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...
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...
* In case you don't recognize the reference: https://www.themarysue.com/describe-yourself-like-a-male-author-would/