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3D ebook covers in natural environments

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jimcoe
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3D ebook covers in natural environments

As a digital artist doing 3D modeled scenes (my digital art gallery) I'm investigating the ebook 3D covers market.

To me, the current 3D images look very bland. Most just show a book sitting or standing on an undefined white surface with a simple drop shadow (and maybe a slight reflection).

Perhaps that's how they sell best? I don't know.

But I'd like to know if you all think there's a market for 3D ebook covers shown in photo-realistic 3D environments? Here is one I did long ago for my Art Head Start ebook, as an example of what I'm talking about.

3D ebook cover in a 3D natural environment
Image

Have in mind scenes like "Pot of gold at rainbow's end", "ebook in space", "piles and sacks of money", "freedom scene (broken chains?)", "Lifestyle scenes", and such.

What do you all think?

Thanks All!
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wollowra
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Hey Jim,
I think it looks good.
I think it would be very Niche specific.
For example the one you have above would be good in the gardening Niche, but without the other books in the background.
Maybe the Dog Training niche would have some dog related images surrounding the Book.
Nice idea.

Regards
Troy
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Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize
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jimcoe
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Thanks Troy,

Yes, good thoughts - I'd need to do careful niche research to develop a set of 3d images that matched the best niches and really worked for them. And these 3D scenes are a lot of work so careless research in front could make for a lot of hard work which might never pay back.

Other thoughts?
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cecille.l
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Hi jimcoe,

The eBook covers certainly need some livening up and your example is great. You might want to do some market research and see how much people would be willing to pay for a customized eBook cover. I think a customized eBook cover would be more in demand because they need to incorporate this eBook covers into their page layout.

Hope that helps. Have a good day!
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easyrider
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Jim, I think it's a good idea. But whatever you include in the foreground and background, it MUST add to the image. There is no point in having pretty flowers (or whatever else) there for no reason other than to reduce the blandness. It might help you to think of DVD covers that usually have the main characters in scenes that characterize the movie.
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Greg
 
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jimcoe
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Thanks Cecille,
I think I see what you mean. A regular book cover is OK for the book, but showing it on their sales page, as a 3D scene with a context that relates to their offer, is appealing.

Fully "Customizing" each scene is a problem, so I need to build a standard set of scenes and only customize the actual book model in each type of scene.

What I mean is that these photo-realistic 3D scenes can take from 2 hours to 2 days to make, so the price to do a new full and unique scene for one marketer "from scratch" would be quite high - though I'd love to do it.

I could even include a realistic human model with the marketer's head on it - for enough money, lol.

Thanks Easyrider - Yes, I agree. Good idea about DVD covers - think I'll take a good look at the dozens of "mini posters" that Netflix shows me when I select movies to view.
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gradyp
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Hey, Jim, out of curiosity, what 3d program you like to use?
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jimcoe
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Like most 3D scene makers (it's more popular than many might think) my workflow involves more than 1 program.

To get models, I either make them in Silo 3D or buy them from http://www.daz3d.com.

If from DAZ (e.g. human figures), I import them into the free DAZ|Studio posing and texturing program, then export them out in a compatible format and import them into my main 3D program, Vue Infinite.

In Vue, I redo most materials for added realism, or create materials from scratch, arrange the 3D models, add atmospheres, cloud systems, vegetation, terrains, water bodies, light sources and lighting, props and more. Inside this 3D environment, I place my "virtual camera(s)" and make virtual photos to render out in Vue's powerful and feature-rich render engine as 2D images. You can even render out Adobe Photoshop layers, using the top version of Vue Infinite.

Vue Infinite is expensive for the Pro version, but more limited and less expensive versions and free trials are available. Vue Infinite can make movies too (Hollywood is starting to use Vue - like in "Pirates of the Caribbean"), but I haven't done much animation.

Sometimes I use "Neat Image" to remove digital artifacts or noise and sometimes "PhotoZoom Pro" to enlarge the images up to poster size to sell on www.FineArtAmerica.com - they have a very fine POD ("Print-On-Demand") system for artist's sales. And you pay only $30 per year at FAA for unlimited sales - no other costs and a fine community of artists.

FAA gallery:
my digital art gallery
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gradyp
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Cool. I've been working with a program called Blender for modeling and some rendering. I'm finding I prefer Luxrender, though, for a bit more "realistic" rendering. I really feel I have a long way to go, particularly with modeling, but I seem to be doing fairly well with doing materials.

The book I'm working through right now also mentions using DAZ for human figures. I haven't checked it out yet, but that is on my list of things to do.
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jimcoe
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Yes, Gradyp, 3D modeling is great fun. I understand Blender, though free, is very difficult to learn and to use.

You should definitely check out DAZ|Studio - they are giving away the latest Pro version 4 for free right now - a limited offer that probably won't last long (then the Pro version will cost and only a more limited version will be free). It's gotten quite good and can produce compete scenes now, with an improved render engine and much more. DAZ is the defacto niche standard company (for good reason), so it's smart to use their stuff.

I'm not saying that DAZ will ever replace Vue Infinite as the top product for photo-real 3D (they are really for different uses), but they can do a lot for free - that is version 4 can now do complete 3D scenes for free, even if not as good as Vue Infinite (which costs over $800 now). And you need to learn DAZ|Studio anyway, if your ever going to work with posable 3D models, like human and animal figures and posable props.

You can start with some DAZ human figures for free - but DAZ knows that you'll soon want clothing, props, special characters, buildings and much more to go with - all of which are inexpensive, but not free.

I recommend joining their "Platinum Club" which gives you access to many $1.99 3D models every month for a small fixed fee ($18, if I remember).

Sorry for the off-topic post folks, but maybe others would like to check out 3D scene modeling on a budget. If so, we can take further discussions elsewhere.
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gradyp
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Blender can be challenging to learn, but I think that has as much to do with how complex and deep the program really is. But I also think it has as much to do with most of the tutorials and books available for it focus a lot on the technical "how to" and not enough of the "theory" on why or how certain things work.

In the last couple of versions, they've done a lot to increase consistency in how the various tools integrate and function, which should go a long way to improving the learnability of the program. For someone trained in another program, it may be fairly easy to learn the "how to" of Blender. I've looked at a few trial versions of a couple of others. I guess because of the costs and the fact it's the one I've almost always worked with, I think it's fairly easy.

I'll admit, I'm still very much a novice, but I've learned it doesn't take much to make some pretty cool looking stuff! :D

Sorry... We did get a bit off topic, but I found it an interesting discussion :D
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cecille.l
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Interesting discussion, just a wee bit off-topic, but interesting and informative nonetheless. Not really into photo editing but I like reading up on the subject.

@Grady - jimcoe is the new member I mentioned in one of my other posts. He's into visual marketing and 3D imaging/graphics. All of which I'm sure you've surmised by now. :)

@jimcoe - Grady is the Affilorama Forums' very own graphic artist/web design guru. He is a long time Affilorama member and has contributed much to the forums. :)

I just knew the two of you will have plenty to discuss and share here in the forums! Looking forward to more meaningful discussions.

All the best! :)
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gradyp
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LOL I wouldn't go so far as to say "guru"... Probably just a bit more aware of design issues than the average starter :D
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cterao
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Hmmm... Never heard of "Blender."

In design school we used Sketchup, Artlantis, and FormZ a lot.

(However, I believe FormZ is a bit "old school" by today's standards...)

But Sketchup is free and you can import to Artlantis or other programs like Maxwell Render to generate photo-realistic renderings.
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Clayton
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jimcoe
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@Cecille: Ah "Cecille the Match-Maker"! That gets you another "thumbs up"!

@Grady: Yep, Very pleased to meetcha pard!

@Cterao: Glad you mentioned Google's free Sketchup! I forgot all about it. It's good for modeling buildings and other rectilinear objects. But I don't think it can do organic shaped 3D objects.

For anyone who wants to learn to 3D sculpt, I highly recommend Silo 3D. It's a powerful full-on "Box Modeler"/"Polygon Modeler" with Subdivision Surfaces and all the other goodies of those clumsy and expensive high-end programs - but made inexpensive and easy. Like Vue Infinite, Silo 3D gives you the thrill of limitless creative power. I mean, limited only by your imagination. What a blast!

Silo's not "easy" like simple, but tremendously easier than the big guys, like 3DS Max or Lightwave. Seriously, I could never be a 3D sculptor without the easier and very intuitive tools of Silo 3D.
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gradyp
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Clayton, it's an open source 3d modeling and rendering program. It was originally created to do computer animation work in films and other project, but the company that created it got bought by another and they didn't want to continue it, so the community made an effort to get the rights to continue to develop it and release it as open source. (Very brief nutshell.) It's actually pretty good, though the native rendering typically isn't very realistic. But you can find rendering programs that can be used with Blender for more photorealistic images.

Jim, I was disappointed to find out I couldn't use DAZ after I installed it because my laptop is "too old" and can't do OpenGL 1.3 or later. :D Oh, well... Need to upgrade anyway as soon as I have money ;) Checked out Silo, but couldn't find sys reqs for it. Anyway, enjoying your ebook. :D

As to the original question here That's an intriguing idea. I know myself I've been doing "text" renders that don't look "plastic", mainly for use on my own site, but starting to consider doing them for others as well. Recently discovered a way to do text that is more rounded front to back as well. (See my "Goals" post from 2 weeks ago.)

Love the flowers in the example you provided here.
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jimcoe
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Hey Grady,

Yes - "Open GL" has become the defacto standard for 3D, so if you're serious about 3D you'll need to get a decent (best it be an nVidia chipset) display card.

I've been looking into USB adapters that convert a laptop's single display outport into two ports (for a client who has only one graphics port but wants to go to dual monitors). I wonder if an adapter like that would also convert your rig to Open GL (plus you could use dual monitors)? They are around U$60 or more at Newegg.com.

Vue Infinite has wonderful 3D text, and of course hundreds of delicious "materials" to cover them with - or you can easily make your own. I wonder if Silo users have developed 3D text they would share?

I'm not sure if Silo 3D requires Open GL or not - wouldn't be surprised though.

Glad you're enjoying my "Art Head Start" ebook - thanks again for the purchase!
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gradyp
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Oh, I can do 1.1... I just can't do 1.3 or later ;) That's okay... I need to upgrade and pass this one down anyway ;)
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jimcoe
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That's great - looking forward to seeing your 3D work Grady. Feel free to contact me with any questions on DAZ, etc.

For those curious about this 3D popular art revolution, here are some of my resources:
My 3D gallery:
(Oops, Fine Art America is suffering some kind of bogus Google malware warnings, so I'll link to my YouTube Portfolio instead:
Jim's 3D YouTube Portfolio

YouTube video on how I made one scene (in 3 videos):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My Squidoo lens on making 3D art:
Now Many Can Make Digital Art - Including You!

3D freebies, tutorials (PDF, video, web page) and more on my 3D modeling website:
Art Head Start
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cecille.l
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Thanks for sharing jimcoe! Will do my best to take a peek at these over the weekend!

Have a great weekend! :)
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