The title basically says it all. So you might say that there is little to add. But anyone who has watched a number of photos of dolls will agree that
this is quite an item when doing doll photography.
In order to get a vivid look out of your doll when
picturing her face front it is vital that the eyes are indespicably posed to give the impression that the doll watches the lens of your camera. Because
we are all trained to see if somebody is watching us or is looking a bit aside, the slightest deviation we will instantly notice. This really is quite
remarkable when considered that in the total of our view the eyes of a person are less then a promile of what we registrate as a whole. And within this registration
we even registrate wether the other is watching us or is looking even a little bit aside. This makes the posing of doll eyes nearly impossible.
Therefor in order to make a doll look genuinely into the camera there is only one solution. You must pose the camera such that the line of view of the doll
is exactly in line with the view of the camera. Now this may sound obvious but the problem is that when you look through the camera your eye is no longer
capable of telling wether the doll is looking into the camera or in fact a little aside. Only at very close distance (portret phototoghraphy) there is a
reasonable chance that you will be able to picture the doll from the right angle when the doll is not too small. But even then it will be very hard. The
simple solution is: make a series of photo’s all from a slightly different position. One of them will most likely have captured the vivid look.
Another problem is that, like us, dolls have 2 eyes. With dolls like ScoonimDolls that have eyes that pose independently, this doubles the problem for
focusing. How to solve this: First of all you need to try of course to pose the eyes to make the look in the same direction. A simple
solution is to cover one eye with hair. But for this your doll must have long hair. It is also a trick that you cannot use on every photo. The other solution
is to adjust the positions of the eyes digitally. For this you need Photoshop or SuperGoo or a simular program. Obviously the urge to pose the eyes correctly
before making the photo is far less when you are handy with Photoshop or SuperGoo. And another benefit is that it gives you the freedom to choose the better
photo for composition and light because you can deal with the position of the eyes later.
Photo above: original position of the eyes. At first you may think that her focus is correct. But Stellai watches in the direction of the camera,
not in the lens. In the photo below I have adjusted the position of the eyes with SuperGoo.
Photo above: adjusted position of the eyes. Stellai watches now into the lens of the camera. The difference may seem marginal at first, but the
effect is bigger than you think as you can see in the animated Gif below.
For a photo and especially in a series it is of course not necessary that your doll always looks into the lens. In fact it is even better when the doll
focuses on something else every now and then. Important is that you explain in the photo the reason for the distracted focus and that the distracted focus
is not slightly next to the camera focus unless you want to suggest that the doll is not aware of the camera. Usually this is only within series for a story.
For a vivid series it is important that in every photo the pose of the doll is different. When looking into the camera this means that the head needs
to be re-posed and the eyes re-adjusted. In a series you can sometimes add a photo of a similar pose shot from a different angle. But make sure that in
the series you select for presentation it is not too much obvious that you have in fact 2 photos of one pose.
When you plan to use the photos for a series or story it is a solid rule not to use more than one photo of a pose. The problem here is that you most likely
will have several fantastic photos of a certain pose which you would like to use simply because they look great. But as much as you may love many other
photos of a series you really can use only one photo per pose in a series. Any second photo of a similar pose in a series will almost certainly ruin the
illusion of your doll being alive in the series!
When The angles in which you have made photos of a pose are very much different it sometimes is acceptable to use a second photo of a pose in a series.
To keep the alive feeling the trick is not place these photos in your series next to one another, but seperate them 3 or more positions. When you do this
most people will not notice that they are watching a similar pose,but shot from a different angle.
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To make a humanlike pose for a doll you need to be aware of the differences between a human and a doll. Now this may sound very obvious, but most
mistakes in posing are releated to this. Gravity is for us such a natural force that we are hardly aware that all (!) of our movements are related to it.
Our fysical behaviour is for especially the more heavy parts of out body a constant finding of the path in which the most energy is saved. We support
ourselves as much as possible. And when moving our actions start from reacting to gravity.
For a (Scoonim-)Doll gravity is far less important. The most important force to define a pose is our force. So, if the pose of the doll has to look
humanlike, we have to add to the pose the suggestion of the big importance that gravity has on us.
I will describe here some of the most common posing flaws and an option how to correct it:
- Feet that are not standing flat on the surface or carry the weight of the entire body on just a fraction of the sole of a foot.
Solution: If the position of the feet cannot be adjusted, best is to adjust the ground. If this is not possible, then adjust the position of the light
to adjust the shadow, or adjust the shadow digitally (photoshop).
- Hands that float above the part that they are supposed to touch.
Solution: for ScoonimDolls: just pay more attention to the posing of the hands. For other dolls: tie the hands to the objects with an invisible string.
- Arms that without reason are spread too wide from the body.
Solution: do exactly the same pose yourself before you make the photo and feel if the pose is natural.
- Hair that looks too much puffy.
Solution: for ScoonimDoll: rub the hair to the head to make it less puffy. For other dolls: reduce the volume of the hair digitally (photoshop). Note:
do not cut the hair. This will make it worse!
- Butts that do not form themselves to the surface when sitting.
Solution: best is to adjust the seat (add a ‘pillow’). If this is not acceptable, then try to adjust the position of the light to adjust the position
of the shadow to mask it. You can also adjust the shadow and the body shape digitally (photoshop), but this requires quite some practise.
- Body movement: When you want to suggest action in a photo it is important to pay attention to the parts that react to the action. Obvious sample is the counter
movement of the arms when walking. But also important is the swing of the hair when it is long hair. The hair of a ScoonimDoll is such that it can be posed
for this purpose. Other dolls may need some support (invisibly wire and such or photoshop).
Suleiya with swinging hair
- Wind: Here mainly the posing of the hair becomes important, but when you want to suggest strong wind, also be body pose needs to be adjusted. Note: Make
sure that the background does not reveal that there is actually no wind (or worse that it is going the other way)!
- Objects: When a person is to carry, lift, pull or push something heavy the whole of the body is in action and not only the part that is closest to the object.
The best to get this kind of posing right on a ScoonimDoll is by closely study the pose on yourself in front of a mirror. Pay special attention to the
position of the shoulders, the spine and the neck. The poseability of these parts may be none or few on other dolls. You may adjust this with photoshop,
but this requires some practise.
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Subject: How to pose a ScoonimDoll (part 1)
Because I have received several questions about how to pose a ScoonimDoll, I think it to be a good idea to spend a topic in my blog to this.
ScoonimDolls are designed for photography. A ScoonimDoll is loaded with features that to make it look like a living doll (doll, not human!)
on photo, but away from the camera it is just a doll. It does not pose by itself and the realism of it in a photo is for you to make.
Every new owner of a ScoonimDoll receives a manual and a CD-rom with video instructions about features, functions operating and maintenance. The
information I provide for this is, as all of my work, very profound. But it is only intended to give insight in the construction in order to prevent
damage to the ScoonimDoll. What it does not show are the little ‘tricks’ that are essential to make a pose really convincing. I will name a few that
I will describe in the coming period:
When you want a ScoonimDoll in standing or moving position then supports are a necessity. ScoonimDolls can stand without support. But they have
solid skin and metal skeleton. Consequently they are top heavy and will fall quite easy. But... when you add a third leg (the support) their weight
becomes a benefit.
For support you can use everything available. It can be a wall or an object that just happened to be there which the ScoonimDoll accidently or
deliberately touches. It can also be a twig that looks like it is used as a walking stick or an old radio antenna that looks like a pole next to a
ScoonimDoll. But for the invisible supports I use mainly solid iron wire (1,5-2 mm diameter) preferably plastic coated. Look for the type that can
bend multiple times. You can get it in garden centers or hardware stores.
On one side I sharpen the top of a piece of the iron wire into a really sharp tip. The other side I bend into a blunt curve. This curve I adjust
to the bodypart where the iron wire supports the body. I try to pose the wire in such a way that it is as much as possible out of sight on camera because:
Rule number one: Invisible supports are invisible! Hello, wake up! This is the 21 century. Make believe in images is now mainstream. Harry Potter flies on his broom through the sky and he does not
need an ingenious system of moveable tackles and pulley cords, or does he? Well, he may, but you do not see them. Of course you do not see them!
That would instantly break the magic of the image.
Same counts for ScoonimDolls. If the supports cannot be placed out of sight you wil just have to remove them digitally. Which is a lot of work, so better
try to hide them in advance!
Stellai actually jumping
Stellai pretends to be jumping
Rule number two: The balance needs to be in accordance with the action! Eventhough the iron wire support can create a very stable balance, it usually is important to try to make as much as possible the ScoonimDoll stand
in balance by itself and add the support just to make sure the ScoonimDoll will not fall unguarded. For the realism in a non-action pose photo the general
rule is: the less the ScoonimDoll needs to be supported the better. Our blueprint* for balance in a non-action pose is very strong. Even when the support
is not visible on photo and the ScoonimDoll only leans lightly upon the support you may experience unbalance in the pose when you study the photo.
*With blueprint I mean that what we hold on to without being aware of.
And please do not lower yourself using those horrible transparant plastic supporting clamps on a ScoonimDoll. You only fool yourself when you
say that you can hardly see them. Blueprint, blueprint!!