Friday, February 4, 2011

All the World's a (Miniature) Stage

A couple months ago, a friend of mine gave me his Battle of Hoth set, along with a bunch of other Star Wars Miniatures made by Wizards of the Coast (WotC).  I carefully tore open the box to extract the figures, because I had "a cunning plan" on what to do with the back portion, shown above.

While concocting my YouTube videos and graphic novels, I'd usually take additional photos after each game session to tie-off any gaps in the storyline. These photo sessions were often a pain, because I'd have to move a desk, or coffee table, against the wall, prop-up the flimsy paper backdrop and take some hasty shots before whole impromptu stage flopped over.

With my new-found acquisition, I was hoping to make an insta-stage that I could place anywhere, add additional terrain as necessary and--voila!--take the necessary "action shots," in a minimal amount of time. 

My quest for hassle-free photo sessions started when I trimmed my Hoth-in-a-Box to the desired half-open form. I retained the tabs and glued them to what I thought was a firm piece of cardboard. 

Next, I trimmed the following pieces, shown above:

1. Light blue felt (for the sky-piece).
2. An old army blanket (for the ground-piece).
3. A selected backdrop, purchased from a model railroad shop; in this case lightly forested foothills.

The sky-piece was glued to the box's wall and once that dried for a bit, the army blanket/ground-piece was then glued to the bottom.

I assumed my work was complete when I glued the backdrop to the box's wall. 

So I took a sample photo of my stage, properly framed as above and thought I was in business. 


...I placed the first "test subject,"--my elf fighter (from WotC D&D miniatures)--and snapped the above photo.  Once I uploaded this close-up on to my computer, I spotted the "sinkhole" in the not-so-firm-as-I-thought cardboard, to the right of the figure--along with the copyright information scrolled along the bottom.

Taking a normal shot, it's hard to notice the copyright info, but the sink-hole stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.  To solve this dilemma, I took some scrap pieces from the blanket, slathered on some glue and shoved it into the sinkhole.

Looks better doesn't it?

Okay, not exactly. 

The sinkhole fillers showed up in every close up and I was stumped on what to do about the copyright info.


...I remembered I had flocking and decorative rocks, that I normally add to miniature bases.  So I slathered on more glue, placed the rocks in a manner that made it look like they were part of the background's stone pile and then dumped out a bunch of flocking to cover up the wording.

While I'm please--somewhat--with the results, the gap between the backdrop and the ground-piece is rather noticeable.  To fix this, I may try to add more flocking along this border at various spots to see if the material makes a more seamless looking blend.

This particular insta-stage is scaled for 25mm-ish figures.  I have another box I'm planning on converting to a miniature stage for with a backdrop more suited for 6mm figures.  For this upcoming construction project, I'll glue on the backdrop before laying down the ground-piece.


Desert Scribe said...

Nice job. I need to come up with something like that for photographing my spaceship minis.

Ted H said...

Thanks Desert Scribe! As I mentioned in my post, I got tired of setting up the paper backdrop, only to have it fall in the middle of my shots.

Necessity is the mother of invention and all that!


Dan said...

Just found your blog and think this is a great idea! Thanks for the tutorial. Now I've just to find a decent looking backdrop scene to take my pictures against.

Ted H said...

Thanks Dan! I went to Micheal's today on the advice from a friend. They're selling diorama kits. So I bought one along with some additional terrain material. Eventually, I hope to post about a "new and improved" pre-fab stage!