Guiding the eye in Lego photography | A comprehensive guide

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February 22, 2022

In the previous post, I discussed storytelling in Lego photography. In this article, I’ll discuss another technique through which you can increase the storytelling capabilities of a (Lego) photo: guiding the viewers’ eye.

What is “guiding the viewers’ eye”?

A story is most often constructed to present all the elements important to the story. Also, you’ll want to present these elements in a specific order for them to have the greatest impact, for you to tell the best story.

Essentially, the same reasoning applies to storytelling through photography. You’ll want to present all the elements important to the story and for them to have the greatest impact, you’ll want to show them in a specific order. This is where: “guiding the viewers’ eye” comes in.

A viewer does not “see” an entire photo at the same time, eyes move constantly as they try to “read” the shot. You want to guide that journey. Where in your photo do people look first? Where do they look next? And after that? How much control do you have on leading the viewer’s eye through your photo?

Our eyes take in a lot more visual information than our brain can consciously handle. We prefer to focus on the most interesting information, so we selectively look at what we consider most important. This is called selective attention. However, visual information can distract people even when it’s not relevant. If it’s tempting enough, it’ll grab our attention, even against our intention. This indicates we can control where the eye will look and choose what will gain the viewer’s attention.

Following, I will discuss basic tools you can use to get that control. Nonetheless, leading the eye is not an exact science, so there’s often room for some interpretation.

The infograph serves as a summary of guiding the viewers’ eye in Lego photography.

infographic - guiding viewers eye photography lego
Infographic: guiding the viewers' eye in Lego photography

Lighting

Light the most important story-element with the brightest lights and the most contrast (see below). Put your lights on what you want to show. You should light all less important elements less and/ or with less contrast than the major story-elements. If nothing stands out or if the wrong elements are lit; the story will be unclear or confusing.

Directional cues

Visual directional cues will (subconsciously) lead the eye toward a major story-element too. For example, you can use beams of light which are directed at a major story element. Or implied lines from someone looking at a specific detail of your photo.

Two subjects looking at each other give rise to bi-directional implied lines. Once the viewers’ eye reaches that area, they might direct their gaze back and forth for a while. This makes bi-directional lines a great tool for keeping attention.

leading-eye-lego-photography-brightest-lights Leading-eye-lego-photography-brightest-lights

Example: A combination of techniques. However, the AFOLs eyes all went straight to the goats that turned out to be pretty expensive. No technique on earth could’ve changed that. 😉

Leading lines

Leading lines are directional cues, and extremely effective at directing a viewer’s attention. It’s a compositional tool through which you can draw the viewer’s eye in a specific direction, towards a specific point of interest. These leading lines may be horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. These lines can be explicit or even implied through the placement of objects and spaces. Diagonal lines are more powerful than straight lines. Straight lines suggest stability and often take the eye from side to side rather than directing it towards the subject. Diagonal lines are strong and dynamic.

You can also use curved lines, or combine lines into converging lines. Intersecting lines that meet behind the subject especially enforce the effect of leading lines. Another type of effective line is an S-curve leading towards the subject, meandering around the interesting parts of your photo instead of going straight to the destination. An in-depth article on lines in photo composition is in the works.

Always try to find the lines in your scene. They are often present. If you can’t find them at first, try moving the camera or the subject around until you find the most effective setup.

leading-eye-lego-photography-leading-lines leading-eye-lego-photography-leading-lines

Example: A combination of techniques. The most important one being leading lines. The photo could’ve even been better if I placed Dwaas over the intersection of leading lines.

Depth of field

Elements that are in focus will attract the viewers’ eyes as opposed to elements that are out of focus. This makes depth-of-field a powerful tool for guiding a viewers’ eye through your photo. Viewers will look first at the subjects that are within the depth-of-field before looking at the rest of the photo that is out of focus.

This will also work with more subtle differences in focus. If you can still recognise the out-of-focus objects, you can add a surprise within the out-of-focus area of the photo. After the viewer saw the principal subject and direct their gaze to other segments of the photo, they’ll suddenly see the surprising element which may change the story your telling all-together.

Leading-eye-lego-photography-Depth-of-field Leading-eye-lego-photography-focus

Example: These two photos show the immense power of Depth-of-field and how the viewers’ eye is instantly attracted to the one element in the photo that is in focus!

Contrast and color

A hugely important tool for guiding the eye is the use of contrast. Evolutionary, our brains are hot-wired to notice high contrast situations because it’s a key survival trade. Also in a photo we notice the highest contrasting elements first!

Use contrast to highlight the center of interest in your photo. There are three types of contrast you can use. Tonal contrast works best if bordering segments of your photo differ substantially on the grey scale. For example, silhouetted characters or objects stand out clearly in a composition. Color contrast means you can use vivid colors as opposed to dull colors or an extremely different color in a photo where the rest of the photo uses another color to make important elements stand out. Textural contrast can make something stand out because its pattern is distinctive.

leading-eye-lego-photography-color-contrast leading-eye-lego-photography-color-contrast

Example: A combination of techniques, the most important one being tonal contrast. The two separate colourful elements are tight together through color. However, Dwaas’ gaze at the paper, makes the most important element the newspaper on the couch (and it was, this was my goodbye to Brickcentral).

Frame within a frame

People tend to look at what is contained within a frame first. So, placing an object in a frame within a photo is a great way to draw attention to that specific element. They don’t even need to be complete. Frames can be in the foreground, or background.

A frame can also add depth (especially when the frame is out of focus), and context as well as lead the viewer’s eye into the scene.

Remove distracting elements

Now that you know about these techniques, examine your scenes for elements that unintentionally guide the viewers’ eye to other areas than the important story-elements in your photo.

Also, manage the background! It can steal focus from the story-elements by attracting part of the attention to it. Maybe it’s too busy, or too visually equal to the subject. If that is the case, change the background, get it out of focus, or maybe even out of the shot by going for a low-angle shot, for example.

Leading-eye-lego-photography-frame Leading-eye-lego-photography-frame

Example: This photo has an unintentional distraction in it because I wanted complete focus on the interaction between Willy and the king. Now the chandelier has too much focus. However, it could have been important if this photo would have been a panel in a comic… and in the next panel the chandelier would’ve come down! it’s all about artistic choices.

Combine the different techniques

On its own, these are all more or less powerful tools. However, as you can see in all examples in this article, combining them makes them even more effective in guiding the eye through your photos.

Happy creating!


storytelling photography tips tricks

Storytelling in Lego photography | Tips & Tricks

Blog

February 21, 2022

Original: Feb 5th 2019
Latest: Jan 31th 2022

Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of Lego photography. Photos that are nothing more than beautiful will certainly attract attention and they will momentarily awe someone. Yet, they probably won’t be remembered for very long. It’s the images that tell a story, the ones that seem to speak to the imagination, that will linger in someone’s mind for a much longer time.

How does a single image tell stories?

You don’t need to create a lego comic to tell a story with Lego-photos. Storytelling is mostly done with isolated photos. A single photo is an image frozen in time. As such, it does not tell the viewer what happened before or what lies ahead. The art of storytelling with a single image involves persuading the viewers to create their own version of a past or future, based on the image you presented them with. In short; a (Lego-) photo doesn’t tell the story. The photo motivates the viewers to create their own personal, emotional stories! And since all people are different, these stories will differ, amongst other things depending on memories, personality and experience.

This also explains why some pictures will tell an elaborate story to one person and are quiet to another. I cannot give you a straightforward recipe. I mean, storytelling through Lego-photography can be really hard. However, I can give you a few basic tips to increase the chances of your Lego-photo telling a story.

I need a hero

First off, who or what is the hero in your image? Is it a person, animal or maybe even an inanimate object (for example, an old abandoned car, or a lonely house on the hill)? Then ask yourself if your protagonist is interesting enough to make people wonder. Simply taking a picture of a tree or Lego-minifigure just won’t do it. You’ll have to provide the viewers with some context concerning your hero and take control of the entire frame. Thus, inviting viewers to (unconsciously) start thinking.

lego photography - lego wizard home potion
Figure 1; Willy, the one-eyed wizard

For example, Figure 1 shows Willy the One-Eyed wizard. As you might know, there is an elaborate backstory on him in the first Foolish Lego Comic, and an even more elaborate backstory in my mind. Yet, I wonder, what is your story for him when you see this image? And maybe this Lego-photo fails to tell you a story at all, but, even that is interesting to think about! Why doesn’t it speak to you? What would you have done differently?

 The story is in the details

Second, it may be a good idea to include details! These may be larger or smaller details. And sometimes even the smallest of details may just be enough to get the train of thoughts of the viewer rolling. And a story is born.

Lego photography - Lonely elderly rain
Figure 2; lonely

Figure 2 shows the photo “Lonely”. There are quite a few details in there. For example, the ring and the closed umbrella even though he’s standing in the pouring rain. That alone could trigger a few (love?) stories. Another detail is that the protagonist is an elderly, so maybe he just became a widow? Besides, what is he doing street side, dressed up with a bow tie, but not caring about the rain? Enough to think about.  There are quite a few stories in there as long as the Lego-photo is inviting enough to make people care to look at the image long enough to find the one stories that appeals to them.

Plastic emotions

Third, storytelling through photography is about emotions. Conveying emotions and body language with rigid Lego-minifigures is challenging . Also, because not every facial expression is available.

Lego photography - elderly couple happy sunset
Figure 3; good old times

The first thing you need to do is to find a facial expression that fits your image or works around the facial expression. Look at figure 3; I wanted a loving face for the elderly lady, buy could not find one. Yet, by hiding the lady’s face, I created the loving face I wanted. In contrast, other viewers might feel this guy has to make up for something while she is looking quite angry. Again, there are many stories in this one image.

Also, you need to pay attention to the stance of the Lego-minifigures. That is the closest thing to body language they have. And if there is a stance that seems impossible; sticky tack could solve many problems. Also remember to pay attention to the hands of Lego minifigures; you wouldn’t believe what a difference the rotation of the hands can make for conveying emotions.

Last, do not forget the surroundings, lighting and especially color. These three elements can drastically change (or destroy!) the emotion and thus the potential for storytelling by your (Lego-) photo.

Go right… AND left

Fourth, if you’d like, you can add ambiguous or contrasting elements in your images.

Overall, there are three types of stories that can be told through (Lego-) photography; personal stories, documentaries and, last, ambiguous stories. Documentaries rarely benefit from ambiguous elements. Also, don’t use this tip if you are looking to tell a singular story.

That being said; adding ambiguous elements in your Lego-images could increase the potential of your photo for telling over one story, potentially reaching a wider variety of viewers. However, don’t overdo it! You don’t want to completely confuse the viewers… unless you do 😉

Lego photography - Lousy hitchhiker with an axe
Figure 4; Lousy hitchhiker

Figure 4 shows “lousy hitchhiker”.  What happened here? And why is this person (M/ F?) carrying an axe in what looks to be a desert? Besides, why is (s)he still holding on to that axe, etc. Questions bring theories, theories bring stories, stories make a Lego-photo memorable.

Remember the effect of color(-temperature)

Fifth, colors convey emotion and have the ability to communicate all kinds of information. So, using the appropriate colors and temperature is important for creating your story. Warm colors (like red, orange and yellow) are exciting and can convey danger, passion, happiness and adventure, whilst cold colors mostly convey quiet, rest, contemplation, and sadness. All colors in between have their own characteristics and meanings.

It doesn’t always have to be about light-color. Giving a certain object a specific color can also be meaningful. For example (spoilers in examples); each time they showed something red in the movie: ‘the sixth sense’, a spirit/ ghost was near. And anytime they’d show an orange in ‘the Godfather’-trilogy, someone was about to die.

Last, combining colors and lighting setup can be even more powerful; imagine a person sitting in a dark cold interior, with warm light coming in through the boarded-up windows; this image talks about someone battling their own dark thoughts whilst happiness tries to reach this person… and fails.

Lego photography - midnight snack dark house
Figure 5; midnight snack

Look at the photo in figure 5. The dark cold outside versus the warm and welcome interior! This person is feeling good! It’s not the build that’s speaking; it’s the color of the light. If the scene was identical and the inside and outside lighting was swapped so the outside light would’ve been warm and the interior blueish and dark, the story would be different.

Framing is key

Filling the frame only following compositional rules is not enough if you want your photo to tell a story. It is really important to focus. As I wrote before, details can be important and contrasting elements increase the potential for storytelling. Yet, if you choose to add elements, it must be possible for them to come together in the minds of the viewers. If the viewers can’t figure it out, they get confused, and a story gets lost. That’s when you know you overdid it with adding details. Remember that what you leave out from your picture is as important as what you include! Completely unrelated information in your photos will only disrupt the stories in the image. Always ask yourself if each element in the photo helps tell the story.

toy photography - peekaboo
Figure 6; Peekaboo

The photo in figure 6 shows that sometimes you don’t even need any elements at all. I used framing, lighting, focus, depth of field and a close-up to tell a story. Adding any other element to this photo would’ve diluted the meaning of the image.

Get to know your subject

Sometimes a photo is created featuring a subject that needs over one image to tell a story OR a subject that has a lot more than one story to tell (and again; the subject can be anything, not only a minifigure). If this is the case, you might consider creating a series of photos, avoiding trying to put too much in a single image. By creating a series of photos; a whole new world might open up. This time I don’t mean comics. I’m talking about showing different perspectives on a single subject, thus creating a whole new, deeper level of storytelling.

lego photography - frankenstein winter coffee
Figure 7; Dwaas enjoys a winter evening

I consider the image in figure 7 a pleasant image showing Frankensteins’ monster enjoying some quiet time with his dog in the garden of his cozy home. However, the story it tells differs and might get to another level if you know who this monster actually is in the world I created for myself. The people that read the comic also know this is Dwaas, a lonely monster living with his ghostly friend Kemi. They also know he loves molded croissants and brings up the mystery of who this dog might be.

Be original

Nothing kills a story more than seeing an image that essentially has been created a thousand times before. Viewers are exposed to many photographic stories each and every day, and the photos that stick are the ones that do NOT follow the obvious path, just look at figure 8 (source: insta_repeat). Might be a great photo in itself… but when people have seen it a thousand times before; not so much.

same old, same old
Figure 8; Deja vu

You might have heard about the Pixar rules on storytelling. One of these rules is especially appropriate in this context: “Discount the first thing that comes to mind… and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, surprise yourself!”. This tip might seem very obvious, yet the amount of relatively similar (Lego) photos out there might surprise you. These more-of-the-same-images fail to surprise and engage the audience. Their story has been told too many times before and no one will remember another photo that looks like the one before.

In conclusion

Storytelling through Lego-photography is hard. Especially because our little plastic friends make it more difficult to convey emotions. I hope to have provided you with a few tips and tricks to get the viewers thinking about your image, thus, creating a memorable image. For now, my last two tips on this subject are; be careful naming your image, because a name could guide away the viewer from a story if you’re not careful. And last, create technically perfect photos! People tend to get distracted if there are obvious – non-intentional – technical difficulties with a (Lego-) photo.

In the next article, I’ll discuss techniques that will greatly increase the capability of a photo telling a story: Guiding the viewers’ eye!

Happy creating!

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camera angles lego comic

Camera angles - a guide for Lego comics

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February 20, 2022

Original: August 26, 2018
latest: February 20, 2022

This post on camera angles follows the post on camera shots. I will discuss the basics of camera angles in Lego comics. Though you can also use this information for Lego photography, not related to comics.

What are camera angles?

The term itself says it all, camera angles are the angles at which you shoot a photo of a subject. Using different angles can effectively add subtext to an image. By using your camera-angles carefully, you can, per example, make characters look like giants or dwarfs, cool or insecure. Also, buildings can look larger or smaller than in reality, making them look very impressive or insignificant. Just like minifigures. Besides, you can influence the atmosphere of a panel or person. Is everything okay, or is something/ someone off? Choose your angles carefully, you don’t want to convey these kinds of information by accident.

The infograph gives you a summary of camera angles for Lego photography.

infographic - camera angles photography lego
infographic - camera angles for Lego photography.

Types of camera angles

Low-angle shot

The low-angle shot makes a character (or object/ building) look strong, powerful, gigantic and/ or ominous. You can also use this angle as a point of view (POV) shot from a character. In those cases, the readers might share a feeling of awe with the character whose point of view is showing.

Examples in movies for this angle as point-of-view are dog-movies or the ant-man. In those movies, you instantly know you are seeing through the eyes of the dog or small antman whenever they use a low angle camera shot.

camera angle low angle lego photography
Example: Low angle shot, (worm's eye shot)
low-angle-lego-photography-comic
Another example of a low angle shot

There are several angles within the low angle family, like the hero view/ shot (low-angle shot with a wide-angle lens, which will help you capture the visual information surrounding the characters in the frame and makes the subject seem larger than life) and worms eye view (very low shot).

Last, low-angle shots can also be useful to eliminate something in the background which is visually distracting or unwanted for the shot.

Eye-level shot

Eye level, and slightly-below-eye-level, are the camera angles which are used most. Especially in conversations. This is the most natural angle to most readers and has no real dramatic power. You can use it to convey familiarity with the character.

If you deviate from this angle, make sure you think about the why. For example, in a dialog scene, you can make a character look more or less significant than its conversation partner.

camera angle eye level lego photography
example: eye level shot
Another example of an eye level shot.

High angle

At a high angle, the camera looks down on characters or objects. This makes them less impressive, small and insignificant. The readers seem to dominant the depicted character. Sometimes you can even make the character look scared or like a loser.

camera angle high angle lego photography
Example: High angle shot
high-angle-lego-photography
Another example of a high angle shot.

There are several angles within the high angle family, like the slightly above shot and above shot. Some name a very high angle the bird’s-eye angle instead of the overhead shot (see below).

Last, high angle shots can bring extra attention to the environment and help connect the character(s) to the surroundings.This makes high angle shots excellent for establishing shots (for example, combined with an (extreme) long shot).

Overhead shot/ aerial shot/ bird’s-eye/ God’s eye shot

An extreme version of the high-angle shot is the overhead shot. A very unnatural view of a scene. It makes the readers look down on the characters and surroundings as if they were a bird or on a plane.

It is a distant, remote point of (world) view and you can use it to convey philosophical thoughts and ideas.

Another thing to remember is that it can make characters or objects unrecognizable or look strange from this angle (like hats, parasols, etc).

camera angle overhead shot lego photography
Example: Overhead shot

Dutch tilt

The Dutch tilt is a camera angle that makes the reader feel there is something off or wrong. It’s a confusing viewpoint for most readers. Usually we strive for straight lines in a photo (like the straight horizon). This is important because apparently human perception is very sensitive to off-levels, especially off-level verticals rather than off-level horizontals. This means that off-levels will create some sort of tension or confusion.

The more the angle is off, the more confusion is conveyed. Be careful not to overdue it though!

This angle is used just for that; to create confusion, anxiety, paranoia, danger, mall-intent or mystery.

camera angle Dutch tilt lego photography
Example: Dutch tilt
example Dutch tilt lego comi
Another example of a Dutch tilt.

What angle to use

What angle do you need to get your story across the best you can?

In normal circumstances, try to shoot at eye levels of your characters. Many Lego comics out there are shot in high-angle shots and doing so makes the Lego minifigures unintentionally look small. It also makes everything look even more artificial than it already is and can take the reader out of the story.

Again, what story are you trying to tell? Adjust the composition, camera shot and camera angle to help you tell the best story through your photo!

Camera angles vs. lenses

You can use any camera or lens. Especially smartphone cameras are so small you can easily set them at the angle you’d like. Especially low angles are easy to get with smartphones as opposed to with larger camera-lenses. Yet, with some creativity, every angle can be achieved with every camera as long as you set up your scene high enough in relation to your camera.

In conclusion

There you have it. These are basically the most important camera angles to know. When thinking about shooting the scenes for your Lego comic, make sure to use the right shots and angles. Combine camera shots and camera angles to make the best of the composition of your Lego comic panels and optimise your photo for storytelling.

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cover guide to camera shots lego comic

Camera shots - a guide for Lego comics

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February 19, 2022

Original: July 29, 2018
latest: February 19, 2022

A Lego comic comprises one or more scenes. Of course, these scenes need to build. And the actual building blocks of scenes are the so-called camera shots. In this article I will discuss the basics of camera shots for Lego comics.

The infograph will serve as a summary of camera shots for Lego photography.

infographic - camera shots photography lego
infographic - camera shots for Lego photography.

What are camera shots?

Camera shots are camera positions related to how much of the subject and its surrounding area is visible in a panel. Not to be confused with camera angles. Camera angles provide the shots at different angles. I discuss camera angles in separate article.

Choosing your shots and angles carefully will help you convey information about the story you are telling. Like, where you characters are, who is present, how everybody is positioned related to each other, if there is anything going on besides the main action, any emotions that need extra attention, etc. An example of conveying information is a combination of a full-shot (see below) with a shallow depth of field (remember your aperture settings!) focussed on a specific character or purpose. It can tell your readers who are present in this scene whilst also guiding the readers’ eye to the person or element you’d like them to focus upon.

Types of camera shots

There are two types of camera shots; framing shots & function shots. Framing is defined by how much is included in the shot. Function is about what the purpose of the shot is.

Framing shots

I listed a few of the more well know camera shots. However, the naming and definitions of all these shots might vary somewhat between sources.

Extreme long shot; shows the general area of the current setting. This shot all about scenery and gives your readers some idea of the geography your scene takes place in. For these shots you would have to build a large stage, or you can work with micro-builds.

Example extreme long shot lego comic
Example of an extreme long shot. Establishing shot, showing the geography, general mood and more (ch 2 ep 1).

Long shot, (wide shot); still is about scenery, more  specifically showing where the action in the scene takes place. This time however, there are (mostly) characters present in the shot.

Example long shot lego comic
Example of a long shot (ch 2 ep 51)

Character shots

Shots that are focused on characters are character shots. The tighter these shots get, the more focus is on the character and less focus on surroundings.

Full shot; a complete view of a character. There may also be over one character in this type of shot, showing the relationship between characters.

Example full shot lego comic
Example of a full shot - single (ch 2 ep 148)

Cowboy (American shot); a variation of the full shot, where the character is in view from below the waste and up. This name is derived from the western genre where the gun-holster on characters is shown.

Medium shot (social shot); the character(s) from the waist up. For example, characters at a table or behind a counter/ bar. This shot brings your readers closer to the characters and into the action.

example medium shot lego comic
Example of a medium shot (ch 2 ep 7)

Closeups (personal shots); there are many variations of the close-up and brings your readers up close and personal with your character. With Lego, there are no subtle emotions that can be seen in a medium shot. However, mostly it changes the feel of a panel if you move in real close.

The variations of a closeup are;

  • Medium closeup: mid-torso and up.
  • Closeup (choker): from the throat up.
  • Tight close-up (big head): just below the head, cutting off part of the hair.
  • Extreme close up (Italian shot): even less of the head is visible in the frame.

You can also use these shots for objects; for example, only a knife, or part of the character.

example medium close-up lego comic
Example of a medium closeup (ch 2 ep 131)
Example close-up object lego comic
Example of a close-up of an object (ch 2 ep 18).

Other types of framing shots

Any shot that includes only one character is called a single. A shot with two characters included is called a two shot, one of the most essential shots of storytelling.

example two-shot lego comic
Example of a two shot (ch 2 ep 8)

Over the shoulder; a shot where we look over the shoulder (closeup) of one character to another character/ object (medium shot or closeup). It ties two characters or a character and an object together.

example over the shoulder shot lego comic
Figure 9; Example of an over the shoulder shot (ch 2 ep 60)

Function shots

  • Establishing shot; A shot that shows the readers of your comic where the action is taking place. Besides giving the readers a ‘where’. It can convey much more information. For example, what’s the weather like, is it a hectic place, or the opposite, are we in a rich environment, is there a lot of police in the street, and much more. The possibilities are endless. Usually, an extreme long shot or long shot is used.
  • Reaction shot; shows the reaction of a character to some kind of event or text. Usually, a medium shot or closeup is used.
  • Insert; a part of the larger scene that gives your readers extra information about what is going on. For example, a clock showing time or a name on a name tag. Usually a closeup is used.
  • Transitional shot; A shot between scenes that is not a part of either scene. This can help for atmosphere or give some information. For example, a sunset or sunrise, or a busy street showing that the workday has begun.

Camera shots vs. lenses

If you’d like to get all the shots straight out of the camera, you will need a macro-lens, certainly for the medium shots and closeups. Alternatively, you can photography your scenes as full shots or bigger and crop the images in an image-editor like Photoshop or GIMP. If you edit afterwards, use the highest quality images you can shoot with your camera.

In conclusion

When I started my comic, I did not know about camera shots. I only varied shots to make the panels look different from each other, hoping it improved the look of my comic. Now I try to think about how I want to shoot a photo to use as a panel. What type of shot will get my story across in the best way? Because, in the end, it is all about storytelling. And camera-shots are another tool in your toolkit to tell your stories the best you can.

Next time: camera angles

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ISO settings in Lego photography | A beginners guide

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February 18, 2022

Original: July 12, 2018
latest: February 18, 2022

After writing on several aspects of exposure the past few weeks, we will end this course with a post on ISO. As mentioned before, ISO is not a part of exposure because it influences the brightness of your photo AFTER the light is recorded by the camera sensor as opposed to exposure settings, which influence the amount of light BEFORE it reaches your camera sensor. Yet, it is good to know about ISO, because it gives you more freedom to adjust other settings (like aperture and shutter speed) given a certain amount of time.

The infograph below serves as a summary on ISO in Lego photography.

infographic - iso noise photography lego
Infographic - ISO in Lego photography.

WHAT DOES ISO MEAN?

In analog photography, ISO (/ ASA) was the mark of how sensitive a film was to light. This light sensitivity was indicated by a number; the lower the number, the lower the sensitivity of the film. The main governing body that, amongst other things, standardizes sensitivity ratings for camera sensors is the International Organization for Standardization. Many photographers think ISO is an acronym of this organisation’s name. However, because the name would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation Internationale de normalisation), they decided name the sensitivity ‘ISO’. And ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal.

IS ISO ABOUT SENSOR SENSITIVITY TO LIGHT?

Well, actually; no. As stated before, ISO stated the sensitivity of film to light in analog photography. At higher ISO-numbers, the resulting photos will be darker at a given exposure value (EV). Conversely, at lower ISO-numbers, the resulting photos will be brighter at a given EV.

In digital photography, the brightness of your photos will still change when changing the ISO-setting on your camera. However, the light sensitivity of a camera does not change when adjusting ISO-settings. ISO is simply a post sensor gain applied to the signal from the camera sensor.

WHAT DO THE ISO-NUMBERS MEAN?

Digital cameras (DSLRs) typically have ISO-settings that range between 100 (low sensitivity) to 204,800 or even higher (high sensitivity). Compact cameras and camera phones will have lower maximum ISO-settings than DSLRs.

EFFECTS OF CHANGING ISO

Changing ISO-setting influences the brightness of your images and it changes the signal-to-noise ratio. It also has some effect on color and dynamic range (the ability of the camera to capture detail in both highlights and shadows)

Effects of changing ISO: brightness

The effects are:

  • The lower the ISO-setting, the less gain applied to the signal from the camera-sensor and the darker the resulting photo will be at a given EV.
  • The higher the ISO-setting, the more gain applied to the signal from the camera-sensor and the brighter the resulting photo will be at a given EV.

The gain applied to the signal will double between each ISO-setting. This means that doubling the ISO-setting will double the brightness of your photo and increase the EV by one stop. Conversely, halving ISO-settings will halve the gain applied to the signal, decreasing the EV by one stop.

These stops are, again, the same as the ones when adjusting aperture or shutter speed. This means that when you increase or decrease the shutter-speed and or aperture by several stops, you can adjust the ISO in the opposite direction by the same amount of stops. The brightness of your image should remain the same, however motion blur might, depth-of-field (DOF) will and the amount of noise might change between settings. Remember the exposure triangle. Figure 1 gives examples of how the brightness changes resulting from changing the ISO-settings.

effect ISO settings brightness lego photography
Figure 1; The effect of ISO settings on brightness.

Last, brightness can also be changed in post-processing. Yet, the quality of the photo will usually be better if the in-camera ISO is set correctly as opposed to adjusting the brightness in post-processing.

Effects of changing ISO: signal-to-noise ratio

Image quality will change when adjusting ISO. The higher the ISO is set, the higher the amount of noise (/ grain) in your photo will be. The lower the ISO, the lower the amount of noise in your photo.

The signal-to-noise ratio depends on the sensor in your camera. In general, the smaller the sensor; the more noise a sensor will produce.

Besides, as stated above, ISO is about the amount of gain applied to the signal that is produced by the sensor after exposure to light. And the higher the ISO, the higher the gain applied to the signal. However, the gain is applied to both the noise and the signal. So, at higher ISO-values the noise becomes visible.

SETTING YOUR ISO

Most cameras only have aperture- or shutter speed priority mode. In these modes, you usually can set a range of ISO-values from which the camera can choose. As far as I know, only Pentax camera’s have an ISO-priority mode. And of course you can use manual (M-)mode.

Test the ISO noise-effects of your camera

Each camera sensor differs regarding ISO. It is best practice to test your camera at differing ISO settings, deciding for yourself which amount of noise is acceptable. Be sure you judge the amount of noise on your computer (!) and not on a small telephone of camera-screen. Also remember that noise is usually higher in darker photos at a given ISO-setting.

Choosing your ISO-settings

All in all, I recommend shooting your photos at the lowest ISO-number possible. This will produce the best quality photos. Also, keep in mind that quality of color and dynamic range increases at lower ISO-settings.

However, sometimes that may not be possible. The worst circumstances being if you want a relatively small aperture whilst freezing motion (high shutter-speed) in a photo at low light shot from the hand. That photo will not be possible without increasing ISO-values.

Anyway, I almost exclusively use ISO 100 when shooting Lego. The fact that Lego scenes are usually pretty static makes it so that I can usually shoot from a tripod at low shutter speeds without needing to increase ISO. Yet, sometimes I still need to increase ISO, this is almost always because of the need for a certain shutter speed. For example, because sometimes I need a higher shutter-speed because I can’t use my tripod and need to take a picture from the hand. A higher ISO means I can use faster shutter speeds with a lower chance of camera motion due to my hands shaking.

CONCLUSION

This post concludes the course on the basics of camera-settings. Reading about exposure, aperture, shutter speed and ISO, understanding how these values relate to each other and practice will surely increase the quality of your (Lego) photography or Lego comic. Besides, it will give more freedom to photograph a scene exactly as you like.

If there are any more questions, let me know in the comments!

Happy creating!

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Beginners guide shutter speed Lego photography

Shutter speed in Lego photography | A beginners guide

Blog

February 17, 2022

Original: July 5, 2018
latest: February 17, 2022

After writing about exposure and the aperture in (Lego) photography, today’s post will be on shutter speed. Everything you need to know to switch the camera from automatic to manual for your Lego photography will be in this article. Let’s dive right in.

WHAT IS SHUTTER?

The shutter is a part of your camera that is in front of the sensor. The camera sensor handles the ‘recording’ of the light from a scene you’re photographing, ultimately forming your photo. In front of this sensor, there is a blinder, named the shutter. The shutter covers the sensor until a photo is being recorded. When you press the shutter-release-button (or simply ‘shutter-button’) the shutter uncovers the sensor for an amount of time equal to the shutter speed, records the light from the scene, and then covers the sensor up again.

The infograph below will serve as a summary on shutter for Lego photography.

infographic - shutter speed lego photography
Infographic - shutter for Lego photography

WHAT IS SHUTTER SPEED?

Shutter speed, also called exposure time, is the time the shutter of your camera is open, enabling light to reach your camera sensor.

This time is measured is seconds or fragments of seconds. The larger the denominator; the faster the shutter speed with less light reaching the camera sensor. For example, 1/60 is faster than 1/30.

Different cameras have different ranges of shutter speeds, usually between 1/4000 sec (fast, sensor exposed for a short time) and 30 sec (slow, sensor exposed for a long time).

EFFECTS OF CHANGING SHUTTER SPEED

Shutter speed influences two aspects of the photo you are making; exposure and motion blur.

Effect of changing shutter-speed: exposure

Usually shutter speeds will (approximately) double between each setting. For example: 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, etc. This is good to remember, since doubling the time the shutter is open will also double the amount of light that reaches the sensor, increasing the exposure Value (EV) by one stop. Conversely, halving the time the shutter speed is open will halve the amount of light that reaches the sensor, decreasing the EV by one stop.

These stops are the same as the ones when adjusting aperture. This means that when you increase or decrease the shutter speed by several stops, you can adjust the aperture in the opposite direction by the same amount of stops. The exposure should remain the same, however motion blur might and depth-of-field (DOF) will change between settings. Figure 1 shows examples of how exposure changes resulting from changing the shutter speed.

Figure 1; The effect of shutter speed on exposure lego photography.

An example; let’s say your make a photo at 1/30, f/5.6. You decide you want a deeper DOF so you adjust your aperture to f/11 (2 stops). For the exposure to remain the same, you can adjust your shutter speed to 1/8, also increasing the possibility of motion-blur. If you have trouble remember how to calculate these values, first use the exposure triangle. Last, besides changing shutter speed or aperture, you can also change the ISO, as I will discuss in the following article on ISO.

Effect of changing shutter-speed: motion blur

The other effect of changing shutter-speed is that you might introduce motion-blur. Motion blur can occur if there are moving objects within the scene you are photographing. Moving objects can be at one location when the shutter opens and the sensor starts recording light, and at another location when you close the shutter again, stopping the recording. The more distance between those two locations; the more motion blur occurs in your photo.

Effectively, if there is movement in the scene you want to photograph, shutter speed gives you the choice of either freezing the movement or giving the object a motion blur (and so a sense of movement). Figure 2 shows you examples of motion blur at different shutter speed settings. I adjusted the aperture and ISO to keep exposure equal.

The effect of shutter speed on motion-blur lego photography
Figure 2; The effect of shutter speed on motion blur.

Effect of changing shutter speed: camera motion

A second type of motion blur can occur, even when the scene you’re photographing is static, because of (unintentional) camera-movement. Mostly, this is an unwanted effect when shooting in low light and/ or with aperture values, underexposing your image so you need slow shutter speeds. As a rule of thumb, if you want to take a photo with a shutter speed of 1/60 or slower, it is probably best to use a tripod. The 1/focal length rule (explained below) gives a more precise shutter speed, depending on the focal length of your lens.

Last, there are two other potential sources of camera-movement which can give unintentional camera movement. Especially when shooting macro-photos of Lego, I have this problem. First, when I press the shutter-release-button it can move the camera a little. This means I usually use a remote-control besides the tri-pod. Second, SLR-cameras can move a little when the mirror goes up. So, when it’s crucial to have a perfectly still photo, I lock the mirror before shooting the photo.

HOW TO PICK YOUR SHUTTER-SPEED

Picking your shutter-speed is -again- an artistic decision. So, when considering what shutter speed to use, you should always ask yourself whether anything in your scene is moving and how you’d like to capture that movement (water, cars, birds, etc…).

Wanted; motion blur

Motion blur is not always unwanted. In fact, purposely introducing motion-blur can significantly improve some photos. As I’ve written earlier, yo can choose to freeze a moving object, making it look perfectly still, however you can also intentionally introduce motion blur giving the object a sense of movement. The more motion blur there is, the faster we perceive the photographed object to be moving. Two examples are below. Figure 3 shows motion blur in the moving water coming down the waterfall and stream, showing you how fast the water is moving.

Slow shutter speed, showing the motion and beauty of flowing water and the waterfall.
Figure 3; Slow shutter speed, showing the motion and beauty of flowing water and the waterfall.

For the photo in figure 4, I used a slower shutter speed and followed the motorcyclist with the camera, giving it a sense of speed because of the motion-blur of the background. Should the background have been completely in focus, it would have looked as if the motorcycle stood still. I don’t consider this a good photo btw, mainly because I had trouble keeping a moving object in focus.

Motion blur of the background, giving the motorcycle a sense of speed
Figure 4; Motion blur of the background, giving the motorcycle a sense of speed.

Focal Length and shutter speed

When you’re holding your camera, you may notice your hands trembling a little, causing camera movements. Mostly, you can get rid of these movements by using a faster shutter speed. Or you can use a tripod.

The amount of camera movement is magnified by the amount of zoom (focal length) of the lens your using. The more zoomed in you are (longer focal length), the higher the amount of camera movement and the faster the shutter-speed needs to be to counteract this movement.

To decide on what shutter-speed to use, if you use a full-frame sensor, you can use the 1/focal length rule:

Minimum shutter-speed (sec) = 1/focal length (mm)

It means that, to prevent camera-movement, your focal length in mm should be equal or greater than the denominator in the shutter speed fraction. For example, if you are shooting a photo with a focal length of  50 mm, you’ll need a shutter speed no slower than 1/50 (so 1/125 or 1/500 etc, is ok too.)

For cameras with cropped sensor (APS-C sensor) the rule changes to:

Minimum shutter-speed (sec) = 1/focal length (mm) x2

For example, if you are shooting a photo with a focal length of  60 mm, you’ll need a shutter-speed of no slower than 1/125.

This is simply a rule of thumb. However, you might get away with faster shutter speeds at a given focal length because of stabilised lenses, camera-bodies (Pentax) and sensors.

SETTING YOUR SHUTTER-SPEED

In a camera, the fractions of shutter speed are usually displayed as the denominator only; so, 1/100 sec. as 100, 1/8 sec. as 8, ect. Shutter speeds over a second are followed by an apostrophe; so, 2 sec. as 2’ and 30 sec. as 30’.

If you want to select your shutter speed manually for a photo, there are two modes you can use: shutter priority mode (S or Tv (=time value)) and manual mode (M). In shutter priority mode, you select the shutter speed, and the camera automatically selects your aperture. In manual mode, you select both the shutter speed and aperture manually. Some cameras also have a bulb mode (B). this mode lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you hold the shutter-release-button down.

CONCLUSION

The shutter speeds on your camera are relatively straightforward. Simply decide how you want to capture movement and how you want to deal with unwanted motion blur and camera movement, considering the available light/ exposure. Then, set the shutter-speed accordingly. Use your knowledge of the exposure triangle to adjust aperture and ISO accordingly.

Happy creating!

COMING UP…

A guide on sensor sensitivity/ ISO

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Aperture guide in Lego photography

Aperture in Lego photography | Tips & tricks

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February 16, 2022

Original: June 28, 2018
latest: February 16, 2022

In the previous article, I wrote an extensive guide on exposure in (Lego) photography. One aspect discussed was the exposure-triangle. It shows that one of the three camera settings that gives you control over exposure is the aperture. The other settings are shutter speed and ISO.

In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about aperture for (Lego) photography. Aperture-settings affects many distinct elements of an image. Most importantly, it can add dimension to your scene by blurring the back- and foreground, while altering the brightness of your photos. There is a lot of ground to cover, so we better get started.

The infograph below will serve as a summary on aperture for Lego photography.

Infographic - aperture dof lego photography
Infographic - aperture for Lego photography

WHAT IS APERTURE?

The look of an aperture.
Figure 1: The look of an aperture.

Aperture is the opening in a lens through which light passes to enter the camera body. The aperture comprises several metal ‘blades’ that together form a circular opening. You can move these blades, thus changing the size of this opening. Essentially, aperture is like a human eye’s “pupil” for your camera, which can open and close to change the amount of light that passes through. Ultimately, by shrinking or enlarging the aperture size you’ll allow more or less light to reach your camera sensor, thus brightening or darkening your photo. Figure 1 shows you what an aperture looks like.

SIZE OF APERTURE: LARGE VS SMALL APERTURE

f-numbers and aperture-size

To work with all the different aperture-sizes, the ‘f-number’ is the standard for measuring the size of the aperture. So, whenever you see an aperture-size value, the letter f is added, for example, f/2.8 or f/4. Sometimes the ‘/‘ is omitted and f-numbers are written like f2.8 or f4.

Small f-numbers are large apertures and large f-numbers are small apertures. For example, f/4 is a large aperture and f/22 is a small aperture.

However, the actual f-number is calculated by dividing the focal length of your lens by the diameter of the aperture. That means aperture is a fraction! Thus, f/4 = 1/4th and f/22 = 1/22th. And clearly, 1/22th is much smaller than 1/4th. Regarding the f-number as fractions suddenly clarifies the relationship between f-number and size of the aperture.

f-stops and exposure

Another confusing fact is that when the diameter of a circle doubles, the surface of the opening enlarges by the square of two. So a change of aperture from f/8 to f/4 does not double the exposure, but multiplies it by eight!

A change that either doubles of halves the amount of light reaching the sensor is named a stop. Consequently, the most common f-numbers double or halve the exposure value (EV) for each consecutive f-number. These are called the f-stops. They are (from large to small aperture): f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 and f/32. Figure 2 shows you what different apertures look like at different f-stops.

Common aperture-sizes
Figure 2: Common aperture sizes

EFFECTS OF CHANGING APERTURE-SETTINGS

Changing your aperture value influences the depth of field (DOF) and brightness of your photo. In short; The higher your aperture value, the busier/sharper the back- and foreground will be and the darker your photo will be. The lower your aperture value, the blurrier the back- and foreground will be, and the lighter your photo will be.

Effect of changing aperture-settings: Exposure

When you change the aperture-size, you alter the overall amount of light that reaches your camera sensor, and therefore the brightness of your photo. A large aperture (a small f-number) will pass a lot of light, resulting in a brighter photograph. A small aperture (a large f-number) results in the opposite, a darker photo. Figure 3 shows you what happens to exposure when you change the aperture from f/2.8 to f/32.

The effect of aperture on exposure.
Figure 3: The effect of aperture on exposure.

Effect of changing aperture-settings: Depth of field

Changing aperture-size also changes the depth of field of your photo. Essentially, only the object you focus upon (the focal point) is 100% sharp. However, in front of and behind the focal point is a range where the sharpness of the image is accepted as being nearly 100% sharp. This range is named the depth of field. Of the total DOF, 1/3th is in front of the focal point and 2/3th is behind it. In macro-photography and closeups this distribution is more like 50/50. Figure 4 shows you the basics of depth of field.

Depth of field - DOF chart
Figure 4: The basics of depth of field

So, depth of field is the portion of your photograph that is sharp from front to back. Some photos have a “thin” or “shallow” depth of field, where the back- and foreground is completely out-of-focus/ blurred. Other photos have a “large” or “deep” depth of field, where most of the back- and foreground are sharp.

Figure 5 shows you a comparison of the effect on DOF between aperture sizes. The EV is equal in all images because I adjusted the shutter speed (remember the exposure-triangle).

The effect of aperture on depth of field.
Figure 5: The effect of aperture on depth of field.

What more affects depth of field?

There are three other factors that influence DOF; the focal length of your lens, sensor size and distance to the object you are photographing.

  • Object distance: The closer your object, the shallower the DOF and vice versa.
  • Focal length: Focal Length refers to the capability of a lens to magnify the image of a distant subject. DOF gets shallower as the focal length increases, and vice versa.
  • Sensor size: The larger the camera-sensor, the shallower the DOF and vice versa. So, for example, a full-frame camera will have a shallower DOF compared to a compact camera.

Controlling depth of field

In summary:

To increase your DOF (deep DOF)

  • Narrow your aperture-size (larger f-number)
  • Move farther from the subject
  • Shorten focal length of your lens
  • Use a camera with a smaller sensor

To decrease your DOF (shallow DOF)

  • Widen your aperture-size (smaller f-number)
  • Move closer to the subject
  • Lengthen focal length of your lens
  • Use a camera with a larger sensor

Effect of changing aperture-settings: Bokeh

Bokeh (pronounce like ‘bouquet’) comes from the Japanese word meaning blur. It is how out-of-focus areas beyond the depth of field are rendered. In other words, the bokeh refers to the quality of the blur in the out-of-focus areas. Photographers often describe a photo with good bokeh as having a ‘creamy’ out-of-focus area.

The best results are usually obtained by using a lens with an aperture comprising many blades (9 being typical). These blades should have a rounded edge to create a near spherical opening for the best Bokeh(figure). Eventually, bokeh is a property of a lens rather than a camera. Figure 6 shows the relationship between quality of bokeh and aperture.

the relationship between quality of bokeh and aperture
Figure 6: the relationship between quality of bokeh and aperture.

Bokeh also refers to the pleasing circle shapes caused by the shape of the lens aperture. This effect is usually created when shooting with your aperture wide open, such as f/2.8. However, bokeh can also be created with smaller aperture-sizes as long as the background is distant enough from the in focus subject. The edges of these highlights should also be soft and not haloed or hard-edged to be perceived as pleasing. Figure 7 shows you an example of how, even not that good a bokeh, can influence the mood of your Lego photo.

Bokeh lego toy photography
Figure 7: An example of Bokeh

Effect of changing aperture-settings: Starburst effect

When shooting into the sun or other light sources, you may notice that some of your photos show a more intense light with clearly defined light rays, known as a “starburst” effect.

This effect has its origin in the aperture size and shape. In short; imperfections in the circle formed by the aperture blades create light rays. Since the number of imperfections depends on the number of blades of your aperture, the blade-count of your aperture will tell you how many rays of light you will get in your photo. When you have an even number of blades, you will get the same amount of rays. And when you have an odd number of blades, you will get double the number of rays as you have blades. Figure 8 shows you an example of starbursts.

Starburst effect
Figure 8: An example of the starburst effect (https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/310177-best-starburst-lenses-2.html)

The smaller the aperture-size, the more the more “starburst” you’ll see in your photo. So, to create this effect you need an aperture-size of f/11 or smaller. I would recommend maximally f/16.

Last, remember that the lower the focal length of the lens, the smaller the physical opening of the aperture, so the more you zoom out, the more “starburst”.

HOW TO PICK YOUR APERTURE IN LEGO PHOTOGRAPHY

So, now that you know a bit about the background of aperture, how do you know what aperture-size to use for your Lego photos?

Lens limitations

First, look at the specifications of your lens. It says what the maximum and minimum apertures are because every lens has a limit on how large or how small the aperture-size can get. The maximum aperture-size (smallest available f-stop) is the most important value since it tells you how much light the lens can capture at its maximum. If you’re using a zoom-lens, also look if the maximum aperture-size changes dependent on the focal length (zoom) you’ll be using.

Brightness of the scene

Usually if you’re shooting a darker scene, use large apertures like f/2.8 to capture a photo of the proper brightness. However, many Lego-scenes are pretty static, especially if you’re using a tripod. So if there are no moving objects in the scene, simply change the aperture-size dependent on the DOF you would like to have in your picture and adjust the shutter-speed (and/ or ISO) to get the brightness of your photo you’d like.

Last, if there is a chance of motion blur, try to keep your aperture-size to a value that enables a shutter speed (possibly combined with a decent ISO-value) that is still fast enough to capture a subject without motion blur.

Depth of field and storytelling

Depth of field does not only make your photo look different, it also has apparent effects on how the photographed scene is perceived. It can draw the eye of the viewer. It can help tell a story.

The viewer’s eye will often go to the area within a photo that’s in focus. It will more or less ignore parts that are out of focus. This effect is ‘selective focus’. To accomplish this effect, use a large aperture-size (small f-stop). It is very useful to show the viewer what you believe to be the most important part of the scene. Take another look at figure 5. At f/2.8 your eye is immediately drawn Dwaas while at f/32 you will probably get confused about what is the most important element of the image.

For example; if you have a dialogue in a scene of your Lego comic, you can put selective focus on the person most important. This could be the person speaking, however, maybe you would want the person speaking blurry and put the selective focus on the listener. That way, readers will register the text, but will focus on the reaction of the listener!

You can put more or less focus on the background. If you want to make your subject stand out of the background (or if you’d like to make an ugly background more or less disappear), use a large aperture-size. If you want to make your subject go up in the background, or put more focus on the connection between your subject and the background, use small aperture-sizes.

SETTING YOUR APERTURE

If you want to select your aperture manually for a photo, there are two modes you can use: aperture priority mode (A or Av) and manual mode (M). In aperture-priority mode, you select the aperture, and the camera automatically selects your shutter speed. In manual mode, you select both the aperture and shutter speed manually.

CONCLUSION

Aperture is arguably the single most important setting of all camera settings simply because it has so many effects on your photo. In this post, I discussed a few effects aperture has on your photo. Some effects that were not discussed are ability to focus in low light, possible focus shift on some lenses, sharpness because of diffraction, sharpness because of lens quality and the visibility of camera-sensor dust specks. It is good to know these effects exist, and that aperture is involved.

Coming up…

An extensive beginners guide on shutter-speed.

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exposure lego photography

Exposure for Lego photography | Tutorial

Blog

February 15, 2022

Original: Jun 21, 2018
latest: February 15, 2022

If want to create amazing Lego photos or panels for your Lego comic, you’ll need to know how to light your photos. Many beginning Lego photographers or Lego comic creators don’t even think about lighting because they use full-automatic cameras (or smartphones) to shoot their photos. However, if you would like control over the lighting of your Lego photos, or if you want some background information, this comprehensive post on exposure is for you. This is the first post within a series of guides on exposure, the others being on aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

Exposure, the basics

Exposure is the amount of light that your camera sensor is exposed to when you take a photo. It is directly related to the bright- and darkness of (parts of) your photos. To control exposure, you can use three factors;

Related to exposure are the sensor sensitivity (ISO) settings. Many photographers describe ISO as part of exposure, because it affects the brightness of a photo, just like exposure does. Yet, ISO settings do not influence exposure at all, since it does not control the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor. It brightens the image after the sensor has already been exposed to light.

The exposure-triangle

The so-called ‘exposure triangle’ (figure 1) shows the relationship between the aperture, shutter-speed and ISO-settings. Changing one of these settings will influence the brightness of your photo, and each has other effects. Changing aperture-settings influences depth of field (DOF), changing shutter-speed-settings influences motion-blur and changing ISO-settings influences the signal-to-noise-ratio.

Exposure triangle
Figure 1; the exposure triangle

The relationship between aperture, shutter-speed and ISO

Exposure value and stops

A specific combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO-settings is an exposure value (EV). A change that either doubles of halves the amount of light reaching the sensor (or doubles of halves the ‘sensitivity’ in case of the ISO) is a stop. The stops are displayed in figure 1 too; for example, a change in aperture-setting from f/2.8 to f/4 is one stop, from f/2.8 to f/5.6 is two stops etc. Same goes for ISO and Shutter speed.

If you want to keep the EV equal whilst changing one setting one stop or more, you need to adjust one or two of the other values for the same amount of stops in the opposite direction. For example, if you want to keep the EV stable and you change the aperture-setting from f/5.6 to f/11 (2 stops darker), you could change your shutter-speed from 1/60 to 1/15 (2 stops brighter), or your ISO from 100 to 400 (2 stops brighter) or a combination; shutter-speed from 1/60 to 1/30 combined with changing ISO from 100 to 200. Is this way you can keep the brightness of your photo equal whilst changing other effects (DOF, motion-blur or signal-to-noise-ratio).

Camera priority modes

The possibilities are endless and dependent on many factors, however, your artistic vision is the most important. At first, you can play with these settings if your camera allows it. Most high end cameras have priority modes that will determine other values dependent on the exposure the camera ‘decides’ is the right exposure.

  • Aperture priority mode: You set the aperture, and the camera decides shutter speed and ISO within a range you set.
  • Shutter priority mode: You set the shutter speed, and camera decides aperture and ISO within the range you set.
  • Sensor sensitivity mode (Pentax): You set the ISO, and the camera decides shutter speed.

Exposure compensation

Most cameras have exposure compensation (the +/- button). This compensation will come to your rescue if you use a priority mode and you disagree with the exposure the camera ‘decides’ is right. With this button you can force the camera to change the exposure your camera thinks is right and make your photo darker or lighter. The numbers are stops, so if you want the camera to make your photo 2 stops lighter, press the +/- button and turn it to +2. If you want to make it 1 stop darker, turn it to -1.

Dependent on the priority mode you’re using, the exposure compensation will change different settings to get the exposure you desire:

  • Aperture priority mode: exposure compensation will change your shutter speed (also influencing motion-blur).
  • Shutter priority mode: exposure compensation will change your aperture (also influencing DOF).
  • Sensor sensitivity mode (Pentax): exposure compensation will change your shutter speed (also influencing motion-blur).
  • Program mode: exposure compensation will change your shutter speed (also influencing motion-blur), in the cameras I used.

Over- and underexposure

Normal exposure is similar to what our eyes see. This does not mean that normal exposure is the right exposure. The right exposure gives you the amount of light you want in your picture, so it is an artistic decision. Maybe you purposely want to over-or underexpose (parts) of your image/ panel, related to the mood you want to create in your panel.

right exposure lego photography
The right exposure

Overexposure

Overexposure happens when too much light is captured by the camera, resulting in a (very) bright image. In the highlights, the pixels are pure white and there won’t be any details recorded (so-called ‘blow-out’). Mostly you will get muddy, bleak photos. Yet, when photographing low light scenes, overexposing a little (only one stop) can bring out more details.

overexposure lego photography
Overexposed photo

Underexposure

Underexposure happens when too little light is captured by the camera, resulting in a (very) dark image. Many photographers will underexpose a photo just a little (only one stop) because this can lead to deeper and more saturated colors (for example, a sunset). However you underexposure the photo too much, you will end up with a dark image where most of the details are lost.

underexposure lego photography
Underexposed photo

Generally, you want to avoid overexposure when possible. When overexposing a photo, the areas that were “blown out” to white are unsalvageable in photo-editing software. More detail is preserved in areas that appear to be pure black in your photo, so you’ll have more information to work with once you decide to edit the photo (however, there usually will be some noise). So, when in doubt; underexpose your photo, and afterwards salvage the underexposed areas in postproduction.

Sometimes it may be difficult to expose an image right within your camera, usually because there are bright and dark areas combined. A famous example is a bright window in an otherwise darker room. Your eyes/ brain can deal with these differences perfectly, however, if you want to make a photo of this situation you have to make choices.

Coming up…

The following post, is an extensive beginners guide to aperture.

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Lego Comic creator

Definite guide to creating a Lego comic

Blog

February 12, 2022

Original: May 22, 2018
latest: February 12, 2022

Lego Comic creator

How to create your own Lego comic?

Are you thinking about creating your own Lego comic? This article will get you started. I will discuss the most important elements needed to create a Lego comic (or brick comic, as named within the AFOL community).

Making mistakes and learning from them is one way to improve, and over the years, I’ve made many mistakes. This article describes everything I learned by creating the Foolish Bricks comic.

This article is a general overview of the complete process of contemplation to publishing your brick comic. I will regularly update it to reflect my latest insights. Also, I will discuss many subjects in this post in separate, more in-depth articles.


WHAT BUDGET DO YOU NEED TO CREATE A LEGO COMIC?

First, decide what quality you want your comic to be. Next, determine the amount of money and time you will need to budget to create the comic according to the standard you’d like.

What quality do you want your Lego brick comic to be?

People often only consider the financial budget. However, there is another, arguably more important, commodity you will need to budget, your time!

The quality you want to bring to your comic will determine your budget. Quality has many aspects, amongst others: story, photography, composition of the comic, website and consistency of publishing. At first, it is best to prioritize, concentrating on one or two of these elements. When your comic is up and running, you can improve the other elements. When I started the Foolish Brick comic, I only concentrated on efficiency; how could I publish episodes consistently twice a week using the least amount of time necessary?

What financial budget will you need for your Lego comic?

You don’t have to be a millionaire to create a Lego brick comic. You can create a brilliant comic with a couple of minifigures in a ‘normal world’ backdrop. For this, you can use natural lights or the lamps you have lying around. Also, you can use your smartphone as a camera. Furthermore, there is free software available for post-production of your photos and for assembling the comic. Finally, you can publish your brick comic on a free website. There are awesome Lego comics out there made on a small to modest budget.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can go for a professional camera and objectives, specialized studio lights, tons of Lego, a high-end computer with premium software, etc. It doesn’t mean your comic will be better than the low-budget ones. My belief is that knowledge and time are the prime commodities necessary to create.

Ultimately, you can make it as expensive or low-cost as you want. I recommend start small, focusing on one or two elements. Eventually expanding over time, each time focusing on a certain aspect of your comic.

How much time are you willing to spend on your comic?

Anticipate the time you want to put into creating your Lego brick comic! At first, I gravely underestimated the time that went into creating my comic. Balance your time and be realistic. Be careful pressuring yourself with tight time-constraints, for example, by having a too high posting-frequency. This is your hobby. Creating your comic should preferably be relaxing.

Man thinking about the budget for his comic

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED TO CREATE A LEGO COMIC?

To get your Lego comic up and running, you’ll need some essential equipment. What exactly you’ll need depends on your specific needs, location, and funds.

Below, a basic list of essentials.

Lego. This goes without saying. To my surprise though, I found a Lego comic produced without the use of Lego. The artist used the Lego Digital Designer (LDD) software.

Photo Camera. This goes without saying too. There are many options available, like a smartphone, compact camera, system camera, mirrorless camera, or Digital Single Lens Reflex-camera (DSLR). Each camera has its own advantages and disadvantages. Choose based on a combination of budget, size and weight, amount of configuration options, availability of lenses, and quality of photos. I use a DSLR (Pentax K-1).

Lenses. If you use a camera with separate lenses, you’ll need to put some thought into which lenses to buy. There are many options available in different price classes and quality. I mostly use macro-lenses, portrait-lenses, and a probe-lens. I still remember the moment I got my first macro-lens. It resulted in a landscape shift of quality of my photography.

Tripod. A tripod is crucial to get the sharpest photos! A tripod is also essential for some of the trick photography if you are into that.

Lighting. My favourite light comes from natural light sources. But if you want better control of your lighting, you’ll need artificial lights. At first, many lights in and around your house will suffice. When you want to take a step up, you’ll have two major classes of lighting to choose from: continuous lights or flash.

Studio. Well, not exactly a studio, but it helps to have a dedicated location in your house to use for your photography. A place where you can leave everything as it is between photography sessions.

Computer, including software. Though some people create and upload their comic only using their smartphone, I could not do without my computer. There are several categories of software that might be useful. Amongst others, photo-editing software (Photoshop, Gimp, Darktable, Lightroom), software to compose your comic (Comic Life, Photoshop, Illustrator), software for scripting your comic (Any word processing software, any note software, Scrivener, Final Draft, Fade-in), and website design and ftp software (Dreamweaver, Filezilla, transmit). When I started my comic, I used Photoshop, Microsoft Word, Comic Life and Dreamweaver. Over the years, my workflow changed drastically, so now I use Bear, Scrivener, Illustrator, Photoshop, Transmit and WordPress.

Accessories. Softboxes, camera remote (highly recommended), tape, wire, color-gels, light-shaping equipment (like snoots, barndoors, grids), sticky tack, support gear for lights and other equipment (like mounts, stands, clips, and clamps), powder brush (for removing dust), etc.


HOW TO GET IDEAS FOR A LEGO COMIC

Finding ideas for your comic can be challenging. For me, this is the toughest part of the process, and I use a combination of techniques to overcome my difficulties.

What kind of Lego comic do you want to create?

Before you do anything, ask yourself what kind of Lego comic you want to create. Short stories, or a long epic story, an ongoing series with specific characters or setting, a soap-opera, short 3-4 panel gags, etc. Maybe you’d like a combination. Each of these many options has different consequences for the way you’ll want to develop your story.

Record your ideas for a story.

Ideas for stories come at the most peculiar times. I’m always prepared to record them. I used to carry a good old-fashioned notebook with me. Now, I use a cross-device-syncing notes app. Many people use Evernote, but, my favourite note-taking app is Bear (Apple only). there are many note-taking apps and as long as your preferred app synchronises fast between your phone and your computer, you’re good to go.

How to get inspiration?

There are many approaches to discover useful story ideas. The most obvious advice is to watch a lot of movies, read books and comics/ graphic novels. Aim to find out what the movie, book or comic really is about. Can you discover the common themes and story structure? More on story structure in paragraph 4. Be sure to not simply copy/ paste a story. Always create your distinct own stories.

The aforementioned technique is a great way to get inspired. However, to do this regularly, you need a lot of time, which I don’t have. I read the flaps of books, abstracts and such. Concerning movies, I scroll through the synopsis on the net, like IMDB or Wikipedia.

You can also combine the basic ideas of books, films and comics. For example; “A zombie run bar” = Walking Dead meets Cheers; “Two bad-ass cops blow thing up in space” = Lethal Weapon meets Star Trek. There are endless possibilities.

Popular amongst Lego brick comic creators is using a well know setting and creating a Lego counterpart. There are, for example, Harry Potter Lego Comics, or comics based on a mixture of Star Trek and Star Wars. This is a simple way of starting out in a fleshed out world with established characters. Though, mostly, during the run of your comic, most things will probably change according to your own personal preferences.

Another possibility is doing research on things you like. For me, subjects would include; Mythology (I love Greek Mythology), mysterious places in the world, local folklore, secret organisations, etc. Reading up on subjects you like will probably spark basic ideas.

Sometimes I set an alarm clock for ten minutes and just start writing, ideas, words, connections, names, ect. There is no right or wrong. I keep writing for the whole ten minutes. I don’t stop, cross nothing out, and don’t think. After ten minutes, I make connections and see if anything viable is in there. Most of the times, I am amazed by what my brain brought up!

I mentioned only a few possibilities of the countless techniques to get inspired for your comic. Using (a combination of) these techniques should get you going.


DEVELOP A STORY FOR YOUR LEGO COMIC

You can develop your story in several ways. However, some develop no story at all and simply start shooting their comic, not knowing where it’ll end up. Others write a basic story-line and leave the minor elements for later. And some write every detail before starting shooting photos. All methods have their own pros and cons, and it’s up to you to choose. Remain flexible though. Change the script whenever you run into problems whilst shooting the comic. I wrote the first season of the Foolish Bricks Comic on the fly, the second and third season have a basic story-line.

Whatever option you choose, I urge you to write with the end in mind! Have a goal to work towards. I created the first season of my Lego comic without an end in mind and, oh boy, did I mess up the ending. It’s also easier to remain flexible when rewriting the script if you have an ending in mind. This works for the long and short stories, it also works for scenes and storylines in a soaplike story.

Write a premise line

The premise line is a primary guide for developing long stories. It helps you to determine what your story is about. Develop a premise line before you writing your story. It contains, amongst other components, the primary story structure, important character(s), conflict and ending. If you develop a good premise line, you can always return to it if you’re stuck writing your story. I wrote an in-depth article on the premise-line.

Decide on a story structure

If you go for a longer story, you may outline the story after writing a premise-line. Many story structure templates are available. Some are for movies -like ‘Save the Cat’- and some are more general -like ‘The writer’s journey’.

I like the structure as described in ‘The writer’s journey’ by Christopher Vogler. Even if you don’t want to use a story structure, this book is an enjoyable and interesting read.

Some people argue that using these templates may lead to formulaic writing. While that may be partly true, many of the stages described in such a template can be broadly interpreted, leading to many variations. Besides, you can always deviate from templates. You can change them, add elements or leave parts out. Nobody forces you to use all components. In the end, these templates are here to help you, and if you get stuck in your writing, it is good to have some structure to fall back to.


WRITE A SCRIPT FOR YOUR LEGO COMIC

In a script, you’ll write the field of view, action, and dialogue. Include key elements and characters that need to be in a panel and episode. Through the script, the look and feel of individual panels come to life. I can see the photographs in my mind before I set them up and shoot them.

When writing the script, you’ll decide on the composition of your scenes and panels (including camera-shots and angles). Another essential component of the script is getting the dialogue clear. Knowledge about how many and who’s dialogue goes into what panel is crucial to the composition of the photos. For example, will person A need to be on the left or right from person B, how much room will I need in the photo to place my intended dialogue, etc.

I rarely have the script for the entire comic ready before shooting. But it is good to have at least one complete scene scripted before shooting one or more episodes within that scene.

Man developing the story and writing the script of his comic

BUILD STAGES FOR YOUR LEGO BRICK COMIC

Once you know where your story will bring the characters, it’s time to build one or more stages. This is assuming that you will build your stages from Lego bricks. If you want to save some time, you can use (modified) official Lego sets. Of course, you can also choose to incorporate non-Lego environments in your comic.

When I build sets, I consider what will be visible in the panels. This will partly depend on what camera shotsangles, and aperture settings you planned. These considerations also determine the amount of details I deem necessary.

The size of your stages is a matter of preference. At the smallest, I build ‘through the lens’. This means I only build what I can see through the lens. My largest sets are the ones I expect to use more than once.

I’ve built many stages, some better than others. There are blog posts on the stages from the first season of the Foolish Lego brick comic and Dwaas’ house in the second season.


PHOTOGRAPHING LEGO – BASICS

In this paragraph, I’ll present several aspects to keep in mind when photographing Lego.

Exposure; shutter, aperture, and ISO

Let’s start with the basics. Photography is about capturing light, and the amount of light captured by your camera is called exposure. A photo with normal exposure resembles the lighting our eyes see. Overexposure happens when too much light reflects into the camera, resulting in a brighter photo. Underexposure happens when little light enters the camera, resulting in a dark photo. Exposure is directly related to the bright- and darkness of (parts of) your photos and thus your comic panels.

The three factors which control exposure are; changing the amount of light on (parts) of your stage, changing aperture settings (also influencing depth-of-field) and changing shutter-speed. You can also brighten a photo by changing the ISO-settings. However, ISO is not a part of exposure itself, since it does not influence the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor. It solely brightens the image after the sensor has already been exposed to light.

Last, I want to stress that the right exposure is not the same as normal exposure. Often I purposely want to over-or underexpose (parts) of a panel, related to the mood I want to create in a panel. Use the exposure-settings that are best to tell your story.

I wrote extensive beginner guides on exposure, shutter, aperture, and ISO. Next, a few other basis rues to keep in mind.

Lighting the scene – basics

There are many guidelines describing how you could light your scenes and characters. When you just started your comic, it is most important to ensure that at least the most important elements in a panel are well lit. Besides, ensure consistent lighting between panels and episodes of your brick comic.

Choose if you want to use natural light, continuous studio lights or flash to light your scenes. These types of lighting all have pros and cons. I used to only work with continuous lights combined with natural lights. Now I favor flash, and when the situation demands it, I combine flash with continuous lights.

Dealing with reflections

Lego bricks reflect light like crazy. Just when I think I’ve got your scene lit correctly, unwanted reflections are posing problems, especially the heads of Lego minifigures.

I try to diminish reflections by moving or tilting the lights or the object that has the annoying reflection. Especially tilting the minifigure or moving the culpable light source works extremely well to reduce undesirable reflections. Another option is diffusing the lights.

If you can’t get rid of all unwanted reflections, ensure that crucial elements show as little as possible reflection (like the middle of the head). Thereupon, you can try to remove the remaining reflections in post-production.

Have your subject in focus.

The primary subject of your panel should be in focus! It’s a minor effort, but makes your photos look so much better! Blurry faces of the main character within that panel will look as if you don’t care about quality. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but these exceptions are always intentional and related to a specific message to convey.

Composition

Composition is the way you arrange your scene. There are several compositional guidelines you can use to increase the impact of your scene. Remember, these are not rules and you may deviate from them. Sometimes the deviation from photo composition guidelines makes a particular scene come to life.

Some of the more well-known guidelines are: the Fibonacci-spiral, rule of thirds, golden ratio, centred composition/ symmetry, leading lines, rule of space, balanced elements and the use of negative space. If you’d like to step up your photography, learn about these guidelines.

Leave room for dialogue

Do not forget to leave room in the panel to add text-balloons. I create the text-balloons before I shoot the pictures. That way I can already visualize the space necessary for text, besides it helps in determining the flow of the episode.

Relationship between panels

Finally, when dealing with multiple panels within one scene, consistency is important. Remember where everybody should be from panel to panel. And don’t forget to move the world along with the central characters within the scene. If you only move your characters and leave everyone else untouched, it will look like time has stopped.


PHOTOGRAPHING LEGO – ADVANCED

Once you have the basics down, you can concentrate on the storytelling. Below I’ll touch upon a few aspects to get your message across to readers.

I wrote an extensive article with examples on storytelling with Lego-photography that, amongst other things, covers topics like focusing on the hero, framing, color-temperature, plastic emotions, the amount of details, and contrasting information. Be sure to read it, if you are interested in this topic.

Camera shots and angles

Camera shots are about how much of the subject and its surrounding area is visible in one panel. Using the relatively well-known long shots, medium shots and close-ups will take you a long way. Camera angles provide the camera shots at different angles (like high angle, low angle, eye-level, Dutch angle, overhead shot). When in doubt, photograph the minifigures from their perspective! minifigure eye-level is the way to go.

Dynamic use of camera shots and angles is very effective for adding subtexts to your panels. For example, you can help readers focus on elements in the panel that are important for the story. You can also create tension and drama. Likewise, you can manipulate, deliberately confuse, or mislead your readers. A nice side-effect of varying camera shots and angles is that is makes the episodes look a bit more attractive. Many Lego brick comics have episodes showing multiple panels visually similar and uninteresting.

Read all about camera shots and angles in Lego photography.

Lighting for storytelling

Correct lighting is essential for your story to be instantly clear. You can use your lights to present your story, set the mood and stylize your photo. A simple, yet extremely effective technique is to light the most important story-element with the brightest lights and the most contrast. Point your lights on all elements that are important to the story. All less important elements should be less lit and with less contrast than the major story-elements. In addition, contrasts and partial lighting within a photo can provide all kinds of subtexts and influence the overall mood of a scene.

Color temperature

Color temperature is crucial to convey the mood and atmosphere of a scene. For example; if you shoot a panel in yellowish light, you will convey a sunny day, maybe even happiness of your characters. Shoot the same panel in white blue-ish light and you will convey coldness (or a distant relationship between characters). Red may convey warmth or danger, a minifigure shot in a green environment might look sick (or it might seem like the environment is sick or something is terribly wrong). More information on color temperature is in this article.

Guide the viewers’ eye

Leading the viewers’ eyes through your photo. More precisely, try to draw the viewers’ eyes towards points of interest in your photo by using one or more techniques, related to lighting, contrasts, depth of field, leading lines and frames.


POST-PROCESSING OF YOU LEGO PHOTOS

After I have shot all photos for my panels, I always do post-processing on my photos. Try to keep image editing to a minimum. It’s best to get a photo right predominantly in camera.

Shoot in RAW

If your camera has a RAW-setting, shoot your photos in RAW-format! Thus, the most information is incorporated in the photo, which is extremely important for post-processing. For the same reason, always shoot in the highest quality.

Cropping

Through cropping you can correct or fine-tune a panel’s composition. Note that when you resort to cropping, your photo should have a large enough pixel-size otherwise you might lose quality.

Removing reflections and other imperfections

I discussed the reflections before. Mostly the ‘other imperfections’ come down to removing specs of dust I didn’t notice with my bare eyes. Try to remove dust before photographing Lego. I use a powder-brush for this.

Several corrections

Correct aspects like lighting, colors (including color-temperature and color-grading), sharpness, etc., when necessary. Don’t overdo this unless intentional. I try to keep these corrections to a minimum unless the story asks for a specific style.

Special effects

Special effects are always cool to incorporate in a comic, as long as you don’t overdo it and keep it related to the story. Ghosts, light sabers, light-beams, lightning, rainflying objects/ minifigures, explosions, walking through walls. Whatever you can think of, it is possible. There are several behind-the-scenes posts with examples on this site.


ASEMBLE YOUR LEGO COMIC

Everything we discussed comes together when you create the actual comic. You’ve written and created all elements like script; panel layout; photos, and dialogue. Next, construct and tweak each panel and episode until you’re happy with the result.

There are several options for software, as stated in the paragraph on equipment. I use Adobe Illustrator for this part of the process. After I complete the episode, I export to Photoshop, add copyright-information, and optimize the image for uploading.


SHARE YOUR LEGO COMIC

I presume you want to share your comic with other people instead of keeping all your awesomeness to yourself. You have several options to do this.

Your own website

I highly recommend setting up your own website. It is a lot of work at first, and it may be difficult to get some traffic towards your website. But in the end your Lego comic deserves its own home on the Internet. A home where you, as creator, are in charge and independent of how others believe your creation should be treated.

These days it is fairly simple to get a simple website going. There are many options for websites. You could also work with a (low-cost) provider. I recommend using WordPress with the comic-press theme or another theme of combined with the comic-easel plugin.

Social media

There are a few Lego brick comics published media like Instagram and Flickr. Yet, I am not a fan of giving all control to a third party. I’d rather decide myself how I present my comic to my readers.

Besides losing control, there are other disadvantages. For instance, Instagram messing up the chronological order of the episodes, or the absence of adequate navigation (try to get to the first episode of a Lego comic on Instagram as fast as possible). Conversely, it is easier to build a large audience fast. Currently, I don’t recommend social media to post your comics. You can use social media to promote though!

Forums

I have seen a few comics shared on a forum. This outlet may be nice if you have a few experimental comics and you want some feedback from like-minded people. However, if you are getting serious about posting a longer run of Lego brick comics, go for one of the other two options.


In conclusion

I wrote an overview of many aspects to consider if you’d like to create your own Lego brick comic. Not all aspects are equally important, and it is up to you to use and ignore whatever I wrote. The crucial element of creating a Lego comic: have fun! Enjoy conceiving, creating, and publishing your own comic.

So, what are you waiting for? Go off and create your own brick comic! And don’t forget to let me know if you do! That way I can read your comic and add your production to the ultimate list of Lego brick comics.

I will update this article periodically and link to in-depth articles on several subjects mentioned here.

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Bunny reading books

The ultimate list of Lego brick comics

Blog

May 21, 2018

A complete listing of Lego comics on the Internet.

Original: May 21th 2018
Latest: Jan 30th 2022

Lego comics  (brick comics) come and go. Over the years many brilliant Lego series have been published. And it would be a shame if some of these exceptional comics are not read anymore by newer generations.

Table of contents


1. Lego comics with their own website

The bulk of brick comics, are published on their own website. A home where the comic creators are completely in charge, not dependent on how others believe their creation should be treated.

There are a few gems amongst them. So, if you have the time, be sure to head on over and read them

1.1 Ongoing Lego comics

Below, you can find a listing of all the ongoing lego comics hosted on their own site. many different qualities and styles to enjoy! Go and find your favourite Brick comic!

Ongoing

  • F.E.Z. (http)
    • Started: 8-11-2013
    • Hiatus: 10-02-2021
    • Resumed: 12-01-2022

1.2 Concluded Lego comics

Sadly quite a few brick comics have ended or their author (suddenly) stopped updating without notice. However, the websites of many of these comics are still available to read. So, as long as these links keep working, they can be found here.

Ended in 2021

  • The odd bricks 
    • Started: 13-5-2014
    • Hiatus: 24-12-2017
    • Resumed: 28-5-2018
    • Ended: 11-06-2021

Ended in 2020

Ended in 2019

  • Starwhat (page died) 
    • Started: 1-1-2014
    • Ended: 27-2-2019

Ended in 2018

  • Koji comics (Page died)
    • Started: 19-7-2016
    • Ended: 30-10-2018

Ended in 2017

Ended in 2016

  • Mythrala 
    • Started: 12-2-2014
    • Ended: 12-12-2016

Ended in 2015

  • Drop the Cow (digital comic) 
    • Started: 6-6-2011
    • Ended: 4-8-2015
  • Legoville 
    • Started: ?-?-2015
    • Ended: ?-?-2015

Ended in 2013

  • News 6 
    • Started: 27-4-2011
    • Ended: 7-7-2013
  • The Brick side (page died)
    • Started: 11-1-2013
    • Ended: 19-3-2013

Ended in 2012

  • Block Tales (page died) 
    • Started: 3-8-2009
    • Ended: 17-2-2012
  • Centerfuge 
    • Started: 30–3-2010
    • Ended: 7-2-2012

Ended in 2011

Ended in 2010

Ended in 2008

  • Fabuland housewives (Page died) 
    • Started: 2006
    • Ended: 2008


1.3 Timeline Lego comics (version January 2022)

Timeline-brick-Comics


2. Lego comics published on social media

I managed to find a few brick comics on Instagram. Amongst them, one of my favorite soap opera comics (Brickland). Yet, I wish there was an easy way  to read that whole comic from the beginning.
Furthermore, i was made aware of a comic published on Flickr.

Anyway, I won’t be updating this section regularly. Social media is just not the right medium for publishing a Web Comic.

Brickland lego brick comics
Examples from the Brickland comic published on Instagram

2.1 Ongoing Lego brick comics

2.2 Concluded Lego brick comics

  • Brickland  (Instagram)
    • Ended: 6-2-2017
    • Temporary Restart: 10-07-2020 until 27-10-2020
  • LLworld  (Instagram)
    • Ended: 4-9-2017


3. Lego comics published in a forum environment

I am aware of only one forum wherein brick comics are published; the Eurobricks forum. I won’t be linking to the individual comics as navigation throughout the forum is a bit confusing, and there seem to be many broken links. All in all, I am not familiar with the comics to be found on there. But, who knows, there might be an undiscovered masterpiece amongst them!

eurobricks lego brick comics
The main menu of the brick comic forum at Eurobricks


4. How to keep this page up-to-date

I will periodically check the links on this page. However, if you discover any mistakes, broken links or Lego brick  comics that should be on this list, but aren’t, please let me know in the comments. Did I miss your comic? Let me know too!


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