Vicki Leversedge's journey started, like many on Renderosity, when she stumbled upon a digital art program. In her case, it was DAZ Studio in 2010.
"In all truthfulness, it’s really my husband’s fault," she said. "I had quit my job and just come off of several years of caring for family, who required full-time in-home hospice care, and I was looking for a distraction and some down time to re-energize myself."
So Leversedge's husband encouraged her to pick up a hobby. Little did he know his equestrian wife would fall in love with creating digital art.
"I had no experience in digital art, but something drew me to Daz and I just had to start playing with it. Back then, I hadn’t the slightest of notions that it would take over as it has and lead me into an art career," Leversedge said.
In the last eight years, Leversedge has joined the Renderosity community as Saidge and became a contract artist who takes commissions from authors and produces promo art for Sympatico Studio.
Because she has no formal training, she had some first-hand advice for hobbyists who are just beginning their own journeys into digital art.
Don't try it all at once.
If you are self-taught, you don't have to conquer every aspect of the program all at once.
"I learn new things pretty much daily, and that’s one of the big drives that keeps me loving this art form," Leversedge said.
Her background in art history and theory (and a mother who is a retired art teacher) laid the groundwork for her artistic journey in the digital world. She took that foundation and built on it with DAZ Studio.
"Not that I can draw or paint to save my life," she laughed. "So I didn’t have to start with that, but what I did do was jump right in there and start with simple renders focusing on a particular aspect of the program."
By learning the program one render at a time, she learned what she needed to know as she needed it.
"Learning in 'bite-sized' pieces builds a good and solid foundation," she said.
You are your harshest critic.
All new artists should relax when critiquing themselves.
"We are all our own harshest critic, but when you’re starting out, a new artist needs to cut themselves a bit of slack – it doesn’t need to be perfect; you just need to be happy with what you’ve accomplished, with your own vision, and that will trickle out into the work itself making people take notice," she said.
Find other artists to help with your growth.
Leversedge found the help she needed in the Renderosity gallery.
"In the gallery, I have met a tremendous number of incredibly talented people that, over the years, have been quite generous with their time in answering questions – thank you for that! - and I ask a lot of questions," she said.
Her philosophy is that asking questions is the only way to learn things you don't know.
"The only dumb question is the one you never voiced. I have built up some great online friendships this way, and even if I’m not pestering them with 'how to’ queries, just the chatting has led to some fantastic inspiration," Leversedge said.
"I can think of a few examples off the top of my head, from talking to a particular fellow artist here, that has led me to create some of my own personal favourite pieces (he knows who he is?)," she said.
She said she has accounts at other 3D art websites but just wandering through the gallery has inspired her on more than one occasion.
Find your workflow.
Leversedge creates promo art for found DAZ Studio to be the best program in which to start her work.
"I try to do as much as I can within the program, which I find helps to compliment my postwork," she said, adding she does as much as she can in the program to force herself to learn more about the program.
Because her render times are high, even after the release of Iray, she does postwork on a second computer.
After the renders are finished, she moves to PaintShop Pro "with plugins like Filter Forge, KTP, Nik, etc, and add tools from ON1 Effects 10 and PhotoDonut. That said, I always come back and finish everything up within PaintShop," she said.
To finish up, she tweaks the lighting, fixes poke-thru errors, and adjusts settings like coloring and saturation.
"All of these I do on individual layers, in varying opacities, and combine them at the end into what is hopefully a finished piece that will go over well. There’s always a great many windows open all at once on my desktop," she said.
Michelle Willard, Editor of Renderosity Magazine | Former newspaper reporter. Recovering archaeologist. Political nerd. True crime junkie. Read her articles here.