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.
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, Nightsong, P3Design, 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.
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.
Image after rendering…
“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:
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?)
Free Your Mind appeared on the inside of the Poser Debut box and in the ad on Content Paradise’s site.
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.