Saturday, October 7, 2023

Crackpot Alley

Have I mentioned that I'm a regional leader for National Novel Writing Month? Anyhow, this year we're trying something new in letting people know it exists — we have a table at the Davis Farmers Market. (Credit for this idea goes entirely to my co-leader, because it never would have occurred to be that a) the farmers market existed, b) we could get a table there, and c) we could sit at a table for five hours on Saturday mornings. Not so sure about that last part, though.)

The Davis Farmers Market is a fun place to be, with lots of vegetables, crafts, and hot food. They also allow non-profits to have tables at the end of the park, and NaNoWriMo is a non-profit, so tada! Outreach!

What's not quite so obvious is that the non-profit spots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, and apparently people start lining up well before 7am.

So we were pretty far from the actual farmers market. Worse, we were at the crackpot end, along with the flat earthers (no, really!) and certain political groups who walked off the edge of that flat earth long ago. Luckily, the high school drama club got their assignment even later than we did, and they were a good bunch.

I'd been hoping to see college students who were interested in learning about NaNoWriMo (Davis is very much a college town), but for about three hours we mostly talked to retired people who clearly viewed the non-profit tables as captive audiences for whatever random thoughts they thought we needed to know. Though weirdly, they stayed away from the flat earthers and fringe political groups, which I thought was a little unfair. The students showed up after 10am, which seems about right for a Saturday morning.

Anyhow, after sitting in the sun and interacting with people for five hours (yeah, it got up in the 90s today), I got no writing done. Also, I never want to see anyone ever again. But I did figure out how to make the propulsion flames show up a bit (cutout opacity = 1.00, luminance = 0.00, glossy layered weight = 0.00) and I think I may call it good... Maybe?

(Oh, and because someday I may need to figure this out again, I fixed the hair problem yesterday by not telling it to upgrade to version 9, but instead parenting the hair to the figure's head. Then I had to mess around a bit to get it in the right place, but at least the pony tail wasn't disconnected and sideways.)

Now I just need to go back and fix the typography that I threw together a few days ago.

Friday, October 6, 2023

A Little Refining

I've been playing around and I think this is close to being done (for some values of done). Mostly I wanted to show what it looks like with the new hair, because the old hair was just bugging me.



I may change the color to make it stand out against the leather jacket, but even if nobody else was bothered by the old hair, it was worth the $25 to get the new hair. (Though it was a bit of a saga to get it to work since initially the base of the pony tail was hanging in the air over her left elbow. The hair was built for a Genesis 8 figure and this figure is Genesis 9.)

Anyhow, I want to try to get the spaceship propulsion flames to show up and maybe tweak a few things here and there, but I think it's almost what I was hoping for.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Doodle Away

Still need to fix the hair (CURSE YOU, WEIRD HAIR!!!), but I changed the background and threw on some typography to make sure I'd left enough space.

Things are definitely moving forward. But yeah, the hair has to change...

I think this cover suggests everything it needs to, which is the point.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

More Cover Doodling

The last iteration looked like this:

And after I messed with it today, it looked like this:

I figured out why it rendered it in such a gigantic size yesterday, which made everything go faster today. It was up to 19% finished when I killed it off after 15 minutes or so. Yesterday, I waited two hours and I'm not sure it ever got past 0%.

Things to improve:
  • The composition is working better, but I need to move the character out of the shadow cast by the building on the left. Even better would be to put the sun more overhead, so the shadows aren't as long, but can I figure that out...? Maybe?
  • I bought a spaceship, which I think will work better than the dark spaceship that's part of the background image. But right now the white spaceship is getting lost in the background. I can either switch the spaceship color or I can use a background where it will show up better. And I probably need to reposition it a bit.
  • I cut the illumination in half and it's better, but the sheep is still pretty washed out. I'll try cutting it some more.
  • I probably haven't left enough room at the bottom for typography, though I could probably just fade it out.
  • Her hair is still a disaster.
  • Oh yeah, that crate is totally floating in the background...

Monday, October 2, 2023

More Cover Fun

Every once in a while, I make a little progress on redoing the cover for The Chaos Job. It's a wacky, heartwarming SF romp involving people stuck on a planet in the middle of nowhere, with damaged AIs, homicidal sheep, forbidden gods, and a bit of romance.

So... Having said that, here's the current cover:

I am absolutely not complaining about the cover designers I paid to do this, because they did exactly what I told them to do. It looks professional, which at least gives it some credibility. But I don't think it's attracting the right audience.

As we all know, I've never lacked in self-confidence, so sure, I can totally do this myself! And this was part of the reason I was trying to get more comfortable using Daz3D back in February.

This is the first iteration:

As a first pass (and not rendered fully), I think it's a good start. Some things that I will bang my head against the wall about:

  • Lighting (sigh) It's all blown out. 
  • Her hair. I really am going to have to bite the bullet and pay for better hair.
  • Ha ha, I just noticed there's a chicken in the middle of the wheel. (Actually, that's kind of funny and totally a thing a chicken might do, so I'm tempted to leave it.)
  • There needs to be less ground and more sky. Plus, I think I need to angle it so there's less of the building on the right.
  • The dark thing in the sky is a spaceship, but it's totally not obvious. Probably I need to use a different background image than this, or at least move it over so the back of the spaceship is visible.

  • The sheep needs something darker behind it for contrast.
So, yeah, lots to fix. But I think the vibe is a little closer. And I need to figure out why it created a 9000x10000 image when I asked it to render 1600x2560. Clearly, I'm missing something, and when I fix that, it will probably render faster.