of the comic.

The original image – Room for improvement

This build also suffers from the one thing each and everyone back then suffered from; lack of invested time and building skills. This is really obvious by the look of the wall and the floor. The wall lacks any contrast and some kind of variety in it’s look. It’s also kind of empty (that’s probably the reason for that chain hanging there).

Moving on to the perspective, as I said, I like the viewpoint of Barry in this shot, yet, the use of depth-of-field is confusing. It’s unclear what is important in this panel. Is it Barry or Strabo? The way it is now, only part of the store is in focus; hardly the part the readers should be focusing on. The focus should’ve been on Strabo, especially since the shot has been set up as an over-the-shoulder shot. Furthermore, the atmosphere suffers from the lack of proper lighting, I just did not pay ANY attention to the way the scene was illuminated.

Lastly a nitpick, the location of that gladiator helmet should probably have been more to the front of panel since Darryl will be picking it up when both Barry and Strabo weren’t paying attention.

Strabo’s shop – the recreation

Figure 2 below shows the remake of this panel.

Lego old shop inside store
Figure 2; The recreation of the comic-panel.

The stage

I still wanted the look of a small, crowded and messy store, where all kinds of objects are lying around. And even if there are less objects within the frame, i believe I pulled off the look. Also, to create some depth, I placed several objects, out of focus, near the lens. Lastly, I thought it would be nice to have the door and some windows in the shot so I could play with light-fall.

Composition

There are a two foci in this image, first Strabo in his little shop (this is the main focus), second Darryl peaking through the window of the door. Using the golden ratio, Strabo is positioned quite right. However, if I use the Fibonacci-spiral, this photo should’ve been cropped at the top and right side. I decided against this; the stage is already more extensive than is shown in the image and I didn’t want to loose more surroundings.

Toy photography composition fibonacci golden ratio
Figure 3; Golden ratio (on the original size) and Fibonacci spiral within proposed crop.

Still, playing around with the Fibonacci spiral shows there is a pretty decent flow in the image going from Darryl, via the mouse to Strabo himself (Figure 3).

Color and mood

Even though the outside of the shop, and also the interior, is a bit darker than it was I felt the lighting should convey a warm feeling. So, there are a lot of yellow-ish colors in the scene. The lights through the window should create a bit of a mysterious atmosphere, but I am not convinced that actually worked.

The little things

I changed Strabo’s green sweater to this one, I simply didn’t like the first one. When I first use Strabo I did not know he would play such a large role in the comic, otherwise I would probably have gone for another print. For this reason, I had to change his position, the back of this torso does not have a print on it.

Furthermore, it’s nice to have all kinds of little easter eggs in an image. For example the light grey sword is a genuine antique sword. This one is from one of the sets I got as a kid; the illustrious “Yellow Castle (375 – 1978)“. Also the helmet has a more notable postion, light and highlight. And it looks as if it already caught Darryl’s attention. Lastly, there is one more giant easter egg concerning the (temporary) faith of Barry and Darryl in the first Foolish Lego Comic. Do you know what I am talking about?

Before and after

Below are the before and after images joined in one image. You can use the slider to show the one or the other.

In conclusion

This time I realised rules aren’t rules, at least not when it comes to photography. Looking at the composition of the final image, I’d much rather use the compositional rules and consciously break them too. As long as the final shot feels good to you and you thought about what you wanted to achieve by breaking conventions.


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Creating a lego antique shop

Lego comic panel remake - The old antique shop

For the second recreation I decided to recreate Strabo’s antique shop. Those who already read the comic, know it’s an important location and I never felt the storefront I created back then, did it’s importance any justice. In the old days I build most locations within half an hour. If I remember correctly, this one even took below ten minutes. And it shows.

The old antiqueshop – The original image

Below is the third panel from the second episode of the first chapter of the Foolish Lego comic: “Could be an adventure” (Figure 1). It was published August 24th 2013.

lego old store build
Figure 1; The original panel

The original image – positives

Darryl – hoping for some kind of an adventure – convinced Barry to go to the antique shop to ask about the stolen dragon document. At the very least, this panel establishes the fact that the reached the store and are going in. Also, Darryl looks somewhat more enthusiastic compared to Barry. I personally liked the sign too though it is not very accurate since there is only one shopkeeper.

The original image – room for improvement

Again, I’ll start with the little things. The image is somewhat crooked; it looks as if I wanted a symmetrical image (with the exception of the sign), but it isn’t, besides that the lower part of the image is rotated somewhat compared to the upper part.

Furthermore, because I created a very small Lego MOC as a stage, I zoomed in way to much. Usually a zoomed in panel means something important or intense is going on… but there isn’t. Also, Barry has a very strange stance. It’s like he has a problem with his extrapyramidal tracts; both arms besides his body, almost falling backwards. Lastly, even though some stuff can be seen trough the shop windows, it is kinda dark and there is obviously a plate behind the door.

The old antique shop – the recreation

Below in figure 2 you can see the recreation of this panel.

Lego old antique store storefront
Figure 2; the recreation

The stage

This time, I build a modular-size MOC of the antique store as a stage. I always like to add a few details these days even if they don’t show in the final panel. An example of this is the doorknob; it’s the print of an old fossil, als there is slightly more in the shop windows than can be seen.

Composition

Because of the larger build I could zoom out a bit more and in stead of using a medium-shot, like in the original panel; I could use a long shot (wide shot), establishing the location and immediate surroundings. The camera angle is slightly from above, giving a better view of the situation.

Color and mood

The recreation is more dark than the original panel. Shooting the original image I didn’t have any lighting setup so I shot the image outside in the sun. For the recreation I still didn’t want a dark image, bit also not as bright and sunny as the first panels in the comic. Darryl and Barry are slowly moving towards unknown territory besides I feel the store is a quasi back-alley where less sunlight comes in compared to the main street where the comic started. Color-wise; Barry and Darryl are still bathing in golden sunlight, while the right side of the image is darker, and more blue. Lastly, the small amount of vignetting I did to show a new scene has started (Like in a few old films where a scene ended and started with a circle closing and opening).

The little things

I added a few easter eggs related to dragons. And those who read the whole comic, might recognise the knights’ armor in the window. You can also see the creature (Noldor) peeking around the corner more clearly (Did you know that he is actually present in episode 1 and 2?), raising questions about what is going on.

Before and after

Below are the before and after images joined in one image. You can use the slider to show the one or the other.

In conclusion

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the post and that it might inspire you to look at past work you did (it could be anything), and see if you can remake and improve that work. Lastly, if you have any feedback on these recreations, please let me know in the comments; live and learn.

 


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lego edit transporting teleport

LEGO Comic panel remake - Teleporting Amida

It is time for remakes! Over the years, my experience in creating Lego comics has grown somewhat and it’s already been over five years ago since the first episodes of the Foolish Lego comic were published. That’s five years of experimenting and creating my brick comic by trial and error. Many times before I’ve written about how I would’ve liked to have written the story differently. And of course, in hindsight, there were more aspects in the comic that could’ve been better than they were back then. However, I have to start with something and that is a recreation of some of the comic panels.

When I started the comic, I mostly concentrated on the quality of photography. So, as long as everything was in the frame, I was happy. Nowadays, there are other things I consider too, each time I shoot a photo for one of the panels. This year I will take a look at past episodes and try to improve some of the individual panels. This will be within the context of the story up until that point and, of course, within the, relatively unimaginative, four-panel-formatting.

Teleporting Amida – the original image

Below is the third panel from the second episode of the first chapter of the Foolish Lego comic: “Thief!” (Figure 1). It was published August 17th 2013.

Lego original teleport effect
Figure 1; The original panel

The original image – positives

Barry and Darryl have just met, when a woman (Amida) steals a document from Barry. Our two protagonists chase her until she runs around a corner and vanishes into thin air. I like the fact that it looks like a sunny day and, considering my photoshop skills in those days, the teleport-effect is not too bad. For some reason i am also fond of the white stripe on the window/ door behind Amida. Finally, i like my use of depth of field. It puts the focus on Amida and shows that Barry and Darryl are behind a little.

The original image – room for improvement

First off, the little things! There’s dust (!) on the tiles, the flower is crooked and even the background is a little tilted. That last part would not have been a problem if it wasn’t by mistake. If it was intentional I should have made the tilt more clear to create a Dutch tilt, thus conveying a sense of ‘uneasiness’. Also, everybody’s happy, I did not pay any attention to everyone’s facial expressions. Even though I kind of like the transportation-effect in itself, it is a little out there. The colors have no meaning (and they look like the colors – red, yellow, green, of carnaval in my city Maastricht). Furthermore, the composition is a bit boring and misses tension. All in all, I don’t believe it’s too bad, but there is some room for improvement.

Teleporting Amida – the remake

Figure 2 shows the remake of the teleporting Amida panel. I changed quite a few things.

Lego dispersion photoshop teleport effect
Figure 2; Teleporting Amida, the remake

The premise

A significant change is that I wanted to show that Barry and Darryl actually saw Amida dissolve. I always felt that the reason for those to going to the antique-shop were a bit weak, and actually seeing the thief mysteriously disappearing might’ve been a stronger incentive to seek an explanation at the shop.

Composition

One of the main changes I made is in the composition. I used a low angle shot to make Amida look strong and powerful. Because of this angle Barry and Darryl sink into the ground a little because they’re a bit further away. This dwarfs them somewhat compared to Amida, adding to her current dominance (it also makes the flowerpot look smaller, which is annoyingly large in the original image). Combined with the depth of field, and the space Amida gets in the frame, she is undeniably the main focus of this panel. Also I tried to balance the composition a bit more by, amongst other things, using the Fibonacci-spiral (Figure 3).

Lego Fibonacci composition comic photography
Figure 3; The Fibonacci-spiral as compositional help.

The teleportation-effect

Obviously, I changed the teleportation-effect. Simply by making it ook a bit more spectacular and coherent, besides making Amida float in the air a little. In the original panel it was not immediately clear that she was disappearing, so I added a dissolving effect in the remake.

Color

There is a distinct difference in color within the panel. On the left we see Darryl and Barry, stil in their own, golden-yellow, warm, sunny world. As opposed to Amida bathing in blue. Blue is seen as cold; conveying contrast in their current worlds/ thoughts. Even so, blue is also the color of tranquility and faith. And red is not used within this image… maybe she is less violent and/ or evil than Barry and Darryl might think at the moment?

The little things

The facial expressions are different, a yelling Darryl, a stunned Barry and a relieved-that-it-worked Amida. The specially observant readers might notice the glowing blue necklace; might that be the transportation-device?

In conclusion

The remake would (mostly subconsciously) have brought much more emotion and tension to the story, besides conveying more visual information and possibly even questions. Usually I don’t have the time to think about panels this way, however, recreating this panel was a real eye-opener to me, mainly because it all came together relatively easy. Next time a new panel. For now, thanks for reading.


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lego trouble with instagram

My trouble with Instagram

Time for an explanation…

As many of you noticed, I hadn’t updated Foolish Bricks for quite some time. I realise this might have looked as if I abandoned the site al together, but, I did not. I simply needed a longer break than I expected.

So, what happened?

Well, not that much actually. However, it was enough to bring my productivity to a full stop. It all started when a few people advised me to invest more time in social media and to be more precise; in Instagram. As some of you might already know, I am not a fan of social media, especially not Facebook. I’ve never been on Facebook, had never used Instagram and deleted Whatsapp the day it was bought by Facebook. However, I already was a moderate user of Twitter and had used Flickr in the past.
Anyway, at first I was reluctant. Mostly because I feared the time that would go into maintaining social media outlets. Nevertheless, people kept insisting and at some point, I gave in.

Instagram madness

I started posting on a few social media - Flickr, Google+, Twitter and Instagram - and actually thought it was fun at first. It was engaging and I found some nice work of other artists on there. On the other hand, I spend an ever growing amount of time on there. Especially Instagram turned out to be very, VERY addictive.

What is the deal with Instagram?

First off, I’d like to say that I don’t believe Instagram is wrong or something like that. I just came to realise It’s wrong for ME personally.
And even for me, it was fine at first. It is nice to get a little exposure. Simply post a few images add a couple of hashtags and wait to see if anyone takes the time to like, comment on or follow you. Then, i noticed accounts with (tens of) thousands of followers and less than five photo’s. There were accounts with equal amounts of followers and not that exciting content (though that is a very personal opinion of course), and it showed because there were only a few 100 likes per post and nearly no comments. This was the first clue that Instagram for a significant part is not about the quality of content. Because i’d gotten intrigued by this phenomenon i started looking into Instagram etiquette and found several sites with tips on how to grow you following and such… and that is were things started to go wrong.

Rules, tips, tricks for growing your audience

There are so many site with all kind of rules, tips and tricks for growing an audience.
Some examples of these rules are:

  1. Post high quality content.
  2. Follow many people
  3. Like and comment as much as possible, hoping you get a follow in return.
  4. Use a maximum of 10 hashtags in your post (while other sites urge you to use all 30.).
  5. Don’t use the same hashtags over and over again because it’ll be seen as spam.
  6. Use hashtags of large accounts in the hope they notice you and re-post your post.
  7. Create Instagram stories on at least a daily basis.
  8. Post multiple times a day. And post strategically, find out what the best times to post are.
  9. Buy a few followers and likes in the beginning (very controversial) to get your account going.
  10. Ask for shoutouts by large accounts.
  11. Post personal stuff.
  12. Do give-aways, run contests and such.
  13. Tag other accounts in your photo.
  14. Call-out to other large accounts.
  15. ETC!

Well, you get the picture, a few ‘rules’ are great and promote high quality content, others are far from great and are only focused on spending more and more time on Instagram and again others are simply mwoah…

And then… it became an addiction.

I started to experiment a bit with #1 through 9 and since then Instagram rapidly became very frustrating to me. It was so much work! I tried to post as often as possible (once every few days) and tried to be an active participant. I experimented a bit with the hashtags and created a few stories. My account grew steadily and I got nice and welcome comments and likes.
However, Instagram turns out to be carefully constructed to be very, very addictive! Of course I already knew that before I started, yet I never thought it would influence me as much as it did. Before long it suddenly was all about follows, comments and likes…. And not about the content. I was following people I didn’t want to follow, I was liking posts of everyone around, without even looking, because that was the right thing to do…. etc. Constantly checking for new posts, new accounts to like and comment upon, etc…
Instagram can be as addictive as a harddrug. I knew something was wrong, yet, I could not stop. I felt i needed to spend more time and energy on Instagram, I needed the follows and likes. So, I waisted even more time on there, whilst progressively enjoying it less.

Lego chains of time

Time, time, time

It was so frustrating and it took so much time! People who know me, know I just don’t have that amount of time. I was constantly trying to create new, high quality content, liking, commenting, following to get that very temporary rush each time one of my posts got liked or commented upon. Even when I got a follow I was excited, however, many accounts only followed for a follow back and even if they got a follow back, they were quick to unfollow again, hoping it wouldn’t be noticed. As a side effect, i kept comparing my work to the work of others, wondering if I should change my style to get more likes from the masses… Yikes!

“What am I doing?”

Anyway, I let Instagram take control of me and for WHAT! A few likes? A few follows? Why is that important? Well, it isn’t! For the most part, the amount of likes you get on Instagram is not related to quality of content (with a few exceptions of course!), it’s largely dependent on the amount of followers. And the amount of followers you get is all about quantity of post and time you spent on Instagram. And the more followers you get, the less engaged people are with your content. For example, there is an account with 90K followers, each post is liked 5-7 thousand times…. an engagement-rate of maximally 7%!
Here I was, trying to create high quality content but I didn’t have the time to promote the account, or create more content with fewer time between posts. And my account did grow within these few months, and my engagement was around 50-60%, but it took too much time.

Epiphany

Then I realised the amount of time I DID spent on Instagram was not spent on other important things in my life; family, friends, work and Foolish Bricks.
Another important realisation was that I lost the joy of working on Foolish Bricks. It was not relaxing me anymore. I was addicted to short-lived dopamine-shots provided by Instagram and lost track of what was important to me. I got behind on all kinds of obligations and I lost my inspiration and drive to create.

Cold Turkey

It really got to me and I STOPPED! I stopped everything. And since I stopped I’ve been trying to find the fun in creating for Foolish Bricks again. And finally, this past week, it started to itch a little again.

The return

I started again January first 2019, with a new episode of the Foolish Lego comic. The rest of the site will follow. All my energy will go into the site again. Social media will be very low profile…. And Instagram? I don’t know if I will return there. Maybe I’ll start posting the old comics, I don’t know yet.

Of course, this is my personal story. Instagram is a great medium and fun and relaxing to many people out there but for me it turned out differently.
I know now Instagram made me lose track of what was really important and I let myself be lured into the trap of spending my time, more time, and even more time than that. Time equals money! My time is limited and I’d rather spend it here, on Foolish Bricks.


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Lego photo setup cover

Behind the scenes: "Nature photography gone wrong"

Ideas, ideas, ideas

As many of you might know by now, my biggest problem is inspiration! I often need hours to even think of a feasible idea. Because of this, once i have an idea that might work, i don't ditch it right away if the photo itself does not work.

The idea for this image

Being in Canada for work, I only had limited (plastic) resources and time to get some photography done. In the end I only created one image I liked ("Eye of the beholder"), but of course I shot a few more images that did not make it. Before I create a "rejected Lego photography"-post, I usually wait to see if the idea is still usable. This idea I tried in nature (under time-pressure), resulting in the images in figure 1 and 2.

Failed Lego photography
Figure 1: Experiment one

 

Rejected Lego photo
Figure 2: Experiment two

In hindsight they weren't too bad, but I didn't like the light and for some reason the fact that I didn't use the legs, did not feel right. Also the images looked out of focus to me. sadly, in the end I did not have the time to redo them.

Back home, the setup

Once home, I decided to recreate the image in my basement, and purely in a Lego environment. This way I could control the light better. The primary setup for this Lego photo can be seen in figure 1.

Lego photo lighting setup
Figure 3: Setup

Figure 4 shows a close-up of the setup, showing you a few lights bringing out a few contrasts in the background. Also, it keeps the background from becoming too dark!

You can also see a few tiles on the left... this plate I used for another photo before; "the startled guard".

Lego photo setup close-up
Figure 4: Close-up of the setup

Concluding

This time it is a pretty straightforward behind the scenes post. The main message is to give your ideas a second, or maybe even a third chance if the first image does not work.

Ultimately, I don't know if I like the resulting image yet. The lighting is nice, but not really logical with the light coming in from the left versus the darker side on the right... I explained it as being dawn, but there's something off. Anyway, it's not a stunner... but it'll have to do for now.

 


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Rejected-Lego-photo-cover

Rejected Lego photos - part 1

To learn is to make mistakes.

Over the years I've made many Lego photos. The first two years, because of the time-pressure of a 365, I published every photo I made. For better or for worse, readers of Foolish Bricks could follow my growth, and also see every mistake I made. Eventually, there were many failed images.

The last few years, I created less images, but still published (almost) every image. This year I decided to stop publishing images I was not happy about. Yet, it can be very helpful to keep them in mind. Once a mistake is made, i might be able to avoid it in the future. So, following are three of the images I rejected.

Wrong color-settings and 'texture: rejected

Rejected lego photography example
Figure 1: Rejected Lego image one

The premise of this image was of course my newborn and the non-existent sleep at night :). However, I just couldn't get this image right. For some reason the colors are off. The green just does not work for me. I tried to make this image 'pop', but I did not figure out how. It was just not there.

Too much going on: rejected

Lego photography tips rejected
Figure 2: Rejected Lego image two

There was just too much going on in this image. It was one of my first attempts at a backdrop, it did not look very natural. Furthermore, I just had to do too much to make it look a bit natural. The backdrop, the sun, the color-adjustments, the shadows. It was all too much. Besides I had a rel light in the car, but it did not bring anything extra to the image. All in all, a disappointment and so I rejected the image.

Too unnatural: rejected

 

Lego photo rejected example
Figure 3: Rejected Lego image three

Another try at a backdrop. This time I tried many things, and this image was shot with my computer-screen in the background. It ruined all the lighting and colors in this image, making it all way too unnatural. It simply looks as if it was shot in my basement.

Concluding

There will be posts like this once in a while. I feel this is a nice way of using my rejected images, maybe someone will benefit from them. Or - even better - if anyone has an idea of how to improve them, just let me know!


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