Hello! Welcome back for the second chapter of “Gunpla and Photography”! Last time we talked about backdrop and lighting so today we’ll talk about one of Gunpla’s greatest aspects- its ability to pose. Gundam models, as we know it, have varying degrees of articulations that allows them to almost replicate poses like their anime counterparts. This aspect is what makes Gundam models so incredible and fun to play with after assembly!
While posing a model to your own liking is simple enough, posing it for the camera could be a bit more tricky since there are a lot more involved in order to make it aesthetically pleasing. I’ll assume it is safe to say that if you are taking photos of your work, then you probably want to share it (with people; on the internet) as well… so saying that, you also probably want it to look as best as it can! Posing preference varies between everyone and I prefer to “imitate the Gundam”- I like poses that replicates the real thing in the anime. I’ll use the MG Gundam MK II Ver. 2.0 as an example to demonstrate my points.
1. THE STANCE
One of my main pet peeves is how some say unpainted models look like toys so they always paint their Gundams… and then go ahead and pose them looking like toys in photos ^^;. Compare the shot above with the shot below…
Won’t you agree this shot looks more imposing and serious (like a Gundam should be) than the first photo? One of the main questions I always ask myself when posing my models is “How will the real Gundam look?”- In this case, how would the real thing stand?
Standing is just as much of a pose as anything else, however basic it looks. When I put my Gundams in this pose, I make sure 1. the head (sightly tilting down) and shoulders (slightly tilted up) are straight and even 2. the waist is not turned 3. the hands are closed/weapons are aligned and 4. the feet aren’t pointing straight but outward and the legs are a little more than shoulder-width apart 5. the body posture is straight. This basic standing pose is actually my favorite pose because I can view the model from just about any angle and it will look good!
I call these poses the “toy poses” because that is what immediately comes to mind when I see it. I’m sure you’ve seen Gundams standing like this before ^^;.
2. ACTION POSES
Putting a Gundam in an “action/dynamic” pose does not simply mean bending its arms/legs while holding a weapon but that is pretty much the gist of it. Be it shooting its beam rifle, wielding the beam saber, or whatever, does the Gundam look the part? Compare this photo…
with the one below…
Which one looks more convincing in replicating the action of the real thing? Again, how will the real Gundam look? I like to pose the model in such a “realistic” way that the fact it is a model won’t cross people’s mind or at least becomes obscured a bit. The key to posing is to make use of the Gundam’s articulation as much as possible; even if the articulation range is limited, do not just give up but work with it to find the best way for a shot. Stretch out those arms and legs!
In order to pose with conviction, I think everything has to be aligned properly- the beam rifle is not pointed crookedly, the arms are straight, the head is looking in the appropriate direction, body posture is set up accordingly, the legs are spaced apart, etc. Basically, every part and position of the model should be completely intentional.
If you have a well-articulated model like the MK II 2.0 then you can certainly be more creative with ground poses. I usually make it a point to exploit the model’s range of articulation for a photo shoot. If Bandai can engineer such impressive models, then I don’t need to be scared of testing its limits. If you handle the model with care, the worst that can possibly happen is loosening the joints… which is an easy fix anyway.
I think the best way to see if a kneeling pose looks right is to put yourself in a kneel pose to figure it out! Actually using yourself as a model for any pose is a good way to figure out if a pose looks right or off since it gives you an idea of how it should look.
A Gundam should not look like it is “standing” while it is in midair >_<
The easiest way to make a Gundam looks like it is flying is just tilt the feet downward and stretch the legs apart then go from there to set up other poses.
Having the Gundam tilted at an angle helps give it a sense of motion and allows you to frame a better dynamic pose than if the model is upright.
Example of the Gundam in motion. It looks like it is charging at you, no? ^^;
Another example of a “toy pose”. I see poses like the above more often than I would like.
“Watch out! I’m going to slash you!!!”
“HIYAH!” *slashes*… or something like that. I love swords, and I love posing my Gundams with any swords/sabers they have since I think they make for better and cooler poses than guns. This is how I think swords should be wielded…
“HM!”… or something like that. Joking aside, I think posing with melee-based weapons is easier and generally more flexible than posing with shooting-based weapons. If you want to make it look like the weapon is actually being swung, the key is in the arms and waist.
Pretend that you are holding a sword. Now slash with it. How do you look? The position of your body? how is your waist turned? Your arms? Just translate that into the model and it should look more “natural” than what I did with the MK II ^^;.
The standing pose that I mentioned before. You can also see this style of standing in Gundam linearts and the GFF line-up. Since the MG Unicorn Ver. Ka is known for its very limited articulation, I’ll be using it to drive home my last point of this post.
ROTATE THAT WAIST! While it is not always necessary to do so, rotating the waist accordingly can do a lot for dynamic/action poses and for taking photos, it might help make a Gundam look more mobile than it really is 😀
Even if its knees can’t bend that far (what you see above is the maximum range), Unicorn doesn’t have to be relegated to just standing there. Like I’ve stated earlier, do not give up on posing even if articulation is limited. Just work with it the best you can.
Full body shot. If the legs and arms can be stretched out, then this can help compensate for the limited movement in the knees. Limited articulation does not mean the model cannot pose!
Another example to make use of the waist to make a Gundam look more dynamic.
As you can see, I turned the waist so far that it looks almost unnatural at this angle but with the shield covering it from the front, you won’t notice it except that Unicorn looks really “wide” in its stance.
Looks normal in this shot, right? And there I’ve covered the basics of how I pose my Gundams. The rest is all up to imagination. Before I end this chapter, here are a few examples of my favorite shots to sum up everything that I’ve been talking about in this post. Hopefully, everything I said here is understandable ^^;.
There really is no “wrong” way to pose your models as it is a subjective matter and a form of personal expression so everything is entirely up to you. Just be careful and don’t be afraid to push the limits of the model’s joints for a good photo opportunity. These are just my tips on how I go about achieving the results I like out of my models and photos. So if you like this style of Gunpla photography, then I hope this post was useful to you in some way. I’ll cover the other half of the photography equation in the next chapter- Camera angles!
Feel free to leave any comments or questions here and I’ll get back to you. Thank you for reading!