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About the LEGO dolls (minifigs)...

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About the LEGO dolls (minifigs)...

Post by Jeedai on Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:14 pm

As this is more a technical explanation than a doll post, I will answer Nightsea's question here, outside of the gallery thread where it was asked...

>The lego images...are you using off a website as you design them?
> Are you photographing ones you physically have?

The figures are put together in LEGO Digital Designer (http://ldd.lego.com/en-us/) a computer 'art/building' program that is essentially an infinitely large box of LEGOs. Darn near every piece they produce is in there, far as I can tell, and can be colored according to an in-game pallet. Kinda like Minecraft in free play mode (or whatever it's called, I dont play it), you can take the pieces from the menu to place on the field and build... whatever. Certain pieces can have decals applied to them that match ones LEGO makes. The models are saved as 3d graphics files, sort of.

But the program does not include a way to light and render them as high quality 3d images. That requires another program (POV-Ray). The models I posted to the gallery were built in LDD and rendered in POV-Ray. (NOT photographs)

BUT it takes a THIRD program (LDD to POV-Ray Converter) to turn the LDD files into something POV-Ray can use as a basis for the renders. THIS program includes the capacity to replace the default decals included in LDD with custom pictures.

It's not that hard to find forward facing photographs of real LEGO minifigs to use as bases for doll parts, because there are so many fansites and stores online. In the case of the Sunscales minifig, I traced the Pirates Of The Caribbean mermaid's chest and tail decals in Illustrator, and re-colored them to fit Sunscales's color scheme, and the LDD pallet yellow. (The yellow on her tail decal is the yellow LEGO piece showing through on a transparent decal)

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interesting

Post by Nightsea on Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:44 am

Ok, thanks for the technical details, Jeedai!

One quick thing that comes to my mind though...since all we see here seems to
be flat (2d) image...why bother with the 3D render? Just change the lego images
as you would any other doll base in image editing software...seems like an easier
idea? That way, for example, you could add pearls to Sunscales without having
to find them as legos or decals or even 3d bits. Simple as pie.

I know everyone dollz in their own way and maybe the 3d software and
the decals are really your thing. You seemed to like tracing and using vector
images (I know they are sharp!) in the past also. Things I think are labor intensive
may really relax and interest you, and vice versa. I do often risk making things
blurry, ugly or not as straight-lined. Using the push tool to move a pixel seems
to be so easy though. Recoloring is also a snap given certain features in my
program (Paint Shop Pro version 7). I know Illustrator has all the same features.
I've used it too, just not as often. I think being comfy with software is one
thing that does take time.

I like your images (don't get me wrong)! I like that you doll your own way.
I like that we all doll as individuals even if we pick the same character, the
same base or the same software. It just goes to show that dolling really
IS an ART as far as I am concerned. If it were really easy, everyone
would do it (and they should...some of it as super simple! hehehe)!

I liked to keep our doll thread as a "brag board" kinda idea, so folks
dropping in could view just the images and enjoy. I think it is still
good to focus like that here if we can...but hey...I'm no doll-Nazi and
making new threads isn't mandatory or anything. I do think we have
plenty of room here to spread out and Tynami seems willing to let
us play as we like.

Maybe we can use this thread or another one to compare notes with
each other. Do collaborations? Teach each other stuff about different
software or methods? I'd like that. I like to find and share new bases,
new art resources...why shouldn't we share the other nitty gritty of dolling
also?

I know I once caused lots of hurt feelings when I said that 5 year olds
could doll on the web. I still know that 5 year olds CAN do that. Dolling
does have levels of art skill. I don't know how else to express it without
involving emotions or being mean...but some folks will want to learn new
things and some will not. I do like it when anyone embraces even a part
of the hobby I've adopted. I also want to encourage people to grow in
it as I hope I have done over the years. Do I think I'm the best or the only...
of course not! Do I have "standards"...only for myself and I mostly fail.
Each new doll I do thrills me...for a while. Then I begin to notice flaws.
Things I did wrong, not so well or just generally don't please me as much
as they did when I first made the image. Do I bother to fix stuff...seldom.
Should I...maybe.

Anyway, that's all only in aid of saying...I love to doll & I hope people see
it as a passion and not an obsession on my part (although to be honest....
it's not something I admit on facebook or brag about other than to the
select audience online I think might not laugh at me). I'm glad I'm not alone
out here and I never laugh at anyone's dollz except in delight. I adore
the images, admire the time and effort each one represents and can't
wait for more.

Who wants to get more technical with me? Ideas on how?
--Nightsea





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Re: About the LEGO dolls (minifigs)...

Post by Jeedai on Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:35 pm

>since all we see here seems to be flat (2d) image...why bother with the 3D render? Just >change the lego images as you would any other doll base in image editing software...seems like >an easier idea?

I cannot change the decals within Lego Digital designer. Only use the ones that come with the program.

(There is a way, but it requires a third-party application, and coding knowledge of something called Python. Basically, hacking the program to add new data. Way beyond my skillset.)

So I need to render the files in order to swap in the custom decals.

>That way, for example, you could add pearls to Sunscales without having
>to find them as legos or decals or even 3d bits. Simple as pie.

The whole idea for me is to match existing Lego designs when possible, to maintain the visual style. There are official decals that work for mermaids already, so that is what I used. The chest of the net-shirted wavedancer Spindrift is from a standard male chest decal, and I added the netting/jewelry over that. And the female wavedancer's chest is a combination of existing templates, with the swimsuit altered to be more revealing.

I could have drawn pearls on Sunsclaes if I wanted. Still could, of you want the change.

What I cant do is modify the shape of the parts in any way, or add decal ancors to parts that doent have them. Meaning there's no way to add pearls or the headpiece to her hair. And I didnt think the pearls on just the chest would work. But like I said if you want them I can do it.


>You seemed to like tracing and using vector images (I know they are sharp!) in the past also. Things I think
>are labor intensive may really relax and interest you, and vice versa.

I like vector because I can make templates that I can plug in to use again and again. Make something right, slowly, and I got it forever. And to continue from something you post lower, I see myself more as a technician than an artist. So the nitnoidy details that go into things the way I do things like this is to me interesting challenges to resolve.
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Re: About the LEGO dolls (minifigs)...

Post by Nightsea on Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:06 am

You said: "make templates that I can plug in to use again and again".

You can do this in the program I use (PSP), turning any image into a 'picture tube' you can then
use the tool to drop it, repeat it, make new images with it over and over.  It works for
bases, things like pearls, flowers, etc.  There are tons of premade "tubes" out there online and
you can make any image of yours into a tube to repeat forever easily.

Of course you can always just save something on a blank background and do the same thing by
copy and paste also. Works in Illustrator or any image software.

I saved those bases of Wendy's as line art picture tubes.  They resize easily, repeat, etc.
They can be vectored too, thought I haven't done that yet.  I do have Inkscape.  Where
can you host vector art?  I'm not sure photobucket lets me upload .svg and then hotlink
to it.

I can see the appeal in making "official lego" type stuff.  I don't want to add the pearls on Sunscales
and ruin what might otherwise be Lego that way.  If that's your goal with this set...then that's what
we'll see!

Just like with most doll bases I know I can't get to an "Elfquest" look easily...it depends on just how
far the art goes.  

When I started dolling, I did have in mind to find something that would look more like Wendy's art...
but it hasn't been a simple quest.  We went from tekteks and microheros...which are respectively
too childish and too superhero-ish, to the dolldivine and azalea drag-n-drops, which are meant to
be "girl entertainment" sort of.  Nothing out there really tweaks well to mimic her unique body shapes,
IMHO.  But...each base I find makes me want to play with it...find our character friends hidden in there
and then also to adapt them at least a bit to make them "more mine".  I don't like taking an image
directly from a source without even editing a finger, eye or ear anymore just because that is my pride
in MAKING a doll.  If all I do is point and click options...I feel personally like I don't even
"own" one pixel and I know anyone can duplicate the image exactly.  I know most folks don't edit.  
I'm not trying to say it is necessary for everyone.  

But tips and tricks and ..."nitnoidy" stuff is fun for some of us!
--Nightsea
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