There’s nothing small about the imagination and craft that goes into creating miniature dreamscapes.

From touching the moon to taking off in a rocket ship, surrealism reaches new heights in the work of photographer and artist Hardi Saputra. Here we discuss Saputra’s work and the creative process of bringing these scenes to life.

Tell us about your creative process for this particular piece you recorded.
The piece I recorded started from a sketch I made about a year ago. (Usually, when I get a random idea, I draw a sketch first.)

So for this piece, after I made the sketch, I imported it into a 3D modeling software—I use Fusion 360. At this step, I usually make the 3D models, adjusting the composition, scale, and colors. I’d already made the astronaut, so I just had to move their arms and legs. After the 3D models were complete, I exported and printed them using my resin 3D printer.

After that, it was the painting process. this project took a couple days. I’m still experimenting with painting, so I still need some time for fixes or changes when I feel something is off.

After the models were ready, I brought out all my equipment, set up a table, got the lighting right, and then shot. I used something like sticks, needles, and some bubblegum-like adhesive (not sure what it’s called) to make sure my models weren’t moving.

After that, I edited it in Photoshop and Lightroom. In photoshop I changed the background and added the stars, gradient and clouds. Then in Lightroom I adjusted the contrast and colors and exported it into a JPEG.

Your photographs all seem like they belong in the same surreal, whimsical world. What are your inspirations for your miniature photography?
The inspiration comes from my dreams. I always want to see a beautiful field of grass, beautiful clouds, and the stars. Instead of just imagining them, I decided to turn them into artwork.

I also get inspiration from video games. The rocket was inspired by the Red Rocket station from Fallout games. I chose soft fabric materials and cute astronauts because I love playing a video game called LittleBigPlanet.

The other sources of my inspiration are cartoons and anime. Most of them have unique and beautiful stories, skies and colors, especially the anime from Studio Ghibli because their clouds are so pretty.

What inspired this particular piece?
The idea probably came from South Park. There was an episode when the kids made a ladder to heaven.

What sorts of materials are being used to build the miniature set up for this piece?
For the miniature models, I used bio resin. And for the grass, I used bowl-shaped paper clay covered in fake fur fabric.

What camera is being used to photograph this piece?
I used a Canon EOS M.

How did you get started with miniature photography? What was the first miniature set up you created?
It all started when I wanted my photographs to look more surreal and as good as I imagined. Normal sized costumes and props need a lot of storage space, so I decided to make my models smaller. Then, I bought some stuff I found in the stationery store and started creating.

I think the first miniature set was Whack an Astronaut. I used a piece of paper for the moon, and for the astronaut, I used white clay and electrical tape.

How long does it typically take you to build your miniature set up?
Anywhere from three to seven days.

Do you create other mediums of art in addition to your photography?
Yes, sometimes I create stop motion GIF versions of my miniature photography. I post them on my Tumblr and Instagram.