I want to share a little about my workflow, how I create the illustrations for my books and how I started publishing. It's a process that takes time, patience and creativity. It's also a process that most anyone can accomplish if they really want to.

My Illustrations and Workflow

There are several programs out there for creating 3d content or using it once it’s created. Maybe you’ve heard the words blender, poser or maya. There’s also hexagon, carrera and several more. The one I mainly use and found the easiest to learn is Daz Studio. The best part of this program is it’s currently free to download.

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That’s correct. You can download this program along with a lot of content for free. Of course, it’s not all free. The more content you want and the more detailed you want your illustrations to be, the more it is likely going to cost you.

I normally start with an idea for a story. I admit most times, I don’t know where a story is headed until it gets there. With my book How I Met My Pet Dragon it all started several years before the book when I wrote a short story for a writing competition. I called it What if I had a pet dragon?  When I downloaded the Daz Studio program and found a product called Monsters in the Cupboard I knew I could take this short story and make it into something else.

The monsters product had the right look I wanted my dragon should have and allowed me the ability to tweak the look to my liking. This is what the base figure looks like before adding your own touches. monstercupboard

If you have read my dragon books or view the Spark figure further down on this page you’ll see a lot of similarity, but also a lot of differences. This little critter helped me learn a lot about what I wanted and what I could do. Creating scenes for the books and adding in the characters is always work, but a lot of fun too.

There is much to learn before making your idea become a project. I’ve been working with Daz studio and other programs for several years now and learn something new or a way to better my projects every day. I hope to eventually be able to create my own 3d characters and props, but that’s for the future.

So now I had my dragon for the book and a story in mind.

Where do I go from here?

My process is probably different from most because I don’t write the full story out at the beginning.  I create a possible cover or play around with a few scenes and that will usually get the ideas flowing through my head. I know the basics of what I want to write about, but not always where it goes. Seeing the scenes come together or adding a new element to them creates a thought and suddenly I have a concept.

Now concept in place and story started, I write it out. I add illustrations based on the story as I am writing. This helps my mind as I see the story taking place. Even where I haven’t added the illustrations I can envision them. The downside to this is if I change the story later on, I may have to go back and update my previous illustrations to reflect the change. Luckily, the 3d art program allows you to save a previous image, then make adjustments later without the need to start over.

There are a few more steps, tweaks and adjustments to this process. There are also many different programs you can use to compile or write out your book. I won’t get into all those details because it’s sometimes better if you learn the best practices that will work for you. My main reason for writing out this workflow is to let any aspiring writers or artists know to go for it. Anyone, with time and patience, can create something amazing.

My first cover attempt. It’s changed a few times since.

Let’s jump forward to a finished story. I have completed everything, even the illustrations.

What do I do now?

The best thing is to edit, edit, edit! Re-read your story. Look for errors in the flow. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes. Make sure a character’s name doesn’t change midway through the story (It happens). Then it’s time you let someone else edit.

A professional is best but not everyone has this option. Have who you feel comfortable with take time to test your story. My sister was my tester. She has three kids and reads a lot of children’s books. Her story insights and editing has helped me immensely.

So once you finish the edits everything should be perfect, right? Probably not. I have come to realize no matter how careful I am, there WILL still be mistakes. But, that’s okay. It’s all part of the learning process. Just like life itself.

This is a cat pirate! He is one of my created characters.

Now I have come to a point where I need to decide what next.

Do I self publish?

I didn’t know anything about it at first. I knew self publishing was an option, but thought it meant buying a bulk-load of your own books and trying to sell them yourself. You can do this, but the market today is much easier to get into without a cash investment up front. Ebooks can be uploaded to many sites and paperbacks can be made available by print on demand services. The only costs involved are what you decide to spend. Professional services, purchased ISBNs for the books and promotions are your choice. Not a requirement.

I decided to not spend the extra money and self publish using Amazon and Createspace. Where I did spend was on some advertising once the book was available. I also gave away a lot of free copies. There was never much of a return on the investment of advertising. Advertising is a beast! It’s a long, crazy road learning how to get your book seen and I’m still on the journey. My experience has taught me to appreciate the good I’ve found along the way. I may never be a best selling author, but I’ve enjoyed everything about what I’ve done. 

A random illustration of mine. I have a lot of them in my gallery on this site.

A lot of things that have happened that encouraged me to continue.

I met a few helpful people along the way. There are many who have went the self publish route and most are willing to help another author. I’ve searched forums and joined a few Facebook groups. After a while you find a few like minded individuals and ultimately a place you fit in.

I’ve gotten reviews on my books that made me almost break out in tears. When you read about someone enjoying the work you spent so much time on it makes you feel accomplished. It doesn’t matter the sales or ranking.

I’ve found new projects to work on. The best thing to do as an author is keep on moving. You finish something, well it’s time to get started on something else. I would have never believed in just over two years I would have completed ten books. Of course, I don’t plan to stop. Too many ideas are floating around in my brain I need to get out!

And It’s fun!

I hope you enjoyed the insight into my writing journey. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. Thanks for stopping in and reading my page.