Figure/doll photography 121 – How to produce black background

I’m going to call this a figure/doll photography 121. It’s not a 101 because even though what’s presented here is what I know of, it may or may not be correct. It’s not a 123 since I’m not really providing a step by step instruction. So some where between 101 and 123, I hope this becomes helpful to someone. And through that, the knowledge is transferred from one to another, and hence the name 121.

Black background, there are a lot of myths about it. There are talks about how to use black seamless paper, black cloth, or even black velvet behind the subject to create it. Then there are talks about using post production editing tools such as Photoshop to achieve it. However, neither of these approaches produces what I would call a true black background. Black background material is always visible due to light reflection, even black velvet shows up under some lighting conditions. And then there are many cases where the use of background material is just not practical or not possible. Photoshop on the other hand, will product a true black background, but typical masking technique to mask out your suject will produce an unnatural edge around it, this is on top of the amount of work needed to mask the fine details. In this post, I will try to walk through my technique in creating what I would call a true black background, just like what I have done below for Dollfie Dream Kanu Unchou. I’ve used this technique for many years now, mostly for floral photography but used sparsely for figure photography as well. however it can easily be applied to much bigger subjects such as dolls, real people and even other bigger subjects that you might want to photograph. And it’s all done straight out of camera with no background material and no Photoshop work.

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Saber Lily ~Distant Avalon~

Yes I love Saber from the Fate/stay night series. So far I have owned Saber PVC figure, Saber Maid PVC figure, Saber Lion Nendoroid, and Saber Dollfie Dream. I’ve made a ton of Saber posts with Saber in there especially with Saber dollfie in all kind of outfits. So it’s natural when Good Smile Company announced Saber Lily from the Fate/unlimited codes series, I had my pre-order placed early and got my Saber Lily nice a early. Now I had her in my display cabinet for some times now, finally got a chance to take photos of this beauty.

Saber Lily ~Distant Avalon~ 1/7 PVC by Good Smile Company. (セイバー・リリィ ~全て遠き理想郷(アヴァロン)~). Original sculptor Kawahara Takayuki (河原隆幸). Released on September 2009 with an MSRP of ¥9,800.

Saber Lily

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Suzumiya Haruhi Extravaganza Version PVC Figure

I sure do have a lot of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱) figures. Here’s yet another set. This one is the Extravaganza Version or better in Japanese as the 涼宮ハルヒの激奏Ver.

Suzumiya Haruhi Extravaganza Ver. 1/8 PVC by Max Factory (マックスファクトリー 涼宮ハルヒ 激奏Ver.). Original sculptor Kuroda Masanori (黒田真徳). Released on April 2009 with an MSRP of ¥7,800.

Suzumiya Haruhi

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Hatsune Miku Pre-painted Resin Figure

Hastune Miku (初音ミク) is the first volume of popular Vocaloid2 character vocal series. It was original released by Volks Japan in Wonder Festival 2008 as a resin kit. The garage kit was sold at an MSRP of ¥14,490. It was later released by Volks Japan as a 1/6 PVC figure in August 2008 with an MSRP of ¥7,140. Volks Japan is currently planning on a re-issued version of this figure as an “Encore Version” that will be put on order during Comiket 77 (December 29-31, 2009) and New Kit Exhibition 2010 (January 1-11 2010). The shipping date of this new “Encore Version” will be spring of 2010. More information of this re-issue on this Volks Japan web page (Japanese). I was not able to get a hold of the original Hatsune Miku garage kit. So I acquired a pre-painted recast version from e2046.

Hastune Miku 1/6 painted resin. Original Sculptor Milchstraße (ミルヒ・シュトラーセ).

Hatsune Miku

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Reinforce Zwei

This is Reinforce Zwei (リインフォースII) from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS (魔法少女リリカルなのはStrikerS) series.

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Reinforce Zwei PVC by Alter (アルター 魔法少女リリカルなのはStrikerS シグナム). Original sculptor 爪塚 ヒロユキ. Released on May 2008 with an MSRP of ¥6,090. This is the re-issued version which was released on March 2009.

Reinforce Zwei Reinforce Zwei

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