Toy Model Tutorial
I’m Jeff Butterworth, the founder of Alien Skin Software. Mostly I’m a programmer, but occasionally I dabble in photography at the hobbyist level. Here you’ll see one of my favorite uses of Bokeh, our lens simulator and selective focus tool. We are going to make a picture of a real scene look like it is a miniature model, like a toy train set.
Close up pictures of small objects usually have very shallow depth of field. That means that objects at a certain distance are in focus and things get blurry rapidly as you move closer or farther from that distance. In contrast, a photo of a far away subject is more likely to have everything in focus. If we use Bokeh to simulate that shallow depth of field, we can trick the viewer into thinking they are looking at something small.
Before we get started, there are two more techniques you should remember. First, use a shot taken from high and far away, like from a tall building looking down on the rest of a city. A close up shot of one large subject is just not going to work. Second, boost the contrast and saturation to make everything look more like plastic toys.
Here is a shot I took of the Arc de Triomphe from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Everything is in focus. We’ll fix that by running the Bokeh plug-in.
Here is the Bokeh 2 user interface. Just use a single full planar focus region. I darkened the image so you can easily see the focus region controls. If you are using version 1 of Bokeh then use a wide and thin oval focus region.
Here is the result of running Bokeh. We’re close! I then bumped up the saturation and contrast using our Exposure plug-in to finish the effect. I suggest one of the Fuji Velvia presets in the Color Films - Slide category.
There you go, a toy version of Paris. Below you can see other examples I made from shots I took in Paris and Vietnam.
Check out Smashing Magazine for some beautiful examples of this same trickery. The difference is that these were made using expensive tilt-shift lenses.