As a self-published author one of the biggest expenses you can have is for your cover art. Finding someone to do your cover art is not only expensive, but time consuming. While you might get lucky and find an artist who is willing to trade you the cover art for say a copy of your book when it is published or something like that, this is rare.
I was one of those lucky self-published authors who knew someone who had a sister who was an artist who was willing to do the cover for my first book. However, I found that I could not afford to purchase the services of a cover artist the second time around. Plus I had two novellas which I wanted covers for. I didn’t know what to do. So, I began doing research into how the e-book publishers were getting the cover art for their books, and I hit the jackpot.
What I discovered is that these publishers were hiring people who were familiar with 3D art programs such as Poser, Vue and Bryce to create their book covers. This still left me in somewhat of a quandary though, because I did not have the money to purchase expensive 3D art programs, nor did I have the time to learn one. This is when I happened to stumble on an innovative idea produced by Daz Productions.
What I found is a free 3D art program produced and distributed by Daz Productions called Daz Studio which you can find here: http://www.daz3d.com/program/studio/1_0index.php.
This program is not only free, but it comes with free content which includes a reduced resolution form of Victoria 3.0, along with clothes, props and environments. Everything you need to begin learning how to create 3D art is included. Another point in Daz Studio’s favor is that it will import all Poser files, and will support all the features which you will find in Poser 4. The great thing about that is there is a lot of free Poser content online which you can download and then import into Daz Studio. Also, Daz offers a free download weekly to members which can also help you build up your library.
Even better occasionally such as right now Daz will offer a full-blown product for free for a limited time period. For example right now you can download the full version characters of Michael 3.0, Victoria 3.0 and Aiko 3.0 for free. Aiko is a manga character whereas Victoria and Michael are more realistic art characters. Don’t want to search online for Poser freebies? Nno worries, in the Daz Forum there is a freepository section where members have listed websites which offer free Poser content. I have personally found this to be very useful when I’m looking for particular items to add to one of the scenes for a book cover.
Can’t find the content you need in any of the free areas? No problem, Daz has a lot of content which you can purchase at reasonable prices. They frequently have sales where prices are slashed sometimes as much as 50%, so it’s worth it to get yourself on their newsletter list so you know when these sales are. Also since Daz is compatible with Poser content you can purchase Poser content as well if you don’t find what you need in the Daz Store. There are too many places to name which sell Poser content, all you have to do is google it and you will find more websites than you know what to do with!
One downside to Daz Studio is that the beginner’s handbook which is provided to get you started is not really enough if you want to begin truly creating works of art. Another option is you can download the technical manual which is fantastic and very well written, but it is geared more towards someone who has some understanding of 3D art programs and how they work.
In the end what helped me learn enough to use this program to create book covers was The Beginner’s Tutorial for Daz Studio created by Tuitzone which you can find here: http://www.tuitzone.com/DazTut.html. It is written in language which someone who is truly a beginner in creating 3D art can understand. Learning Daz Studio is easy with this tutorial and you can begin creating art right away once you go through the 7 lessons provided.
Another downside is if you are on dial-up the software takes a couple of hours to load, so be prepared if this is the case for you.
However, once it is downloaded and you’ve gone through the tutorial and have a good understanding of how to use the program, creating an arresting book cover can take as little as ten minutes. Then all you need is a program which allows you to write on pictures, I use Paint.net which you can download for free at http://www.getpaint.net/index.html. So it is just a matter of saving your scene as a jpeg and then opening it up in your program which allows you to write on pictures and you design how you want the title and your name to look.
I have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars on book covers because of this program. I do not know what I would do without it! I highly recommend Daz Studio for anyone who’s interested in learning how to create 3D art, but most especially for those struggling beginning authors who need book covers for their books.