Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Online Article Writing for Self-Promotion

I have been doing this online article writing thing for a number of years now. I make much more money doing it now than when I first started out. But I originally only did it for the purpose of online self-promotion. As a musician, web developer and entrepreneur, I would primarily use the articles to promote my music, my businesses and my websites. Since then, though, I have also begun to do 3D art and animation and have written several e-books. So I have even more to promote online now, through my articles.

My articles would always contain links to whatever it was I wanted to promote at the time. When I first started out, I had read many online articles and blogs about the very subject I am talking about here. In one that I read, it was stated that it can be helpful to you and your business if you were to establish yourself as some sort of expert in your field. Writing articles helps to create that impression. It also doesn't hurt if you have a few e-books or books in print under your belt.

Often, people will get a sense as to whether or not you know what you are talking about from reading your articles. Also, if the article is vague and contains little useful information and then hits you up to buy something, you generally know it is pretty much just some sort of scheme to relieve you of some of your excess money.

What I prefer to do is to try to provide useful information and then post something about my credentials at the end of the article. Usually those credentials have to do with an accomplishment of some sort. This may help lend credibility to you in the area of establishing yourself as some sort of expert. So allow me to give you some examples of the things I may mention in my articles to help create that impression.

As a web developer, I write about website content, website promotion and internet marketing. So I will mention things like I have a number of websites that I have created and I have over 4,000 pages on the Internet. That establishes me as someone who may know something about productivity as it would relate to a website. So I may do an article on how to maximize your productivity as a web developer. After all, 4,000 pages is a lot of pages, right?

As a musician, I may mention how I compose my own music, play a number of different instruments, have done recording using various music programs and I can read and write musical notation. I have also done live performance. I have made my CD available for sale on Amazon and my music available for sale online as MP3 downloads. I could write articles about any one of those things.

As a writer, I have written several e-books and written for a number of websites. I could give advice to others who wish to do the same. The same could be said regarding my 3D artwork and animation.

Okay, now allow me to clear things up. What I just wrote was not for the purpose of bragging. It was to illustrate a point. The point I am attempting to make is: whenever you want to use your articles to promote yourself, your business or your products, try to establish yourself as an expert and try to give some credibility to that assertion by stating your accomplishments that are related to the subject matter of the article.

The next thing to concern yourself with is your writing skills. If you yourself are not a skilled writer but know someone who is, see if that person will work with you. You basically write the article and have the other person edit it. Give the other person partial writing credits for all of the work you do together. If you are a skilled writer then you need not worry so much. The thing is that many will disregard what you have to say when they see numerous grammatical errors or try to read incoherent gibberish. That could hurt you more than help.

I hope I didn't bore you too much by speaking about myself at length. But if you are a skilled writer who has something to promote online, try out what I have suggested. Now, to further illustrate my point, at the end of this article I will include a snippet that I sometimes use at the end of some of my articles. That's the section where I usually promote myself. This is a little longer than usual but I want to fully illustrate the point. So here it goes:

Bob Craypoe, is a musician, web developer, writer, 3D artist and animator. Bob's most popular website is the Doctor Psychotic Humor Site, which contains over 3,000 pages. Bob's instrumental CD, To Infinity, is available on Amazon.com. Bob has also authored various e-books and his most recent release is called What Not To Do As A Musician, which is available for the kindle. Bob also has an Online Gallery of his 3D artwork where art prints of his work may be purchased. You can find out more about Bob by going to his website, Craypoe.net.

Now, what are your accomplishments and what do you want to promote? That should be included in the snippet at the end of your articles.

Photo Credit: Image create by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Introduction to Animation in Daz Studio

I just completed work on a music video for one of my songs. The song is called "Intensity in F Minor" and it's off of my CD called To Infinity

I did the animation in Daz Studio. Daz Studio is better known for being used to create still shots. It is a program that is very similar to Poser (from SmithMicro). I have both Poser and Daz Studio. I tried out Daz Studio first and became so accustomed to the interface that I haven't really done much in Poser. Poser has some good features but the interface is so different from what I became accustomed to in Daz. I keep telling myself that eventually I will get around to learning Poser but have not done so yet. Each program has its own benefits, so it's probably not a bad idea to learn them both.

Another program I often use is iClone from Reallusion. I use that primarily for animation. iClone is probably the most user friendly of the three but the render quality is not as good as the other two. Daz Studio has more content available than iClone as well.

Like I stated above, Daz Studio is most often used for still shots like the image I have included with this post. I have done over 60 images so far that I have made available for sale as prints. The video I just completed is really only one of two videos that I have done at this point that utilized animations created in Daz Studio.

Daz Studio uses what are called aniblocks. They are preformatted animation blocks that can be applied to characters. They are basically a form of "mocap" (motion capture) files. These files can be purchased through the Daz content store. However, they aren't exactly cheap if you want to compile a lot of them. So you should wait until they are on sale in order to save money. I just bought a load of them dirt cheap with some recent specials and sales. I saved a boatload of money.

The aniblocks are really optimized to work with certain characters; primarily the 4th generation, genesis and Genesis 2 character bases. The goblins featured in this video aren't in any of those categories so animating them is a bit harder because certain corrections have to be made. there is a timeline feature that allows you to modify the aniblocks. I had to use it in order to fix certain things.

One problem that needed to be corrected is how the hands looked o the goblins. I had to modify the positions of the fingers because they were all bent backwards and crooked looking. So I made the corrections in order to make them look more natural.

There are some collections of aniblocks that you can purchase that will serve as great templates. There is one called the aniMate Walk Construction Kit for M4 (Michael 4). It serves as a great tool for developing basic walk cycles for characters.

One problem you may have is if a character is not shaped like some of the standard base characters like Michael 4. Maybe your character is a little on the heavy side. Well, a larger character may need to have his arms swing wider when he walks. Because sometimes, his hands or arms will pass through his legs as he walks. You will then need to make modifications in the timeline in order to correct that problem.

Animate 2 is the current version of the Animate software that is used as a plug-in in Daz Studio for animation. Daz Studio comes with Animate Lite (scaled down version) for free. Animate 2 is well worth the purchase because you are able to do much more with it. I got it when it was on sale of course. Animate 2 as well as animate Lite each have an online User's Guide.

You can even pan or move the camera to change focus while the animation is going on. I did that for a couple of scenes in the video. You have a lot of options with the lighting as well. The lighting can be tricky at times to get right, though.

So check out the video below to see what I am talking about. I edited it in CyberLink's PowerDirector, by the way.

Photo Credit: "Drunken Goblins" by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Monday, December 15, 2014

Avoiding Internet Money Making Scams in 5 Quick Lessons

There are a lot of get rich quick, money making scams on the Internet. And, let's face it, a lot of people would just love to actually find a way to make easy money. Unfortunately, opportunities to make easy money are indeed a very rare find.

If some things seem to be too good to be true, then guess what. they probably are too good to be true. And if they want a lot of money up front in order for you to seize this great opportunity, then you really might want to proceed with extreme caution. You see, they will make money regardless as to whether you will or not. So if you go belly up, it really doesn't matter to them. Hey, they've already made their money. So, lesson number one is: if they want money up front be extra cautious.

Many scams will tell you how easy it will be to make their "system" work. the truth is that it is often difficult to make their system work and usually requires a lot more effort than they let on. There is really no such thing as easy money. now there is absolutely nothing wrong with hard work. I work hard on a number of things. But if that hard work is really not the kind of work you really want to be spending your time on, you will probably have a difficult time motivating yourself to do it. You will then have a very hard time trying to be successful and you probably won't put in the time necessary in order to succeed at it. Lesson number two is: if you can't see yourself having the motivation to do it, you probably won't be able to motivate yourself to do it.

One big thing on the Internet is Multi-Level Marketing, or MLM. this in a big one, let me tell you. MLM is highly dependent upon you getting people to go along with what you are doing. Let's say that you by the products. Well, the guy that got you to sign up will get a percentage of what you make and the guy that got him into it will get a percentage of what he makes. The key is to get a lot of people below you to sing on. If you are not really a social person capable of motivating people to sign on, you will fail. Some of these "programs" require a fee to get started. then you get a "starter kit" which basically consists of various things like a business card, brochures, a website created from templates (that look like everybody else's who signs up) and other things. Some may even allow you to have your own domain name to. Lesson number three is: MLM requires just as much time and effort as any other thing you try to be successful at and you need to be a salesman. If you don't have a salesman's personality, you will fail.

Some people will try to sell you an e-book with all of these wonderful ways to make money on the Internet. Some actually go for utterly ridiculous prices too. Some will give you resell rights that you can get a commission on. so the only way you really end up making money, in the end, is from reselling the e-book. I'm not saying you can't make money from the information given in the e-books but it usually is not as nearly as easy as they let on. Lesson number 4: many e-books contain valuable information that can help you in business but if the business itself relies mostly upon you selling that same e-book, you just might have yourself a scam here.

Another way they can get your money is setting you up for affiliate programs and creating a website for you to sell things from your own site. First of all, you can sign up for a lot of affiliate programs on your own, you don't need someone to do that for you. as far as having your own website, you can go to sites like GoDaddy and get an account with your own domain name and use some of their site building tools to create one yourself. You can save a lot of money. Also, just because you have a website, it does not mean that people will go there. So you still have to generate a load of traffic to really make money. They don't tell you about that part. Lesson number five is: if you can do it yourself to a competent level, don't pay someone else to do it for you.

Can money truly be made on the Internet by your average Joe? Yes it can. But Joe needs to do a little research and maybe even acquire some skills an expertise in certain things in order to be able to do it. if Joe has the time and the drive, Joe will do just fine. but Joe needs to be careful too and not fall for every so-called "opportunity" that comes along.

I have written an e-book on the subject of making money on the Internet. And, no, it does not require you to resell it in order to make money. Although, if you like it, I sure would appreciate it if you recommended it to people you know. The book is available on Amazon.com and is mainly about avoiding scams. It also gets into the number, the specifics and the truth about making money on the Net. It is called: All About the Numbers: The Truth About Making Money on the Internet [Kindle Edition]  The book sells for only 99 cents, so that pretty much tells you that the book itself is not a scam. the real scams will charge up to $30 for their books. anyway, if you don't buy the book, you at least have the five tips i have provided in this article. Good luck.

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau 

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to be Your Own Team

Hey, let's face it, there are just so many hours in a day. Things would be so much easier if you had a team of people working with you to achieve an objective or complete a project. Then maybe you would not have to spend so much time working and you might even be able to actually have a life. But what do you do if you don't have that team of people to help you out? I guess you would just have to be your own team.

Let's take an entire package created by a group of individuals like a band, a video editor, 3D artist, web developer and writer. Now let's assume that they are not really a group of people but, in reality, one person who does all of those things. Well, that would be me. Now allow me to elaborate:

I am a musician. A number of years ago, I put out a CD called To infinity. I wrote and arranged all of the music, played all of the instruments, recorded all of the music, mixed it, did the CD cover artwork and layout and did what had to be done to make it available for sale on Amazon.com. Then I re-designed my own website and included information regarding my CD and music. Those are a lot of functions for one person, right? Needless to say, it took me a long time to do all of those things but I basically did all of the functions of what could have been done by a team of people. 

I have also done some videos for the music. In the videos, I have included some of my 3D artwork and animation. So now you can add a 3D artist and animator and a video editor to the team. You could also add writer to the list of titles if you want to include the articles I have written about my various projects for the sake of promoting them. Obviously, if I had had a team of people assisting me in the various projects, the process would not have taken nearly as long to complete. Unfortunately, I was alone to fend for myself.

I am neither bragging nor complaining. I am not bragging about my abilities to do a number of things and I am not complaining about the fact that I had to do all of those things on my own. It just happened to be my situation and if you are in the same situation, maybe my advice can help. So here is the advice:

You absolutely must be goal oriented as well as task oriented. You must know how to prioritize and stick to a project or task until it is completed. If you can't do that, you can't be your own team. 

My first task was obviously to compose the music. So I set out to compose a CD's worth of material. Then I recorded the tracks for all of the songs. After that, I mixed and mastered it all. Upon the completion of that, I designed the CD cover and did the layout for the CD. Then I did what needed to be done to make it available for sale on Amazon.

After my CD was made available on Amazon, I decided to do things to promote it. First was a re-design of my website. Then I began to write some articles that were designed to promote my work as a musician. After that, I did some music videos.

I am still putting together an occasional video for my songs. I have included one with this article as an example. When I first started to play around with 3D artwork and animation, I decided that the first thing I would do with it would be to use it for a music video featuring my music. The example I have provided here is the first video project I did with the 3D software I was learning to use. I wanted to describe in this article just how much work over an extended period of time was put into the entire package.

So, to reiterate: be task and goal oriented. Try to finish one task at a time before moving on to the next. Prioritize your various tasks and try to determine what order would be the best order in pursuing your overall set of goals. Stick to it. If you find yourself losing focus, pause and analyze where you are and where you need to go. See where you may have deviated from your course and try to set yourself back on course. Believe me, when you have a lot of tasks you are trying to do, it is very easy to lose focus.

So, I hope this advice helps and here is the video I was referring to: 

Photo Credit: "The Pirate Gang" by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Diversifying Your Income Potential

If you are an entrepreneur or someone who desires to be an entrepreneur or self employed individual, diversifying your income potential is one thing that may make the difference between success and failure. Diversification can be great as long as you don't spread yourself too thin or get into areas where you lack competence.

Throughout the years, I have found some ways to diversify my income potential as it would relate to my own entrepreneurial ventures or self employment. I will discuss just some of them here in this article.

I would guess that my first self employment venture was music. I played out in night clubs, bars and coffee houses. I made some pretty good money and was able to score other opportunities along the way as well. I was able to diversify my income potential with that alone by increasing my song list. The longer the song list, the more places I was able to play and get more gigs in the future. Also, if you have enough material, you can tailor it to the type of crowd that regularly attends an establishment. Then if the crowd is happy, the owner is happy and they will happily have you back.

After I started doing the music thing, my next venture was an attempt at a local arts magazine. The venture failed but I took much of the content from the magazine and created a website with it. After a while, I got quite good at web development. That allowed me to do web development in exchange for additional income and opportunities. So the failure of the magazine led to something that allowed me to make money even to this day. Now there were two decent skills I had that allowed me to generate income. They were music and web development.

When I tried the magazine thing, I started to do a bit of writing. I wrote some of the articles. Actually, I wrote almost all of them because, since I was just starting out, I had a very SMALL staff. So then I started to write online. That's why you are reading this now. I have written for a few websites and have made some money doing it. I have also written some e-books that have generated income. That's three things now. Them being music, web development and writing.

I have always done some sort of drawing from the time I was a kid into my adult life. I started to do some cartoons and things on the computer. I never really had a chance to use them until I did the magazine and then the websites. Just a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon some 3D software and decided to try it out. So I started to experiment with 3D art and animation. The image included with this post is one of my creations. I have sold some art prints of my work. Not many, at the time of this writing, but some. However, I have also used my images with my articles and websites. Regardless, it is another means of generating income.

So now you get the basic point here. I have found ways to diversify my income throughout the years. You may have also noticed that some of those things were things I just stumbled across. That is the key to the whole thing, in my opinion. You have to keep your eyes open for new opportunities and your mind open to new concepts and ideas. If you do that, you never know what you might stumble into. I was LUCKY. I will freely admit that. because I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to stumble into opportunities.

As lucky as I have been, though, I do like to think that I was at least creative in finding some opportunities or at least had the ability to recognize them when they sprung up. I think that it is something that you get better at as time goes by. At least that's how I think it was for me. So keep your eyes open for new opportunities, develop your various skills, do your homework and don't be afraid to try something new. That's how you will be able to diversify your income potential.

Photo Credit: "The Vision" by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Sometimes the Barter System Works for Business and Sometimes it Doesn't

I have done a number of business and entrepreneurial related ventures in my life. Some things were very successful, some were miserable failures and there were some that were somewhere between the two extremes. Often, when dealing with people I wanted to do business with, I used the barter system. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.

As an example, I am a web developer and I have offered my services as a web developer in exchange for certain things. One thing I did was design a website and maintain it for a local bar that I was playing in as a musician. I did monthly updates in exchange for a paid gig every month. So even though the work I did as a web developer was done for free, I still made money from playing out. I did a lot of gigs in that establishment. In that particular case, the barter system worked out very well for me and i made pretty good money.

Being a musician, I also met a lot of other musicians and bands along the way. So I would offer my web development services to them in exchange for other things. One thing was to get a chance to play at one of their gigs at a time when the owner or the person who did the bookings was there. That way I cold use it as an opportunity to do somewhat of an audition to try to get gigs in those establishments. Well, that panned out rather well for me. I was able to get a lot of gigs that way. Eventually, I ended up playing out regularly and making some pretty good money along the way, even though I initially did things for free like developing and maintaining websites.

However, sometimes there comes a point where you may continue to do your part but the other party stops doing his and it starts to become a one-sided relationship, where you do all of the giving and the other person does all of the taking. That's when the bartering relationship no longer works. You could have a lot of situations that work out in the beginning and after a while start to go sour. The main thing is that you either get the other party to start giving in return or terminate the bartering relationship.

Some bartering relationships will turn out bad right from the beginning. There is no point in sticking around if that is the case. The main thing is that the other party needs to follow through on his or her obligations and promises. if that does not happen, you need to terminate the bartering relationship. If you keep on getting into one bad bartering relationship after another, you will end up doing a lot of work for nothing. You will be the hardest working individual that ever ended up in the poorhouse.

When you have a lot of good bartering relationships, life can be good and your efforts can be quite rewarding. If you have a lot of bad bartering relationships, life can be hard. You will find yourself working very hard while achieving very little. I don't think that's where you want to be.

I have learned, after having done this whole bartering thing, that there are times when you are much better off just doing things for money. If someone I worked with in the past that I had a bad bartering relationship with approached me and asked me to do something for them, I would tell them that I would only do it for a fee. I will not set myself up to be taken advantage of once again by the same person. It's not just bad business, it's extremely bad business. Believe me, once one person takes advantage of you in a business sense, others will come along and try the same thing. At that point, you might as well have the word sucker printed on your forehead.

So, in conclusion, I say that there is nothing wrong with the bartering system if the situation is mutually beneficial. If not, it's a bad deal not worth making. I've been there and I know from my own experiences. Hopefully you can take some of the advice I have just provided and save yourself a few headaches along the way.

Photo Credit: "The Traders" by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tips for the Newbie Online Writer

So you want to be an online writer, hey? That's great! I have been doing it myself for a while now, so I could probably help you out a little bit with some words of advice regarding the subject.

First of all, you may have some doubts about your writing abilities. That's fine, it just means that you would have a preference towards being good at what you do. There are plenty of people out there that aren't willing to make the effort of bettering themselves as a writer. So my one tip regarding that is that the best way to improve as a writer is to just write. If you keep on writing, you will get better as a writer. This I know from my very own experience. 

Also, to improve as a writer, you might want to get a few books on grammar and things of that sort. The use of spell check would also be advisable. Oh, and if you aren't sure about how to use a certain word, either look it up or use a substitute word.

Another thing I would recommend is writing for more than one site. This will not only expose you to a variety of audiences but you can test things out like which sites will get you the most views or earn you the most money. It is best to try not to put all of your eggs in one basket too. You might even want to try to write about a variety of subjects to see which ones will generate more views. Some subjects will do better than others. If you have the ability to write about a number of different subjects, you should definitely try them all out to see how well each subject will do.

Each writing website will have its own rules regarding certain things like article length or subject matter. They each also have their own terms of service. Always make sure you read them and understand them. Some sites will terminate your account if you violate the terms of service and may do it without giving any warning. Then all of your posts will be gone in an instant.

Always try to make sure you keep copies of your work somewhere. Some writing sites will go out of business and if you don't have your articles backed up somewhere, all of your work will be gone. If a site shuts down, you can just take your backed up copies of your old articles and post them on a new site. You may even want to post them on another site if the earnings or article views aren't what you hope to generate.

One thing you might want to give additional thought to is the idea of writing articles on various subjects that you could eventually compile into a book or e-book. Then you would have a goal to shoot for and that sometimes provides extra motivation as well as an extra source of income.

Images can also be of great help in getting more views for your articles. Sometimes it will be the image that will catch a person's attention and then the person's curiosity may be piqued as a result, leading to them wanting to read the article. if you are a photographer or artist, include that with your articles. It could help.

Catchy titles or titles with questions in them will help to pull in more readers as well. Sometimes people will be more inclined to comment on the article simply because there is a question in the title. Take my word for it, it really does work.

If you intend to get into writing about controversial subjects, be prepared for a lot of criticism and also be prepared for some mean-spirited comments regarding your work. This is especially true regarding politics or religion. If you are not ready for that, you may want to write about other things instead. People can be especially cruel on the Internet, where they don't have to insult you face to face.

Once you are feeling confident about your writing, use social media to promote your work. Post your articles on your Facebook page or send it out in a tweet on Twitter. you may also want to try to build up your friends count or followers in order to have more people to market your articles too.

Don't allow yourself to get too discouraged if your online writing career does not take off as quickly as you would like. It can take some time to build an audience. Another thing too is that you can re-post old articles in the future once your audience has built up a bit because many of them will not have read your earlier work. You can sometimes get a lot of mileage out of old articles. You can also make more money from the old posts. I have taken old posts, re-posted them and actually made more money from them the second time around.

So here are a few tips for you anyway. Give them some thought and give it a try. You might surprise yourself in how well you do. Good luck.

Photo Credit: "The Dictator" by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hard Work Pays Off, Even if You Don't Get Paid Right Away

I have done a number of different things where I have put in a significant amount of effort throughout the years. Much of that work was done without me receiving immediate rewards. What I mean by that is that quite often I would do things without receiving any immediate monetary compensation.

You see, the way most people see things is that it is not worth it to put a lot of effort into things unless you receive those immediate rewards such as monetary compensation and other things. However, if you read the biographies of self-made millionaires who basically started with little or nothing, you will find that they had a different mindset.

As a musician, I wanted to be able to play out and make some extra money. So I had to make sure that I had enough material to be able to do that. So I set out to learn a lot of songs. I obviously was not getting paid to learn and practice those songs but I had to put in the effort in advance in order to position myself to be able to play out for extra money. So I developed a lengthy song list and eventually went out and made some pretty good money playing out as a musician throughout the years.

I am also a web developer. I put in a lot of time developing content, creating and uploading web pages for my various websites. I now have over 4,000 pages on the Internet. For years, I did not make much money from my websites but after a while, I was able to generate some income from it. When I was doing the sites and not making money from it, some people would look at me like I was crazy when I told them that I was doing all of that work and not making money. They would think "What the hell is the point of that?" Well, the point was to eventually make money from my websites, which actually happened.

As an internet writer, I was not making any money at it at first. I started out writing articles for my own websites and my websites were not really getting a lot of traffic in the beginning. So I was really only receiving a very limited amount of article views. That obviously meant I was not making a lot of money from my writing. But now I make a decent amount of extra income from writing on the Internet. I do it on a few different sites as well as doing my own blog like the one you are reading now.

I make extra income from writing on the other sites but I don't make much from doing my own blog. I am doing my own blog in the hopes that I will build a following and in the hopes that, over time, my blogs will show up in searches and I end up getting a lot of free search engine traffic.

I also started getting into 3D art and animation. I would create one image after another and now I have and online gallery of my work with made available for sale as art prints. I also use much of my work to accompany my online articles. So I use those images to help draw attention to my writing, which I make some money from. So even if I didn't sell a single art print, I would still be able to use them on my websites and articles and make money from them. It took a while to build up my gallery and I was not making money from it while doing it. My online gallery can be found at: http://robert-crepeau.artistwebsites.com/

Doing all of the different things that I do is a way of diversifying my income generating potential. However, most often, if you want to diversify your activities, you will have to learn new things. Learning new things takes a bit of effort and you have to put in the time. That will usually mean that you will have to put that time and effort into something that you are not earning money from right away. The money usually comes a little further down the road.

If you are interested in seeing one of my websites that I am referring to, you can go to: DrPsychotic.com. If you go there, you will see a lot of pages. That site itself is over 3,000 pages. It has made me a good amount of money for me over the years.

Again, I want to reiterate that you can read the biographies of many self-made millionaires and you will find that they often put in the time and effort for things that they did not receive immediate monetary compensation or rewards for. They looked at things from a long term point of view. They looked at the big picture. Maybe you should too.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to Save Money on Daz Studio Content - Get it for a Steal

Daz Studio is a free program and they do give you some things to get you started. That's all great but you will probably want to start buying additional content at some point. And that is where Daz really makes its money. That's fine too. Hey, they are in business to make money and that is what business is all about. But it doesn't meant hat you can't find ways of saving money on content.

If you really plan on buying a lot of content over a long period of time, I suggest you become a Platinum Club member. Believe me, the amount of money yo will save will save you muich more than the cost of the membership. It more than pays for itself.

Another thing you will want to do is check the Fast Grab section to see what is on sale. That is often where you can get some of the best deals. Between Platinum Club membership and Fast Grab alone, I have saved so much money on content purchases. So much that I can't even begin to calculate the total savings. 

One thing is to try to never pay full price for anything. Almost everything that is sold on the site eventually goes on sale at some point. You just have to be patient. Just add the items you are interested in to your Wishlist and check your Wishlist regularly to see if they are on sale.

Try not to buy anything until you need it. Concentrate on certain themes. I started with buying content for the purpose of doing Western Themed art. After that, I started to buy pirate themed content. Then I moved on to other things like fantasy, horror and cartoon. the list goes on now.

There are some things you will probably need no matter what themes you want to get into. For example, morph related content. That allows you to create a variety of characters. That is much better than just using stock characters. Each generation has morph sets. Generation 4, Genesis and Genesis 2 all have them. Each also has Creature Creator Morph sets. That works great for horror or fantasy.

Each month, there are usually specials of some kind on content. Also, there are always new releases and usually you can get a new release at 30% off. If it is an Item you really want to use, that might be a good time to buy it.

You might want to get all of your base characters first. Then expand from there. I started with the Genesis base characters. That included Michael 5, the Freak 5, Victoria 5 and so on. Then I started to get the 4th generation character bases like Michael 4, Victoria 4, the Freak 4 and etc. Sometimes there will be specials on character bases for a certain generation of characters. Maybe this month will have the genesis characters at 50% off or better. Maybe next month there will be a special on Genesis 2 base characters, which will include Michael 6, Victoria 6 and so on.

There are other sites that sell content that can be used in Daz Studio or Poser. Two that I like to go to are Renderosity.com and RuntimeDNA.com. When I add something to my Wishlist on those sites, I will get an e-mail notification when they so on sale.
So being patient can save you a lot of money and timing is everything. I hope that you can take some of these suggestions to heart and save yourself a lot of money. Good luck.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Working Through Daz Studio Installation Issues for the Newbie

To a newbie, installing Daz content can be a difficult or even an aggravating process. This blog post is designed to help you through some of them and I hope you all will find it to be helpful.

Some of the installation files available for download are in .exe or .zip format. Using either one will have issues. So let's see if I can help you through some of them.

An .exe file is basically an automated installation program for your Daz content. Unfortunately, just because it is automated, it does not mean that it will always be a breeze. This is because sometimes you may be prompted to specify an installation directory. If you don't know where it should be installed, you will have a problem.

Basically, on a Windows based system, you will need to install it in your My Library folder. That will be found in My Documents/Daz 3D/Studio/My Library. There will be slight variations depending on your version of Windows, whether it be XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. But it is pretty close to being the same in all versions. In Windows 7 and Windows 8, you have a libraries folder, so it will look like this: Libraries/Documents/Daz 3D/Studio/My Library.

Another installation issue will be regarding compatibility. On a Windows 7 system, you may have to run some of the installation programs as administrator to get them to install. On a Windows 8 system, you may have to run it in Windows 7 compatibility mode. To run as administrator, just right click on the installation program and select "Run as Administrator." On a Windows 8 System, right click and select properties. Then click on the compatibility tab and set it to run in Windows 7 Compatibility mode. Then run it as administrator.

You may get some downloads provided in .zip file format. You can copy and paste the contents of the Zip file into the My Library folder. Now, remember that within the My Library folder, there are a number of sub folders. One of which will usually be the Runtime folder. Most of the content you will want to install will have contents within the Runtime folder. So you may see a Runtime folder in the .zipped folder. You need to make sure that you go down far enough into the directory structure of your zip file and copy and paste the right folders.

The zipped folder may have a sub folder called Content and it is usually within that folder that you may see the Runtime folder or the other common folders like Data, People, Props and etc. You need to copy all of those and paste them within the My Library folder. 

Now you may opt to use the Daz installer utility but if you download content from a site other than Daz, like Renderosity.com or RuntimeDNA.com, you will need to know how to do your installation by copying and pasting the content manually into the My Library folder. That's actually how I learned to do this myself.

Sometimes after installing my content, I may have a problem locating it. If the content did not provide a readme file that tells you where it is, you can look in your zipped installation folder for that product to check out the directory structure. That will help you to be able to locate it within Daz Studio.

 Another issue that you may run into is the license. I just ran into an issue by using a Daz Studio 4.6 license number for the installation of Daz Studio 4.7. I ended up having issues with Animate 2 not working. None of the aniblocks were working. It was quite an aggravating experience. To fix the issue, I did a system restore on my computer to set it back to a date before the Daz 4.7 installation. Then I installed Daz Studio 4.6 and used the appropriate license number. Then I used the appropriate Animate 2 license number. After that, I upgraded it to 4.7 and all of the problems were fixed.

To avoid the problem in the first place, just install 4.6 and use the 4.6 license number and make sure your aniblocks work. Then upgrade to 4.7. Make sure you save all installation files for everything. Back it up somewhere because if you go to download some of the installation files, they may not be available because they are often replaced with the newer versions in your content library. So anything you download and install from the Daz website, save and back it up. That may help you to avoid lots of issues in the future.

Okay, I just thought I would put this info out there so that some may prevent issues and others may be able to resolve them, should they encounter them. good luck everyone.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot by Bob Craypoe, working within Daz Studio.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Updating Websites Doesn't Have to Be Messy

I have a number of websites and have basically been working on them for years. I know from experience how it can be difficult to constantly update them with new content. But things can be simplified quite a bit with the use of RSS feeds.

I have many online accounts through sites like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, various writing sites, sites I sell merchandise through and more.

I like to use RSS feeds for all of those things. I use widgets that will display all of those feeds and place the widgets within the various pages of my websites. If I upload a new video on YouTube, it will be displayed on my website in the RSS feed I use for the YouTube channel.

When I do a post on my Facebook page, the new post will show up automatically on my website in the RSS feed for my Facebook account. The same is true regarding my Pinterest account, the site I sell my 3D artwork through and the others.

I even use an RSS feed for this blog. So when I write a new article, it will show up on the websites that have the RSS feed for this blog.

As long as I have the RSS feeds on my website, I really don't have to specifically update the site. All I really have to do is do the work I want to do on the other various sites. Just upload a new video on YouTube and it shows up on my site. Write a new blog article and it shows up on my site. You probably get the basic idea by now.

The only work I need to do on my websites is just add the widgets that display the RSS feeds from all of the other websites. I use widgets that I create from an account I have with a website called RSSInclude.com. I pay an annual fee and I just make the widgets as I need them. The widgets have a lot of styling options like the font, number of posts to display, colors and size, just for starters.

Another thing you can do is use RSS feeds from news websites or websites that deal with the same subject matter you do on your sites. This helps to make it so you will have new content on your website without having to manually update your site yourself.

If you want to see and example of some of the things I am talking about, you can view them on my personal website: Craypoe.net. Please check it out.

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau. More of his artwork can be found on his art website: /robert-crepeau.artistwebsites.com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Information Can be Fun

I have been writing articles and blogs on the Internet for a number of years now. I have written about a variety of subjects and the posts have varied in length. But one thing I usually try to do with them, no matter what, is to add some entertainment value with the information that I provide. I believe that, by doing that, it makes the post more interesting to the reader. At least I can hope for that, can't I?

A lot of my articles are informational, motivational or instructional. With those articles, I try to throw a little humor in or include a funny image of some kind. I also create my own images, so it probably helps to add some uniqueness to my articles. It probably helps me to stand out in some ways.

As you can see, I  have included a rather amusing little image with this post. It proabably caught your eye. Some of you may be wanting to gouge your eyes out in order to try to unsee what your eyes have already seen. Sorry, too late. It's there, you saw it, get over it.

My point is, and I really do have one, that there are some things that you can do as a writer on the Internet that can help you stand out from the rest. Let's face it, the Internet is one big place. It's huge, man, I tell ya, it's huge. So you need to stand out from the rest if you ever hope to be successful as a writer or blogger on the Internet.

Another fact is that we are living in an image dominated world, where the first thing that often gets our attention is a picture, rather than the headline. So, if you can catch someone's attention with an image, go for it. If that is what it takes to get them to read what you have to say.

I have done some things on the internet with and without the use of images and I have seen the difference in how they were received. The ones with the images or with images that were funny or eye catching were always received better. It's just the way it is. So when you find out how things work, you don't really question it, you just go with it.

So, when you go to write your next internet blog or article, give some thought about what can make you stand out. Try humor or interesting images. Maybe a thought provoking headline or title. Just make it fun. Because, after all, information can be fun too.

Some Thoughts on Veterans Day

Since today is Veterans Day in America, I thought it might be a good idea to do a blog post on the subject. The Veterans Day holiday had actually gotten its start as what is referred to in most of the world as Armistice Day, which originally marked the formal ending of the major hostilities of World War I. The hostilities officially ended with Germany at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

In proclaiming the Armistice holiday in 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson stated:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

Although the United States originally observed the holiday as Armistice Day, it eventually evolved into what is now the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954.

Veterans day is a day to remember all those who served in the Military throughout the years. I served myself for three years in the United States Army, in West Germany from 1984-1987, under president Ronald Reagan. Okay, it sort of shows how old I am. The fact that there were two Germanys back then is probably another indication. The Berlin wall came down just a few years after I got out of the army though. I just missed history being made.

I served in the 92nd Chemical company, 3rd Infantry division. The 3rd infantry Division is the same division Audie Murphy, the highest decorated soldier in World War II, served in. Of course, I didn't quite receive the number of decorations he did. Not even close.

A few years after I left Germany, my unit, the 92nd Chemical Company, was sent to fight in the Gulf War. Many of them came back suffering from the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome. Some died. At first the government denied that the illness had anything to do with their service but later admitted it.

The sad thing is that we do not treat our veterans as they should be treated. This has especially been brought to light recently with the VA hospital scandals. There simply is no excuse for such a thing. I was fortunate in that I came back home from my time in the military in perfect health, both physically and mentally. Others have come back both physically and emotionally scarred. Those are the ones who deserve our thanks the most. Just as they are the ones that deserve to be treated better and appreciated more.

If you see a veteran today, thank him or her. If you see someone who is serving now, thank that person too. Some of the best memories I have of my service were when people on the street saw me in my uniform and came up to me to thank me. It really meant a lot to me. I am sure it will mean a lot to those serving now.

So take the time to thank a veteran today if you get the chance.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Never Dance with the Devil

Sometimes when we work a job, we have to work with some pretty undesirable types. In situations such as those, where we work for an employer, we simply have no choice. However, when we are entrepreneurs or business owners, or even freelancers of some sort, we do have a choice of who we will work with.

Let's face it, the world is full of good people and bad people. You have some people who are honest and some that are dishonest on insincere. Sometimes it is difficult to determine where someone may sit regarding that. But when we are able to make that determination, we need to act in the most sensible manner and, believe it or not, it is quite simple. Don't work with someone you believe to be dishonest.

They say that there are three questions you should ask yourself regarding someone you are considering working with as an entrepreneur or business owner. Those questions are:

1. Do I trust this person?
2. Do I like this person?
3. Do I respect this person?

Trying to work with someone you don't really trust is pointless if you think about it. In business, you have to be able to rely on those you work with to do those things they promise to do. It's one thing if you count on a friend for something and that friend lets you down, but in business, if someone does not follow through on something, you can lose money or your business may just go under.

If you don't like someone, you should analyze the situation and figure out why. What are the qualities about this person that is causing you to dislike him or her? Sometimes our instincts pick up on certain things and we often sense something about a person that is just not good. It is important that you do not ignore those instincts. They are trying to tell you something.

It is also important to have respect for the people you are working with. Do you not respect this person because of their business reputation? If that person does have a bad business reputation, then the reputation of your business may suffer, as well, simply by associating with that person. Can you afford that? If you are just starting out, your business might be very hard to get off the ground if you start off on the wrong foot.

Supposedly, we should be able to answer yes to all three of the questions above. Sometimes, when starting out on a business venture, we may be desperate to find others willing to work with us, but we can't allow ourselves to become so desperate that we are willing to work with just about anyone. That can often do more harm than good. It's like dancing with the Devil and we should never dance with the Devil.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Life is Full of Surprises but Sometimes We Even Surprise Ourselves

When we are growing up, we don't foresee how our lives will turn out. Even as adults, we may be surprised at how certain things in our lives turn out. That could be regarding both good things and bad things alike.

One thing that has come to surprise me at times are some of the things that I have been able to accomplish. There are some things that I would never have foreseen that I have ended up doing. There have been certain accomplishments I have had that I would have never predicted. It's a great thing, though, to achieve those things that you have not anticipated in life.

One thing that I really surprised myself with was doing the 3D art and animation thing. I just started getting into it a couple of years ago. Actually it won't be two years for another month or so. but I'll just round it up. I started out slow just tinkering around in iClone and then I moved on to Daz Studio. I like both programs and there are some projects that i have done that have utilized both programs.

Another thing I didn't expect to do was put out my own music CD. had always been part of a band for a number of years and that was just as a guitar player. Now I also sing. I have done solo performances in bars and night clubs as well. i never foresaw myself becoming a solo act.

I am also active as a writer on the Internet as well. I have always wanted to do some sort of writing but a lot of people dream of doing that but never actually get around to doing it. To be honest, I thought about it long before I had actually taken the steps to do it. but here I am on the Internet writing articles and blogs.

I am also a web developer. that started out when I was trying to do a local arts magazine and needed a website. I had someone else do it and he did not quite work out. So I started doing it myself. Eventually, I got pretty good at it and I did get a lot of visits throughout the years. I have gotten millions of page views over the years.

Even my articles have received a good number of views. On one site that I write for, I have received more than 1.5 million views total.

this is not about bragging about my accomplishments. It's about how you never know what you can pull off until you actually try. If you listen to others who will tell you that this can't be done or that can't be done, you will never really find out what you can do. sometimes you have to brush them off and make the effort to see what you can accomplish. I guaranty that if you do that, there will definitely be times where you will achieve things that you never thought you would.

I am always striving to learn new things and to try new things. Over time, you will do things you never thought you'd be able to do. You will surprise yourself. Sure, life is full of surprises but sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Swapping Out a Computer in a Business Environment

I wish I had a dollar for every new PC I've set up for an employer. I could probably retire by now. I've done it for a number of different employers from a variety of industries but, really, the procedure doesn't vary much and it gets easier as you go along. Setting up a new PC for a company executive or one of the bosses, though, can be a bit intimidating and that's where you really need to make sure you do the job right. So you need to take a few things into consideration and they are as follows: what software are they running? Where do they keep their data? What kind of printers and peripherals do they use?

The first thing you obviously would do when setting up a new computer is load the operating system, unless you purchased a computer that came with it pre-loaded. The next step is to load all of the device drivers to make sure all of your hardware works. You may check the Device Manager to make sure that there are no devices with an exclamation point next to them. That would indicate a driver issue. Sometimes I just have to wipe out an old system and re-load Windows and all of the software the new user would need to use for the job or position. The procedure is basically the same for that as it would be to load up an entirely new system from scratch.

New systems usually come with a drivers disk. An old system may have a folder on the hard drive that will have all of the driver installation files you would need. However, if you don't have them, you may find them online by doing a simple search through a search engine. I don't like to wipe a system clean by formatting the hard drive until I am sure I am able to get the drivers I need.

After the installation of the operating system, you would have to validate your copy of Windows but, in order to do that, you need to have internet access. So you would obviously configure the computer to use the company network. I've worked at companies that assign specific I.P. addresses to each computer. You can't use the same I.P. as the one you are replacing until you go to swap it out, so often you will use a temporary one that won't conflict with any other computers on the company network. I've used the same test I.P. address for each one I set up. When it's ready, then I will assign the same one the user has on the old computer.

After you get online and validate your copy of Windows you will need to run all of your Windows updates. I will just copy and paste a shortcut for Windows Update onto the desktop because I will keep running them until they are no longer necessary. After that, I will then install the anti-virus software. Then I will install all of the usual plug-ins for the web browsers like Acrobat Reader, Flash Player, etc. you will then have a functioning PC at that point. Now it's time to install all of the software the employee uses. I will then create a system restore point in the event that there is a problem with the programs that are soon to be installed. It's always good to be able to restore to a point before the problems began.

After you install all of the necessary software, check to make sure it all functions properly. Many companies have their own software that is unique to their business. Some have programs that only they use. These are usually the most aggravating programs you will have to install and configure. If the software is only used by your company and was developed for the company specifically, you can't Google the problem on the Internet to look for a resolution to it. You may sometimes have to consult with the developer personally to see what has to be done in order to get it to function properly.

After you get all of the necessary programs and applications to work, install the network printer that the user will be printing to. If they use other peripherals like a scanner, install the software for that. After that, see what data may have to be transferred from the old PC to the new one. Also see if they have e-mails that need to be transferred over as well. Some users don't always know where their data is, so it is important that you hold on to the old PC and not remove anything in the event that you may have missed something. Sometimes their data is kept on the network and most often it is kept on their hard drive, yet the user may not know where it is kept. They are used to just going in and retrieving it with out giving much thought to it. So sometimes you will have to determine where it is kept. Sometimes the user will have a network drive mapping where their data is saved and they don't understand that the M: drive isn't actually a physical hard drive in their computer. Make sure you map all of the drive mappings they usually use, unless your network is configured to do that for each user based on their login.

Always double check before the day you swap out the computers that you have everything on it that the user needs and uses. Then notify the user you are ready for the exchange. This is basically the best way you can do this with minimal inconvenience to the user. Down time should only be the amount of time it takes to shut their old PC down, disconnect it, connect the new one and have the user test the programs right in front of you to make sure all of the programs function properly. Just dropping it off and leaving doesn't cut it. Usually something either goes wrong or they have some sort of questions or perhaps something was overlooked. If you just drop it and leave you will probably get a call about something and have to return anyway.

So that's it in a nutshell. Once you do this a number of times it will get easier. Also, if there are certain things you need to remember to either install or configure certain programs, type up a nice little cheat sheet to make it all easier. I have always used them. I keep them in a binder and use them to make sure I not only set things up right but that I also remember everything that needs to be installed. It's sort of like a checklist that I can use to make sure everything is done that needs to be. Try it out yourself and see how it works for you.

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3D Character Creation is Like Using a Recipe

I create 3D characters in Daz Studio as well as iClone. I really enjoy the process of creating characters. Whenever I create a new one, it is sort of like using a recipe. Allow me explain what I mean that:

In Daz Studio as well as iClone, you have control over just about every feature. let's use the eyes as an example. You can control the size of the eyes, the color, the spacing between them and how high or low they are on the face. You can put bags under them, have them sunken and can even have wrinkles or other things to make the character look older.
For the nose, you can make the tip bulbous or pointy. You can make the nostrils large or small. you can set how high or low the nose is on the face as well. With each individual facial feature, you have so many things you can adjust to create your character.

There are other options with the body of the character as well. You can set the proportions however you want. You can make your character fat, muscular or skinny. You can make your character hunched over like an elderly person. the list goes on.

Then you can get into things like how they are dressed, their hair color or hair style. You can choose as to whether your male character will have a beard, mustache or no facial hair at all. Maybe you just want a little five O'clock shadow for that scruffy look.

How about the teeth? Do you want a character with a gap in the front? You could even have some teeth missing or even decayed or yellowish in appearance. If you want the character to be a monster of some kind, you can give him fangs.

Another thing to consider when creating a character is what kind of personality you want it to have. Do you want it to be a goofy character? How about mean or crabby? The character could be the villain and villains most definitely need to look the part. Of course heroes need to look heroic as well.

One thing I like to do a lot is mix elements of different characters. I  might do 10% of one character and 20% of another. I generally don't use base characters that are not modified in some way. I prefer to customize my characters to make them unique. That's how they are sort of created like a cake is created from a recipe. Of course, I like to keep them a secret.

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau.

Introduction to 3D Art and Animation

I am fairly new, at the time of this writing, at the whole 3D art and animation world. However, in the short time I have been doing it, I have acquired enough knowledge to give some tips to those thinking about getting into it but might not know where to start. So I can at least provide you with some of the basics.

There are numerous programs available that you could acquire in order to get started. There are very expensive programs as well as moderate and low cost programs. The expensive ones would include programs such as Autodesk's 3ds Max and Maya. Unfortunately, you are talking thousands of dollars to purchase either program. Fortunately, though, you may download trial versions that would allow you to use them for 30 days for free. If you feel you may be able to grasp onto it, then you may decide to make that big purchase. Those two programs are industry standard programs used in 3D animation and art.

Now let's talk about more affordable options. First of all, not everyone has the kind of money needed to purchase the high end, industry standard programs. So how do you get into it without going broke? One idea is to purchase the more affordable and more user friendly programs and become proficient at those before venturing into the more expensive and more difficult programs. I am referring to programs such as DAZ 3D, iClone, Poser, Bryce, Blender and Hexagon.

Reallusion's Iclone is probably the easiest 3d animation program to learn. It's not a high end program like 3ds Max or Maya though, so you won't be getting an animation job working for Disney but you can learn enough of the basic concepts that would make it easier for you to learn the high end programs later on, should you decide to try them. Even if the interface is different between all of these programs certain concepts learned in one can be applied in another. So iClone is a good place to start. It also has a great lip syncing feature that makes it easy to make your characters talk in sync with a wav file or with the text to speech feature that comes with the program.

Iclone includes basic characters that you could modify with different facial features, clothing, hair, etc. It also includes some motion capture (Mocap) files that can be applied (dragged and dropped) to a character that will animate that character with relative ease. There are also ways to modify the character's movement and make fine adjustments. You can get the professional version for under $200. there are also numerous add-ons you can purchase in order to increase your capabilities. Add-ons or additional content like clothing, scenery, characters, motion capture files and more. Many of the add-ons or content go by specific themes. You may find out more on Reallusion's website, Reallusion.com.

Then there is Smith Micro's Poser. Poser is great for creating 3D artwork and you can find online galleries consisting of submitted works done by its users. Some of it is quite impressive I must say. You can acquire Poser for under $200 from Amazon.com as well. You may want to check Amazon for any of the programs I mention because there are times when you can get them cheaper on Amazon that you could from the manufacturers' own websites. Poser will come with a lot of 3D models and has a site where you may purchase more content. You can check it all out at poser.smithmicro.com.

DAZ 3D is another great program for 3D animation and art. The company was started by some people who worked for Poser. Everyone has their preference and there is a bit of rivalry between Daz and Poser users. Personally, I prefer Daz Studio myself. Daz's interface is not as friendly as iClone's but it does have better quality rendering for 3D art. If you just want to create 3D art, Daz would be a great place to start. Currently, Daz can be downloaded for free but there are add-ons that, once you see them, you would definitely want to purchase and that's where they really make their money. They allow you to download the program for free in the hopes you get hooked on it and start to purchase the many add-ons and additional content they offer and let me tell you, they offer a lot. Many more than iClone has available. I have to admit that learning Daz Studio can be quite frustrating because they don't offer the kind of detailed documentaton iClone or Poser does but once I started to learn it and purchased some of the amazing add-ons they offer, I was hooked. Some of the content available for purchase will work in both Daz and Poser, which is a big plus.

I also believe that the quality of characters you can create in Daz are a bit better than what you are capable of creating in iClone. However, iClone is much easier to animate characters in. One way to get the best of both worlds is to create a character in Daz Studio and convert it to an iClone character to be animated in iClone. In order to do that, though, you would have to purchase iClone 3DXchange Pro. 3Dxchange Pro allows you to convert the Genesis series of characters from Daz Studio into iClone avatars. 3DXchange Pro also allows you to convert props from Daz Studio and industry standard obj files into iClone's iProps format. 3DXchange Pro is also under $200. All 3 programs together would cost you under $400 at this time. But, just to get started, you could download Daz Studio for free and maybe purchase iClone.

Reallusion offers 14 day free trials of iClone and 3DXchange. I would recommend that you try iClone first because unless you learn that first, 3DXchange will be of very little use to you. I got started by trying the 14 day trial of iClone and fell in love the program so I actually bought the full version before the trial even ran out. Then I did a search for other programs to see what other 3D programs I could get started with. That's how I found Daz Studio. Then I came upon two other programs offered on the Daz website. Bryce and Hexagon. Bryce is a 3D program that allows you to create landscapes and backgrounds that you can import into the other 3D programs. It was available for free download at the time, as was Hexagon. Hexagon is a program that allows you to create 3D objects from scratch. I would recommend you try the easier programs first, although Hexagon does offer a 900 page pdf manual, just as Bryce does. I just wish Daz Studio offered the same.

Reallusion offers great pdf documentation for iClone and 3DXchange around 800 or 900 pages or so. You can find instructional videos for all of the programs mentioned on YouTube as well. You may also find help in the forums too, which I was able to acquire quick responses on a couple of occasions that were very helpful.

Blender is a free open source 3D program that is not as user friendly as the rest and about as difficult to become proficient at as the high end programs like Maya and 3ds Max. There are a lot of instructional books available for it though and you can even find the Dummies version. You may also find instructional DVD's on its website, Blender.org.

There are sites like Renderosity.com and RuntimeDNA.com where you may purchase content for Poser and Daz Studio. Installation may be a bit tricky though. Sometimes you have to manually copy and paste the content into specific folders on your hard drive. If you copy them to the wrong folders they simply won't work. So you may want to just purchase your content or add-ons from the Daz and Poser sites at first, since they usually have automated installation programs for their content and should help you to avoid installation frustration. In Daz's case, you have to remember to install everything in the My Documents/Daz/3dStudio/My Library folder. Most of the time it will do that automatically but sometimes you are prompted to point to the installation directory. You may also need to run the installation programs in compatibility mode for Windows 7 if you are trying to install it on a Windows 8 system.

Many of these programs will use certain industry standard file formats which will allow you to import some items created in one program into another. For example, obj is one common file format. Some programs have their own proprietary file formats like iClone's iAvatar and iProps. When you start to work with these programs you will get a better understanding of which file formats are universal and which file formats are proprietary.

I could probably go one for quite a while but I think I've covered enough of the basics to help you get started. Just go to Reallusion.com, Daz3d.com, Poser.smithmicro.com, Blender.org and Autodesk.com for more information. You should also check out some of the online galleries to see the quality of work these programs are capable of. So check it all out and good luck.

Below is the first video I created in iClone:

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

Monday, November 3, 2014

Introduction to Fingerstyle Guitar

I have been playing guitar for decades now but I had actually started fingerpicking on the guitar in my second year of playing. Obviously, after doing it for so long, I have improved significantly. now I am a pretty good fingerstyle guitarist, if I do say so myself.

It all pretty much started when I saw my cousins tinker around with it and I decided that it was something I wanted to learn. In my first year of playing guitar, I just basically concentrated on learning the chords and the keys they were in. in my second year, I started to do some fingerpicking with those chords I learned. 

I also taught myself how to read music. So eventually, I accumulated the knowledge of all of the chords in their various keys, fingerstyle guitar and how to read music. I was on my way to becoming a pretty good musician.

One day, while flipping through the channels on the TV, I came across a flamenco guitarist and he was good. really good and I loved watching him. I told myself that I had to learn how to play like that. So I kind of incorporated some classical guitar and flamenco techniques into my playing. It worked out rather well for me overall. 

In the video I have included here, I explain the basics for anyone who may be interested in learning how to play fingerstyle guitar. I have also included a link to my website where I have some basic lessons to get you started, just in case you may be interested. You can go to DrPsychotic.com. I hope this interests you. 

Photo Credit: Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau.