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 thought the storefront I created back then, did it’s importance any justice. I the old days I build most location 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 creating peeking around the corner more clearly (Did you know that this creature 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 shop 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.

 


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

Did you know you can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks? If you do, you will updates from the surreal world of Foolish Bricks.


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.


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

Did you know you can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks? If you do, you will updates from the surreal world of Foolish Bricks.


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.


Other interesting posts on Foolish Bricks:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive updates and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.


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.

 


Other interesting posts on Foolish Bricks:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive a weekly dose of news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.


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!


Other interesting posts on Foolish Bricks:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive a weekly dose of news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.


Cover-BTS-lego-photography-good-old-times

Behind the scenes: "Good old times"

This is a behind the scenes post for the Lego photograph: "Good old times".

Planning the Lego photo

This time I was looking for a happy emotional scene. And again, I wanted to try something complete new to me. I had seen a lot of toy photographers use photos as a background. Up until now, I never did. I always feared it would look too artificial. Yet, a few months back  i did print a few backgrounds... to be put in a drawer unused. One of these backgrounds was a sunset. The sunset struck a cord. It got me thinking of a couple walking into the sunset. For some reason an earlier toy photo of mine entered my mind: "Lonely old man". That brought me to the decision to use an elderly couple.

Contrast in the title

Some of you might know I like some kind of contrast in my photography. I did not see any contrast in this image. Instead, the contrast is a little hidden in the title combined with knowing about the "lonely old man"-photo. Good old times can refer to the good times these two 'old' people are experiencing, making this a happy image. Yet, it could also be the lonely old man remembering the good old times...

Setup

As stated I used the sunset picture as a background. Lighting could also be relatively simple this time. One light as far to the front as possible. Because I did not succeed in putting it directly in front, I put it to the side a little as shown in figure 1.

Lego-photo-setup-example
Figure 1: Setup for the Lego photo 'Good old times'

The plates to the side serve two purposes; first and foremost they prevent direct light from entering my lens. Second, they regulate the lights/shadows on the trees and couple a little.

Building the scene

Typically I build the scene before I do the setup. This time I Used the path from the 'startled guard' image and put the couple on there as he center of the image. Next i placed the camera, framed and lighted the scene. Only then I started to build the scene, constantly looking through the cameralens for the effect of everything I added. I did something like this before in the 'back alley ghost' image and again I was surprised at how few Lego bricks were actually needed to fill the scene as you can see in figure 2.

Tip-tricks-behind-the-scenes-Lego-photography
Figure 2: Close up of minimum scenery needed

Take a special look at the trees. The small tree in the back right was used for adding a little depth. Because of the contrast with the much higher tree on the left, it looks as if the tree on the right is much further away than the one on the left (forced perspective).

Also take a look at the ugly big tree in front. I could have build a stunning tree, correct and beautiful. However, it would've never shown in the photo. Because I was a little short on time this tree was build brick by brick, looking through the lens for the effect of every brick. The illusion of a normal giant tree is there (I think).

The shot and post-processing

I took the shot with a f100 mm Pentax macro lens at ISO 100, aperture f/5.6 and shutter speed 1/60. In post-processing i added vignetting and adjusted the levels a little. The resulting image is below.

Lego photography - elderly couple happy sunset

In the end, I am not completely happy with the effect of the background. It looks... well... like a photo in the background. I'll have to see how I can refine the technique, so if you have any tips, I'll be happy to hear them. Have you ever used photographs as background in your photography? How did that work out?


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive a weekly dose of news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.

 


Cover-Lego-BTS-Lego-photography-hope

Behind the scenes: "Hope"

This is a behind the scenes post for the Lego photo: “Hope“.

Inspiration

For this image I wanted to capture a dark image wherein light would play the starring role. I would’ve liked an image that was dark in nature, yet with a glimmer of happiness, serenity or hope. After some time I decided to work with a prison image, with a prisoner showing some kind of peace with the situation.

Setting up the scene

The final image changed quit a bit from the first concept in my mind. I build a small prison corner and put the minifigure directly in front of the barred window so the warm yellow light could shine on half his face. I used the sleepy head so it would look asif the imprisoned minifigure would seem to be silently enjoying the warm rays of sunlight with his eyes closed, remembering better times.

That did not work quite as well as I hoped. Because the minifigures have flat round heads, all contrasts that could provide depth in his face got lost. Also, you couldn’t see anything from the inside of the prison because of the darkness behind the minifigure (figure 1).

rejected-prisoner-cell-reflection
Figure 1: A prisoner before the barred window. An annoying reflection (both on his face and next to the window)

I tried adding a second light behind the prisoner, but that looked really artificial and unbalanced. I needed some kind of light source behind the prisoner. Next I tried a candle on the wall. This could’ve worked, yet, I wasn’t looking for contrasting light sources, so I removed it again (figure 2).

Rejected-lego-prisoner-candle
Figure 2: A candle behind the prisoner. Notice the ugly connection to the wall and the annoying reflection besides the window

There was more of the prison in the image, yet, there was too much focus on the barred window itself. I needed the focus on the prisoner (figure 3).

Lego-photography-prisoner-sun
Figure 3: more of the prison in view

Then it struck me; I simply had to move the prisoner away from the window! This way I could use the natural light hitting the prisoner AND the wall, I could use the structure of the whole minifigure for depth and I wouldn’t need a second light source. So that’s what I did. I added a few smalle details, like the bucket and (of course) a rat. That was it.

Technical

You can see the final setup in figure 4. You’ll notice the large plates outside of the walls. This is something I do in almost all my pictures and keeps the light from bleeding through the slits of the Lego blocks of the wall, especially if the light is shining perpendicular on the walls.

example-lego-photography-setup-hope
Figure 4: Final setup Lego photo “hope”

Post-production

This photo didn’t need that much work. The only thing I did was lighten op the whites and shadows in camera raw (photoshop) a bit. The before and after is below.


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive a weekly dose of news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.


camera angles lego comic

Camera angles - a guide for Lego comics

This post on camera angles follows the post on camera shots. I will discuss the basics of camera angles int he context of Lego comics. Though you can also use this information for Lego photography not related to comics.

What are camera angles

The term itself says it all, camera angles are the angles at which a photo of a subject is taken. Using different angles can effectively add subtext to an image. By using you camera-angles carefully you can, per example, make characters look like giants or dwarfs, cool or insecure. Also buildings can look larger or smaller than in reality, making them look very impressive or insignificant. Just like minifigures. Besides you can influence the atmosphere of a panel or person. Is everything okay, or is something/ someone off. Choose you angles carefully, you probably don't want to inadvertently convey these kinds of information if you don't intent to.

Types of camera angles

Below are the most used angles

High angle

At high angle, the camera looks down on characters or objects. This makes them less impressive, small and insignificant. The readers seem to dominant the depicted character. Sometimes you can even make the character look scared or like a loser. Figure 1 shows an example, but its impact would've been significantly higher if I shot Willy from a little further away. This would've made him disappear in his surroundings a bit.

On the other hand, this is also a good shot to use to establish surrounding (for example combined with an (extreme) long shot. Also I've been seeing a lot of images from antman recently, these photos also benefit from high angle camera positions.

camera angle high angle lego photography
Figure 1: High angle

Overhead shot/ birds eye/ God's eye shot

An extreme version of the high angle shot is the overhead shot. A very unnatural view of a scene. It makes the readers look down on the characters and surroundings as if they were a bird or in a plane.

It is a distant, remote point of (world) view and sometimes conveys sort of philosophical thoughts and ideas.

Another thing to remember is that it can make characters or objects unrecognizable or look strange from this angle (like hats, parasols or anything for that matter).

camera angle overhead shot lego photography
Figure 2: Overhead shot

Eye-level shot

Eye level is the camera angle which is mostly used. Especially in conversations. This is the most natural angle to most readers and have no real dramatic power. If you deviate from this angle, make sure you think about the why. For example in a dialog scene, you can make a character look more or less significant than its conversation partner.

camera angle eye level lego photography
Figure 3: Eye level

Low angle shot

The low angle shot makes a character (or object/ building) look strong, powerful, gigantic and/ or ominous. You can also use this angle as a point of view (POV) shot from a character. In those cases the readers might share a feeling of awe with the character whose point of view is showing.

Examples in movies of this angle as point-of-view is in dog-movies or the ant-man. In those movies you instantly know you are seeing through the eyes of the dog or small antman whenever a low angle camera shot is used.

camera angle low angle lego photography
Figure 4: Low angle

Dutch tilt

The Dutch tilt is a camera angle that makes the reader feel there is something off or wrong. It's a confusing viewpoint for most readers. Usually we strive for straight lines in a photo (like the straight horizon for example). This is important because apparently human perception is very sensitive to off-levels, especially off-level verticals than off-level horizontals. This means that off-levels will create some sort of tension or confusion.

This angle is used just for that; to create confusion, anxiety, paranoia, danger, mall-intent or mystery. Below, figure 5 and 6 show examples. In itself they may not be as powerful, yet, combined with other angles these Dutch tilts camera angles become much more effective indeed.

camera angle Dutch tilt lego photography
Figure 5: Dutch tilt

 

example camera angle Dutch tilt lego comic
Figure 6: Another example of a Dutch tilt

What angle to use

Under normal conditions try to shoot a eye levels of your characters. Many lego comics out there are shot with high angle shots and doing so makes the Lego minifigures unintentionally look small, make everything look much more artificial than it already is and can take the reader out of the story.

However, it can look dull only photographing at eye-level. I myself change the angle of a shot a little to add some visual diversity to my comic. In these instances I'm always careful not to overdo it because I don't want to inadvertently add subtext to certain panels.

Camera angles vs. lenses

You can use any camera or lens. Especially smartphone cameras are so small they can easily be set at the angle you'd like. Yet, this (currently) still comes at the price of lowered quality of the image and I'm quiet attached to my RAW-images.

In the Foolish Lego comic I rarely use a low angle shot. And when I do, it's mostly not that effective due to technical issues. My camera (a Pentax K1 with f100 macro lens) needs to get very low and close and is often too large to get it where I want. And when I do get it in place, it's usually too close to be able to focus. In future I'll try to still use these shots and post-process them (for example shoot from further away and then crop so the character seems to be closer), that's what I did to get the low angle shot in figure 4.

In conclusion

There you have it. These are basically the most important camera angles to know. When thinking about shooting the scenes for your Lego comic make sure to use the right shots and angles. Combine camera shots and camera angles to make the best of the composition of your Lego comic panels besides adding all kinds of subtext.


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive updates, news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.


Cover behind the scenes of back alley ghost

Behind the scenes: "Back alley ghost"

This is a behind the scenes post for the Lego photo: "Back alley ghost".

Inspiration

Inspiration for toy photography can arise from anything. The past few years I've been reading all the stories of Tom Puss (Dutch readers will instantly know who this is). One of the stories, "Kwetal de Breinbaas", published in 1949 had a panel which immediately struck my eye. As you can see in figure 1, the inspiration for the back ally photograph came from one of the panels in that comic.

Example inspiration for Lego photography
Figure 1. Tom Puss in 'Kwetal de Breinbaas' as inspiration for a Lego photo.

Setting up the Lego photography scene

The basic Lego setup can be seen in figure 2. Pretty straightforward.

Basic setup Lego stage photography
Figure 2; Basic setup of the stage

While building this Lego stage, I kept my camera close, so I could check and see if what I'd build was large enough. This way I could keep the building to a minimum.

Lighting the scene

It was to be a night scene. At night the main light source is usually the moon. So way up in the air I put my LED-panel at low light and at a color temperature of 5600 K (I used the same panel overhead in the coffeeshop-scene). Furthermore, I wanted warm light from the window as a means to light the front part of the image. In figure 2 you can see I used a simple tabletop light for that purpose. To keep the light from leaking into the scene, I used a few Lego plates to block the light where I did not want it.

Lastly, I needed a subtle lighting of the back part of the scene. If I made the moon too bright, it would have washed out the front warm light, so I put in a small LED light from Brickstuff behind the shed-wall for this purpose (figure 3).

lighting a lego stage
Figure 3; lighting the back part of the stage.

Populating the Lego stage

Though Tom Puss is prominently featured in the comic book scene, I did not want to put in a cat(like) person. I've been looking to feature Dwaas in one of the images so I first tried to put him in there. You can see some examples in figure 4,5 and 6.

Example minifigure placement Lego photography
Figure 4; Example of Dwaas in the scene
Adding minifigures to Lego photography
Figure 5; Example 2 of Dwaas in the scene
Toy photography and placement of people
Figure 6; Example 3 of Dwaas in the scene

Yet, for several reasons, I did not like the result, mostly because Dwaas blocked quiet a few parts in the scene or Dwaas pulled too much attention from the scene as a whole. So in the end I decided to add a subtle ghost. By the way, now that I see them again, I kind of like the first of these three images to be honest. :)

Post production

Of course I added the ghost to the image. You can see him standing on a Lego stick in Figure 2. I used a similar technique to the one used for the 'into the sky' Lego photograph.

Lastly, I deepened the colors a bit and added some contrast. The resulting Lego image is below:

Lego photography - back alley ghost

 


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive a weekly dose of news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.


behind the scenes lego toy photography example lighting

Behind the scenes: "Coffeeshop"

This is a set I build specifically for the Foolish Lego comic. However, it was such an elaborate set I wanted to create at least one high-end picture too. To be more specific, I wanted to see if I could light it as close to reality as possible. This behind the scenes post will specifically be on the lighting of the ‘coffeeshop’ Lego image.

Lighting the scene

Mostly I like to have at least two color temperatures in an image because I like the subtle contrast. In this scene you'll see different regions with somewhat different temperatures somewhere between cool and warm . First I wanted to take care of the main light-sources; the light falling through the windows and the ceiling-lights. This part actually consist of three lighting sources. The ceiling lights over the counter are from a wonderful company called Brickstuff and emanate a warm yellow light (figure 1).

example lighting setup lego photography
Figure 1: Main lighting: counter and windows

The light through the windows is from a harsh, cool LED-light, coming slightly from above because the sun would come from above at this time of the day (the clock in the corner reads 11:50 AM ;) ). The customer-area was underexposed, so I added a third (soft) cool LED-light, whilst also blocking this light over the counter-area with a few large plates, so I would not lose the warm light at the counter (figure 2).

lighting Setup example lego toy photography
Figure 2: main lighting; customer area

Smaller lightsources

As you can also see, the pastry cabinet is lit. For this I used two strips, each consisting of two warm yellow LED-lights (Brickstuff). These two strips are fixed with a little tac (figure 3).

small light source example lego toy photography
Figure 3: A smaller light source: the pastry cabinet

Lastly, I needed a light in the fridge. This one could be better, but I had too little space to fix get more lights in there. Anyway, I used another Cool white LED light from Brickstuff (figure 4).

small light source lego photography setup
Figure 4: A smaller light source: the fridge

Final touches

Then Icarefully placed the Lego minifigures. I wanted to create the illusion of a busy coffeeshop without accidentally blocking interesting scenery with the minifigures. That was a challenge, yet, I feel it worked rather well.

I shot the whole scene with my Pentax-K1 at f105 mm (focal length), f/20 (aperture) 1,30’ (shutter speed) and ISO 100. In post-production, I deepened the contrast a little and added a few subtle light beams.

Lego photography - coffeeshop

That’s it! The final Lego image: ‘coffeeshop’, is done.


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

You can also subscribe to Foolish Bricks to receive a weekly dose of news and goodies from the surreal Lego world of Foolish Bricks.