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Court of the Dead

Jul 24, 2015

HOW-TO: Photograph Custom Toys at Home, On a Budget (Part 1 - Setup)


So I have this thing I'm doing called Rollin Gobis. It's a rolling online custom show featuring the Muttpop Gobi platform - a 3.5" vinyl humanoid (luchador) figure which is basically part of the lime of toys that the popular Tequila came from.

As I gather up my images for this release, I had one custom Gobi by Cash Cannon left to shoot, and I thought I'd take the opportunity to show all of you how to photograph a custom toy for the web. Initially I thought this might be a short tutorial but I realized that not all of you have access to the same DSLR camera and Photoshop like I do. So... those tools are great for me but maybe not a useful tutorial for many of you.

The reason I am doing this is the same reason I've been bitching and whining about your images for years: when you sell stuff on the web, the images are all you have to make an impression. They have to look pretty good and professional, even if you do them yourself.

Many of you seem to fall back on the good old "shot in dim lighting on my kitchen table with busy background" shot. Please stop doing that. I know many of you are working a day job and sculpting at night, and you're exhausted by the time you finish, but also super excited... so you snap the first picture you can of that piece, at night, on your table, in front of your bored cat and overflowing garbage can. And then you post it to IG because you're all proud, and some bloggers pick it up and run with it, and BAM - that's your actual official picture that gets circulated of that piece.

So your pictures look like you don't give a shit. And that's bad. Whether you want to believe it or not, there is psychology involved in selling your art to people, and you have to appeal to their inner sense of "must have this thing right now." Not giving a shit, in sales, leads to not selling shit.

So, to recap: your images of your custom toys should be brightly lit, against a white (preferably completely blank) background. 

MANY of you don't seem to think you able to produce images like this without hiring a photographer, but you can. In this How-To series, which I think will be 4 posts long, I will show you how to: set up your photoshoot, edit the images on your iPhone, OR edit the images in Preview if you have a Mac, OR edit the images in Photoshop if you have it. All with the intention of creating nice clean images that help sell your artwork. So, 3 different image editing options according to what equipment/tools you have available. I chose this particular figure to demonstrate because black objects (and sometimes white objects) are the most difficult to photograph. This piece by Cash happens to be both black AND glossy, so it's actually pretty difficult- all those reflections plus a high contract between object and background.

Part 1 - Setup of your Photoshoot
So here we have the awesome Vader Gobi

A "seamless" is a piece of equipment for a photo studio into which you place the object to be photographed. The intention is to give you proper light and a nice clean white background behind the object.

You can buy a seamless pretty much anywhere. Google that shit. They're not expensive.

I don't own a seamless, despite having considered myself a photographer for a while.

I make one every time I have to shoot a toy in my home.

How do I magically make a seamless? you may ask... well, I'll tell you, slappy: it's a piece of damn paper.

Yeah that's right, regular old printer paper works just fine.

So basically, I did this shoot at about 10AM today when the light was shining right into my kitchen through the window. I chose this time and location because ambient light (the amount of random-ass light in the room) is strong here.

On the floor I placed a heavy, clean, white envelope that is supposed to be used for shipping prints. It's big on purpose, just to give me more white space to work with. Taped to the side of the cabinet is a regular piece of white paper, low enough that almost half of it hits the ground and curves. That's a seamless right there. It prevents the viewer (the camera) from seeing a line between a floor and a back wall inside the frame of the image.

So you can see right at the bottom of the shot above that the patch of sunlight gets really close to my little shitty seamless.That's awesome and intentional. Sunlight (natural light) is great but being in DIRECT sunlight makes for really difficult photography. What you want is AMBIENT light bouncing all around the room, lighting up your subject from all angles (instead of hitting it directly on the top and making really dark shadows right next to really bright spots). The sunlight will get close to Cash's Vader but will not hit it directly.

If you or I owned a professional seamless, there would be one or 2 lights affixed to it that would achieve this ambient lighting effect. And it'd be better... but we don't have a seamless and this makeshift shit will work just fine for us to sell items on the internet.

From the side, the seamless looks something like this. You can slide the curve in or out as needed.

So I place the feet of Vader right at the edge of the paper to hold it down flat.

Above you see the subject right up at the edge of the seamless, approx 4 inches from the back wall. Feet of the toy hold down the edge of the paper. You can also do this with tape if needed. Keeping that edge down flush is key because we are doing a bit of half-assed editing after the shoot, and I want to keep the work as basic as possible so you can execute without having to use a clone stamp or some weird tool in Photoshop to remove the shadow that would be created if that edge wasn't flush.

This image shows a tiny shadow under the piece of paper near Vader's feet. I can edit this out in Photoshop but just try to do a better job than I did in eliminating that shadow and you won't have to edit it.

Above are the unedited shots from this photoshoot. They have not been cropped or adjusted. These were taken on an iPhone 6 Plus with the HDR setting turned on. All iPhones have decent enough cameras for this, and many of the Samsungs and other smartphones do too.

All that weird stuff like the edge of the paper, the shadow cast by the figure, the different colors of the envelope on the floor vs the paper, and the crap on the floor in the background will all be edited or cropped out.

That's it. In the next post in this series, I'll show you how to edit these images on your iPhone.
Good game.

Jul 23, 2015

FOLLOW UP: Waste from Russia - Beaяs & Pяimats

Following up on our previous blog post where we introduced you to Waste, a toymaker from lovely lakeside Petrozavodsk in western Russia, we have some follow-up info! I guess he noticed our post!

His real name is Alexandr Bud'kin aka WAS+E / 2013. As a child he was constantly drawing comics, and sculpting figures of heroes of films. He discovered designer toys in 2004 (just like me and Steph!) and that was his starting point for toymaking. Now he is working on a series of figures based on his doodle drawings: Beaяs & Pяimats. He's working in parallel on several projects:
1. working with a Russian brand of street wear
2. making figures for his friend @pashabumazhniy
3. creating some figures with a Russian hip-hop artist

More info on those projects will be sent to us soon, but for now we have these images of his drawings and the start of his toy creation process in the Beaяs & Pяimats series.
 здорово встретиться с вами , Александр

Awesome Toy's "Awesome TV" Sofubi


The guys over at Awesome Toy are proud to present something a little different to their current roster of super robots, kaiju and retro-themed figures... introducing the Awesome TV! Inspired by the Indie Toy scene’s extensive selection of “platform” toys - figures that can be customised - the vintage-styled TV’s unique take on the idea is set to offer sofubi painters, designer toy customisers and even illustrators more scope for creativity than ever before. Featuring an ingenious, fully-adaptable design, the deceptively simple soft vinyl cube has been fitted with a removable front “screen” panel, meaning that not only can the outer shell be painted, re-sculpted or mashed-up with other figures - a TV head instantly springs to mind! - but it can also be used to display prints, drawings, photos or even various items inside- the possibilities for different “programs” and “channels” are limitless! Aside from the DIY/custom aspect, the Awesome TV will also be used in conjunction with future Awesome Toy releases, including a number of planned artist collaborations, exclusive versions, plus integration with previous AT figures. Pictured above (insert pic!) in vinyl test-shot form, we’re told to expect the Awesome TV sofubi’s first colorway via preorder soon… Keep track of the Awesome Toy Instagram feed here for the full lowdown over the coming weeks!

I'm really excited for these.  I've got a few customs in mind that use a TV "head" and this will look a lot better than any attempt to sculpt one myself would come out. I once tried to sculpt minifigure.  I was going for a werewolf type creature.  I settled for "blob with what could be eyes".

+The Highest Fever

New Custom from Tony Gil: Diamond Ninja Black Edition (Black & Gold)

Diamond Ninja black edition by Tony Gil

Lurking through the streets spreading his art without a trace - Ninja style. He'll never be seen without a trace. You might catch a glimpse of his shiny gold skin.

Available at Tony's shop here:

Super excited about this because, as you may recall, we have designated Tony's Diamond Ninja character as the mascot for this blog! And I even have Diamond Ninja stickers now. Hmm... now how should I begin giving those away to all of you? Need to arrange some sort of promotion or something here via comments or via G+... ideas welcome, please leave a comment.

Jul 20, 2015

INTRODUCING: Clectaverse - Share your collections and create communities around the things you love

Introducing our newest blog advertiser Clectaverse! Clectaverse is an awesome online tool to help organize your collections, see what everyone else is collecting and join or create communities dedicated to your favorite collectibles!


Whatever you collect from Anime to Zoids and everything in between, yes Smurfs too, then Clectaverse is for you. Upload your collections and daily haul to one beautiful and engaging location to begin your journey of discovery.


Bring together your collections online and share them across the pop culture universe. Let everyone see how you own that rocket firing Boba Fett or that you are looking for a Cosplay idea. Ask for help identifying or pricing, or simply start a battle on which Trek film is best.


The cards you upload enable you to discover vibrant communities where you can compare your collectibles, buy, sell and trade and generally feel the loving embrace of like minded collectors. If the community doesn't exist then kudos, create it and be the founder, someone else is bound to like Battlefield Earth.

Argonauts Resin: Toysrevil 10 x10 Celebration Exclusive Nymph Release

To celebrate Toysrevil's 10th anniversary, Argonaut resins has scaled down their now Mariposa figure into a smaller Nymph size, and Toysrevil has it up in their shop! 
More pics and a link to the shop are here:

The Minatorg x BOObotcher & The Forces of Dorkness


For thousands of centuries the Minatorg has been trapped on planet P.  A cybernetic organism designed for a war long forgotten. The evils of hell directly injected through carbon nanotubes into the nervous system of this bio-robo. The Minatorg needs to find a way off planet P. The planet orbits a black hole and has existed in an anomalous state of time. Time is running out as the planets decaying orbit draws it closer to being sucked into the black hole…

This first time collaboration was created by Boyd Braden a.k.a. BOObotcher (Brooklyn, NY), with the sculpt, cast, and production being handled by Scott Kinnebrew a.k.a. The Forces of Dorkess (Austin, TX).  The Minatorg, who stands 4 1/2” tall, has 2 points of magnetic articulation allowing you to position both his clawed arm and blaster arm in any position you want.  Each figure is cast in transparent red resin, bagged with a custom glossy header card designed by BOObotcher, and assembled using otherworldly red chrome staples.

Limited to 13 pieces, the Minatorg will be available beginning Friday July 24, 2015 at 10 pm EST at Forces of Dorkness' webstore for $25 each (plus shipping). 

MICFITS x ALAVAKA - Devils Head Productions


DHP has teamed up with the punk rock underground experience know as The Micfits to give you an awesome Disney themed treat. The Maleficent tribute features an Alavaka painted in metallic tones to mimic the classic villain from the 1959 animated feature Sleeping Beauty. Also included is the evil black raven (Diablo) who is Maleficent's confidante and assistant. Finally a set of two 5 x 7 inch prints featuring a Maleficent themed Micfits character accompanies the toy. There is also a secret evil chase version. Grab one while you can because these will not last long. Available in both the DHP webshop and Micfits webshop

Jul 19, 2015

BB-8 Star Wars Premium Format(TM) Figure
Court of the Dead The Chronicle of the Underworld Court of the Dead Book