Aidana Willowraven

User Stories

Turning a Hobby into a Career

Aidana Willowraven

"My mentality has always been, why have as hobby when you can get paid to do what you love to do in your free time."

Aidana WillowRaven runs her own company, WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus. She provides not only children's book covers and illustrations, but also novel dust jackets, paperback covers, book layout, custom titling and fonts, book trailers, media packets, author/series logo design/identity, pre-submission manuscript editing services, and more.

"Every so often, I deliberately seek out art books published by some of my latest art idols and diligently read their articles, trying to glean some tidbits of technique and wisdom that I could incorporate into my own work. One such book, about two years ago, mentioned digital illustration and Poser. I drooled over the artist's work (and want to 'be like Mike'), so I did a web search for Poser. I couldn't justify the cost for something I just wanted to try out. Then I saw links to DAZ 3D and read how much easier and affordable it was compared to Poser. So DAZ Studio won."

  • DAZ Studio
  • Adobe® Photoshop
  • Favorite DAZ 3D Products
  • Victoria
  • Michael,
  • Millennium Dragon

} Aidana WillowRaven in action

How Aidana WillowRaven uses DAZ 3D Products

by Blaine Furner


Obviously, one of my interests is art, but tightly connected to that are books, music, and film. Hobbies? My mentality has always been, why have a hobby when you can be paid to do what you would do in your free time? Have a career doing your hobby. That way, no matter how hard you're working, it's fun and relaxing and you won't have some doctor telling you at age 40 to "Go get a hobby."

Now that I am a mother of three, and working full time as a freelance artist for most all genres, ranging from children's picture books to fantasy novels, I am filled with pride when my ten year old son WANTS his mom at career day, and walks his class through my studio to show them his mom's illustrations and published works. It's also great that I can work from home, and not miss one mommy moment, while still being able to support him (his two sisters are grown), as a single mom in a tough economy.

I originally got started in all of this because back in high school I fell in love with fantasy art, namely cover art on my favorite fantasy novels. I was spending all my free time drawing and reading fantasy, so I figured "Why not become a fantasy artist?". I decided to major in fine art in college. But, since there wasn't a course study specifically for what I would needed to accomplish my goal, in addition to my traditional studio classes of drawing, painting and sculpture, I also added animation and design to the course load for my elective credits. Deciding to combine the three traditions had a definite influence on my work.

I didn't start using it to illustrate 3D covers, right away. One of my biggest pet peeves is character consistency. When illustrating a children's book, an artist has to be able to create a character, and then spend loads of time sketching and working out how that character will look in various

action scenes, poses or emotions. Then a full sketch must be done for each scene. Then revisions for text or composition reasons, which basically means starting fresh, then the refined illustrations need to be completed. That all takes a lot of trial and error, not to mention expensive art supplies.

Now, I create my characters in DAZ Studio, first (morphing them into the shapes and expressions needed). Then I design my setting or scenes in DAZ Studio (placement, poses, props, etc.). Next, I do high resolution renders, open them in Photoshop, crop the scene into sections, print them out, reconnect the scene in a larger scale, then either post it above my drawing table to use as reference much like I would draw from a live still life, or at times, print them at half opacity and draw or paint over them, much like an over painting in Photoshop, but with traditional medium.

Eventually, I learned enough about DAZ Studio's lighting (with major help from community members in the forums), that I saw my 3D compositions begin to look less like wax figures or mannequins that could only to be used as models for my drawings/paintings, and more like the scenes I saw from other digital painters. Now, I work digitally as much as traditionally. DAZ 3D has made me a more versatile book artist, making me open to more genres and commissions.

Doing hours and hours, even sometimes weeks, of 'pose' research, or trying to find the perfect model for a scene I need to complete, has been trimmed to a day or two thanks to DAZ 3D. Which means I get the job finished faster, and can move to the next job more quickly. My mortgage greatly appreciates how DAZ 3D's products have increased my efficiency and reduced the overall production time.

If you just want to be a hobbyist, and have some fun, DAZ 3D is an affordable way to stretch your creative muscles and unwind. If you're looking to make a career from your 3D illustration, and you already have an art background, DAZ 3D is a great tool and medium (think of it like a fancy new paint brush that can do some really cool tricks if you practice), and costs less than the art supplies you already buy. But, even if you don't have the time or patience to learn to draw or paint, you can still learn to master the software and become a digital artist.

DAZ 3D makes so many aspects of my work faster and more versatile, that I can't imagine how I ever got anything accomplished without it and don't want to even think about giving it up, now. It definitely stepped up my game!

Aidana WillowRaven, trained in Fine Art, Studio Design and 2D Animation at Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University. She started designing book covers and illustrating professionally in 2007. Her first published work was a children's book that won the Authors Lounge Reader's Choice: Best Children's Cover Illustration award for May 2008. In 2009, she placed fifth in the Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll in the 'Artist of 2009' category. As a matter of fact, six different WillowRaven books placed in ten different categories, one taking 1st, a few in the top five, most in the top ten. Her portfolio of covers and illustrations for books has since grown to include over 100 published children's books and/or book cover designs.

Rocket Fuel