You spent all this time to build and paint your mini, and now it’s time to share it with the world. Do yourself (and your work of art) a favor and take a bit of extra time to take the best picture you can. Below I’ve put together a bunch of tutorial links on miniature photography to help you do just this.
I must admit that it kills me a bit inside when I see what could be a fantastic looking model but it’s hard to see because it was snapped on a busy desk or a bit blurry. As many of the articles below prove, you don’t need a fancy camera and photo studio to take good pictures. Just a bit of setup and care.
So dive into the tutorial and find a few things that you could improve to improve your model’s glamor shot.
Miniature Photography Basics
For some good start-to-finish tutorials, these guides to miniature photography will help you get going. From something as simple as leaning a piece of paper against the wall and setting a couple of lamps nearby to doing some quick editing.
- Budget Miniature Photography | Rust and the City showing some tips on taking pictures of your mini with minimizing the expense.
- Basic Guide to Miniature Photography | Pirate Viking King from setting up a light box to using your camera correction to editing.
- Beginner’s Guild to Photography | Tale of Painters Garfy discusses a bunch of the hows and whys of taking pictures of his minis
- Miniature Photography | Massive Voodoo Part 1 of a nice series including comparing a point-and-shoot vs. a DSLR camera
- How to Photograph Your Minis | Giovanni Modelling Yet another excellent overview of the basics, very simple stuff but vast improvements
- Photographing Minis | Home of Cadaver Another DIY light box and desk lamps, Cadaver talks about his setup.
Light Boxes – DIY and Reviews
Providing proper lighting can make a huge difference in how your models look on camera. BUT it doesn’t have to be a big fancy light box. Below I’ve got a couple of DIY photo light boxes that you can build with essentially a cereal box. For those who want something a bit more portable, I have a couple of reviews of the Foldio as well.
- Make a Simple Photo Box | Coloured Dust Arbal makes a nice light box out of cardboard and tracing paper.
- Experimenting with Lightboxes | Old School Gaming Marc uses a lawn mower box for his DIY light box.
- Create an Inexpensive Lightbox | WikiHow step by step with lots of photos, but sorry for the ads
- Foldio 2 Review | Feed Your Nerd Greg was an early backer of the Foldio and did a great review of the Foldio 2
- Foldio Unboxing and Review | Broken Paintbrush I followed in Greg’s recommendation and bought a Foldio 2 as well and shared my thoughts.
- Simple Homemade Light Box | 40k Addict Dave uses simple items from around the home to make his light box.
- Creating a Home Studio | Nesbet Miniatures a bit sturdier DIY box made from architecture wood sticks
- How to Build a Photo Setup | Massive Voodoo Roman takes a garbage can and turns it into a light box, so if the MV guys use a DIY solution, you can too!
Sometimes what the sets a model apart is simply the background they are photographed against. Something as simple as a white piece of paper is a huge step up from the cluttered desk. And the next step still is to use colored backgrounds that can set off the models highlights or make the picture look more interesting.
- Scavvy Bunker Background | Chest of Colors creating a simple diorama piece for photographing minis in the mood
- Cloud Backdrops | Corvus Miniatures Free downloads to print and create cool looking backdrops
- Hangar 18 Review |Chest of Colors Mahon provides a great write-up of these backgrounds. I’ve heard a lot of good things and will need to get a set myself someday.
All those dial settings and options on your camera can be a bit intimidating. While fixing the mode to ‘Auto’ often works well enough, learning about some of the options can help take the picture to the next level and make up for some bad lighting or particularly dark models.
- Use your iPhone to Photograph Miniatures | Tale of Painters You don’t need a fancy camera, an iPhone (or any smartphone) can work well if you sent it up right.
- Using the DSLR to Take Pictures | Massive Voodoo Part 2 of their post, this time with lots of tips for using the settings on the camera
- Basic Camera Settings | WAMP Goes into depth on the options and how they affect the picture
- Camera Settings | Nesbet Miniatures Tons of pictures of minis with various settings like White Balance and Exposure Value
- Taking Great Pictures with Your Camera Phone | The Mossop another write up for using your camera phone to great results
Something that I’ve dabbled with a few times and have plans for more in the future, doing video shares many of the same tips as still photography.
- Vision for the Future | Wappel James shares his thoughts on his latest video recorder.
Once you take the picture, you aren’t yet done. Taking a minute or two to post process an image can dramatically improve the picture. From cropping out the extra frame to improving the white balance, many of the post process steps are incredibly simple for huge gains. Others can help fix mistakes or add effects to create a cinematic look.
- Simple Photo Editing with GIMP | Broken Paintbrush I share tips on using the free alternative to Photoshop to edit your miniatures
- Advanced GIMP Editing | Broken Paintbrush Going deeper into the rabbit hole, I added a video to this one to share advanced editing tips
- Grim Dark Glamour Shot | Eternal Hunt Kraut Scientist uses photoshop to add dramatic effects and backgrounds to his minis and shows you how to do it too
- GIMP the Basics | WAMP A different take on GIMP basics, lots of good stuff.
- Photoshop Basics | Nesbet Miniatures Part three of his series showing some Photoshop magic to change the background
Using Pictures on Your Blog
Now that you have your final pictures, here are some tips to add a bit of a boost to your blog. Either improving the findability or combining them into a neat spin video.
- Get Your Pictures Found | Broken Paintbrush some tips to help get your pictures (and blog) found by using Alt and Title tags
- 360 Spin Pictures | Vanus Temple Dezartfox shares a web script that he uses to turn a collection of pictures into a rotating piece.
- How to Make Rotating Pictures | Coloured Dust Arbal took Dezartfox’s tutorial above and extended it.
While I dived through my blog feeds and the Google searches and my favorite hobby sites to find the helpful links above, I know there are more out there. So if you have some helpful guides to miniature photography, DIY lightboxes, or something else that would fit, leave it in the comments below so I can add it in.