Saturday 16 January 2021

Lightbox Background - Not what I was hoping for.....

Greetings Hivers!

Yeah, I'm still alive and kicking!

Last year was a crazy year for all of us. Here in the UK, Lockdown and Tiers 1,2,3 & 4 have had a detrimental effect in our corner of the Underhive. Rob and I have had very little opportunity to get a game in last year and because of this my motivation has plummeted when it comes to painting. The release of the new Escher Codex called the Book of Blades hasn't helped (it's crap!), especially when it invalidated several models in my Voodoo Dolls. Add to this that Blogger decided to change its interface (what used to take me 5 minutes to upload photos from my phone is now taking 30 minutes.....I'm sure I'll get used to it but I can't help thinking that this is change for change's sake rather than anything beneficial). This has been the reason behind my lack of posts recently.

Hopefully, things will improve this year, but until Blogger makes its interface more mobile friendly, my posts will be noticeably less than the beginning of last year.

Enough of the moaning, What can I do to motivate myself?

"I know, terrain! We likes terrain"

"Hmm but I have more than enough terrain."

"How about a terrain backdrop that fits inside that lightbox you never use. Build one that allows you to fit a full gang in without models obscuring each other?"

"You sir, are a genius! Lets knock something together."

Don't worry, Lockdown hasn't sent me mad....I've been talking to myself for years 😊 

Because this will live inside my lightbox I didn't need to worry about building something that looked ok from 360 degrees. I used a FW floor casting that I'd made a couple of years ago and cut it in half. With a hot glue gun (a must have for terrain builder) I glued the two pieces together at a 90 degree angle.

Initially I was just going to use nothing but the stairs as a platform for the gangers to stand on but then I realised that stairs leading to nowhere looked odd, so I added a door......
...and a hatchway underneath. I kept the painting subdued so as not detract too much from the models using weathering powders to dull it down further and add a more matt finish.

The piece fits perfectly inside a 12" lightbox and adds some stability to its flimsy plastic structure.

Overall I think it helps set the scene and is an improvement on the usual black backdrop.

I tried it out with my Escher Ambot and I'm more than happy with the end result.

Similarly, I like the blurred effect (think it's called Bokeh?) that focuses on the model and blurs the background. Alas that effect appears to be limited to single models only.

And here is where it all goes wrong.....Bugger! 😞
While the stairs are more than adequate for showing off a gang, the models merge with the background too much. I think it's because the camera is further away to encompass the whole gang and the background becomes part of the camera's focus.
I think if I move the stairs further away from the door I might be able to increase the definition between model and background but if I do that I then have to make a new floor because it isn't deep enough. If I do that, I will then have to create sides because the sides will creep into the shot. 
I could try darkening the colour of the background so that it's almost black but I think the camera will still pick up on the details.
So I'm calling this a bust. I started this at the backend of 2020, so it shouldn't surprise me that it's turned out like this πŸ˜‚
At least it got me painting again and I've learnt a couple of things. I did enjoy the process though, so not all is lost.

Until next time.....may the Hive Spirits watch over you! πŸ˜‰


  1. I think the models look fine in the gang shot, not blended in background. Great job on the piece

    1. Thanks Siph, but I'm really not happy with how it works for gang level photos....fortunately I've been working on another proper piece of terrain that I'm much happier with, so expect to see another post soon...ish.

  2. Good to see you back! New Blogger is driving me crazy too. If it aint broken, don't fix it.. what is wrong with these people? I think the backdrop is proper underhive but lightboxes can be very harsh and unforgiving. I dick around with different spotlights in different positions and block/filter sections out to help create shadows and contrast. It still looks bloody great and I want an Ambot! Specifically yours!

    1. Cheers fella.
      I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and cast another tile up to bring the stairs out more. I'm sure the lack of Bokeh effect is down to the focal length rather than the lighting. I'll tear it apart and have a play around with it.
      My Ambot could be consigned to the shelf now as I have to re-do my Escher gang thanks to the wonderfully crap Escher Codex. I can still take the Ambot and it is a much better choice than the Khimerix that I have in mind to replace it with but it doesn't really fit in with the wild voodoo theme for my gang like a big cat does.

    2. Couldn't you just detach the stairs and move them forward a bit when you were doing long shots? I guess that wouldn't look great if you could see a gap between them and the door.

    3. I tired that but because the edge floor is only 6" away it needs a good 10" (oh I say missus!) before the background fades a bit. I've worked out that it's the detail on the door that's throwing the focus out. Hopefully version 2.0 will help with the problem...I'm also going to darken the edge of the stairs to hopefully make the gangs stand out more.

  3. Well, I have to say the background is bloody gorgeous! I love it!! You can be proud of it, that's for sure. If you are working on something even better I cannot wait to see it.
    I'm like the worst photgrapher ever, so I'm afraid I can give no advice on how to take pics using the background. But I'm sure it's just a matter of finding the right spot, light and all that witchcraft stuff. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

    1. Thanks chap.
      My next piece might not look better but it is much more functional than this effort and will give us more options for the games we play.

  4. Welcome back! Your wallpaper is great for me! I hope to find you all healthy and I wish you all the best!

    1. Thanks Marco, I hope You're well too?
      On it's own the background looks fine but doesn't work for what I wanted it for.
      I've ripped it apart and moved the stairs away from the back wall and it looks better (but not perfect because the door is so prominent). The good news is that I won't need to create sides because I can photograph the stairs much further away from the backpiece and still avoid the sides encroaching on the shot. So I'm looking at this as a prototype and will have the next version finished very soon....I've already cast and primed another floor panel, so watch this space!

  5. Can I make a suggestion?
    A lot of your models have a final edge highlight in white. The background has drybrushed white/silver elements, and is also glossy, so it picks up white. Separately, they work fine, but together they feel like one flat mass.

    You might want to give the whole background a very thing wash with an mid brown tone, to blend the elemnents together even more, and then hit it with a few coats of matt varnish to keep down reflections.

    1. That's a good idea Skerples.
      The background has a couple of layers of water mixable oil paints on it to tone the colour down and I washed the metals with weathering powders mixed with pigment fixer in an attempt to dull it down further.
      Thank you for the suggestion for adding more washes and using a matt varnish, all suggestions are gratefully received.

  6. Looks great! The door with the light above is a nice evocative touch. might be useful as a backdrop for game shots taken at a board edge? Where are the steps from?

    1. Cheers Rob.
      The stairs are from that MDF set I bought a few years back, I can't remember the name now.
      I've mounted the backdrop on a 12" tile now so we could use it in our games at some point...if we ever get to play again ;) day mate, one day.

  7. Great to see you back chief. Back drop looks good.

    1. Thanks Rory, hopefully you won't have to wait another 6 months for the next post ;)