So You Have No Mannequin? Listed below are Methods to Follow Your Portrait Lighting With Toys

So You Have No Mannequin? Listed below are Methods to Follow Your Portrait Lighting With Toys

Portrait lighting may be tough to study.

After studying articles and watching tutorials about gentle, you’ll excitedly search for an individual to follow on. Though, when you lastly have an individual in entrance of your digicam your thoughts goes clean and nothing is as straightforward as these tutorials made it appear. You neglect all that data you’ve been overloaded with and really feel silly in entrance of your ‘mannequin.’ Worst case state of affairs, you’ll turn out to be discouraged and quit.

Superman was all the time my favourite.

However there’s a method to follow primary portrait lighting strategies and construct your confidence earlier than photographing folks. You’ll be able to follow portrait lighting with toys till you are feeling comfy sufficient to experiment with folks.

You’ll learn to place your topic and light-weight supply with out the stress of working with an actual particular person.

When you perceive the primary ideas of portrait lighting your confidence will develop and you may continue learning new strategies and refining your abilities.

Additionally, who doesn’t need an excuse to play with toys once more?

Selecting the best toy

Select a toy with a human determine in order that what you study can switch simply whenever you actual folks. Attempt to discover one with pronounced facial options in order that there can be real looking shadows created.

Your toy ought to have some texture too. That is necessary as a result of it lets you see how the sunshine impacts your topic. As gentle skims throughout a textured floor, it should create highlights and shadows, which can assist your portrait to pop. All people who sits in entrance of your digicam can be textured (hair, pores and skin, and garments).

This Superman toy has a number of texture and muscular wanting options. His face has pronounced options that mimic an actual particular person’s face.

Utilizing a flashlight (laborious gentle supply)

High quality of sunshine refers back to the hardness or softness of the sunshine.

A basic rule is that the smaller the sunshine supply, the more durable the sunshine can be. Because of this there can be deep, crisp shadows. The bigger the sunshine supply, the softer the sunshine can be. The distinction between the shadows and highlights can be a lot much less intense.

I’ll start through the use of a flashlight as a tough gentle supply. The essential lighting patterns can be simpler to see with laborious gentle.

In every of those pattern images, we’ll give attention to the route of sunshine and what occurs as we transfer the sunshine round.

  • Entrance
  • Rembrandt
  • Aspect/break up
  • Edge
  • Again/silhouette
  • Uplighting

I saved my Superman determine in a single place and easily moved the sunshine round it.

The primary picture is the lighting arrange and the second picture is the portrait.

Entrance gentle

The sunshine is positioned immediately in entrance of your topic. It’s somewhat greater than his eye stage.

You’ll be able to see that he’s evenly lit with a crisp shadow below his neck created by his jawline.

Rembrandt gentle

It is a basic lighting sample named after the painter, Rembrandt. Reposition the sunshine in order that it hits your topic on a 45-degree angle. It’s nonetheless somewhat above eye stage.

The left aspect of his face turns into shadowy, however there’s a triangle of sunshine below his eye.

Aspect gentle/Cut up gentle

The sunshine has now been positioned immediately beside him.

The sunshine now solely illuminates one aspect of him. His face is break up between shadow and spotlight.

Edge gentle

Swing the sunshine round in order that it shines over his shoulder.

The one gentle that we will see now’s the sting of his face, shoulder, and arm.


Put the sunshine proper behind your topic.

That is much like the sting gentle impact besides that the sunshine is immediately behind him now. If the sunshine supply have been bigger (maybe a sundown sky) there can be extra of a silhouette impact. However the darkish background has created a really mysterious search for this low key portrait.

That is the very same lighting scenario besides that I elevated my ISO to make a brighter publicity.


To attain this dramatic wanting portrait I positioned the sunshine at his toes and shone it up towards his face. Uplighting is typically known as ‘monster lighting.’

Utilizing a window (tender gentle supply)

Now that we’ve seen how gentle can be utilized with a harsh supply, let’s have a look at the identical strategies with extra refined tender lighting.

On this case, we will’t transfer our gentle supply, so we’ll have to maneuver the topic in relation to the window.

We’ll cowl:

  • Entrance
  • Rembrandt
  • Aspect/break up
  • Edge
  • Again/silhouette

Entrance gentle

The window is true behind me, shining immediately on Superman.

Rembrandt gentle

The window is beside him, however discover that I place him again from the window a bit.

The precise aspect of his face turns into shadowy aside from that triangular patch of sunshine below his eye.

Aspect gentle

I’ve now moved him ahead in order that the window is immediately beside him.

The sunshine splits his face and physique right into a spotlight on one aspect and shadow on the opposite.

Edge gentle

You’ll be able to see the window behind him on the left aspect of the picture. It’s behind him however off to the aspect in order that it illuminates the sting of his head, shoulder, and arm.


The window is immediately behind him. As a result of it’s such a big, vivid gentle supply the portrait has turn out to be a silhouette.


As a result of I wasn’t working with an actual particular person, I felt comfy experimenting with some inventive lighting. The extra I relaxed and the longer I practiced, the extra I started to note fascinating lighting conditions.

The glare on the desk acted as a backlight supply, making a silhouette. The sunshine from the window turned an edge gentle supply, tracing his higher physique and making it stand out from the darkish background.

That is the window edge gentle picture from above. I cropped the window out and used a radial filter in Lightroom to make that refined burst of heat gentle within the prime left nook of the picture.

Two gentle sources

Let’s have a look at a three-step development from one gentle to 2.

The glare on the desk is from a window within the background. It’s a backlight supply that has created a silhouette.

I made a decision to arrange my flashlight once more so as to add some gentle on his face.

Lastly, I turned his physique extra towards the flashlight to light up his chest however turned his face again towards the digicam to create a break up gentle impact throughout his face.

Extra superior

The leap from practising with toys to photographing actual folks should be somewhat uncomfortable, however not less than you’ll have some success behind you. Simply give attention to one factor at a time. Use a window to make a tender Rembrandt gentle portrait of a buddy. Or strive a dramatic break up gentle picture utilizing off-camera flash.

As soon as you are feeling comfy with the essential lighting strategies we’ve coated you possibly can follow these extra superior strategies utilizing actual folks:

And whenever you’re critically able to go professional along with your lighting you’ll have to learn, Find out how to Create Superior Portrait Lighting with a Paper Bag an Elastic Band and a Chocolate Donut.

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