Simplified Special Effects
Photographing a Snow Walker for the new kit release
Round 2 LLC, (the owners of famous model kit brands such as AMT, MPC, Polar Lights, Hawk and Lindberg among others) often hires me to build their Sci Fi kits for promotional box art and other purposes, and that requires a reasonable amount of photography which I enjoy as much as building the models.
I often like to make dioramas to show the model off in its fictional surroundings attempting to emulate what was seen on screen in the movies in which the subject is portrayed. However, my budget for such things is limited and so these sessions are often done quickly and with mostly found or everyday materials. Such is the case with the scene shown above which you will now find on the box tray of the newest release of the Imperial All Terrain Armored Transport (snow walker) as seen in The Empire Strikes Back.
The newest re-issue now features more articulation than was on previous releases of the kit, allowing for more versatility in posing the model.
I was required to build just one Walker for Round 2’s needs, but I wanted to make a scene that showed two or three of them as seen in the film. This required a bit of Photoshop trickery to duplicate the 8” tall miniature. After setting up the basic scenery, made from sprinkling common baking flour (much less expensive than the amount of baking soda required that is normally used to simulate scaled-down snow used in the actual film) with spray-painted foam hills and a board sprayed with a misty blue sky in the background, I had to determine where the models would go to make the scene using the viewfinder of the camera, which has the option of placing a grid on the screen which allows for relative positioning. The model was placed with the camera lined up and each element shot, and the three images were then composited in Photoshop using a “split-screen” type of process.
I took a few other shots of the model for a bit of diversity in case they wanted some different angles, like this other composited example (which went unused).
Here is the setup used to create these pictures. The camera tripod head is shown at the bottom right.