Posted by: Jintoo | February 10, 2009

Mindmap: to take pictures of a figure.

Take pictures of your figure.Click on the picture above to enlarge it.
The PDF version (easier to print) is available right there ^.^

After having seen several kinds of pictures, I decided to make a mindmap that should help you to take photos of a figure. It is not a methodology but it gives some elements to answer the question: ” What are the main points involved in taking pictures of a figurine?”
I will give explanations for each branch. Once you will have read them, you should be able to quickly remind what I have written just by looking at the mindmap: this is the one of the common uses of the mindmaps 😉


Of course there is not any photo without any camera: I wrote digicam for “digital camera” but if you do analog photography, it should also be applicable but you will have to scan the paper photo.
I connected “stabilizer” with “tripod” because if you do not have any stabilizer on the lens of your digicam, a tripod could be a solution against shaking. The branch “adjustments” has 2 parameters that I used to modify for each photo :

-the exposure time (=shutter speed). I put a bond between it and the brightness because longer the shutter is opened and let light come on the film, more the film gets light, which will affect the brightness of the photo.

-Depth of field or DOF (modified by the f-number) that defines the zone that will appear sharp. For example, if you want to focus on an item and let the rest of the picture blurred, you will have to lower the DOF.
On the picture above that Chrono-Kun made, the lens focused on the gun (so it’s sharp on the picture), but the DOF has been lowered in order to blur the face (of Teana Lanster).


I think that the lighting is important: according to the number and the location of the light sources, the shadow effects will be different on the figure; some zones will appear while others won’t. Ureshiko Asaba On the picture above, I wanted the face to have a lit part and a part in the shadow: so I had to place properly the figure and the light source. The final result would have been different if the limit between the light and the shadow were somewhere else (on the neck for example).
There are also colored filters or colored lights which can make nice effects. It is the case with the picture below that Blowfish made: Red Akatsuki Mishiro by Blowfish


For this branch, I mean the angle between the figure and the digicam. It is classical to take pictures with a direct view like if it was at the same height as the figure’s one… but I guess we have to work with other kind of view: high-angle shot, low-angle shot, etc… this could reveal some details (for a review e.g.). aerial view on... And I find that the tripod goes against this state of mind because people tend to be « installed » (of course the purpose of the tripod is to have stability). That’s why I sometimes prefer not to use the tripod (I’ve the luck to have a stabilizer with my lens ^^): if you imagine that I am moving around the figure holding my digicam, you’re not so far from the truth! xD


There is a 1st underbranch “background”: people usually set up a paper sheet with a texture. This kind of paper should be buyable at an “art and decoration” shop. I personnally print textures on A3 format paper but it is sometimes too short for some of my figures. I also used fabric and the result is rather nice: Fate - Archer (GSC) For this picture with Archer (Fate/stay night), the fabric was creased ans I was afraid that it sucks.
What can I do to promote the Macgyverism? Here is a picture with a gashapon of Yuki Nagato (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu) : Bandai Figure MEISTER Yuki Nagato (idol ver.) In fact I used one of my sweaters as background ! xD I find that its colors are harmonized with the figure ^^
The choice of the color is made following your artistic sense. I guess the colors can be classified in 3 groups: contrasting color (by contrast with the colors of the figure), main color of the figure, and a neutral color (white or black).

Shana (Nendoroid) by Lylibellule2208

On the left photo Pita used a neutral color while lylibellule used on the right picture a dominant color (the red of Shana’s hair).

Otherwise there are the natural environments: the garden, the town, etc… in that case, most of the time, people just use the natural light (the sun). So you will have to place the figure and your digicam according to the light.

Yotsuba by Lylibellule2208 Xecty par JC

Examples with a pic of Yotsuba by Lylibellule2208 and one of Xecty by JC.

I made a branch “screen” (LCD, CRT, Plasma, etc… )… it’s another do-it-yourself: in fact I took some pictures with my computer monitor as background… because I did not want to print the picture (save paper ! ^^). I tried to make disappear the sides of my visual display unit…

Gundam Seed episode 19

Example of “screen backgound” with a picture of Cagalli (Gundam Seed)

Elements to complete the decor can be added too (e.g. cotton to do like if it was snow). Sometimes accessories of figure can be shown. And I also thought of columns made with petit suisse packages.


If you have an action figure (articulated figure) you can make it have several stances. You can for example be inspired by stances that appear in the anime or manga.

Kamen Rider KabutoSpecific stance of a action figure of Kamen Rider Kabuto.

Otherwise there are figures that have some removable clothes, armors or parts of the body (head, arms, etc…): so there are sometimes several possibilities for a shot. On the picture below, on the one hand I put the alternative dress (damaged version), on the other hand I let it opened:

être cast off.

Char Rhousemann for Autake’s lessons

And for the accessories (provided with the figure or with other figures), you can have fun to choice which ones you want to display too ^_^ For example glasses of the famous Ignis by Max Factory can placed on her nose.


You could make appear other figures:

– from the same universe (manga/anime). This way it is possible to make dioramas or to be inspired by some sequences of the serie.

Juunikyuu Hen Rada Episode 13 Rhadamanthys holding Seiya #4

Scene of the 13th episode of Saint Seiya Juunikyuu Hen (Seiya is levitating).

– from the same toy line (Nendoroid, Figma, Revoltech, SIC, S.H.Figuarts, etc…)

– or completely mixing and creating unseen scenes… using accessories of figure at home: weapons of Myth Cloth ou Figma, small items of Nendoroid, etc…

Miku as waitress by Leonia

Example of “Rip Mix Burn” : Miku as waitress (photo by Leonia)


After having chosen one or several fonts that could come with the atmosphere (chosen on for example), text can be inserted. On the one hand there is the signature: for the moment I just write text with a font that I like. It seems to be more elaborate to put a logo with more or less transparency, but I like to sign differently for each picture 😛

It is possible to add descriptive text: information that identify the figure, date, etc…

It is also possible to make a kind of story or comics like FigmAction and Nendoroid Stories by lu-k or just a single comment:

Example of inserted text on the picture: “Objection of Haruhi” by Mikiwank

There is finally the image editing that requires specific softwares: on the one hand there is the basic use to set up the brightness, the contrast or to remove the noise. On the other hand, there are some advanced uses like the photomontages.

Shana as waitress by Ciel

Example of photomontage with Shana as waitress by Ciel

Someway advanced image editing can do everything. I will talk about blowfish’s picture (Red Akatsuki Mishiro) as example: I guess that the same picture with a white light and with the use of the colored filter of the graphics editing program would have had a similar result. Here is an example of colored filter:

Shining sword

Picture of Uesugi Kenshin with a colored filter

And we can apply this to JC’s picture (with Xecty Ein’s figure) too: the picture of the figure could have been taken in a studio, then it could have been pasted on a photo with a forest.

CONCLUSION (it is not a branch of the mindmap!)

I tried to place the branches of the mindmap into 2 sides: on the left a creative side (making the decor) and on the right a technical side (taking pictures, photo editing). People have their own strong points and points to improve according to the kind of picture they want to do: I hope this blog article made you wanna do other kinds of photo 😉

I also hope I did not break “the spell” around some of my pics by revealing how I did them 😛 But one of my purpose was to give you some ideas to make yours (let’s use your imagination).

I am ready to read your comments (criticism or congrats :P).

And I finally need to thank Chrono-Kun, Blowfish, PitaPowa, Lylibellule2208, JC, Leonia, Mikiwank and Ciel who let me to use their pictures to make this article =)



  1. Thanks for this insightful post!
    I did learn a new thing or two.I didnt know that the depth of field defines the sharpness.Until know I always thought that the higher the DOF the better ^^;;
    Im gonna try it out as soon as possible!

    My pictures undergo actually no postprocession except branding them with my signature.I have a copy of Photoshop Elements around but to be honest i have no idea how to use it properly.Ive played around a few times with it but the results were no good.I may try to use different filters in the future.I know now who to ask for help ^^

  2. Mein Gott ! Du hast doch nicht darauf gewartet, dass ich das Artikel übersetze >_<
    (Diese Übersetzung habe ich nicht geplant, weil ich sehr viel Zeit dafür verbracht hätte)
    Thanks for your comment 😉 If you want to improve by yourself for the editing image, you should read some tutorials. (time is required to “play well”) Beside you could learn stuff that could give you other ideas. And if you want to focus on photomontages, you will have to learn about manipulating the layers.

  3. […] et je n’ai que peu de connaissance concernant le côté théorique (d’ailleurs Jintoo a fait un très bon article à propos des notions fondamentales) outre les quelques bons conseils de […]

  4. Thank you very much this useful entry, Jintoo.
    I love it, the best the mind-map ^^

  5. Hey Singer Yuna ! Thanks for your comment. I am waiting for your beautiful pics 😉

  6. Wow thanks,this is very helpful 😀 Gonna start fiddling with me camera now XD
    oh by the way the names Roy ^^ nice to meet you

  7. Nice to read your message too 😉


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