How to Take and Edit Photos of Miniatures
After spending hours and hours painting our miniatures, we all want to show them off to the best of our ability. However, not all of us have fancy shmancy light boxes, and not all of us have high speed cameras. But, with the use of a nice little program called Photoscape (and it's free!), all it takes is about 1 minute and you can turn your "meh" close ups to badass pictures that show off your model to its fullest potential.
First off, the program I use (photoscape) can be found here: https://www.google.com/search?q=phot...hrome&ie=UTF-8
It will be used throughout this tutorial.
Step 1: Your camera
The first step is the easiest. There should be a "macro" function on your camera. Turn it on. This function is used to detecting small, close up detail. However, this will make the camera very sensitive to vibrations! Keep it as steady as you can to keep your photos clear! Also, turn the flash off, as it often washes out the detail of your models.
Step 2: Your "stage"
Again, not all of us have light boxes. What we do have, however, is paper (well, if you don't, it's rather cheap so pick some up ). Find a well lit area (I have to use my office, not very well lit at all...) and lay the paper down on the surface and behind the model. I find using a wall on top of a dresser or end table works, but here, I'm just using my laptop as a prop for the paper.
Step 3: Take the photo!
It doesn't have to be pretty, just make sure it's in focus. I find the ideal distance is about 6" away from the model for an standard infantry model (here, a space marine). After you take the photo, copy the photos as you would normally onto a file onto your computer.
Step 4: Photoscape
Open up the Photoscape program. On the home screen, there are a slew of available options, however "Editor" is most useful and what we will use (hell, I've never even used any of the other features...). Click on it.
Step 5: Select your photo
On the left side of the window, you'll see where you can select the directory/file that you have your photo saved in. Find that file, and select it. The available photos will populate below it, as you can see in the following picture. Select the individual photo that you want to edit first.
Step 6: Crop
You want your model to be the centerpiece of the image. Whenever you try to showcase a model, having the surrounding area (normally cluttered with the standard paints and brushes) visible can greatly detract. Not to mention, as you "fine tune" the photo in the steps further down, the more external area you have the less effect it will have. Cropping the photo is very simple, as seen below.
Step 7: Auto functions (balance the colour)
Go back to the home menu. The Auto-Level and Auto-Contrast buttons (seen in the photos below) used to be the only features I'd use. They do a great job of evening out the white background and accentuating the model. In and of themselves, they're pretty much all you need to do. Click one, then the other, great success, that's all there is to it.
Step 8: Manual tweaking - Brightness
I've only started doing this part recently, but Photoscape has a number of other functions available. Since my space isn't well lit (and I don't have any that are), I have to increase the brightness of the photo. Low or medium work well enough, as high tends to be a bit excessive.
Step 9: Manual tweaking - Contrast
The manual contrast helps you accentuate the colouring in the photo. Without it, your model can still look fantastic, however just not as crisp as it could. This helps to really make the colours stand out and really pop.
Step 10: Resize
We all (by we, I mean those of us with shit internet) hate huge photos that take ridiculous amounts of time to load. On any computer screen, there are only a set number of pixels, so leaving your photo as 3000x5000 is pointless, as the forum will automatically shrink it to fit the page anyways. I find that, for my individual models, 400-500 pixel either height or width works very well, and saves on side (and therefore load time when opening a page).
Step 11: Save
There are a number of save functions available (that are not pictured below) that allow you to save your photo in several formats. JPEG tends to be the most efficient in terms of file size, and is what I use for mine.
Step 12: Great success
For comparison, below are the before and after editing photos. It only takes about a minute to do this, and it's quite easy once you get the hang of it.