TIE - Lighting is everything

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Zuiun

Sr Member
So today I set up my light box and decided to photograph some of my finished models today. One of the models was my Bandai TIE Interceptor.

When I built this TIE, I had the standard model builder's TIE dilemma of "what the heck is the actual color of these dang things?!??" Being an Interceptor made things a little easier, as there seems to be a general consensus that the studio models were, in fact, blue-gray in color. Long story short, I mixed my own version of the color using Tamiya's Ocean Gray as a base. I didn't want to go too dark or too blue and I think I came up with a pretty good color.

Anyway, to the point of this post... LIGHTING!

I did the majority of my photography using my studio flashes. However, I did try a few shots using just "natural" room lighting. And something interesting happened...

First, the TIE with studio flashes:

TIE-studiolight.jpg


The studio lighting photo is really, really close to the color of the model to the naked eye. It's definitely gray, but there's also definitely some blue in there, too. I'm actually really happy with the way the color turned out.

Now here's the model with natural light. This is the SAME model, with the SAME camera angle (it was on a tripod)... and now it looks totally different. This is an issue with how cameras, especially digital cameras, "read" and interpret the color temperature of light. Even though I said digital cameras, even film stock in film cameras can interpret color temps differently. But the cool thing here is how the camera simply didn't "read" the blue at all in natural light...

TIE-naturallight.jpg


In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this natural light photo pretty closely mimics how the original TIE Fighters looked in A New Hope (and so far as I know, we know those were in fact painted a blue-gray).

I just want to reiterate, this is NOT any sort of post-processing Lightroom/Photoshop trickery. These are two different photos of the same model. And they are as straight out of the camera as possible (minor tweaks for contrast and so forth).

Just a fun lighting curiosity I found amusing.
 

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mortifactor

Well-Known Member
Hey, what was the 'natural' light? Was is a lamp? All light sources have a colour temp regardless of camera or film stock. You can choose the temperature of light you are using (listed in kelvin usually between 2000-6500k) and you can also use flash gels to modify your flash temperature. Filters on the lens can also warm or cool the shot. Daylight is usually quite blue unless it is overcast. A warm 'house lamp' would really have a big impact on bluish grey.

Your camera may have many colour temperature settings as well. It is also quite easily tweaked in post. Any jpeg has already been processed regardless of whether it's been through photoshop etc, out of camera shots are processed by the manufacturer's jpeg engine and so aren't a baseline. There are so many variables!

The whole topic is a rabbit hole and there are many ways to get from A(model's reality) to B(as seen on screen). Have fun with it!
 

Analyzer

Sr Member
I always assumed that the A New Hope tie colors and ESB/ROTJ Tie colors were really the same, but they came out more blue due to lighting/processing/mastering differences

It does demonstrate how basing color choice off of pictures can be misleading. At the same time. I do lean towards painting to what I see on screen vs painting to what the model is like in person, or at least some kind of middle ground.
 

Zuiun

Sr Member
Hey, what was the 'natural' light? Was is a lamp? All light sources have a colour temp regardless of camera or film stock. You can choose the temperature of light you are using (listed in kelvin usually between 2000-6500k) and you can also use flash gels to modify your flash temperature. Filters on the lens can also warm or cool the shot. Daylight is usually quite blue unless it is overcast. A warm 'house lamp' would really have a big impact on bluish grey.

Your camera may have many colour temperature settings as well. It is also quite easily tweaked in post. Any jpeg has already been processed regardless of whether it's been through photoshop etc, out of camera shots are processed by the manufacturer's jpeg engine and so aren't a baseline. There are so many variables!

The whole topic is a rabbit hole and there are many ways to get from A(model's reality) to B(as seen on screen). Have fun with it!

I'm a professional photographer by trade, so I'm well versed in the color temp settings in the camera. The natural light was the modeling lights on my studio flashes, which are designed to have a fairly neutral color temp. Color temp in camera was set in each shot for the white background from the backdrop -- the second photo is just slightly red-shifted, as that's a natural tendency of the Canon sensor with natural light.

The point of this post was more about the constant and ongoing debate about what color the TIE Fighters actually were. Because in reality their actual color was something of a chameleon depending on the light source, film stock, etc.
 

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nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yes, I wouldn't say it's an issue of how cameras record colour. In fact, I'd say it's more an issue of how our eyes and brain interpret colour!

The two light sources you used would almost certainly have had different colour temperatures. A xenon strobe is not the same colour temp as sunlight filtered by the atmosphere. Therefore the light reflecting off the surface of the model would consist of different wavelengths. The camera probably recorded those reflected colours pretty faithfully. However, our eyes adjust to ambient light conditions and what we interpret as white or grey depends on a bunch of factors.

If you look at a white sheet of paper under tungsten light, which is pretty yellow, our brain says, "oh yeah - that's white." If you carry that light outside and look at it under evening light, which is pretty blue, our brain still says, "yep - that's white". But objectively the colours of that paper were quite different because of the light colour hitting it!

There are a ton of factors governing why a model that looks a certain colour in, say, natural midday sunlight, looks nothing like the model that appears on-screen in a film-based movie. The colour of the light used to illuminate the model during filming, the film stock used, the types of chemical and optical processes used to composite the layers of images together, the colour timing decisions made during processing of the final film... these all add up.

And that's not counting what a digital camera's doing internally. Unless you're taking unprocessed RAW files only, which is as close as we can get to uncooked data off the sensor, most digital cameras do some internal post-processing of the sensor data that will affect colour rendition.
 

StevenBills

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
No need for a macro lens for these. I used an 85mm lens with a pretty closed down aperture (ranging from f/8 to f/16 depending on the model) in order to get a large depth of field (in focus range).

Ah. The wings make it look more compressed than I thought an 85mm would make it look. Very good.
 

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Zuiun

Sr Member
How does one determine the true colors of something? I'm curious.
Realistically? As jusdrewit said, unless we know which specific paints they used, at this point we're not likely to ever know what the "true" color of some of these models actually was. Under the most ideal of storage conditions, paints have likely faded or otherwise been discolored by time. Viewing some of these actual filming models NOW isn't going to necessarily represent what it looked like THEN.

Even knowing exactly what colors they used might be pointless today because either that paint will no longer exist, or there's no guarantee that today's mix of the equivalent paint is even close.

One of the things I've tried to do with my Star Wars models in particular is paint them in a way that I feel "looks" right. Something that matches how I see it on the screen and I feel it would look, rather than getting caught up in trying to match some mythic exact shade. One of the things this little photo experiment affirmed was that, for me, this is the right approach. Again, for me.

I'm not in any way trying to knock people who do try to research and pursue the exact colors of the filming models -- more power to them! And all of the painstaking research they do does, in fact, make it a lot easier for someone like me to figure out a starting point when I'm trying to mix my own colors.

We all get our own enjoyment out of this. :)


Ah. The wings make it look more compressed than I thought an 85mm would make it look. Very good.

I still have my lightbox set up.... maybe I'll take some shots of it with my 15mm just to see how goofy it looks. ;)
 

StevenBills

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Realistically? As jusdrewit said, unless we know which specific paints they used, at this point we're not likely to ever know what the "true" color of some of these models actually was. Under the most ideal of storage conditions, paints have likely faded or otherwise been discolored by time. Viewing some of these actual filming models NOW isn't going to necessarily represent what it looked like THEN.

Even knowing exactly what colors they used might be pointless today because either that paint will no longer exist, or there's no guarantee that today's mix of the equivalent paint is even close.

One of the things I've tried to do with my Star Wars models in particular is paint them in a way that I feel "looks" right. Something that matches how I see it on the screen and I feel it would look, rather than getting caught up in trying to match some mythic exact shade. One of the things this little photo experiment affirmed was that, for me, this is the right approach. Again, for me.

I'm not in any way trying to knock people who do try to research and pursue the exact colors of the filming models -- more power to them! And all of the painstaking research they do does, in fact, make it a lot easier for someone like me to figure out a starting point when I'm trying to mix my own colors.

We all get our own enjoyment out of this. :)




I still have my lightbox set up.... maybe I'll take some shots of it with my 15mm just to see how goofy it looks. ;)
I shot mine with my 16-35 to make this image:

8566CC55-D8F4-4F5C-A73B-B61FB3B08D4D.jpeg
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Master Member
I have zero knowledge on photography other than "make sure the lens cap is off dumb*ss!" :lol: Finescale Modeler did a pretty good (at least to me) article years ago on taking model pictures and I have to say that following their suggestions got me some pretty close, colorwise, shots of my models. I just try to use that info and get pictures that look correct to me.
 

Zuiun

Sr Member
I'm not into photography (at least not at the pro level you are), but that's beautiful work on your TIE model.
Thanks!

I don't have a whole lot of build pics of this one. As for the paint work, I pre-shaded it with black, then hit it with my custom blue-gray mix of paint. "Weathered" it with oils, most of which was removed, since Imperial stuff isn't nearly as dirty as those Rebel scum ships. ;)

Here's a couple more shots of it...

TIE-studiolight2.jpg


TIE-studiolight3.jpg


This was also my first attempt at lighting a model. I still need to decide if/how I'm going to hide the wires coming down the stand. But I'll worry about that at a later date.
 

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Jimmer

Well-Known Member
Thanks!

I don't have a whole lot of build pics of this one. As for the paint work, I pre-shaded it with black, then hit it with my custom blue-gray mix of paint. "Weathered" it with oils, most of which was removed, since Imperial stuff isn't nearly as dirty as those Rebel scum ships. ;)

This was also my first attempt at lighting a model. I still need to decide if/how I'm going to hide the wires coming down the stand. But I'll worry about that at a later date.

Thanks for the paint info.
I prefer the "grey" look you went with, as opposed to the more blue hue.

I've never used LEDs, but I've been researching and plan on lighting a Star Destroyer soon. Your LED work came out looking very nice.

Thanks again, and great job.
 

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