How I photograph my miniatures: A window into my photo booth

While you have seen a few posts here showing the learning process of how to film my painting DVD's for the Kickstarter program, it occurred to me that I have never really shown the process of taking still images of the miniatures!

This is something I have done tens of thousands of times in the last 13 years.  In fact, I have worn out 3 cameras, taking an average of 20,000 images with each one along the way!

There is nothing terribly fancy here.  I have 2 white balanced photo lights on each side, with a Fluorescent light on top.  If I had the funds available right now, I would replace all these with LED lights, such as my magnifier lights.  However, that is not the case, so I will have to stay with this setup for a while.

The concept here is to eliminate as many shadows as possible.  When you have 3 lights coming from every angle such as this, you achieve that goal.

The camera is zoomed OUT all the way, which is crucial, and set to wide angle/macro.  This prevents that 'depth of field' focus that leads to one sharp focal area, and the rest of your miniature just a blur.

Once all the images have been shot, it's time to get them into Photoshop!

Here are the raw images after being imported:

The first step is to do color correction on each image after cropping it down.  It involves lightening the image for the most part, as you can see in the picture.

To create my typical "multiview", I position the images in the pattern that I want.

I expand the canvas size for the "front" views, using the guide lines to make sure the images all line up to each other.

Once I have the larger canvas, I cut and paste each successive view into the image.

The "front" images are done, and now it is time to do the same with the back views.

Once the back views have been pasted into the expanded canvas, you "flatten" the layers, so that you can copy and paste that together with the front views.  You can see that I have expanded the canvas for the back views.

The back views have been pasted in, and re sized to match the front views above them.

I crop the image down, and save it as a multiview.

These images are way too big for the web, so those are scaled down, and then cleaned up by adding a few lines to separate the different views.

I hope this information is helpful for everyone!!!


  1. Nice.

    I would be interested to know more about the camera equipment you are using.

    - camera
    - lens
    - tripod (I presume you have one)
    - F-stop, ISO, Shutterspeed?

    I have been planning to do some sort of tutorial on how to photograph miniatures for ages. Web is just too full of good minis photographed wrong.

    1. The camera is a basic Cannon Power Shot A540. No additional lenses, no tripod, all auto... simply set to Macro and wide angle.

      My setup is designed more for speed than super high quality images. When you are shooting as many figs as I do every day, each second saved is truly a penny earned!

  2. James can you contact me directly regarding a couple photos you have. 877-387-0341

  3. This is fantastic advice. I have had trouble on my blog trying to get images to look as good as yours and others posts.

  4. Great advice! Would you mind me posting a link to this on my blog as I get asked this myself a few times and this is about the easiest method I have seen barring a photo booth?

    1. Sure thing! You could update it to tell the virtues of the LED daylight bulbs, which I use now. I also have a post on that...

  5. Thanks! I hope that it was very useful! :-)

  6. How did you make your background sheet? The one I had been using doesn't have as much white in it, and sometimes comes out looking washed out.