Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you've been up to.
Hi, my name is Stephanie and I live in Oregon in the USA. I have a very peaceful life here with my honey and my two dogs.
How is ironman13 doing these days?
I'm doing very well, thank you. :)
How long now have you been involved in digital art?
I'm guessing it's about 5 years now.
Can you give us some hints on what you may be currently working on?
Oh yes, as usual, lots and lots of poses! And at the moment a house model with spectacular views.
What software is currently in your digital toolset and why?
I use Mari, Modo, ZBrush, 3d coat, and sometimes Cinema 4D.
Modo is a fantastic poly modeler. I find it quick and easy, and it also has some great uv mapping tools.
I use 3d coat for texturing and some sculpting, its very easy to use and a very quick way to produce good, dependable results.
I use Mari for texturing when the item needs extremely high resolution, or when I want to texture lots of things all at once because it is able to handle lots and lots at once and very high-res textures.
I use ZBrush for making morphs and some sculpting. Occasionally I will use it to do full models in it.
Could you list any current favorites among the products you've created and tell us a bit about their creation?
I would have to say I'm very fond of all my lighting products. I created them all because I saw that there were certain needs not being addressed. I myself really needed them. So, I really just thought through all the different needs I had for lights, noticing when I ran into things that were a hassle or slowed my workflow. For example, I did not want to have to move all the lights by hand every time I moved my character, so I created Light Ease, where all the lights are controlled by a single orb.
I created IDL Studio Master to give me a nice even IDL light and I wanted to be able to have some real control over the direction of the IDL light, so I created zones. Later, I realized I could gain even more control with a set of panels and orbs, so I created IDL Freedom and Ambient Dreams. So, now I have total control over both regular and IDL lights. Its really handy when you do as many renders as I do.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
I would have to say it's coming up with new, original and useful items. You really have to sit and think about what you're going to make. I keep lists of ideas and then I organize those lists into best idea first, and then second, and so on. It's easy to sit down and just start working, but it's not as easy to generate a new idea.
I think another challenge is probably workflow. I'm constantly getting a system in place and then changing it, not always to my benefit, sometimes I cause myself confusion.
And last, but not least - the biggest challenge by far is sitting too much. You really have to remind yourself to get up and stretch and get some real activity each day or you find each day you become more and more tired and less focused.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, and are there any workflow tips you might wish to provide?
Know exactly what you are going to create and then be flexible later when you need to make changes.
In my opinion, you really need to start with a plan, but then allow for change later because it is impossible to anticipate everything. Sometimes, what seemed like a perfect plan just falls apart, other times you create what you planned to create and just realize it's lacking something. So, I ask myself: "Would I be excited about this product if I saw it appear in the marketplace?" If the answer is "no," then I need to remake it or change it, or throw it out.
You've had the honor of Vendor Of the Month a few times previously. To what do you credit your continued success?
It's simple - work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Seriously, I used to work that much, but now I take off Sundays and put in about 12 per day. So, what I'm really saying is I have found that being willing to put in long hours really helps me succeed. I also think it's the list of creative ideas that I keep. I find that being creative really dramatically increases my popularity as a vendor.
Do you have any new insights or advice for aspiring Digital Content Developers?
I really do, lots of my products are joint efforts. I find that when you work with others you both get the benefit of other people's experience. I also find being on voice chat with my collaborators is incredibly valuable. I mean, if you don’t know how to do something some one else in the group does and you have the answer in an instant, or if someone is stumped for ideas someone else in the group probably has one.
It's also a great way to get a quick opinion on your work. I use Skype and we just screen share and give each other advice back and forth, there is no need to email pictures to a friend you know right away, you don’t have to go through the Poser manual over and over either, someone in the group almost always knows.
Do you have any final words or advice for other digital artists?
I do. If you want to earn a living doing digital art you must make a name for yourself and become known for a particular product line. If you make lots of different things, you may do a fantastic job, but people won't really think about you as much as if you have a "thing" you're known for. When you do earn that name, do the best job you can at that product line.
For me, it's making poses. I have been doing it for a long time and I always do my best, I have over 100 packs in my store. People still purchase other items when they come into the store, but I believe it's being known for the poses that brings them in - they know they can more than likely find the pose they are looking for by coming into my store and they know the quality is good.
It does not mean you can't do new things and grow skills. I have a friend that is known for characters and she makes amazing props, and I think her props are the best thing she does, but she earned the reputation for the characters. So, in a nutshell, make sure you have a niche, and I know that’s been said again and again but it's just so true. It can be anything that you enjoy making: props, lights, scripts, etc.
I sincerely hope that helps someone to succeed, because it's really a treat to earn a living doing something you really enjoy. :)
Stephanie and Michael
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