Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop | WebReference

Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop

Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop

This book excerpt is from Daniel Gray's Creating Striking Graphics with Maya and Photoshop ISBN 0-7821-4274-5. All rights reserved. Chapter 1: Drawing a New Course in a 3D World, is posted with permission from Sybex.


At its basic premise, this book seeks to open your mind
to the world of possibilities when designing with Maya and Photoshop. To
that end, put aside your current design capabilities, and think how life
might be if your images were not constrained by two dimensions, by your
illustration skills, or by the depth of your photo library. The combination
of Maya and Photoshop present the graphic artist with the opportunity to
expand beyond the limitations of the real world, to knock down the tired
old walls and build beautiful new palaces of creative expression. By cutting
the restraints, the addition of Maya to your creative toolbox will open up
your world, allowing you to push forward into a place you’ve never been; a
place where anything is possible.

Let's Work Together

Maya and Photoshop have a symbiotic relationship. Although they are very different programs, they complement each other well. For example, you can create textures entirely in Maya, or you can bring them in from Photoshop. Scene lighting is largely handled in Maya, but you might tweak certain effects in the final render by working on it into Photoshop. All in all, complete images and individual components move back and forth between the two programs with great regularity. As an example, in Chapter 4, you’ll learn how multiple renders from Maya can be assembled in a layered Photoshop file, to create the most highly detailed images for print. And in Chapter 7, you’ll learn how UV mappings are exported from Maya into Photoshop, where you can easily paint and modify them before bringing them back into Maya. With the ability to create layered Photoshop files added in Maya 6, your creative possibilities are increased exponentially.

Maya 6 provides an enhanced workflow to and from Photoshop. This latest version of Maya reads and writes native Photoshop PSD files. Through this tight integration, you can fully explore your layered textures in Photoshop, with the PSD file directly linked to your Maya model. This provides a straightforward texturing and painting methodology. With the support of the Photoshop PSD format (version 6 and later), simple painting workflows allow for the following:

Lipstick sketches are especially helpful to show Photoshop artists where to paint. This method is best used when you have a model with UVs that lack sufficient direction for the artist to follow. (You might think of it as painting between the lines when the lines would not otherwise be visible.)

Photoshop artists can apply their existing skills to Maya in a number of ways. Here are just a handful of examples:

Wilder Than the Wildest Thing If the real object is not available, you can create (or re-create) it (as you'll see in the following examples and throughout the book).

Stairway to 3D Heaven You can push the limits of the real world by combining 3D models with photographic images to create convincing mockups.

Born to Revise Once a 3D model is created, you can animate it, recolor it, retexture it, relight it, rotate it, resize it, and reposition it to your heart's content, thus allowing for complete flexibility. "You want a green suit? Bring in the green light."

Pop's Not Just for Music Painting textures on a 3D model can lift your images off the page by adding amazing detail and depth to your graphic designs.

Buy a Model or Just Look Like One You can purchase 3D models to jump-start your designs. Need some furniture or a specific vehicle? Cool. Need to modify that furniture or vehicle? Even cooler.

If you are purely a Photoshop artist at present, your career can only benefit from expanding your knowledge and capabilities. The precedent has been set by the motion picture and video game industries. There is no turning back. Our audience expects nothing less than magic, and as artists we must learn how to make that magic or face a career change. Now that might seem extreme to some, but take a look back to see how far the field of graphic design and illustration has come in the past 20 years since the advent of the Macintosh.

At present, learning 3D or Maya—or at least learning how to incorporate Maya into your work—will allow you to break away from your less adventurous competition. The expansion of the medium is a given. We're doing things today that have never been done before. Tomorrow, we'll be doing things that we can't dream of today. For those who feel we have moved mountains so far, we'll soon be moving entire planets.

If you've given some thought to learning Maya and entering the world of 3D, this first chapter will give you just a taste of what's possible at the infinite buffet. Although the world of 3D can seem intimidating to the 2D artist, it needn't be. You can go about it two ways: learn Maya yourself, or collaborate with a Maya artist.

If learning 3D seems too time-consuming in your busy life, at least consider incorporating 3D into your 2D graphic illustration world. By collaborating with Maya artists, you put your toe in the water and add depth to your portfolio. But you may find that once you've had a taste, you'll want to begin exploring Maya on your own.

In that spirit, we're going to show you how having Maya available in your tool palette gives you artistic freedom and new, exciting challenges as well. Chapter 2 will provide more information on the basic concepts of 3D, as well as detail the way that Maya and Photoshop work together. But for now, we'll start with a mock project that's sure to stretch any artist's imagination.

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