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Background Imagery - Space Sets

davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
edited November 2015 in Photography/Video
So, in trying to do some images of "would-be-sets", I'm curious how to best make something look like a vintage 1980s or 1990s space set.



Has anyone done a standard template for the "star field with grid"?

And how about that beige surface?  Does anyone have an "empty" version for Photoshoppy goodness?  Or, failing that, know how to achieve an actual physical surface that's similar during photographing?

And while I'm at it, I might as well ask-- how about the fonts for the set number, age range, piece count, etc, etc?

DaveE

Comments

  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 1,452
    I wonder if the sand was actually done by computer, looks like it could have been physically modeled to me. you could just try to find real sand
    kiki180703
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    I expect the originals were physically modeled-- not sure with what though.  It looks like some sort of rough spackle applied to a curvy surface of... something.  I was actually wondering about maybe trying something like dried brown sugar, which might keep its shape?  Sand might work too, dunno.

    Anyway, just curious if anyone's done any Photoshop work to "edit out" the vehicles and leave a blank template, perhaps composited from a few different images.  I might try doing something similar, but not sure how I'll fare.

    Something like the box art for the 6921 Monorail track has a lot of "blank" texture to work with, but I'm not sure I actually have a box for that to scan at high resolution:



    Anyway, I'll keep poking around, but if anyone's already done something like this, I'd be eager for more input!

    DaveE
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 1,452
    looking at it more closely, I wonder if it's not just cardboard or canson paper
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,166
    Looks to me like the sand part is some form of fabric stretched over the ridges and glued down.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,844
    You could use a number of sets' pictures - between them all, you might be able to get every bit of the background uncovered.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,719
    graphite said:
    Looks to me like the sand part is some form of fabric stretched over the ridges and glued down.
    Yep, this is probably correct. Possibly some sort of nylon, sprayed with something to strengthen it, sprayed or painted with something to give it texture, then sprayed for color.
    davee123 said:
    And while I'm at it, I might as well ask-- how about the fonts for the set number, age range, piece count, etc, etc?
    It's all Helvetica. The set number, "LEGOLAND", and the age range is bold; everything else is light.

    I took a stab at creating something entirely in Photoshop/Illustrator:



    It's pretty rough, especially the sand, but might be good enough for your purposes. It's based on what is probably the European box for #6990. I could easily add the "Endless building possibilities..." and "...interlocking pieces" to approximate a US box.

    The primary problem with re-creating this kind of stuff is that most of it was done "in camera", not with special post-production effects. The star field in the backround is likely a dark sheet of something with small holes in it, with light coming from behind. The red glow at the horizon is probably a spot light with a gel on it. The grid looks to me like a piece of etched glass with light at the edges. Since all of this is physical, it's different for every set, so there's no standard template. For large sets, the grid is more defined because of the deep depth of field, whereas for small sets, the grid is quite blurred because of the shallow depth of field.

    The pre-1987 (no grid) Classic Space sets would be easier to re-create. Look at the image for #6824, for example. I'm fairly certain the background is simply a piece of cloth over a tack-board, with sphere-headed straight pins stuck in it to create a star field. This would be pretty simple to set up.
    davee123kiki180703chuckpcatwrangler
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    Oooo, fancy!

    I actually started making a program to try and automate making a randomized template, but it's only in the early phases.  If I'm crazy-ambitious, and if it works really well, maybe I can get it making pre-made, slightly randomized backgrounds for people...
    binaryeye said:

    The primary problem with re-creating this kind of stuff is that most of it was done "in camera", not with special post-production effects. The star field in the backround is likely a dark sheet of something with small holes in it, with light coming from behind. The red glow at the horizon is probably a spot light with a gel on it. The grid looks to me like a piece of etched glass with light at the edges. Since all of this is physical, it's different for every set, so there's no standard template. For large sets, the grid is more defined because of the deep depth of field, whereas for small sets, the grid is quite blurred because of the shallow depth of field.
    Yeah, it was definitely pretty arbitrary for each set.  I pretty much reached the same conclusions that you did, although I hadn't thought about the etched glass.

    The stars in the field typically seem to be pentagonal lens flares, but VERY blurry-- at least for the earlier stuff.  They seem to be grouped in bunches, and sometimes vary in color (red in M:Tron, blue or yellow in Classic Space, etc).  For 1987 - 1992, it seems like it's all done using similar techniques, but the lights involved and line colors seem to differ according to theme.

    The only slight difference seems to be Blacktron, which, in addition to stars, also has "big stars" in red/yellow, possibly done with spotlights on a sheet?  Not sure:



    Then in 1993, they seemed to do some artwork for the star fields, in Ice Planet (and similar for Spyrius and Unitron):



    Then, with Exploriens, they finally get rid of the gridlines all together, and just had some sort of backdrop image:



    Thanks for the extra info!  I'll keep poking around at it myself!

    DaveE
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,719
    davee123 said:
    Yeah, it was definitely pretty arbitrary for each set.  I pretty much reached the same conclusions that you did, although I hadn't thought about the etched glass.
    The lines could also be fiber-optic filament arranged in a grid. If you're doing it in a computer, it doesn't really matter, but if attempting to re-create it physically, that would be a lot easier.
    davee123 said:
    The stars in the field typically seem to be pentagonal lens flares, but VERY blurry-- at least for the earlier stuff.
    These aren't lens flares but blurred specular highlights. This effect is sometimes referred to as bokeh, but bokeh is actually the quality of the blur, not the blur itself. That they're pentagonal means the lens used to take the photo had a five-bladed aperture. Photoshop can simulate this with its Lens Blur filter, where you can select the number of blades. I actually did this in my example, but it's obviously too small to see at the size I posted.

    If you're writing a program, you could probably just generate a bunch of 2D pentagons, at random sizes within a range, blurred as necessary.
    davee123 said:
    The only slight difference seems to be Blacktron, which, in addition to stars, also has "big stars" in red/yellow, possibly done with spotlights on a sheet?  Not sure:
    My guess is those are larger holes in a sheet of something with light behind it, or actual light bulbs or LEDs.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    Right now, I've got the program making the circular gradient, as well as trying to make localized-yet-random-ish groups of pentagons that can be blurred.  Now I'm just working on the grid, which should be pretty straightforward (I'm analyzing to see what standard distribution and angles of gridlines are, which ... has some oddities).

    The fiber-optic filament idea is interesting-- I was thinking along those lines initially, like strings/wires, although I was imagining simply some lighting on them, not having them be a light source themselves.  But that makes some sense.

    I ... think I can use Gimp on the command line to blend the images together, which would yield the background, and will work to randomize it a bit, within the boundaries of what "normal" effects were on the box/instruction artwork.  And the bits of text should be easy with Gimp scripting-- "LEGOLAND", age range, piece count, LEGO logo.

    The only part I haven't thought about how to automate well is the "ground", which could be part of the physical photography, of course-- but ideally (if I'm already going this far) possibly also generated dynamically.  Best I can think of is a really-really long fixed image that I could randomly orient inside the shot, making it a bit variable.

    Ultimately, I'm not even exactly sure how I want to use this myself.  I think I'm going to try and make box art (which typically has stuff like alternate models-- but also photographed in the same manner), which means putting together a bunch of pictures that would go into it-- each one a bit different.

    But if I'm going through the bother, I figure-- why not make a little web utility that people can use if they want to do something similar?  If it's possible to automate, it might be a useful tool.  Perhaps you can select pre-configured themes like M:Tron / BlackTron / Ice Planet, and it generates the appropriate colored random background?  Or enter your own custom settings.

    Anyway, attempting to think of everything I can do to get something that works well...  I assume I'm not the first person to go through all the little details!

    DaveE
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,714
    edited December 2015
    I created some box-art templates in Photoshop 6+ years ago; I used them for box art for a couple of friends. You can see them in use here -
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/roguebantha/3826638295/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/legoloverman/3396603990/

    The templates are fully layered up, so it's trivial to move elements around, edit text, put colour overlays over selective parts, etc.
    Lego_Stardavee123
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    bluemoose said:
    I created some box-art templates in Photoshop 6+ years ago; I used them for box art for a couple of friends. You can see them in use here -
    Cool! What did you use for the ground in the 1st picture there?

    DaveE
  • Lego_StarLego_Star ... in a galaxy far, far away.Member Posts: 1,210
    bluemoose said:
    I created some box-art templates in Photoshop 6+ years ago; I used them for box art for a couple of friends. You can see them in use here -
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/roguebantha/3826638295/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/legoloverman/3396603990/

    The templates are fully layered up, so it's trivial to move elements around, edit text, put colour overlays over selective parts, etc.
    Aww, how cool would that be as a crimbo gift for lil' brother? Shame I'm in the middle of calendar and t-shirt designs at present - also crimbo gifts. Too cool @bluemoose, too cool! :o)
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,714
    davee123 said:
    Cool! What did you use for the ground in the 1st picture there?
    Thanks; the 'sandscape' was originally from this image -
    http://brickset.com/sets/6932-1/Stardefender-200
    I'd do a better job of cutting it out these days :-)

    Lego_Star said:
    Too cool @bluemoose, too cool! :o)
    Thanks! I'm happy to share the templates, but would appreciate an acknowledgement if anyone uses it publicly. I'm a bit sensitive about the issue; someone (won't say who) asked if they could use one a few years back, then passed it on to a bunch of other people claiming it as his own work ... very poor behaviour!

    Lego_Stariso3200Ayliffeobi_g
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