Miniature Models

Ok so I don’t exactly mean gorgeous girls. My miniature models series is an ongoing project, shot over many years with the aim to produce these little miniatures of well known places or objects. In this blog I will tell you how you can also recreate this for yourself and how to get it right from the start. This is a fun and easy way to get more out of your photography and helps you think creatively when capturing the image.

Hamburg, Germany.

This effect works really well when you shoot it correctly to begin with. The way to get that right is to remember these few rules, always be slightly higher than your subject or scene, use a wide angle lens and shoot knowing that you are going to be creating a miniature model from the scene. Having a popular or well known subject also adds to excitement and appeal of the scene.

Having people in the scene really makes it look like a miniature model, but you have to remember to shoot far away enough from the people to make them look small in the scene. You have to remember how you would be looking at a miniature model as if you were actually there, so you would be looking at it from high above, and everything looks rather small.

So lets get started.

Open your image into photoshop and duplicate the background layer. Next we need to name that copy layer ‘blur’. Make sure that you target the ‘blur’ layer and go to -filter -blur -lens blur and a dialogue box will pop up with sliders to enable you to create the effect of a tilt/shift lens.

Next you need to tick the ‘preview’ block and tick ‘faster’. Choose ‘none’ as the source from the depth map box and ‘hexagon’ from the iris shape, this gives your blur a more realistic look. Set radius to 60 and set blade curvature and rotation to 0. Then set threshold to 252 and brightness to 2, click ok to apply the blur filter.

Paris, from the Eiffel tower.

The effect that we are going to produce is a shallow depth of field and in order to do this we need to make some magic now with a layer mask to reveal a sharp layer below the blur. Add a mask to your ‘blur’ layer and make sure your mask is white and active. Switch to the gradient tool and at the top at the tool options bar choose reflected gradient and mode ‘normal’. Reset your tool box colours to black and white by tapping ‘D’ and make sure that black is the top colour in the toolbox colours.

Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ischia, Italy.

Now you have to set your gradient and this will show up the sharp layer below your mask. Click a point on your image that has the features you want to be sharp, and drag it down(I find a horizontal or slightly angled line works best) until you are happy with how much of your image is in focus. Again do not have too much of your image in focus as the effect is created by having most of the image blurred out. You can always re draw your line bigger or smaller if you are not happy with the effect.

You will need to blur out anything in the foreground that is too large as it will give away the size of your objects in the middle ground, this you will have to do by hand with the brush.

London, England.

Paris, France, taken from the Eiffel tower.

Portofino, Italy.

To blur anything in the image with the brush switch to brush tool and set your size to between 250 and 300, with the hardness at 50% and opacity and flow to 30%. If you set your toolbox colour to black you will reveal more sharp layer below, if you set your toolbox colour to white you will add more blur from your blur layer. This you will have to play around with to suit each individual image to get the effect right. The final step is to add a curves adjustment layer to boost the contrast and colour to give the model a more realistic look, as many models are well lit and painted with rich saturated colours.

Paris, France.

Sandton, South Africa.

Nice, France.

Paris, France.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Olifants Rivier, Kruger Park, South Africa.

KZN Midlands, South Africa.

Feel free to comment below and let me know if you have any problems or need extra help, maybe I will do a video blog to help show you how to do it better. I would also love to see your miniature models.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.