10 July 2013

[Crafts] Dream Cruisers are Back in the Game!

The Dream Cruisers series had a fairly rough start.

The lack of identity in the displays as well as rough finishes was a clear sign I'm rushing the projects. That changes today.

While a plain white studio backdrop is neutral, it wasn't providing the series anything special. The Illustrious series for example get their own black/white backdrop to work with. Why can't the same be done for the Dream Cruisers? It was time to make the name I spent a week coming up with live up to itself. What would you do with a "dream cruiser"?

Why, you'd take road trips with it!

And that's exactly what this series needed; outdoor locations for photoshoots, but literally traveling to different places in the world just to shoot a photo of a toy car is probably not the best way to spend my paycheques, so replicated environments are ideal. Photos near the sea, in mountainous areas, in a forest, plains, desert, and even a beach sound like a place to drive to for a relaxing vacation.

Pondering about how to accomplish making new dioramas without making space-consuming pieces took a few days of on/off planning. Ultimately, I decided to rely on the technique of using a computer monitor to project the backdrop. This opens up the option of having many dioramas at the cost of limited freedom of photo angles. The fun bit is that the photo angle is dictated by the landscape perspective of the photo I find off the web. It's challenging, but I guess part of the fun of making these dioramas in the end is to produce convincingly photos that simulate a realistic appearance of natural scenery.

So far, I've made two displays. Materials were gathering from the dollar store again. Luckily I am familiar with their inventory. Corkboards, foam bricks, paint, artificial grass tiles and foliage were plenty. May need to try out architectural model foliage that Dollarama foliage can't match.

Cork board is great because any hard scraping utensil with a sharp edge can rough up

the cork to imitate the uneven surface of a hill edge.

Layering the boards was crucial for finding a place to pot the small bushes. Remember the name of the game is to make this look realistic so the bases attached to each stem wasn't going to fly! I decided it would be best to hide it behind the cliff edge, except there wasn't a solid ground to glue it down to. That's exactly where the layered boards come in.

The top surface was much too smooth to look natural so I had broken up pieces of cork to make large rocks
and cut off stems to pot into the ground to have grass. I had also dabbed tan acrylic paint to create the impression
of dirt and to partially cover up the obvious texture of the cork board.

This is what the workspace looks like. The trick now is to edit the backdrop to match the intensity of the desk lamp which has to simulate the sun. Camera settings have to be fiddled with, as well as the position of the lamp and the diffusing sheet of paper. Here's a finished photo:

 Well? Does it look convincing?

I'm happy with it. It's not perfect, but I'm impressed.

Here's a Rocky Mountain.

Foam bricks are great for adding height to the displays, and are cut/carved easily with anything. With a few hours of chiseling, a rocky surface is made. As for paint, a layer of primer and flat black spray paint went on beforehand to seal off the surfaces, because this foam is brittle and microscopic bits break off if you so much as lay a finger on it. Afterwards, several runny layers of differing grays were laid down with a wet brush. Following that, touching up the surfaces by dabbing grays and white with a sponge put the finishing touches on it. The result:

I'm more than happy with this one - it exceeded my expectations! I may as well take the time to reveal that Dream Cruiser previously withheld. As you can see above, it's a Jaguar XK8 in an iridescent pink. Up against light it appears yellowish-silver; against light, you can see a mix of the pink and the red paint from the factory finish.

Colour looked pretty in the bottle, came out with less vibrance; must take note of that when shopping in the future.

There are more backdrops I've got ready. While these two can be used for some, different terrain will be needed for others. Look forward to those!

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