I Can’t Draw

I can’t draw.

I know.  You’re looking at the artwork on my page and thinking, “Yeah. Right. Stop it with the self-deprecating crap.  It’s SO not attractive.”  But seriously, I can barely draw an acceptable stick figure.  However, I’m not one to let a lack of skill stand in my way to a goal.  (Ask my old WoW Guild.  Leroy Jenkins had nothing on me!)   Enter the awesome computer software package called Poser.  It’s made by Smith Micro and it’s a 3D Art and Animation software.

So, how does this magical software spits out artwork without me having to draw it myself?

Well, I’m going to tell you.  (If you really don’t care about how it’s done, you can just look at the pretty pictures and then skip to the end where I ask you about your dreams.  I won’t be offended.)

I like to think of Poser as “Digital Barbies.”  When you open the program, there’s a 3 dimensional character staring at you. (My character of choice is Victoria 4 by Daz3d.) She’s in a bikini and looks like she’s in traction.

_v4 To rid Ms. Vicky of her ugly bikini, I add a character skin.  That’s basically a flesh suit.  It changes the look of her skin and often comes with morphs that change her facial features and the shape of her body.  (Usually, it includes a free boob job.  For Vicky, not you.)  

After the makeover, I get to dress her.  (See!  Just like Barbies!) Even cooler, I get to add hair…unless I want a bald Barbie.  The number of hair products in the digital world is as plentiful as the different types of shampoo we have here in the real world.  (And cost about the same.)

After Ms. Vicky is all dressed and styled, it’s time to take her places.  Environment (such as buildings, trees, ground, sky) is key.  Your scenery defines the genre of your image–Contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.  And don’t forget the props (mirrors, chairs, swords, blasters, etc).  We’re telling a story with pictures instead of words so we need some props.

You can purchase all of the things I’ve mentioned (character skins, environments, props) from vendors who sell their 3D models on sites like Renderosity, RuntimeDNA and Daz3d.  My favorite vendors are Ironman13, Fugazi1968, Fabiana, Godin, NightsongP3Design, StudioArtVartanian, Surreality, and Sabby.  (And that’s barely a handful of the wonderful vendors that you’ll find on those sites.)

And now it’s time to work that body!  Ms Vicky must do something interesting or else she’ll look like she’s a mannequin in a shop window.  Trust me.  You don’t want that.  I know this because I’ve created some images like that.  (Sometimes, I still do.  Everyone has an off day. Amiright?)

Pause for an Interesting Fact:  3D Barbies are extremely flexible.  They have all our joints and are happy to use them–sometimes in ways that look pretty painful.

Finally, we come down to the thing that kicks my ass on a regular basis.  Lighting.  Getting the right lighting could literally take me hours.  Color choices, angles, type of light–spotlight, point light, infinite light, IBL.

Seriously.

Poser lighting is my muthatruckin’ nemesis.  And boy, do we throw down.  Sometimes I kick its ass.  Sometimes I get my ass kicked.  Most of the time I cheat and call in my buddy Photoshop.  (More on that later.)

Ok, She’s dressed and going places and she has fantastic lighting.  Now it’s time to take the picture or render the image, as it’s called in the 3D world.

Pre-rendered image…

_v42

Image after rendering…

_v43

“Huh.  Not all that magical, PJ.”  Yeah.  Yeah.  Well, that’s because Poser isn’t the end of the workflow for me.  I have friends, remember?  Photoshop, baby.

Cue the magic act.

I add layers, color adjustments, tweak the light and contrast…and if everything comes out skippy, I end up with the image that I saw in my head.  Something like this:

Blown Away

So, like I said…I can’t draw.  I just didn’t let that hold me back.  And after years of practice, I went from the girl who trembled before stick figures to an artist whose work appears on book covers and in the marketing campaign of the software that helped me realize my dream.   (I know. I’m tooting my horn.  I promise not to preen too much, ok?)

 

_v44

 

Free Your Mind appeared on the inside of the Poser Debut box and in the ad on Content Paradise’s site.

 

 

 

 

RazelDazzle_700x1059

 

Cobblestone Press commissioned this cover for Razzle Dazzle by Elizabeth Morgan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist.  That’s one less thing on my bucket list.  Next is Author of a series.  That’s what I’m working on this year.  I’ll let you know how it’s coming along.

What’s your dream?  What are you doing or going to do to make it come true?  I’d love to hear.  

 

-PJ

 

Landing – Portrait View

You never know what you’re going to find when you start digging into folders.  This image was a prime example of that.  I created this back in November of 2012 and for some reason, never uploaded it anywhere.  I’m not sure why, but here you go.  I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I did rediscovering it.

Excerpt from “The Needing”

“The Needing” short story included in “Death Sparkles” anthology

The diamond necklace dangled from the dead woman’s hand. Or had it? The woman’s hand was empty now. Where had the necklace gone? Moments earlier, her hand had been clenching it, but now there was only blood, gathering from her slit wrist.

“Detective, are you OK?” a man said behind her.

She looked around. Detective? Who was he speaking to? There was no one else in the bedroom. She was alone with a dead woman. She turned and faced the man, who was dressed in a police uniform. “Are you talking to me?”

“Um. You’re the only other person in here, ma’am. You were first on scene and asked us to leave you alone with the…with her almost an hour ago,” the young officer said, giving her a confused look. “The CSI team would like to come in now.”

She glanced down at her belt and saw a shiny badge clipped there, felt the weight of a gun hanging at her side. Her eyes went out of focus and she sucked in deep breath. I’m a detective? She scrambled for some logical explanation as to why her mind was a complete blank, but her thoughts were a fog, wispy and formless. She decided to bluff her way through it and pasted a smile on her face, nodding. “I’m fine. I was just thinking.”

“Are you sure? You’re looking a little pale.” He stepped closer to her.

She held up a hand. “No, really. I’m fine. I’m done here. You can take her away…or whatever.” She brushed by the officer, praying that he didn’t try to stop her. What the hell is going on? Where am I? Who am I?

Hello WordPress

Hi there!

If you’re reading this, then I’ve successfully posted my first blog post on my new WordPress site.  That’s probably not all that exciting to you, but I can barely hold back a girly squeee. For the longest time, I’ve put off updating my website even though it desperately needed it.  I had created my previous site in Photoshop and Dreamweaver and was rather proud of the design.  It was artsy and pretty.  The content management part of it left much to be desire, though.  In fact, there was no content management.

If I wanted to post something on my front page, I had to break out Dreamweaver and edit the page.  If I wanted to post new pictures, I had to break out Dreamweaver and add more code to the gallery page.  It was painful.  But the site was pretty.  It was my baby.  And as much as I wanted an easier way to update the world about my life and my art, I just couldn’t stand the thought of using WordPress and having my site look like every other WordPress site out there…boxy and plain.

At least, that’s what I thought every WordPress site looked like.  Then I happened to stumble upon a place called Theme Forest (themeforest.net) and a theme named Slash.  My opinion about WordPress themes changed instantly.  Here was a theme that allowed me to show my artwork in a big bold slideshow right on the front page.  The menu system was simple and elegant, no looking all over the place to get to where you wanted to go.  And while there were still boxes in the theme, they were slanted and shadowed and SEXY.

I became a believer.

So…hello, WordPress!  I think you and I are going to have a beautiful love affair.  And hello, World!  Hopefully, you and I will get along just as nicely.

 

-pj