• Uncategorized

    Creating Custom Art with Daz Studio Models, Part One

    I’ve always been good with colour and shading in my art, but my actual freehand drawing skills? Good enough for my mom’s refrigerator, but nothing that would lead to a professional career. It was a revelation when I started using stock photography as a base for a finished image in Photoshop, working with layers and textures and overpainting with a Wacom tablet to finally be able to create the concept in my mind’s eye that was so let down by my stupid, untalented hand.

    Working as a book cover artist brought a new set of challenges (the limitations of existing commercial stock) and a brand-new solution: 3D programmes, specifically Daz Studio. Daz offers a world of models at your fingertips, to be dressed and posed exactly as you need them. Hallelujah!

    This will be a three-part series that will tie in with https://ravven.com/portfolio/designing-your-own-book-covers/ my (long-neglected!) series on designing your own book covers. This post will cover some basics, and then the next post will cover customising your models and getting the best renders possible.

    Basic Requirements

    I am going to make an assumption (as I will in the main series) that you have a certain level of kit. This will require a Windows PC with an Nvidia graphics card and a certain level of oomph. You can do renders without an Nvidia card, but Iray is vastly superior to 3Delight and the quality of the image will be better. Daz Studio is free and comes with base models and the ability to do your own lighting, but if you can afford a few packages you’ll get much better (and easier) results.

    Choosing A Model

    For book cover art you’ll quite often replace a CGI model’s head with a photo model, and you’ll usually always have to redo at least part of the hair. In the Daz shop, look at the models – you’ll be working with either Genesis 3 or Genesis 8, nothing below that. Look for not only the right look for your specific project, but also look for a realistic skin with texture and flaws. The eyes should look real as well, without the white. unshadowed look that older models have. There are many, many models with perfect skin but they look less realistic – and it is that “doll-like” look that people think of when they object to Daz models.

    This is Reese, one of the models that I purchased recently. I’ll be using her as an example.

    Good lighting is also essential, and can change the look of your render massively. I happen to absolutely suck at doing custom lighting setups in Daz, so I have a set of lights that I use a lot for portraits. These are some of the light packages that I use:

    Add a hair and clothing package, and you’re ready to go! Of course, all of this can be very expensive if you don’t shop smart. Much like the way I track books that I want on Amazon, I tend to add things to a wishlist and wait for sales. The Platinum Club membership can save you a fortune if you shop smart.

    Remember: clothing, hair and poses for a Genesis 3 model may not work on a Genesis 8, so be careful when buying assets – mistakes can be expensive.

    Working With Daz: Initial Steps

    I’m not going to go into the basics of actually using the software here, as there are tutorials which will do a much better job. For our purposes, Shannon Maer has some wonderful video tutorials about rendering a model in Daz and then overpainting in Photoshop for some truly unique looks.

    Next Post: Creating a Custom Look

    For the next post I’ll cover customising models and doing a render. After all, that is why we’re doing this – the idea is to create a truly custom look for your renders that you can’t get with commercial photo stock models. Have fun until then!

    Related information: Copyright and Daz Studio

    Creating Custom Art with Daz Studio Models, Part Two

    Creating Custom Art with Daz Studio Models, Part Three

  • book cover art,  featured

    Free Cover Giveaway 2018

    I’m going to continue this contest again this year: email me a short description of your project (something that will be published within the coming year, please!). Rules, background and a description of the type of book I’m looking for are located here.

    Now more than ever the world needs diverse books and characters in all the glorious range that human beings exist in, and I think it is important that that diversity is represented visually on the cover. Everything we see contributes to our perception of the world, and that representation has been narrow in past years. It needs to change, and this is why I try to do my very small part to make the world a better place.

    This is NaNoWriMo month, and NaNo projects are welcome. Open to all fiction genres.

    This is the type of information that I would need for the winning covers: https://ravven.com/book-cover-art/

    Click here to enter

  • Stock Photos

    Freebie Friday: Knight

    A strong woman and warrior because we need more strong women in times like this. Yesterday was a very tough day for a lot of us, so here she is. There’s also a reminder that strength and bravery come in all shapes and forms, and perhaps the bravest thing of all is to stand tall without armor and speak your truth when everyone is ranged against you.

    Personal or commercial use for art or the creation of book covers permitted. Re-sale as stock, or re-sale without change, is prohibited.

     

  • Stock Photos

    Freebie Friday: California Assassin

    Another free stock image for you, a California assassin type. Because it’s hot and even in dreary England the fields are burnt to a crisp and we can’t sleep because of the airless heat. *cries*

    Personal or commercial use for art or the creation of book covers permitted. Re-sale as stock, or re-sale without change, is prohibited.

  • Gaming,  Writing

    The Art of Personal Writing

    I’ve had this blog, in one form or another going back to the days of my Greymatter-powered blog, since very early 2002. I remember that because I started it before I got married and moved to the UK as a way of documenting everything both confusing and wonderful along the way. I used to write in it religiously, sometimes several posts a day, and now a month can go by before I post anything. It’s the curse of our times, our communication becomes constant and shallow, updates rather than deep thoughts.

    I know, I sound like an old fart. I am, I admit it…and get offa my goddamned lawn.

    Anyway, one of the things that I loved, especially since I discovered MMOs with the advent of Vanilla Warcraft, was gaming blogs. Raiding was hard, gearscore and min-maxing didn’t exist yet (at least in the sense that it does now) and every bit of advice or help or commiseration was appreciated. We shared a love of something wonderful, of challenges overcome with a team of likeminded folks in fantastically faraway lands. I miss those days.

    If you do as well, or if you’ve never tried your hand at blogging before, Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut has a wonderful thing in August. Learn more here.

  • Personal

    Struggling

    I know that many of us (just judging by Twitter) are struggling with the energy to meet each day, to do our jobs, to meet deadlines and conquer challenges, in the current dark and mean times. I know it’s not just me.

    I also know that I have a wonderful situation in that I work for myself, from home rather than in the small, grey cubicle that I spent so many year inhabiting. I’m not ungrateful for that. And yet, I still struggle to get through every day. Sometimes I have weeks in which I haven’t left the house once, or talked to another person who isn’t my husband, or felt like a real human rather than a ghost drifting through these quiet rooms.

    This is all complaining, of course…I am aware of that. :) I just seem to have forgotten how to live my own life, and I’m not sure what to do about that.

    Comments Off on Struggling
  • Stock Photos

    Freebie Friday: Yeah, It’s Thursday

    I was feeling a bit blue today so I thought I’d take a minute to add another free stock image. Sometimes the news and social media combine to present an overwhelming picture of an increasingly bleak, hateful world and that wears on me. I think it wears on us all. I’m limited in supporting change with time and money, so this is one of my very small offerings to try to make the world a bit less hateful. Here you go, free stuff – have fun with it and write some diverse characters to give girls everywhere hope for the future.

     

    Personal or commercial use for art or the creation of book covers permitted. Re-sale as stock, or re-sale without change, is prohibited.

  • Stock Photos

    Freebie Friday: Taking the Black

    I’ll post again someday, I swear. :D In the meantime, have a (probably too specific to actually use, but what the hell) freebie stock image.

    Personal or commercial use for art or the creation of book covers permitted. Re-sale as stock, or re-sale without change, is prohibited.