Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop | 2 | WebReference

Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop | 2

Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop

Maya and Photoshop Walk into a Bar ...

To illustrate working with Maya and Photoshop, I took on my own project. I was looking for an example of how a 3D workflow might enhance the creative possibilities of a Photoshop artist. Although this fictional job might seem a bit over the top, that is its intent. Let's say I have been called on to help with a marketing campaign pitch for a hotel chain that's looking to launch a string of Tiki bars at their resorts. "Oh, wow," I think to myself, "a Tiki bar." Now that's not so original, right? But the more I look into the subject, the deeper I'm drawn into the research. And as always, the Web provides a wealth of reference material and endless inspiration. Newly fascinated with the world of Tikis, I embark on a quest to research the art of Tiki-making, frittering away many hours browsing the Tiki-wares listed on eBay and other fabulous websites such as In fact, it's the Tiki Farm that draws me in with the promise of a seemingly endless supply of unique and wonderful Tiki mugs and other supplies (see Figure 1.1). So I called the Tiki Farm and asked for permission to use their fabulous Tiki bar as inspiration for this piece.

Creating a Tiki Bar

The hotel marketing squad wants their new string of Tiki bars to make a huge splash, and they're willing to consider some really wild and different approaches to marketing. They want state-of-the-art, Internet-equipped dens of frozen cocktail indulgence. Polynesian kitsch meets the wired age. As the designer, I'm faced with a splendid dilemma: how can I work Internet terminals into a Tiki bar? How can I not only pull it off, but make it really cool?

After a considerable number of ideas are thrown into and dumped out of the creative blender, I came up with the idea: build the Internet terminals into Tikis ... that's right ... the world's first Tiki Net terminals!

Creating a Tiki Terminal

Corporate management has decided that the Tiki terminal will be one of the main highlights of the hotel chain's Tiki bars. To conceptualize the Tiki terminals, I began by scribbling a wild array of drawings (as shown in Figure 1.2).

The Tiki terminal incorporates a standard computer into its design. Starting with the idea that the Tiki should house (and hide) the computer itself, it is decided that a small form factor is required for the case and a flat LCD screen will be necessary for the display. Taking this into consideration, a flat-screen monitor will fit the bill perfectly. I will suggest to my client that they use an Apple iMac in the actual design, as the small domelike computer will easily fit into a Tiki base.

As the conceptual work proceeds from the 2D design stage, I begin to see the limitations of designing on a piece of paper. I soon realize that the next step is to start making small 3D models. Lacking the 3D computer design experience, I head out to the art supply store to pick up some air-dry clay and plasticine. Upon my return, I whip up a flurry of small Tiki terminal designs out of clay (as shown in Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.1: The Tiki Farm website

Figure 1.2: The Tiki terminal concept drawings

Figure 1.3: Early Tiki terminal clay models

I struggle with how to position the computer monitor. Most of the early designs show the display screen inside the Tiki's mouth. The design direction takes a change of course when I decide to have the Tiki hold the terminal in his hands instead. Most of my clay models follow this route. Finally, I unwrap a brand new 2 lb. block of plasticine and feverishly create the masterpiece shown in Figure 1.4.

When the plasticine mock-up is shown around, it becomes an instant hit. The bartender whips up an extra-special frozen concoction in the blender, and a mambo contest is held at lunchtime in the Tiki's honor. When my team returns from an extended lunch, they're hit with reality: now that there's a solid idea, how can they incorporate the Tiki terminal into the Tiki bar design that's taking shape in Photoshop?

Although the plasticine model is pretty cool, it's still a colorless six-inch-high hunk of clay. The team needs to place photo-realistic Tiki terminals into the Photoshop image, and they need the flexibility to try variations in color and texture to fit the decor. Inspiration strikes when I recall a segment about Maya on one of my favorite television shows, TechTV's The Screen Savers. A computer-generated model will allow the team all the flexibility they need to finish off the concept work.

Figure 1.4: The final Tiki terminal clay mock-up

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: October 17, 2004