Grimdark in technicolor

One very important part of sharing your hobby projects online is learning how to take good pictures of them — and indeed, many, many articles have been published on the subject. As for my own pictures, I am usually reasonably pleased with them — they may not be perfect, but they usually show a pretty “truthful” version of my models 😉

However, there are more ways of showcasing models than just posting “regular” photos: We have all seen excellent pictures where hobbyists have tried to use various filters and effects in order to add another dimension to their work — granted, there are also those cases where Photoshop becomes a quick fix to camouflaging shoddy paintjobs. But those are usually in the minority. I, for one, am often awestruck by the quality of retouched photos online, and I think they are an interesting additional option to breathe life into your creations — unfortunately, my own attempts in this respect haven’t been all that successful so far: While I am reasonably handy with Photoshop, I have somehow never managed to end up with the kind of retouched image that actually looks awesome and brings my models to life.

This changed however, when, at the recommendation of my fellow hobbyist Talarion, I checked out Autodesk’s Pixlr last weekend: Pixlr is a very streamlined and easy to use piece of software that helps you add effects, borders and various filters to your photos. And while the amount of functions is pretty limited, the software is great fun to mess around with and, what’s even more important, it’s exceptionally great at what it does!

So, being a pretty huge Web 2.0 villain myself, I couldn’t help experimenting with some of my hobby photos. It has been great fun so far, and today I’d like to share some of the results with you:

Kill!Maim!Burn!

Kill!Maim!Burn!

Well, this one was to be expected, wasn’t it? It won’t surprise you that messing around with some army photos of my World Eaters was one of the first things I did, and I used some flames and a couple of additional effects to create a pretty archetypal, Khornate image.

And once I had started on the World Eaters, it goes without saying that I also had to give one of my favourite models another spin as well:

Engine of Destruction

Engine of Destruction

And why limit myself to Khorne? Giving some of my Nurglite models another layer of grime and neglect turned out to be great fun as well:

Nurgle's Children

Nurgle’s Children

The next stage of my experiments was to actually try and bring out a new quality in certain models and images. One of the first pictures I chose for this was a standoff between one of my Helbrutes/Dreadnoughts, Marax the Fallen, and a downed Space Marine (built as a special objective marker to accompany Marax).

Heroic Last Stand

Heroic Last Stand

The original photo of the scene was nothing to write home about, but it certainly seems rather dramatic now, don’t you think?…

The same goes for this scene of a charging Huntmaster Isgarad:

Isgarad attacks

Isgarad attacks

The original photo was pretty terrible, but with the help of some filters, it became a rather more interesting battlefield impression.

Next up, another Helbrute: Khorlen the Lost:

Lost Soul

Lost Soul

I liked the result so much that I had another go at this model, focusing on its wonderfully creepy face and thereby creating a  more portrait-like image:

And I must scream

And I must scream

This is maybe one of my favourite pictures, because it really embodies the horror about being interred into a corrupted sarcophagus. This picture also led to further explore the portrait approach, trying to explore the essence of specific characters (or creatures):

Instrument of Wrath

Instrument of Wrath

 

Scarred Hunter

Scarred Hunter

And of course, I did not only deal with my World Eaters, but also tried to create some images showing my various INQ28 characters plying their shadowy trade. First among them, of course, was Inquisitor Antrecht:

Inquisitor Anrecht in the field

Inquisitor Anrecht in the field

The picture showing him and his retinue against the background of a homemade terrain piece was nice enough before, but now it really clicks with me, for some reason.

Some of you may remember the model for Inquisitor Zuul I converted and painted for the 2013 Inqvitational. The old boy remains one of my favourite pieces of work, and so he warranted his own, touched up picture:

Servant of the Emperor

Servant of the Emperor

And while I did not participate in the Inqvitational myself, I really love the picture of Zuul being apprehended by some of his more puritan colleagues that Marco Skoll took on the day of the game, so I messed around with that as well:

Game's up

Game’s up

Like I said, the original photo was kindly provided by Marco Skoll.

And I’ll never tire of showing off my model for Legion, of course:

We are many, we are one

We are many, we are one

The original photo, taken by Fulgrim, was already a favourite of mine, but I think this touched up version really does an even better job of capturing this unspeakable horror stalking the depths of the Arrke.
In stark contrast to Legion’s creepiness, I also made a more lighthearted piece: It was really fun to make a photo of my Blood Bowl Team, the Orkheim Ultraz, look like the boyz were actually part of a vintage TV broadcast:

Orkheim Ultraz on TV

Orkheim Ultraz on TV

And, last but definitely not least, this rather moody shot of an Imperial monument:

Know fear

Know fear

In this case, the original picture was actually pretty terrible, but I simply love the touched up version!

All in all, this was really a great way to discover new aspects about some of my models and bring out a new visual narrative in some pieces. Call me crazy, but working on these pictures and coming up with titles for them really made me think about several of my projects in slightly different ways. And, if nothing else, messing around with the software was just a lot of fun 😉

So, in case you want to try something similar, I would recommend you check out Pixlr yourself. And, of course, I would like to hear any feedback you might have!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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15 Responses to “Grimdark in technicolor”

  1. greggles Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! Though these photos look amazing, I would always still recommend putting photos of the figures and such as they stand (lightbox and such) alongside the glitzed up photos.

    My favorite part of this hobby is seeing exactly how everyone approaches the same modeling/painting challenges, and what they come up with. The filters take away from that a bit. They look cool, but it’s the mini’s I want to see :).

    • Cheers, greggles! You’re quite right: This style of images certainly won’t replace the “proper” miniature photography on this blog. But all of these pictures have appeared on this blog in their original form at some point, so I considered them fair game 😉

      And, like I said, this really wasn’t about making the paintjobs look better than they actually are or really about faithfully showing the paintjobs in the first place, but rather about exploring the look and feel of the models from a slightly different perspective.

  2. Quite inspiring! I’ll have to try this out for myself.

  3. I love this style stuff! I’ve used Pixlr for some RPG pics and they are really atmospheric. If I would make a Inq28 booklet, I would use this stuff to “fix” some miniatures a little bit. 🙂

  4. Well, I’m not found of this, not that your work on pics is crappy, bad or anything but just as Greggles said I want to see painted minis and not this sort of artwork. Just to give an exemple on the first pic the blade on the lord (at the front center) appeared transluscent, in itself it’s a pretty nice effect but it seems wrong to me as any painter would achieve this.

    IMO your painting work is nice enough as it is and didn’t deserve to be retouch like this, appart for pleasure in itself !!

    Keep the good work rolling, Kraut !! You have nothing to prove to anybody, just keep kitbashing and painting your stuff!!

    Keb.

    • Thanks, Keb! But, again, the regular photos aren’t going anywhere — but this was not about painting but about exploring a different angle. This is not an attempt at replacing regular photos of painted models, but something else. And I think it should be appreciated on its own merits.

      • Sure, I may have appeared a little hard in my reply, sorry!! Don’t misunderstood me as I said your work with this appli is good in itself and in someway it’s interresting. You have merits doing this, as I’m sure I never achieve this results. But I preffered seeing minis from you. It’s a little like when talking about painting (classical painting) I’m allways more fond of abstract paint than figurativ ones. It’ simply a matter of personnal interrest. No way it’s a judgement !!

        Keb.

  5. Good work on the filter effects. As you say, it’s a way to look at miniatures/models differently. I in general enjoy scenic/enhanced pictures a smuch as I enjoy plain ones. It depends a bit if it is all about the paintjob or more about the mood you want to convey.

  6. Thanks for the post. I had never really thought of playing around with different effects on pictures of my models (admittedly it has been a while since I painted any…). I like the idea of creating images like the ones you made to compliment standard pictures. Like you mentioned, it gives you even more room to explore the characters and narrative you are creating with your models!

    I will have to check out Autodesk’s Pixlr.

  7. […] A blog about KrautScientist's wargaming exploits « Grimdark in technicolor […]

  8. […] On the other hand, you don’t even need to create elaborate montages like that, either: Just use some of your existing photos and go play around with them a bit for starters! Some of my first experiments in this vein can be found here. […]

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