Llynara's Loony Bin (WIP Thread)

LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
edited March 2017 in Art Studio

My DAZ New Year's resolution is to render more and spend less. Over the last few months we've seen some fabulous sales and I've enjoyed them very much, but I'm getting to the point where I don't even know what I have any more. So my other resolution is to get organized! Yes, that will probably take me most of 2017 with everything I've picked up in the past few months.

I've also still got a lot to learn. I've actually only been here for a year, and I'll happily work in DAZ, Poser or any other tool that gets me where I want to go. I have Carrara, Hexagon and Bryce all sitting on my computer, barely touched. Not to mention Blender, Renderman, Unity, Unreal Engine, and plenty of others. I have tons of tutorials I bought in Dreamlight's sale last year that I still need to watch, and plenty more bookmarked on Youtube and elsewhere.

I got into DAZ to create covers and promos for my books, but I want to do so much more than that:

  • On the personal side, I just want to make some great art and get some of the things in my head out into the world.
  • On the business side, I want to continue to do book covers and promo art. I'd also like to create animated trailers for my superhero series as well as graphic novels at some point. Those are huge projects that could take years or might just remain dreams. Who knows.

I love looking at possibilities, and I love art and technology. So here is where I'll continue to learn and try. Some will just be playing, other stuff will be for upcoming projects connected to my writing. Hopefully all of it will be FUN. Feel free to join in. Let's have some fun! 

Monthly Challenges: 

I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself and anyone who wants to join in with a monthly theme. Here's what I've come up with so far: 

January: "You Light Up My Life"- All about lighting! I'm mostly working in Iray these days, but we can discuss any lighting you want. I have a theater background, so lighting in 3Delight actually seemed easier to me at first, but maybe that's because I started with DAZ in 3Delight. Iray is a shift in thinking. It seems more like photography, which I've always loved and tried to wrap my head around the past few years. The transition isn't painful, but my card isn't the fastest, so it's slooowww. But then again, 3Delight can be too!

I found Poser's lights very easy to use and the Firefly renderer to be fast. (Superfly has been more challenging, but mostly due to lack of information and resources.) I do love Poser's default light setup and the ease of controls. It's one of the few areas where I thiink Poser outshines DAZ for user friendliness (pardon the light pun, ha ha.)

I have the Reality plugin for both DAZ and Poser, but haven't done much in that. I get frustrated by the amount of tweaking involved and the crazy light blowouts. Maybe I'll do a challenge later this year and try to finally learn it. Click here for This Month's Top Picks

     Iray projects: 

     3Delight Projects:

February: Kind of a weird hodge podgy month. Here's a link to this month's top picks, which highlights what I rendered and enjoyed.

March: What's Old Is New: repurposing older sets, props, characters, hair, clothing, etc, with new shaders and other fun tools. I started playing with this here, and have picked up some really cool older items to try. Let's have some fun rediscovering these lost treasures. 

April: Shower Power! Any and all kinds. Rain, puddles, umbrellas, indoor showers, tubs, oceans, etc. Lots and lots of water.

May: Nature's Sketchbook- Flowers, nature, green stuff. Let's see fill the thread with things that grow. Fairy rings and mushrooms are fine too.

June:  All in good time - Anything marking the passage of time. Clocks, sundials, aging in general, artifacts, historical items.

July: Food Porn- Let's cook up some yummy 3D art that rivals the food mags! There are plenty of ideas in this post to get you started.

August: Shiny Objects- Let's bling the heck out of everything with shaders and what not. Let's make everything super blingy and maybe even downright tacky. Disco, here we come!

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Review: Toon Generations 2

    This week I bought Toons Generation 2 and am loving it. It's a total diversion from the stuff I normally do, and lots of fun. It's something I can do with my little ones too. Might be fun to put together some children's stories. My brother has published over 100 children's books on Amazon, all of them with digital art in them. Some of the pics look very close to the toons I see here. He doesn't use DAZ, he gets his stuff from stock photos, but I'm wondering if perhaps some of the artists creating the stock photos did. 

    Anyhow, here's Pinky, my first toon character. She's spunky, funny and so very PINK. I wuv her so.


    Toons seem to blend well with other characters, and take LIE makeup just fine. She's wearing a lace mask and Adventure Girl for G3F in the second pic. That's a Mei Lin pose and a V7 expression. I used Paris' Macro Eyes on her. I really like those. Autofits works just as well on her as it does on a normal G3F. She's wearing Star's clothes here. I also tested her with GenX2, taking her back to Gen2 for some Carrara users. This is the default G2F skin. Needs tweaking but not a bad start at all. 

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Here's a toon guy taken back to G2M with GenX2. I tried using the aging features, but they don't come over, or at least, I don't know how to do it. I bumble my way through GenX half the time. But there are ways to adjust him back, and I got close with scaling and dialing. That's the default G2M skin, but you could use anything. They're both wearing Renegade for G3M. The G3M for G2M product is very nice for bringing clothes back a generation.

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  • Welcome to the ranks of those with their own threads.  It's one reason why many of us start one.  It is a good way to show off what you are doing even when you don't think you want to put it in your gallery.  I look forward to seeing what you do.  I love your book covers.  I really like Pinky, too. :)

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Thanks, Knittingmommy! I figured I needed a workspace somewhere with other artists. This seems like the right place. Glad you like the bookcovers! I need to finish the redo for Crazy in the Heart and get the next superhero cover done. But I also need to finish the book as well. I wish the DAZ store sold big boxes of time! LOL

    PS. I think Pinky needs some adventures, probably with an accomplice!

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Year in Review: 2016

    I found DAZ around Thanksgiving of 2015. I had hired a well known cover artist to help create the cover of my first book. Crazy in the Heart, a zany romantic comedy inspired by the Book of Job that took me nearly 14 years to write. We searched endlessly in stock photos for someone who looked like my hero, Brett, but could find no one. She wasn't willing to do much to change the pictures we found. I felt stuck.

    Then a friend who has created covers with DAZ told me we could do it in 3D. I hired her to create the cover below and she sent me to DAZ to find someone who looked like Brett. We came up with this. Not perfect but good enough for the time being (it's linked to the book on Amazon): 

    As I was looking through the 3D models, I was floored by what could be done. I started bookmarking stuff that I liked and that looked like my characters. I realized I needed to learn how to do this myself. I could envision the cover I truly wanted, and knew once I created the imagery, I could use it for the website, promo art, etc. I've been hooked ever since. My first renders were perfectly awful. They're better today but I still have a looong way to go. But we all have to start somewhere.

    Here's my first attempts at Brett and Erica in DAZ, using a free wallpaper background. I can't use it in promos because I have no idea on the commercial licensing and wouldn't know who to contact (bear with me, trying to find a larger version.) I was just starting to play with Ron's brushes, so I threw in a tornado for fun: 

    My first attempts in Poser were more successful. I don't know why it sees the same M4 Morphs ++ differently. Brett was and may always be an M4. Every attempt I've made so far at moving him into Genesis has been a disaster. There's something about M4 that works well for him, but it makes it a nightmare to put any clothes on the man. If you've read the book, you know that's very much in keeping with his character. He's "not a big fan" of clothes, LOL.

    Trying to bring him into DAZ with those morphs was a nightmare. I've certainly had more failures than successes over the past year in both DAZ and Poser. And moving into Iray wasn't easy either. But he's looking much better now. You can see my attempts at redoing the cover to my original vision in the next post.

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Reposting from Novica's massive thread, since it got lost:

    Llynara's Top Ten List for 2016

    Now that I'm done shopping for the year (holy cow!!!) I can start thinking about my top ten. Got some great deals today and really need to stay off the sales page and start using this stuff. It's hard to narrow it down to just ten. There are so many great PAs and products, but here's what I've used and loved the most this year: 

    #1: NGS Anagenesis 2 Revolution Shaders - These skin shaders are a game changer, especially for older items. They literally breathe new life into characters who were not designed for Iray. Sometimes takes some tweaking but a very worthwhile investment.

    #2: Epic Props: Dynamic Lens Flare and Starburst Prop for Iray : I love Philopher's products, everything I've used has been excellent so far and his support is fantastic. He often makes video tutorials too. I used his lens flare in the pic below for the redo of the cover of my first book (still a WIP) as well as the Anagenesis Shaders on M4 and V4: 

    #3: Iradiance: The entire line of products by Dimension Theory as freaking amazing. I use the HDR Light Probes a lot, and I used the IRadiance Sunset HDRIs as the background and lighting in the scene above.

    #4 Lilith 7 - I didn't buy her at first, but she has really grown on me. She's versatile and interesting. I think she has a "presence" about her that's mesmerizing. Some people have Naked Vicky in a Temple with a Sword (NVIATWAS), I've got Lilith! She's my go to girl now. I wuv her so. Here's my latest render of her that came together nicely: 


    She's wearing the Mistress Arachne Outfit. I used #5, GI Dome for Iray and 3Delight, and added a glow in Photoshop. She's standing in The Alchemy Chasm, which I tried to texture for Iray, but I decided I didn't have to. I could hide the imperfections by using DOF instead. I used Flipmode's tutorial as well as Jay's excellent instructions here. I really like the results! 

    #5 GDI Dome for Iray and 3Delight: Just got this and LOVE it! OMG, I can't stop playing with it and it's HUGE, for both rendering engines. Can't beat that! It's a soft light, and pairs very well with a glow in Photoshop. I love how it made Lilith's skin look and that's without any additionals shaders. She's straight out of the box without any makeup or tweaks.

    #6 Wear Them All: I can't live without the product. It makes my entire Product Library useful. 

    #7 Cayman's UV Products- all of them. I think I have most of them, and it's wonderful to be able to use older skins on newer characters. 

    #8 BD Esther for V7 HD: I loved her enough to make her my Black Kat and put her on the first book cover in that series. Belladzines makes some incredible characters.

    #9 Ron Deviney's Brushes: all of them. I use them a LOT. They make postwork an absolute joy. You can take a half way decent render and turn it into something really special with his brushes. I used the fog brushes in the book cover above. I used his Light Fusion brushes here to do the special effects, along with item #10. I can't wait to play with his latest Fireflies brushes

    #10 Marshian's Back Rim Light Rig: All of Marshian's products are fantastic. I haven't even begun to play with all his stuff I've picked up recently, which is the only reason they aren't all on the Top 10. He does amazing, unique products. I just wish this one was for Iray. It works great in 3Delight and comes with these incredible hair shaders. Combined with Ron's brushes, it really made Jacob, my energy shifter, come to life.

    Honorable mentions:

    • Parker for Lucian 7: Probably one of the best male characters I've ever seen. He just came out and I haven't had a chance to play with him yet. All of Darwin's characters are fabulous, and it's great that he lets us watch over his shoulder at what he's doing next. Can't wait to play more with his current peeps and to see the new ones! 
    • Toons Generation 2: Just came out and I am loving them! So much fun! They are a game changer for making anything more toony in DAZ.
    • Hex Arcanum- Iggy's work is gorgeous as usual, I just haven't had time to play much yet
    • Iray Ghost Light Kit- same, just bought, will probably be a fave of 2017, along with ElianeCK's HDRI set that I just picked up today.
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  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    Congrats on your own thread!  They really are a very good place to post a lot of different stuff, get advice, show off, rip your hair out (we'll help you sweep the floor and reassure you it will all grow back lol) get good advice, and socialize.  Not necessarily in that order lol.

  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    I have to add that I really love the Lillith render. Its gorgeous!  The toons are cute, not really my thing but its fun to see what others do with them lol.

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Thanks, Ice Dragon. My stuff is scattered all over the place and I thought it would be good to see the progression. I'm trying to dig up some of the renders I did a year ago. What a huge difference. That Lilith render is one of my favorites and was quite a surprise. It was so effortless compared to some of these others. I relaxed and it somehow just all came together. I think I need to do more art for pleasure. That one was a lot of fun. Glad to have you here. Stop by any time for a visit. I'll keep the virtual chocolate and wine handy! LOL

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  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    Awesome I love wine and chocolate lol.  I really like seeing things from beginning to end.  I have been here maybe 6 weeks longer than you have, I started at the beginning of September instead of November. Which is one of the reasons I have such a massive content library as I managed to find Daz right at the beginning of the pc+ sale.  So I have two pc+ and pa sales under my belt in a year.

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770

    LOL We're in this together, then! But I need to follow in your footsteps and organize my content. I have no idea what I have any more, it's getting bad. That's my other DAZ New Year Resolution- organize my stuff. I need to look back at your category suggestions on Novica's thread and start implementing them. I'm so tired of searching for things endlessly.

  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    Good idea.  Makes a HUGE difference.  Seriously.  And you can set it up in whatever way works for your workflow.  Take my screenshots as suggestions only, do it any way you want.  some people do it by genre, some do it by generation and some do it totally different lol. Whats really nice is that you can set up your categories to make kit bashing easy as well.  For insance. I have a category that goes people/gen3F  Under that is clothing which is subdivided even further into dress, outfits, boots and shoes, jackets, etc etc.  An outfit will have all the pieces go into that category (which is further broken down into medieval fantasy and modern by the way lol) but it will also have the boots or shoes go into boots and shoes, the jacket will go into coats & jackets the jewelry and or headpieces will go into the appropriate category under jewelry etc.  So if I want to kit bash, I just go to the boots category and look at all the boots in one place. (if you drop the prop into the main boot category and then do the materials as a further subcategory you can see all of the thumbnails of your boots in one spot and then you can got to the subcategory and pull the mats easily.  For instance I go to people/clothes/boots and pick the boots.  Then I go to poeple/clothes/boots -> and the subcategories after boots are all of the mats for each boot separately so I can just pull up Janes Boots Mats, without hunting through 200 mats.  Its a really elagant actually and very easy to find stuff.

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Ice Dragon- I think I'll start by organizing my food! That's one thing I've bought a ton of, never use, and can never find. I need it for scenes for my Midwest books. They like to cook and eat a LOT. I show more of every day life in that series, so it'll be fun. Think of all the awesome food porn we could create! 

    Food Sets for Iray:

    Someone started this thread about food options in Iray. There are some very good food sets out there for 3Delight and a growing number for Iray. I've picked up quite a few I still haven't used. Thought I'd compile my various suggestions and posts from the other thread here and add some notes:

    • Ironman13 has some great sandwich and doughnut sets
    • Also, for groceries, Widdershins has some great products and MacLean has some wonderful things in his Everyday Food (3Delight) which could be shaded for Iray.
    • There's a couple of vendors at Rendo that do very good food products. Shaaramuse3d has "Photo Buffet" and "Photo Prop" sets that are very lifelike. I haven't tried them in Iray yet, but they are DAZ compatible. Exnem has several fun food sets. I bought the "Super Burger Pack" specifically to make the "Buffalo Burgers" that get so much attention in my first Midwest book.

    Iray/PBR Shader Sets with Food Options: 

    Iray Updated Sets

    Some of the Iray updates to older products include food, such as A Curious Tea Iray. This has Iray updates for three different sets in one: A Curious Tea, A Curious Tea: Eat Me and A Curious Tea: Drink MeIt's a PC+ item, so always very cheap, but even cheaper in the recent sales. I think I picked it up for less than $1 yesterday. Look at how gorgeous this is! Can't wait to render it.


    Here are some other Iray sets that come with food or at least tableware: 

    And a great dessert set I picked up last Valentine's Day, Sweet Temptation

    Food Freebies: (WIP)

    Some great sets here. Some in Iray, a few that can be reshaded.

    Post edited by Llynara on
  • Sonja is like the queen of organization.  :)  That's something I really need to work on now that I've finally managed to get CMS up and running and can actually create categories again.  

    Count me in for the chocolate, but not the wine.  The closest I get to wine is cooking with it on occasion.  I love to see how people progress.  I've been here a little longer, but I started just the same with really bad renders.  My render and postwork skills have really taken off in the last six months so I know exactly what you guys means.  It's funny, but I got into DAZ for exactly the same reason as you did Llynara, book covers.  Then, I realized just how much potential there was to use it for all of the other graphic arts work that authors need for websites, downloadable freebies for readers like wallpapers, doing the videos for book trailers which are all the rage on YouTube now.  Just everything and you could potentially do it all inside DS!  Now, if I could just finish one of my books, I'd be a happy girl.  I really need to get back to writing.  I haven't done quite as much daily writing as I should have over the last few weeks with the holidays.  


  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Yay! Another writer and 3D artist! Love that combo. heart The potential for our characters in DAZ and other digital art programs takes my breath away sometimes. We can finally create all the amazing things that are in our heads and see them come to life. The first time I saw one of my characters staring back at me was so incredible. It's magical every time it happens.

    Speaking of magic, here's my first crack at Hugh, my British illusionist, done in 3Delight. I'm working on getting him into Iray. He's a terminally ill superhero with a wicked sense of humor and a whole lot of problems. In the first book, he was put on trial for making his brother disappear- permanently. He gets tortured a whole lot more in the next book, Kat & Mouse:  


    Here are my first attempts in Iray. He gets a supersuit in the next book to keep him alive. I've been forcing him to try them on, which he's not happy about. A little pokethrough, but still working on the lighting and his skin (he's a G2M.) His hair is white, but he's not old. Trying to make sure the skin shaders don't make him look that way! (Click on the attachment for the full size pic, it's pretty big.) 

    And I know what you mean on the writing time. I'm usually very good about getting up early and knocking it out, but the past month or two have been pretty rocky for me in all departments, including the writing. I wanted to have my next superhero book out by February, but there's no way at this point. It may be ready for the editor by Feb, but not for publication. Probably March at the very earliest, and that's really pushing it.

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  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    Its interesting because he isn't that far off from what I pictured when I read the book.  KM has a lovely story going actually and I am looking forward to reading hers as well.

    I'm not sure if you can call what I am trying to do a book at the moment, It's looking more like world building at the moment lol. I'm just doing snippets of different stories as it comes to me (and some of it is very thinly inter related at the moment lol.) I want to build the story equally with pictures and words, so I have a website where I am (very) loosely putting it together.  Not online yet there isn't enough to make it worth paying the $10 a month until I get more up and really get moving. 

    I do love a curious tea and have several diner sets as well as some more elegant dining ware. Since most of what I do is fantasy/medieval or sci fi, I do have to be careful about having props that work with those themes lol. Thank you for the link to the freebies!

    I started Daz as a way to improve my 2d art (I'd been away from it for a long time) and totally fell in love.  I absolutely love the fact that I can build it in daz or bryce or carrara and I can then do MORE in photoshop using my 2d skills.  Its so FUN!  And I can create things that are far better than just my 2D skills alone.

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Thanks, Ice Dragon! I'm glad Hugh's close to what you pictured. I see my stories in my head as movies and try to convey those when I write. It's good to know I'm getting them across. 

    What is KM's story about? Would love to hear about it. Always up for a great story. 

    World building is so much fun, and it sounds like you're doing plenty of it! Nothing wrong with that. It's where it all starts. A well-developed world, with rules and challenges, as well as strong characters will take you very, very far. Can't wait to see what you do with your website when you have it up. Let us know! 

    I totally agree with using DAZ to extend 2D art. I absolutely love the postwork side. Doesn't matter where the art comes from- camera, illustration, 3D render. When it gets to Photoshop it's moved into the 2D realm and becomes so much fun with all the layers, filters and brushes. I love being able to take something to the next level in there. Starting with a great render makes it much more fun.

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited March 2017

    On Worldbuilding and Organizing Notes/Workflow: 

    I have a zillion ideas at once usually and try to keep them straight or at least find a home for the important ones.I also get interrupted about a 100,000 freaking times a day- at work, at home with kids, etc. Evernote keeps me *somewhat* sane. I use it to keep my notes in one place and sync across all my devices. I clip all kinds of stuff online, especially pictures to help visualize.

    I also love using the audio note ability in Evernote with my iPhone. I get ideas often when I'm bored- doing dishes, driving, you name it. I keep my phone handy when inspiration strikes and speak my notes. I label them quickly, then transcribe them over my lunch break at work and put them in the right notebooks in Evernote. This is how I can write rough drafts quickly. The editing takes far longer for me, but on raw writes I can sometimes get 5,000 words in a day working a full time job with small children. I can't maintain it forever, but I can do it for several weeks at a time. I wrote three books back to back last summer. The first one is out, and I'm working on the second and third now. 

    I have a notebook for each book in Evernote, and you can create stacks of notebooks, which I do for my different series. Makes it easy to keep things straight and to build more than one world at a time. I love it! I'm using this feature to plan several series at once.

    When each notebook gets pretty big (100-200 notes in it,) I create a new manuscript in Scrivener, my writing program of choice. It's very visual and easy to use. You can move scenes around, plot things visually with timelines or corkboards. However you like it. It's affordable too. I think I bought it for $30 and can use it forever, on as many computers as I want. I can sync it through Dropbox too and write from several different places. Then I can then flesh out my books, send them to an editor, proof read, and even format and publish them for Amazon and Create Space. Definitely worth the money. 

    That's an overview of the workflow that works for me right now. I love Miracle Morning for Writers, which is what I use to get things done. Though lately my Miracle Mornings have turned into "Miracle Mornings at the DAZ store." Time to put the nose to the grindstone and get back to writing (and rendering!)

    Post edited by Llynara on
  • Llynara, I'm writing a Science Fiction Romance.  I love both romance and science fiction and paranormal type stories so that is usually what I gravitate toward.  I actually have two books that I'm currently writing.  The one Sonja mentioned is my story built in a world I created where the future on Earth isn't all that great and my heroine is being forced into a bonding with an alien by her father for political reasons.  It is a story about how two people learn to love each other despite the circumstances behind how they got together.  There are some funny parts, some sad parts, and some steamy, sexy parts.  I had been world building it for awhile before I actually started writing.  DS has actually made it easier for me to visualize scenes and how my world looks.  I haven't put any of those images up in my gallery, though.  I'm taking the images that I think I did really well in creating and using them to build a website about my world.  I didn't realize that Sonja was doing the same thing.  :)  I figured it was a great place to put some of the images that I've made for my book which at this point is just one book, but I have notes for at least three others in the same world.  I figured once I was ready, I would publish the website around the time I was actually ready to publish my book.  I even have a domain already purchased for it.  I have lofty ambitions.  

    The other story I've been working is shifter romance.  The story starts out with two characters who don't know each other but wake up to find themselves in bed with each other and neither know how they got there although it doesn't take long to figure out that little mystery. I have not started doing pictures for this story yet.  It is still kind of new.  I really should do some images to visualize that story more.

    I use Scrivener for my writing too.  It has helped to get me more organized.  I had not heard of Evernote so I looked that up.  It looks interesting.  I'll have to explore that more.  Right now, I keep all of my notes, ponderings, world building, etc, as well as my manuscript in Scrivener.  I also have Aeon Timeline which I love and it helps me keep all my story events in line so I know where I'm going and what happened when.  I'm usually more of a panster which is why I've never actually finished a novel and usually stuck to short stories.  I'm doing my best to become organized, write daily, and even try outlining my novel somewhat.  It has helped.  Before I would start a story, get all into it and then get kind of stuck and not know where I was going with it.  I've actually found that even as a pantser, I can be a little organized and create a little bit of an outline that isn't stifling.  I am determined to finish my novels this time.  Unfortunately, every time I think I'm really close to being done or nearly there, I end up having to do some rewrites.  I'll get there, though.  

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    @knittingmommy Your books sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read them. So chop, chop, lady! Get them finished! (Nudge, nudge!)

    I like anything with a great story in it. The only thing I won't read is horror. I spend enough time changing diapers and having mini heart attacks from munchkins. That's scary enough, LOL. I actually used to read a lot of horror and suspense (Stephen King, etc.) before I had kids. Now I just can't.

    I'll check out Aeon Timeline. I hadn't heard of that before. Thanks for mentioning it. I have some crazy storylines and keeping them organized is sometimes a nightmare.

    That said, I'm pretty much a pantser too, but I have to have some structure, even if it's just a loose one. A general outline of a three act structure seems to help me. Too much detail and I get bogged down. Too little and I feel lost. When I do get stuck, I usually mind map the issues or look at my GMC charts (goals, motivation and conflict for each major character.) That helps a lot. When I was writing Unlucky Charm this past summer, my characters suddenly stopped "talking" to me, which is a bad thing. I couldn't figure it out at first. I did the mindmaps, looked at their GMCs, still nothing.

    I realized I needed to do more research. I was knee deep in the courtroom scenes and although I had a good grasp of how a trial works, and have watched a ton of courtroom dramas, writing one is something entirely different. (Kind of like understanding what's said in another language vs. actually speaking in it.) So I dug into the research and suddenly everything clicked. The courtroom scenes were difficult to write, but they are some of the best ones in the book. I've had quite a few compliments on them, which felt good. I figured people would either love or hate them.

    Have you set a goal for when you want to have your first book ready for an editor? Sometimes that helps. Or sometimes a goal of "I'll have Act 1 ready for beta readers by this date," helps. I have two accountability partners who I talk to every week. They're also writers. We share tips and keep each other on track. I'm also in several writer's groups so I can talk shop with them. I have a launch team and am on several other launch teams. That helps to learn the process of indie publishing and build a support system. There are many pieces to the puzzle, but just take it step by step and you'll be hitting that publish button in no time!

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Here are a few renders from last year around this time, of places I'd rather be. I entered them in the New User's contests. Slightly painful to look at, but should be a good benchmark going forward. Gianni 7 was one of the first characters I bought, and it was love at first sight. He's still one of my favorites! 


    Jan 2016: Rendered in 3Delight, using Ocean Wide for the water and Polynesian Tropical Hangout. Postwork: blurred the background a bit in Photoshop for DOF and added the foam with Ron's brushes. I think it was the first time I'd ever done either of those things. I loved how the light hit his skin in this picture. I used the sunset lighting option from Ocean Wide. Probably time to do an update (and at least set his butt down on the sand. LOL)

    "Twilight in Tuscany"

    Feb 2016: 3Delight again (couldn't do Iray back then on that computer.) Tried using the Uber lighting for the first time here for the sunset effect on the lovely Streets of Tuscany set. Still came out a bit dark. Used Wear Them All for the first time on some of the items in this scene and did my own posing (hard at the time.) Gianni 7 again, of course. No postwork.

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  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548
    edited January 2017

    I remember the beach scene from the new users contest. Isn't it funny how much things change in a year?  Although your firsts are pretty good!

    KM and Dracorn had mentioned Scrivener. Haven't got it yet but have it on my wishlist. I will check out Evernote as well as I am pretty scattered.lol.  It never occured to me to actually DO anything with this world in my head until KM and Dracorn basically said, just do it!   lol.  I'm sure it will take forever but I'm having fun doing it.  Right now, I am using paper notebooks which is fine but not ideal.

    I used to love horror too.  Its funny but I lost my taste for it when my kids were born too.

    KM I've been binge reading shifter stories lately lol. I didn't even know what I was doing was considered world building until just recently so I didn't know either lol.

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Thanks, Ice Dragon! And don't feel bad about it taking a while to bring your world to life in book format. My first book took me nearly 14 years. My second one took just 4 months. 

    A word of caution: what we write has a weird way of coming true. It's one of the reasons my first book, Crazy in the Heart, took so long. I was writing a book with a "Job" character, who has everything taken away and then gets it back. This same thing happened to me. My entire life fell apart. I lost everything, and that book sat in a drawer untouched for a decade. I picked it back up in the fall of 2015, wondering if it was still as funny as I remembered. I was surprised to discover it was better than I remembered, and worth salvaging. I chopped the last half of the book off (I had been stuck forever.) I figured out how it needed to end, and rewrote it in a couple of months. It was published in May of 2016. The story begins on April 1, 2003, which was actually the date I started writing it. I came up with the characters, plot ideas, and notes in 2002. 

    It's never too late to write, as long as you're breathing! So keep plugging away. You may surprise yourself!

    PS My next book, Kat & Mouse is basically a zany version of "The Fugitive" with superheroes. God, I hope none of THAT one comes true! 

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  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    LOL!  Well I would be okay living in a world with Dragons and magic and all the cool fantasy stuff in my world. But sadly every good story needs an antagonist or two that is evil so while there was a hard won peace that lasted hundreds of years, with the passing of the old High Queen (who conquered the evil but of course, evil never really dies)and who kept the evil contained for over 400 years, the new High Queen, who is still very young and has never seen war is going to have her hands full.  Fortunately, I think she will be up to the task but it won't be easy. That's the main story thread, but I want to take pieces of the world's people, and tell their individual stories as well.  And I have hundreds of ideas for that (no way will that fit into one book lol) so for me, putting up each individual story (with lots of pictures) and tying it into the world story is what I want to do.  So the website will have all of the individual stories, as well as the main story, which is what I may at some point turn into the book. Then people can go and read each story like a mini book on the website.  Not sure it will work but I'm willing to give it a try lol

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    That sounds very cool! And it sounds like you are building a series, not just one book. You might want to consider telling the main story over the course of three books. Then perhaps do a prequel series to tell the story of the old High Queen. She sounds very interesting. And maybe an anthology of different individual stories. Seven books, easily! They don't have to be long, just whatever the story needs. My superhero books are much shorter than the Midwest ones. Just depends on what you want to do.

    So far, my Midwest series has ten books spanning fifty years and I could do prequels with the ancestors. The Black Kat series has 13 books and spans an even longer time frame. It's just one of several series set in the same world spanning thousands of years. I love big stories and big worlds.

    I have a few long lived characters who appear in more than one of those series. We'll meet them in book 4. These characters have been with me for over 30 years. Some I came up with as a child. Daz is helping me to finally bring them to life. "Llynara" is one of those characters, and the online name I've always used. Another one is Lorcan, a white haired shape shifter. I'm considering using Darwin's wonderful Damen character to finally bring him to life. He's the first character I've seen that comes close to what's in my head.

    "Avalon Rising"

    Here's an earlier attempt at Lorcan that I did for the New User contest in March 2016 (theme was posing), long before Damen came out. Lorcan waits an eternity, literally, to become a father, and is overjoyed when he finally does. The birth of his first daughter, Branwen, breathes new life into a dying race.

    I also use a lot of music to write. Here's the beautiful song that inspired his story and the book "Avalon Rising".

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  • IceDragonArtIceDragonArt Posts: 12,548

    Oh that sounds very interesting.  Will listen to the song once this massive migraine goes away.  Sound does not mix well with migraine lol. 
    Hadn't considered all of that I will most definitely keep that in mind as well. 

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770

    I'm not feeling that great today either. Been sick on and off for a couple of weeks now. Just waiting to get over this junk. Bleh. Time to render some fun stuff! 

  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    Working on a new avatar. Playing with ElianeCK's amazing new lights in DAZ, Ron's Fireflies brush set and Nathy's Magical Backgrounds in Photoshop. Gorgeous!

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  • LlynaraLlynara Posts: 4,770
    edited January 2017

    January Challenge: You Light Up My Life (All About Lighting!)

    Same everything, different lighting as I try out Darwin Mishap's Lighting Walk Through. It's very good, and showed me stuff I didn't even know was in some of the settings, such as the render filtering for sharpening the pictures. Wow, what a difference that makes. 

    This is VYK Wilona wearing the Hunter Queen Outfit and Dragonfly Hair. I think she's one of the most beautiful female characters I've ever seen, and perfect for my Llynara character. 

    Attempt #1: This dark render is without the Promo Style Catch Lights. I actually like the moonlit look of it. This could pass for some great mood lighting with a few tweaks and some atmosphere. Click on the pics below to see them full size.

    Attempt #2: The brighter one is my first crack at following the walkthrough completely. It's a bit blown out, will have to tweak. The white hair makes it a little more challenging. The render took 10 hours to hit 30% on my computer, but it looks amazing, despite the big huge mole under her arm near her breast. That wasn't in the promos. These are straight renders, no postwork. (Shh, I stuck a firefly over it in the post above, LOL.)

    I'd like to change out the background or eliminate it so I can add my own later. But I know that the light needs somewhere to bounce off of. Wondering if I can get my background of choice into the render without disturbing the lighting. Not sure. I've only been using Iray since last summer and have a lot to learn.

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  • Not bad at all! I think I like the darker one as well.  For the blown out issue with the additional light rig; you could go with a darker preset in the Promo package after deleting the Catch, Fill and Rim lights or turn off the Rim and leave the Catch and Fill by using the Scene tab and see if the little additional lighting works.  If so, turn on the Rim again but go into the Light tab and lower the Lumens by about 2,000 to 4,000 and try those settings.  I usually drop down about 4-5K and start to incrimentally add more Lumens while the scene does the Iray preview render thing to see where I want the lighting before doing a full blown test render.

    As for the background- you can hide the back and floor props and turn off the environment map in the render settings and let it go...or hide the environment map in the render tab and turn the opacity off of the wall and floor props in the surface tabs and see if there's a difference?  Never tried that one.

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