(This article was published on Minifigures.com – so the link to the article is below)
(I have been busy elsewhere, now blogging for Firestartoys.com and Minifigures.com. As I’m quite proud of my work, I’m posting a link to it from here.)
I decided to do a step-by-step guide to producing the image on the right from the one on the left. The images were originally taken using a Samsung S9+ mobile phone, and were edited using a Samsung Tab A tablet. I mention this because I wanted to show that this could be done without the need for a computer and just with freely available apps – the two apps in question being Pixlr and PicsArt.
I should point out that whilst much of the things I will show are from the initial free app, I do use both these a lot so I have made some in-app purchases but they weren’t expensive in my opinion.
Taking the initial image
We start by taking one image. Key things to think about is about the subject matter (in this case the bus) but also the surrounding items. For this kind of image, you do need to show more than just a close crop; additionally it does need to be colourful, so that when it is converted it is clear that the change has been made. A photo of a white wall, for example, does not change when you make it black and white!
sizing and cropping
We start by opening the picture in Pixlr. As my intended destination for the image was Instagram, I cropped the image to make it square. It also got rid of that dead space at the bottom of the image. Open the toolbox (on the left), choose Crop (top right in the menu) and adjust as needed.
Important step now…. SAVE THE IMAGE. This is now the base image that everything will come from. Fortunately in Pixlr, saving your image will create new images rather than overwriting.
Lose the colour
This is where the mobile app starts to show its usefulness. They come pre-loaded with a number of filters that can make an image look very different without spending time doing so. In this case we need to make the background look black-and-white.
In this case (still in Pixlr) we choose the middle option, choose our filter (in the this case I used “Agnes” from the “too old” collection), clicked “OK” and there you go – instant old picture! I then SAVED the image.
Next, I opened the PicsArt app and opened the Black and white image (the one we just saved). Whilst Pixlr is really good at simple-ish image edits, PicsArt is more powerful and will let you layer the images. However, unlike something like “GIMP” you can’t save the image with its layers and return to edit – once you close the layers they are locked, so these next stages are a bit stressful!
Having opened the image in PicsArt, slide the bottom menu until you see “Draw”. Click that, and then the option that pops up, also called “Draw”. This will give you a number of options, but on the right there is a “layer” button (it looks like three sheets of paper on top of each other). Click that. You should then see the middle image above.
At the top of the right bar (where you can see two layers), click the button to the left of the ‘dustbin’. This will allow you to add another layer – which will eventually be the bus. Choose the Photo Layer and the cropped, coloured image. (We cropped and saved the image to save time trying to align the images)
At this point we have three layers – a black and white layer, a blank layer and a coloured image layer.
Before we continue I want to point out that the tablet can be rotated which will make getting to the image currently under the menu much, much easier. Also zooming in and out is by touching the screen with two fingers and moving them apart or together.
Removing the colour (again)
So that I can make sure I’ve removed all the bits I want to, I create a block of colour behind the thing I want to keep. Then, I can be sure that I haven’t forgotten or missed anything. So I click in the middle layer, choose the paint brush, click again to make sure that I use the thickest brush) and then paint a blob (in this case blue – this is chosen by clicking the coloured box on the bottom left). Whilst the top layer is visible, this blue blob isn’t, so you may choose to not show the top layer. Click the eye on the layer and that will hide it (as you can see in the middle picture). Once you’ve created your blob, make the top level visible and click on it so you are working on the right layer.
Note: some digital artists will say “but this is a complicated way of masking” and they’re right, but the masks that I’ve found in this app don’t work the way I expected them to, hence this route.
Now we’re ready. click the eraser next to the pen, click again to open up the menu and make sure the brush is as big as it can be (you’ll note that this menu looks like the drawing one, so make sure you’re in the right menu!). Then, having made sure you are in the top layer, start to erase the colour. Eventually, you’ll start to see the blob, which is great as you’ll know that is the bit to be more careful with! As I said before, you can zoom in and you can also make your eraser more fine until eventually you end up with all the colour removed except for the bus.
Obviously that blob has to go, so hide it by clicking the eye (as you can see on the left image), click the tick on the top right.
NOTE: When you click the tick, this will lock your image to a single layer, so you won’t be able to go back and you’ll have to do it all again. Which is frustrating – trust me on that….
So you have your image and it looks pretty sweet. You could stop there, but Pixlr has one other little neat feature – the borders. So save your image (PicsArt will allow you to share your image as well as just save it) and then switch back to Pixlr and open the image you’ve just edited. On my tablet, Pixlr has its own folder in the image files as does PicsArt, so go there.
Then choose the borders option and select the one that most appeals to you. Save the image – and share your work!
As I only use Android, I can’t be certain that these apps are available for other platforms – but I would certainly assume that Apple have them.
This month, one of the “photo a day” challenges I’ve been doing on Instagram has focused on specific colours. I’m quite pleased with my results – I managed to find a toy in my collection that was pretty much the colour of the day and also managed to find a background colour that matched! So I decided to pop it up here too!
The colours (in the order that they were asked for):
In some cases, I took more than one image that met the brief – and these are listed below. Enjoy!
At the start of May, Disney released 18 new collectible minifigures:
- Vintage Mickey and Minnie
- Scrooge McDuck
- Huey, Louie and Dewey
- Chip and Dale
- Anna and Elsa
- Jasmine and Jafar
- Edna Mode
- Hercules and Hades
- Jack Skellington and Sally
I’ll probably look to review Mickey and Minnie at a later date – as their release comes moments after the release of the Steamboat Willie Ideas set, which also features a vintage Mickey and Minnie.
But today I want to look at Jack and Sally – mainly because back in 2016 the company Firestartoys (firestartoys.com) created their own versions of these two figures and I thought it would be interesting to compare.
Comparing the Pumpkin Kings side by side, the Lego version looks more friendly (it’s probably the eyes). Also Lego have created a new piece with that bow tie – something that the Firestartoy version has had to incorporate into the printing. I think the Lego bow tie also has more “mickey” ears on the bat too – which is an interesting nod. The Lego version also has a skirt/cape to provide tails – although the one that I opened had been creased and to be honest doesn’t add anything extra to the figure. I like the more “morning coat” look of the Lego figure, but I do think the stripes of the Firestartoy figure are less headache inducing.
So I think they are fairly closely matched – but it’s the bowtie that just clinches it.
Oh, the Lego Jack also comes with a present box with swirly wrapping and round tiles with snowflakes on… but it seems all a bit “What is this?” as Jack might sing…
I think Sally is where things get a lot more interesting. Firestartoys have either used standard Lego parts as is, or have pad printed the figures – and this is obvious from the hair – as it looks like Lego has produced a new hairpiece for this character.
Both figures have double-sided heads – and Lego’s head seems a lot more “normal” than Firestartoys, which provides a more cartoon-like image. This is also true of the body and leg printing.
As is standard with Lego collectibles, the figures have to have something rather than just be a figure – so Lego Sally has a black flower (no wonder Firestartoy Sally looks sad!). Fortunately Lego included a second, so now both Sally’s have flowers in my house!
So out of the two I’m going to call a draw – Lego have used interesting colourways and have been a little more precise with their art, but Firestartoys have produced a version that would not look out of place either.
So ultimately it’s too close to call. I am surprised that it took Lego so long to create these characters – but then, the film itself was an unusual departure for Disney to take and has a cult following. Who knows – this could inspire Series 3 to include figures from the Fantasia film!
Stuff and credits
- All figures were bought by me and not supplied by Lego / firestartoys.
- Background art is also by me (just showing off now!)
- Thanks to Thomas Moore Toymaster in Exeter for the Lego minifigures
- Firestartoy’s Jack can be bought here:
- Firestartoy’s Sally can be bought here:
This year, the blog site Stuck In Plastic announced its challenge for this year – SIPGOES53. The challenge was taking a number of people from history and the current and seeing how toyphotographers would respond to this. I did start this challenge and have posted some… but there are a number on the list that frankly I have no idea about – and even after reading the Wikipedia page have no concept of how to do them justice.
You see, it all feels like a history report – this is person X and this is their life. In the previous year’s challenge there was scope for creative thinking – and I don’t think it’s right or in scope to do that.
So today I made a decision. I’m going to walk away from this challenge. I’m still posting images and blogs – but this challenge will stop for me.
You can’t think of Carrie Fisher without thinking of Star Wars – so I thought I would try something different. One of my favourite films (I guess technically it’s a musical) is the Blues Brothers which featured Fisher as “Mystery Woman” – interestingly when the film was released in 1980 it was released at the same time as “Star Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back” which also features Carrie Fisher.
Next week: Haruki Murakami