In Vegas

LillianH · February 23, 2004 10:11 pm

As a long time resident of Las Vegas, I originally started this image, with the intention of doing a straight architectural piece displaying a casino hotel room made-up of gaming equipment-or a mock winner's suite. Somewhere along the way I decided to add the sign Absolutely NO Gambling. Casinos love to play up"the fact that they could really care less if you gambled or not. "There's so much to do in this town," they all say, "Go to a museum, an art show, a thrill ride-See lions, tigers and sharks! Oh MY!" The reality is; you can gamble nearly anywhere Twenty-four hours a day. It is very in-your-face at all times, and this is what I've attempted to depict in this image. In Vegas was created in Maya 4.0. Also, because this was going to be a static image, rather than an animation, I used Photoshop 7.0 for enhancing the scene. When combining a 3D program with a paint program it's always a good idea to know the maximum resolution of the finished image. This avoids the headaches of having to redo the entire image if you find you need a higher resolution. Also, in terms of this piece, I used polygons only, no nurbs, so when I speak of primitives, I'm speaking of polygonal prims. GETTING STARTED Before opening my computer graphic programs, I did an Internet search to get visual references of objects I wanted to base my image on. This stage is invaluable whether you're going for realism or cartoon-like images because you get a real sense of the objects you are creating. You may believe that you know what things look like, but you'd be surprised how often your memory is incorrect. I used examples of anything I could find that would add to the room; dice, casino chips, cards, roulette wheels, craps tables, and slot machines. MAYA MODELING AND TEXTURING The easiest pieces to model were the dice. I started with a primitive cube, and used the Edit Polygons/Bevel tool, playing with the Offset and roundness until I was happy with the beveled shape. I then took a primitive sphere and duplicated it across the surfaces of all six sides to create the numbers I through 6. Once the spheres were in place, I used Polygons/Booleans/ Difference to scoop out the holes for the numbers. I was going for the classic casino die, so the rest of the texturing was simple, consisting of making two colors in hypershade: Red Translucent Phong for the die itself, and White Lambert Opaque for the number dots.
The roulette table, which became the coffee table, the bases and tops of the columns in the background, and the archway, was created primarily with a primitive cylinder, and the Edit Polygons/Extrude Face tool. I start by increasing the axis segments of the cylinder to 60, so that the round edge reads as smooth and round, instead of many flat segments. I then went to the top view and deleted the edges created on the flat top and bottom of the cylinder, so that I can extrude one face instead of 60. The perspective tool is best for extruding faces because you can move around the object continuously and check out the shape that you are creating. I slowly extruded several times until I had the base (wheel) of the roulette. I then used the same processes on a second cylinder to create the turning handle of the wheel. The only texture file I created was one flat circular image of the numbers on the wheel. The other textures (colors) were a Silver Blinn Shader and a Phong Black Shader. The glass table top was a primitive cylinder squashed and scaled. I applied a Premade Glass Shader to it, available for free on the Internet. The cards were made by creating a primitive cube, beveling all edges (as with the dice) and then deleting all of the faces except for one side. To achieve the correct rectangular shape I used Yscale. I now needed two of the cards to partially rollup to create the arms of the couch. For these two cards I used the same process, except I used the Edit Polygons/Split Polygon Tool to segment the top half of the card into 20 segments. Under the Animation menu set, I used the Deform/Create Nonlinear Bend tool to curl each card. Something to remember when using Maya, is that the tools under different menu areas (Modeling, Animation, Dynamics, Rendering, Cloth, Fur) often do more than just aid in those specific categories. For example, many of the tools under Animation are of great use for modeling as well. It's easy enough to miss, however, it's very helpful to know in order to get the most out of Maya. The stacks of chips are just Cylinder primitives. I'm afraid, it's all about the texture work on these. Making sure that the chip-faces on the tops of the stacks align with the textures I created for the sides (to give the illusion of several chips stacked). For the Craps Table I created a primitive cube and deleted all except the top side, scaling Z to create a rectangular table shape. It is literally one polygon. I wanted the texture map, and bump map to create the illusion of the Vegas felt table. At first I tried making it the traditional green felt, that you see everywhere, but it competed too much with the other elements in the room. So, I emulated a table using my own fonts and style, and took a digital photo of a felt table to create the bump map which makes the table (floor) look fuzzy. The most complex model in the scene was the slot machine. Again, I started with a primitive cube and scaled it to make the rectangular base shape. Then I used the Edit Polygons/Extrude Face tool to extrude the top face up into the basic shape of the slot machine. Next I extruded the top front face inward a bit to make the beveled look at the top of the machine.
For the slot wheels, I used the Split Polygon Tool to divide that face into three sections, and extruded and scaled each of those faces inward. If you simply load a primitive cube, and play around with the Extrude Face tool, you'll see what I'm talking about-It's a very powerful modeling tool, especially for things that are more mechanical, less organic. The wheels are just three cylinders placed within the bevels I created on the original cube. I created the display glass textures, and the textures on the wheels in Photoshop, turning up the luminance on the shaders a bit in order to give each their own glow. After the basic casino objects were created, I went around adding bits and pieces here and there until I was happy with the look of the room. The walls of the room were created by splitting a sphere in half, and halving it again to create the upper and lower portions of the back wall. I created small bedside tables, bed, lamps, 3d text for the sign, glass panels (for the horses), bingo balls, bingo cards. I did this as a last step to make sure that there was enough detail in the room to make it believable.
Finally I set up the lights, I used point lights, spotlights, and an ambient light to light the room in a way that I could showcase the objects. Spot lights for the columns, archway, and table area. Point lights for the table lamps, glass panes, and slot machine lights. Ambient light set very low for the entire room. I didn't use any directional lights in the scene. POST WORK IN PHOTOSHOP After the final render (which was set under Render G/obals at Production Quality), I took the image into Photoshop and began post work. I used a photo that I took at the top of the Stratosphere of Vegas as my background image, and adjusted the color balance and contrast until it worked with the scene. I then worked the scene piece by piece to add details here and there; bolts on objects, frost on glass (the shapes of the horses were not a texture mapped in 3d). I also burned and dodged different areas of the picture where I felt it was too dark or too light. I consider the post work stage, to be very critical in many cases of creating successful static 3d images. Often, artists are working on a deadline, and they simply don't have the time it takes to make everything work, in a photorealistic sense, in a render. If the scene isn't an animated one, take advantage of the opportunity by adding some of your own creative details in post work. can really make a difference for your final product of whatever you create. #### Click here to see more images by stealthman.

Article Comments

dgiusa ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 23 February 2004

I live in Las Vegas and I would love to see a hotel room that was decorated just like this. I LOVE IT!!!

johnofmn ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 26 February 2004

I live in Minnesota. Seeing this makes me want to go to Las Vegas and lay on comfy card couches.

dsigns ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 29 February 2004

looks good, ya captured the glitz nicely...maybe try for a job at yesco, jus' tell 'em johnd sent ya'.

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