See that picture above? I did that! It’s how I see the protagonist, Merika. Ok, you say, cool but…
…but how did an author, whose professional training is in academic history, make amazing life-like images of her characters and universe?
She’s just that cool.
No, really, how did you do that?
I stumbled on an awesome program called. DAZ 3D. The most amazing part, given its complexity and power, is that it’s free.
Yes, you read that right–the program is free.
Most 3D modeling programs are several thousand dollars–and even once you own it, there’s a huuuuuge learning curve.
(I took an introductory 3D modeling class years ago, and after two months, five days a week, I could make a…wait for it…sphere. Yup. One sphere. Not even a pretty sphere. Just a plain grey wireframe sphere. Given my patience level, clearly that was NOT the career choice for me.)
That does not mean that creating that image, and the images you will see on my new Book Bible Site (more on that later), was free.
You see, the creators off DAZ came up with an amazing business model: since the price of most 3D modeling programs is cost prohibitive at the least, only professionals buy them. And those professionals spend years learning how to use them! (see above)
You’re not going to increase your market base that way.
So DAZ makes the program free, and you can do just about anything with it that you can do with the professionals’ programs. And if you know how to do those things, DAZ pretty much remains free, which is cool in and of itself.
But if you are like me, and you’re impatient, and you’re not going back to school so you can make 3D images of your characters when you’re blocked and can’t write, and really should be spending that time actually, ahem, writing, well, you buy things.
You get the basic human figures and other fun stuff for free with the program, but if you want to customize them, without that aforementioned learning curve, you buy add-ons to customize them.
You want “elf” ears? There’s an add-on for that. You want groovy robes? There’s an add-on for that. You want the uber-cool Supersuit that you can morph into almost any shape your little Marvel-comics-loving adolescent heart desires? There’s an add-on for that.
Warning: this is like crack. Or meth. Or meth-crack. Or meth-crack-heroin-lsd-the-best-homemade hooch you’ve ever had.
Not that I’ve had homemade hooch.
See, the DAZ people know that if you try this, you’re gonna want. You’re really gonna want that stuff, once you start. You may end up spending the same several thousand dollars—I haven’t. Yet. I don’t think. I don’t want to know—but you’ll do it buying the add-ons, over time, which is far less intimidating than 3 or 4 grand out of pocket first.
They even have these amazing sales with things you’ve put on your wishlist suddenly 30, 40, 70% off. Holy cow! I can get the Gianni 6 HD pro suite for only that much? Click!
It’s brilliant. Crack, but brilliant.
Yeah, there’s still a learning curve, but I went from zero to that image above in about 2 months, only noodling on it once a week or so. There was a dragon last time. A dragon! Free! Wait, I write science fiction, why do I need a dragon? Maybe I can write in a dragon…
Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yeah, the program and the
crack stuff. You can even animate the things and do all sorts of magic that I’m not even going to attempt. It really does unleash your creativity. I was having a major block about Merika, so I quite writing one night, and started messing around with my Merika figure in DAZ, and just this one snarky expression I made inspired me to keep working.
My pragmatic side is justifying all this by using the best of these images in my covers. Hey, maybe I can write this off! *scratches chin*… But even if I don’t, it’s helping me stay in love with my characters, and that’s worth a lot!
You’ll see more, I promise, but I couldn’t wait to share one more…