Wednesday, December 14, 2022


One of the problems I have in making covers for my books is the lack of non-sexualized female figures available in stock images. You can get a male mage of any age in 150 different poses, but if you want a woman on the cover... well, you can probably get an 18-year-old woman in a thigh-high robe pouting for the camera. (Finding images of people of color is another issue, but other people are probably better suited to address that shortcoming.)

So I've been looking into DAZ 3D off and on for a while. It's a program that allows you to create objects (including humans, animals, and background buildings, etc), dress & pose them, set up multiple light sources, and then render the final image. A lot of covers are created this way, though the good ones usually have some overpainting done on them before they get to the final image.

In some ways, DAZ is kind of amazing — it's free, and it comes with a basic male and female human form, plus a few pieces of clothing, and some basic poses. (You can buy extras at the DAZ store — everything from different hair to intricate clothing to yoga poses to animal forms to...) There's definitely a learning curve, but the fact that I can get anything on the screen is truly amazing.

But it does have just a wee bit of sexism in the defaults. Here's what you start with:

(I should point out: These are not the final rendered images. These are just the mock-ups on the screen so you can get everything the way you want it before spending the time to generate the detailed image.)

The forms are about what you'd expect if you'd looked at Barbie or Ken dolls growing up. So far, so good.

But Barbie comes with a sports bra and panties as her only clothes. Ken comes with shorts and a t-shirt. You can put Ken's clothes on Barbie, but you have to know a little of what you're doing. The shorts worked, but Ken's t-shirt led to this:
Not gonna lie — I thought this was hilarious and I sent it to at least three people.

I was able to fix it, mostly...

Then we get to the poses, and... Ken walks and sits and plays air guitar (I think? I'm not sure what else that's supposed to be.)

Meanwhile, Barbie breasts boobily*

It's all stuff that can be changed if you know what you're doing, but the defaults tell an interesting story...



Richard Crawford said...

In my admittedly non-being-female experience, women rarely think about their breasts, since they're just part of the anatomy, much as I rarely think about my beard. They're just kind of there. So I try to adopt that approach when I write women.

On the other hand, maybe I ought to boob things up a bit. What say you?

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

If you decide to write literary fiction and want to win prizes, you might have to boob things up. Consider making all your main characters middle-aged literature professors. As everyone in the literary world knows, there is nothing more attractive to young boobs (and the woman that follows behind) than a bored, unhappily married English literature professor who has to teach undergrads about metaphors.