The Hidden Life of Figures

Hello! I thought I’d offer up a tutorial article for those new to the figure photoshoot scene, or those simply struggling to brainstorm ideas. Article also doubles as explanation to those those unfamiliar with Anime and figures. I’m basically going to mention ways you can guess or form a personality for figures for your comics, photoshoots, stop motion, or whatever else you might be planning to do and what you might be able to use them for. This also comes from studying other people’s comics and articles.

(Link – MySite) – Renge’s source of supernatural energy returned.

Note: If you see some obvious points being made, or explained, then it’s because of me explaining what this is about to those unfamiliar with bringing figures to life.

Struggling with your photoshoots? Don’t know how a figure should behave? Unsure of the poses? Having an artists block with ideas? Maybe some of my experiences and ideas could help you with what you are working on. Maybe you’re new, or maybe a veteran figure photoshooter. Whichever you are I hope some of what I have may assist you in some way.

– For the record:  I ain’t a pro yet. But I am attempting to polish up my photography skills to being the best that they can be at that point in time.

Why figure out your figure’s personality in the first place? Aren’t they just inanimate objects, or dolls?

Why? Every person with a creative mind, or one that wields a camera, needs a subject of some sort to share within their images of some sort. Figures are just one of those subjects you can use to snap images with for various purposes. They don’t whine, don’t get sick, and they do everything you tell them to (most of the time) if treated with respect. They can be posed and articulated to whatever you might desire. *Sighs* Yes, even to the more perverted positions if you so desire…..I’m not one to make perverted images. I’m here for making figures look more “alive” in images I take.

Figures may be used as “training” subjects before you may take that more professional leap of taking cosplay images, or other type of photography style that you picked up somewhere. Or maybe your main subjects will be figures till the end of time? Whatever the case, you need to give them some form of life. Right?

I’ll agree that figures might be inanimate objects. But certain cultures believe everything has a soul in them. Some simply want to respect while others want to bring their beloved characters to life the best they could.

(Note the quote.)

For example:
– You know that rock that you keep seeing day in and day out during your walks somewhere? Notice how it moves due to the weather each day? No? You might know of a rock that keeps moving inches at a time. Keep an eye on it. You could think it’s a non-living object. Though, on the flip-side you could also say it’s a creeping rock that loves sneaking it’s way somewhere. Or maybe it’s a traveling rock.

But why, you ask again? Why go as far as to give it a personality? A life? What is the point?

Within the Anime realm there are those that collect figures from popular series, and even those that go as far as to bringing them on their travels. They document their trips using their figures to hide their own faces while keeping their own private images hidden away on an external hard-drive. Maybe they aren’t ready to show their faces yet?

Well, there are also those that blog and use such figures as their main subject(s) of interest. They even go as far as using them as their main mascots. If they’re used as the blogger’s mascot and source of interest then it would only be fair for figures to gain a personality of their own. They need life and they need to interact with the host blogger to interest like minded individuals.

Life is a gift that even figures should be blessed with in some form. They might be inanimate, but with our interests they can enjoy such. Especially if other cultures or religion believe in spirits in everyday objects.

– Using figures as subjects.
– Using them as training tools in photography.
– Something to show their interest for photography and their figure of choice.
– To show your interest and respect to the certain figure of choice by bringing them to life.
– Give figures memories that other individuals may enjoy in a similar fashion to their animated/movie counterpart.

– How to figure out your figure’s personality?:

Now that we know of some of the reasoning, how do you guess their personality types? I guess I’ll be needing an example on this so I’ll go ahead and use an image from the past year of Saber and Signum. For those that haven’t watch Fate/Stay Night or Magicial Lyrical Girl Nanoha will be at a loss to figure out their personality. However, for those that do would have the basic personality traits to figure out how to pose their figures in.

(Link – MySite)

Here we have two figures, one is Saber and the other is Signum. Can you guess their personalities just by looking at them? Casual Saber & Signum.

– Casual Saber (appearances):

– Happy, or positive minded.
– Mad faceplate looks happy in a competitive manner. Maybe a slightly displeased manner after an embarrassing joke was mentioned.
– Fit and active
– Kind and caring
– An elegant type female character (clothing is neat and tidy-ish).
– Knows how to fight (if you look at the type of clothing and it’s Shinai).
– Enjoys eating rice meals with chopsticks.

Signum (appearances):

– A character that knows how to fight (armor, sword, and arrow)
– Fit slim body meaning this character exercises a lot.
– Face-plates suggests Signum is a battle-hardened character and that her mind is always stuck somewhere.
– Taking off armor reveals Signum to be a caring individual due to the color scheme.

Saber’s in Anime:

Saber is a loyal servant to Emiya and is very strong-willed and goal-oriented that even Emiya has his hands full with her. Saber’s goal is to win over the “Holy Grail” in the Holy Grail War to the point where she keeps stressing the point to her Master, Emiya. Her personality may be compared to that of a knight, or a king – Royalty. Though, treat her as if she is a girl and she tends to show her true and softer side to the point of being uncomfortable. Her combat skills are those to be feared due to her background.

Signum’s in Anime:

Signum is seen as a highly skilled and the most powerful within the group she fights in. After awhile her exterior shell shatters exposing a more motherly, and happy, personality to her comrades. A smile forms and a more helpful Signum is seen. Her personality may be compared to that of a battle hardened warrior, or samurai warrior, that fights with honor.


Basically reading the figure’s clothing, face plates, design style, the concept art on the box, and even the supposed age could give away the type of character the figure is. This would definitely help when you don’t have an Anime or a voice actress to go by. I have such a character that I had to guess a personality on because of such a case – Shinki Kohiru. She doesn’t have a voice actress, nor any appearances in the PSP games (yet) forcing those with her to guess how she behaves.

(Link – MySite) – Shinki Kohiru – Chopstick type.

– Kohiru’s Personality – Figure form:

Kohiru is a Japanese Chopstick type  from the Busou Shinki (Armament God Princess) line by Konami. The genre of figures could be placed in the’mecha musume’ (mecha girl/daughter) category. She wears light armor, has chopsticks as a weapon (also doubles as gun), has a chopstick rest, a sai looking thing, and retro looking Japanese designs. Her face-plates shows an embarrassed, or shy face, along with a happier and more playful face. Her body is that of kid while showing a kind beautiful side to her. A very elegant and tradition, yet retro, body armor.

Taking all those into account suggests she might be the playful spoiled kind of mecha musume. She isn’t much of a fighter, but is one to be taken note of due to her three types of weaponry. She might focuses on close combat and may attack at range with her chopstick gun, if necessary. Her voice? A soft and kind child-like voice I’m assuming.

Now, how do you apply this into photography? Simply pose Kohiru in a child-like, cute-some, playful mannered, and/or in a typical maid-behaving manner with the chopsticks. I posed her doing silly things, even being a cute little sister to Shinki Benio – Samurai type shinki.

What if I wanted to give them my own personality to custom made figures or actual dolls? And how do I come up with one if I don’t know of a personality type?

Well, you’re obviously free to do that as well. Just don’t hit any copyrights haha. But ya, you bought the figure and you customized it to your preferences so you’re free to do as you wish. You can treat your figure and doll however you wish, even needlessly abusing it if you so need to.  I won’t be held responsible for broken parts :P.

As for coming up with one look at all the males and females within your area, those you see on vlogging youtube videos, and those you see in Anime/cartoons/movies to figure out how you want your custom figure to behave. Look up tsundere, yanderes, silent types, loud ones and all those other types out there. Try to borrow a few traits from your favorite characters and place them on your customs.

Probably an obvious suggestion. Observing others does help with giving custom figures & dolls their personality.

– Ok, I now know how to guess but where do I apply their personality to?

Depending on who is reading this, they may or may not know what to do. Grats to those that do know. For those that don’t know may want to keep reading just in case of brain farts, artist blocks, and what not. Maybe you’ll discover something I have yet to.

Where do you apply their personalities to? Their interactions with their environment, and how you want them to actually behave.

General photoshoots: Thats right, simple images that you can rush or take all your time on. You can pose your figures however you want doing whatever you want your figures to do. Pose them wherever and whenever with whatever image setting and figure you want in a split second to many hours later. Let the image be rushed or let the image be very well composed.

– Traveling Companions: If you’re an Anime or comic book aligned individual then you might end up bringing figures on your journey around our glorious and vast world for others to see. You might end up bringing your figures for scenic photos, eye candy, to show off to your friends, show such to locals, or to even use as a companion to blog about later. Or, these figures could be used as annoying objects to piss off your friend with by constantly nagging  your non-anime friend to join you in photoshoots on your vacation.

Comics: Go to any Anime blog and you’ll notice some form of figure comics on their site. You might notice mixed comics being serious, highly comical, visually pleasing, or a fan-fiction continuation of their favorite Anime series. You basically pose your figure in the desired manner you want them to be, or in the manner they were within the Anime.

Stop Motion: The most troublesome of them all. You basically try to move your figure’s limbs mm at a time trying to make the movement as fluid as possible. The patience required here must be vast or else you’ll throw a child-like fit with the amount of attention and cautiousness used to animate. Same ideas may apply with how your figure could behave when moving limbs mm at a time.

Human interaction: Human interaction? Huh? You know, when showing off the figures to your friends? Basically when someone stares at or examines the figures on a table, shelf, or a glass cabinet. You could pose your figures with their known personality, or ones that you gave them yourselves. If the figure comes with an angry face then pose the figure in a combat pose. People tend to take shots of pictures on display spots in their room meaning it’s natural that figures be posed in whatever manner possible suitable to it’s character.

I’m out of ideas for photoshoots, what do I do now?

Stare at your figure and remember it’s personality. Also, make a list of all the ideas of the things you want to do with the figure. Just so your ideas stay fresh, do them whenever you get the chance and take your time while taking the images. Use every opportunity to your advantage and take images while you still have ideas within your mind.

A few examples could be:
– Taking your figure to the beach with some mini beach props.
– Figure shooting at a local restaurant.
– Matching the scenery to the figure and adding bonus poses.
– Bringing the figure with you in a glasses case (or similar) and taking a picture whenever you feel like it.
– Stare at a few photos on safebooru, deviantart,, and look at other people’s blogs for inspiration.
– Look at screenshots and trailers from the official source to spawn further ideas.

Theres more creative ways to come up with ideas, these are just what I can think of at the moment.

How do you actually give figures their own thoughts?

All at random. Just stare at a figure and ask yourself what the figure might need. Does it need a bed? A chair? TV? Does it want to go outside? If you think it deserves anything of that then change the  – “I think this figure needs….” – to – “ ‘figure name’ needs….“.- to give it’s own thought process.

Renge still wanted a bed to sleep on ever since Christmas time, blah. I’m still waiting for a certain event to see if I can purchase a bed suitable for Renge’s size and style.  Also, Renge is ticked off at me for damaging her hair piece once again.

As for out-and-about strolls, events, and meet ups? It’s all the spur of the moment type of thing. You pose the figure that suits “that” moment the best and then give the figure it’s personality at the desk.

…Open for more explanations and tips. Check back if interested…

Alright, I hope this helps those new to photography and figure shooting! Good luck and hope to see your new figure images! Don’t let them stab you to death though haha! The best images are those that you don’t rush so take as much time as you need before moving on!

Also, if you think I forgot anything, screwed up, or left something out then feel free to comment and I’ll try to comment about it above ^.