Attention to detail – creating a sense of a complete world

Attention to detail has never been my strong suit. It always seems to hinder my mad rush forward.

But a world without detail, even a very little world, starts to feel as if it’s floating in space – unanchored to time or place. So, I’m trying to force myself to slow down enough to get detail into scenes.

Here’s the evolution of one scene – the stranger reading the newspaper article that Frank and Rosie were looking at in her last episode.

The starting shot is my “just the facts, Mam” attempt. I take the pink coach from Daisy and Rosie’s living room, put it on top of the wood tiles from Rosie’s room, sit the stranger on the coach, and give her the newspaper:

It doesn’t get any more bare bones than this. it serves its purpose to convey the necessary info, but communicates absolutely nothing else.

So, I decide to at least give it some sense of place. I grab one of my Barbie dining sets, give her a cup of coffee (and, yes, that is real coffee in there), and a cookie from one of my Our Generation sets, and try again.

In my opinion, this is significantly better. I have some sense now of time (looks like it’s over breakfast) and place (probably some cafe). I could have added more detail by photoshopping it into a cafe scene, but I actually think that might have distracted from the important details.

I haven’t started my shoot of Lily and Daisy’s room – that’s on the schedule for today – but I do have their room set up. Here’s a picture of the setup:

I tried to put everything I’d used before in the shots, including Lily’s letters and photos, Daisy’s photo album, and the torn photography. I put Lily’s slippers under the bed, and gave them each something to look at. I gave Lily a cat and, although you can’t see them, I put Daisy’s suitcases from the last episode up on top of the wardrobe.

Lily’s room is still pretty barren – she seems like the kind of person who would have pictures on the wall and little things on the window sill. I may try to get those elements in for the final shot, just to fill out her character. Or I may get impatient and just start snapping photos 🙂

Some of this emphasis on detail comes from reading through graphic novels and noticing how complete some of the worlds are, but much of it comes from the sheer delight I’m finding in setting up the amazing detail of the Our Generation accessories. Here’s just a sample of what that world looks like:

In addition to the big new detail – hello, Aasta doll from Supiadollz – there’s just a ton of elements in here. Aasta has both a pot and a laddle. Amy has a guitar, as well as her notebook and pencils (maybe not visible in the shot :)), and Strawberry has one of those chemistry models and a stuffed elephant. In the background are a cookie jar (with cookies you can take out) and a bottle of soda. And there’s actually stuff in the refrigerator and under the sink (which you also can’t see in this shot). After a few days of setting up this stuff, any shot without details just seems really really empty.

This week I’ll be working on the stranger’s story, and what she can tell to help Daisy and Lily find Camellia.

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Cornucopia of fantastic doll accessories – things for an 18 inch doll

One of the very best things about having a 43 cm doll is that I can buy them 18-inch doll accessories.

I’ve been pining for American Girl-type accessories for ages, but they just loom over my 12 inch dolls. As soon as I got my first 43 cm (about 17 inch) dolls, I started shopping in earnest. Having now spent a few months searching under “18 doll accessories”, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what’s available.

Here’s the low-down:

* American girl accessories: If money is no object, start here. American girl hits a high point with some of their accessories (I’m looking at you, $400 Lea’s treehouse) that just cannot be matched by any other manufacturer. At their best, their accessories create a complete little working world. And it doesn’t always cost a fortune to buy a piece of that world. My sister got me an amazing little set, with a Secret Garden book, a little stuffed elephant, and a tiny yet completely functioning radio for around $25 on sale. It even had a few small posters to go on the wall. OTOH, if the set doesn’t have magic, you end up with extravagant prices for ordinary objects, like an $8 doll hairbrush. In general, I look at the pictures on the American Girl site, but I only buy if it’s right on target and under $30.

* Wellie Wishers: I always feel like I should love the Wellie Wishers stuff (same company as American Girl, but in a 14 inch size). It’s brightly colored and quirky, but nothing really feels like it’s part of a complete world. I feel like the company doesn’t have a good grasp on how these girls spend their days, and it really shows in their accessories.

There are three other major companies that all have their own brand of American Girl-type dolls:

* ToysRUs – Journey Girls
* Walmart – My life as a doll
* Target – Our generation

The ToysRUs Journey Girls line doesn’t really hit the mark, for me. If a set has the kinds of things I like – like a music room set with flute, violin, and guitar – then it’s rendered in such shoddy materials that it doesn’t seem fun. I like the idea behind them, and the cities-of-the-world themed set, but the execution just isn’t good enough. Some of their furniture looks nice, particularly a few of the beds, but they’re much more expensive than the other lower-tier brands and, from the reviews, suffer from the same shoddy execution as their other accessories.

Walmart’s My Life As is much closer to the mark. Although none of their play sets capture the American Girl magic, their furniture is cheap, cute, and seems sturdy. I’ve got my eye on a furry saucer chair, and may go with the bunk beds if it turns out my sister dolls like them. Decent, functional stuff.

Saving the best for last, Target’s Our Generation has some American Girl level magic at a budget price. I stumbled on them first when I needed some tree-building tools for the doll to create their tree house. For $6.99, I got a saw, hammer, jar ‘o nails, paint can, and tiny birdhouse, all fitting comfortably in my dolls hands. After a few more small purchases, I sprung for the big one – a rowboat, big enough for three (or maybe even four). It’s so evocative that it’s making me dream about Huck Finn-type adventures.

Amy steers the boat, while Strawberry and Bonnie ride in back.

So, for doll adventures, and all the accessories they need! 🙂

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