How I photograph and finish my mini photos (without a lightbox or fancy camera!)

A few people have asked me how I photograph my miniatures for display. Since the end of last year I have tried to present my finished models in a betterlight against a white background, so here I will try to explain in simple terms how I do it.

What I use:
– My Phone’s Camera (Google Pixel 4a)
– LED light (YOUKOYI LED Desk Lamp)
– Adobe Photoshop (I’m sure you can use GIMP or PaintShopPro as alternatives)
– The back of an A4 poster
– Blu-tac

Preparing the photography area:

I begin by taking my poster and using a bit of blu-tac to attach it to the shelf on my (admittedly cramped and messy) hobby/work desk. I attach it with a subtle curve to avoid a background crease or any harsh shadows. The LED lamp I use is on an adjustable arm so I bring the lamp down close to the models and set it to a low-mid setting on the dimmer. The light diffuses nicely as long as you don’t set it too bright.

Next I place my models near the centre of the paper, trying to keep them flat to the desk surface (you might need to adjust the curve of the paper if its too shallow). Next I use my phone camera to snap a few shots of the models from different angles, ensuring that the models are not overlapping the edge of the paper in my shot.

Once I have the photo I save it to my dropbox, put the models and paper aside and then take the image into Photoshop.


With the image open in photoshop, we need to take the following steps:

  • Adjust the light levels
  • Crop the image
  • Erase any remaining shadows

I begin by using the crop tool, then whiting out the areas surrounding the miniatures. I do this by simply selecting the remaining areas of background and filling them in with pure white.

Next, I add a Levels Adjustment layer (Adjustments -> Levels). I click the “White” eyedropper and then click on the background at the darkest shadow (not counting the very dark ones cast by the model at the left of the image).

It can help to hold the ALT key (on PC) whilst looking for the darkest shadow, and click in an area that shows up black as you hold this button down. That way you’ll knock the background to a pure white and brighten the whole image without negatively affecting the darkest areas.

Finally, I just go in manually with the brush tool to paint over any remaining shadows (such as those visible on the left there), then I copy and paste the nicely clean image into my PaintSlam21 template image.

And that’s my final image. It’s not totally perfect – I could have taken a bit more care with the focus since the models closest to the camera are a little blurred. But for the purposes of posting my images on social media it certainly does the trick!

I hope this little guide has helped some of you out. I’m not the most technically minded photographer, all the stuff about aperture and such goes right over my head so I do tend to rely on my phone’s auto settings in that respect.

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