We have this little metal dog decoration that I thought might make a cool alien. Here is what I sketched out.
The Shiny Dog
First I wanted to figure out how I was going to light this shiny thing. I tried several light positions and combinations of reflectors. The style of light that I found most pleasing was the bottom left photo where the dog is backlit.
In the Lord of the Rings films, they had a special lighting rig for Galadriel to make her eyes look magical by reflecting several points of light. This is the only character they did this on which gives a very distinct and otherworldly feel to her closeups.
I wanted to do something like this for the shiny dog, to make it feel like it had some magical star-light emanating from it. I read that in LOTR they used simple
I also got this little LED moon light. I wanted the moon light to be in the dog’s reflection so made sure I shot his reference shots with the moon in the frame. I also made an HDR of the moon (bottom right) so that I could use the light spill without the moon being blown out.
I took a few easy takes of Artsy, who kept wanting to play with the moon light. In the end I had about 6 shots that I felt could work with. I probably didn’t even need the moon in there but now you have a scale reference for how tiny the thing is.
I lit Artsy very similar to how I lit the shiny dog, you can see my key light behind her and then I placed a silver reflector on-axis to the camera to give her some fill
I began by setting up a very rough scene outline to test different poses and scales. I also combined the 2 different shiny dog shots and did a basic color adjustment so the
After settling on a pose I got the different assets scaled and started playing with backgrounds. My lack of planning an actual background was my single biggest mistake on this shot. I didn’t like the stars and so removed them.
I decided that I wanted to inverse the shiny dog lighting, so I left the christmas light layer at full strength and dialed the opacity down on the lit layer.
Some blending of the ground planes and minor color adjustments and I arrived at the final image.
- I need to focus more on the background for each concept. Compositing a bunch of photos all shot on a black background makes it hard to tie everything together. In the
futureI need a solid background to insert my characters into. This shot may have worked with just a little patch of grass and the night sky.
- I need to vacuum my backdrop before every shoot, I just don’t have the energy to photoshop out every little dog hair.