But how? The artwork in the books is sketchy at best (see what I did there?) and of course copyrighted material. Since the game was 22 years old I didn't know if I'd be able to secure proper permission to use those and quite frankly, I wasn't optimistic at how they'd actually turn out.
So I turned to my other skill as a photographer and decided I'd photograph the actual miniatures from the game and then use tricks for colorizing old photographs to digitally paint the miniatures.
First I set up a green screen of sorts with a green piece of cardstock, poking a hold in the center and then threading one of the game's flight posts through the hole. Using a 70mm fixed length macro lens (photo nerd!) I set the camera on a tripod and focused on each ship from a top-down perspective. The lighting remained the same for each ship as did the focus distance, so the scale of larger ships to smaller ships would also remain the same. I took two shots of each ship (just in case) as well as a set of torpedoes and missiles.
Ship photograph, lifted from green-screen background and converted to greyscale.
Next off to Photoshop (with a quick stop in Lightroom for cropping and a little processing). Since I had green-screened each ship, it was a simple matter to remove the ship from its background and only have the ship image. Next I added a greyscale filter to remove all hint of color and only keep the tones and highlights and shadows. This would allow me to add color without it being tainted by color cast from the lighting.
The first step of adding the main ship color was easy. CTRL-click on the isolated ship layer to select just the ship. Then I added a solid color layer to the image with the color choice I wanted. Since the ship shape was already selected, the layer mask already restricts the color to that area. Finally changing the blend mode from "Normal" to "Overlay" and voila (or "walla" to those who mishear things), the shades of grey becomes shades of the chosen color and all the ship detail comes through.
Adding the main ship color.
Repeating this process for the other targeted areas of the ship is just as easy. Select an area, add a new color layer (though on these successive layers I set to "Color" blend mode vs. "Overlay") and you're now painting. The opacity of each layer remains 100% as the blend mode takes care of rendering the combinations of color. One thing I did different was on the canopy of each ship. For that when I selected the area, I did use that selection on the layer mask of the main ship color to black out (or hide) the body color from the canopy. Whereas the other areas of the ship might be "really" be decals or paint over the base color, the canopy would not have been painted over.
The cool thing is that the lighting from the photo still allows the texture and detail and highlights to come through on the "painted" model.
When all my layers were complete and I liked the scheme of the ship, I then flattened all the visible layers into a single new layer (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E). I have a plugin called Topaz Simplify (http://www.topazlabs.com/simplify) and it features an oil painting setting that produces a nice smooth look to images... simplifying their colors as the name suggests. I applied this to the merged image to create a painterly effect. However, it's a little drastic on its own and some of the details get lost in doing so. So the next step is to set the oil painting layer to a 50% opacity. This blends that layer into the photographic layers below to create a visual combination of art and detail that looks quite nice (IMO).
The "painted" photograph (left), the "Oil Painting" filter alone (center) and the final merged version (right).
Finally CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E again to permanently combine everything into a single layer and the digital miniature painting is complete.
My final paint jobs...
When I'd completed all the ships, I combined those final 12 ship layers into a single Photoshop file to make sure they were all centered and stacked and then exported each image (with a transparent background) to its own PNG (portable network graphics) file and referenced each ship image in the data file spreadsheet used to construct the counters.
Another cool thing about this technique is that you can change the color if you want or make different paint schemes. Simply by changing the color of the solid color layer you can make the ship blue or purple or red, etc...
While this worked great for top-down wargame counters, the same process could be used to "paint" boardgame miniatures from the front and produce standees instead of using the in-game miniatures. Perhaps instead of painting all those stormtroopers in Star Wars: Imperial Assault!!!
Allegedly there is a total solar eclipse that will be viewable in a large swath of the United States on Monday, August 21, 2017.
I had planned to take photos (safely) during the event, but after a few test shots today, I just don't think my gear and filters are up to task. So I'll just enjoy it like most people. Besides, it will be the most photographed event in quite some time. And NASA and other science agencies will do a much better job than most of us could.
Just remember to NOT look directly at the sun. Make a pinhole device from a shoebox or look at the dappled light on the ground through leaves. I'm not sure I'd risk "eclipse" glasses picked up at a local store either, but that's just me. And keep your PETS inside as well. They are curious and if they look up to see why it's getting dark, they could very easily suffer the same blindness!
Finally, for those of you "in the know" about the realities of such things, here's some beta footage from Monday's big event. Looks like they might be getting things ready for release not a moment too soon!
For those following along, the JVMF auction is off to a great start. Over 600 items already and $30,000 raised.
Great job gamers!
I've added an 11x14 artpaper print of my photo "TIE Pursuit" to the auction as well (sample above). Using Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighter models from the X-Wing game, this is a single shot superimposed against the star backdrop.
If you're interested in bidding or following along, it can be found here: LINK
"Memory All alone in the moonlight I can smile at the old days I was beautiful then I remember the time I knew what happiness was Let the memory live again"
Not a great way to start Friday, the weekend, or Father's Day weekend. Our beloved last cat turned ill and has now crossed the "rainbow bridge". 16.5 years old and a sweetheart. We will miss her. We know more pain but she knows no more.
Whoever the PR flack is for Pirates sure whitewashed history over the years for them to be so beloved these days. From Jack Sparrow to board games to deep fried batter dipped fish (mmmmmmmmmmmmm...fried fish!) pirates these days are depicted not as the murdering criminals they actually were but as wily little scoundrels with a heart of gold. They're only shown as truly treacherous if there are the aforementioned "good" pirates around to give them their comeuppance.
Which brings us to today... the International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Krispy Kreme (mmmmmmmmmmmm...donuts!) is even giving away free donuts to anyone who talks or dresses like a pirate (http://www.krispykreme.com/pirate).
So in honor of this day of revisionist history, this photo is about as close as I'll get to taking part.
My main career is a software developer, but one of the side jobs I have that stemmed from a hobby is that of photographer. I love shooting events and portraits, but also taking photos of objects, especially board game components. So from time to time I'll share some of them here. Hopefully you'll like them as well.