ryroundHi! I’m Ryann!

I am a Digital Communications Specialist and am currently studying for my Digital Strategy & Communications Management Certificate online at the University of Toronto School for Continuing Studies. #digitaledu

I have 15 years of previous experience in website design and development. In 2010, I decided that I didn’t want to write so much code and wanted to shift my focus to design. I went back to school as a mature student and completed a 2-year diploma program in Graphic Design at Red River College.

The impetus for the return the school really came from my hobbies.

When I had taught myself website design initially, I had a pretty good handle on Photoshop. Somewhere around 2003, I discovered that I could make money with it by creating illustrations for graphic tees and other merchandise sold through print on demand services.  At the day job, I was doing a lot of SEO for our clients. I applied this knowledge to marketing my creations online, and soon had a pretty decent side income going.

But I needed some new material.

I am shockingly not a good hand drawer. That thing that people have that allows them draw exactly what they see in perfect proportion? Not my forte. So what’s a girl with the soul of a creator do? I trace. Tracing, you say, that isn’t art!  And I say:

Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

I always do my due diligence, purchase merchant resources, or use public domain assets and photography for reference. But, I wanted more control over my reference material, and that’s when I discovered Daz|Studio – a complete 3D morphing, posing, animation and rendering suite – where you own what you make, royalty free.

The software is free, and comes with a basic human character (Genesis) and a hand full of freebies you can load into the program. You can also purchase additional assets from an artist driven marketplace. It didn’t take long before I was buying myself a present (or two) every pay-day.

Daz|Studio allows you to arrange 3D assets in a scene, then pick your angle to take a picture (aka a render). I often use these renders as a starting point for my illustrations. The software also gives you the ability to apply your own custom textures to the assets. Textures, I could create in Photoshop. Love.

So then one of my design pals posts an article about Second Life.

Second Life is a massive multi-player online community where people, like you and I, can create a 3D avatar, and quite literally – live a second life. It was fairly similar to Daz|Studio, except live, online and with 1 Million other people.  This platform, is set up in such a way that the residents create all the content, has its own economy and marketplace.

The community there is pretty great. I spent most of my time working on my store or working on my skills by taking classes within the virtual world. Particularly live Photoshop classes, learning how techniques for creating semi-realistic textures for clothing the avatar and prim objects.

Later they released the ability to upload your own 3D meshes, created with 3D programs like Blender, Maya, 3D Studio Max, and ZBrush. I already had ZBrush which I’d purchased for its advanced texture painting, and creation of sculpted prims (an pre-mesh technology) but at the time it wasn’t great for hard surface modelling.

So, loving all things open source, I started to learn Blender.

I’ve been working with blender since 2010, it took me a good 2 years of trying before something finally clicked. A little later, I found a really good instructor in the Second Life community who really opened my eyes to the program capabilities.

So this brings us back to about the time I was finishing up in college.

Three months out of school and I still hadn’t gotten a job as a graphic designer, instead I took a term position, as a web developer – in a designer role.  And so, after a few more years, I affirmed that I still didn’t want to write so much code.  So I worked my butt off, and I waited, and in late 2014, a position opened up in the Communications department at work and I managed to convince them I was the right person for the job.

I was also 7 months pregnant at the time (and they gave me the job anyway).

I had a healthy baby boy, Morgan William, on February 24, 2015. I took a year for maternity leave and have just returned to work March 2016. And now I’m expanding my reach a little further and take my understanding of Digital Communications to the next level.

My hobbies have prepared me for this too.

Selling digital goods in an online marketplace is a competitive business. It’s basically one long crash course in online marketing.  While you create your products to sell through a specific platform, most of the marketing for those products occurs outside of that platform through various websites, blogs, and of course social media. This hobby creation has taught me how to:

  • Release quality content on a regular cycle
  • Create promotional images and write ad copy
  • Write blog articles to promote new releases
  • Cross promote blogs through various social media channels (facebook, flickr, plurk, twitter)
  • Participate in and promote group sales events

I have another hobby, continuing education.

Over the years I’ve studied a variety of subjects: creative writing, digital a/v production, drawing & Illustration,  apparel design and most recently, digital strategy and social media – the curriculum of which requires me to dust off this blog and become a productive member of our social society.

Over the next few months I’ve been tasked with writing a series of blog posts on subjects I have some authority to speak on.  You can expect to see articles & tutorials covering aspects of the varied subjects and skill-sets I’ve developed over the course of my career and personal interests. I’m hoping to give back a little of what has been given to me over the years.

Ryann McCorkell
May 2016

Spread the love