Bartley & Spears are conservative attorneys
who focus on real estate and residential association law. I knew
I wanted to use strong, iconic images to represent the firm; this
client definitely did not want me to "get jiggy with it,"
so I decided to stick with the basics. When dealing with lawyers,
there are basically three icons that work: a gavel, blind Lady Justice,
and scales. I spent days searching the Getty collection and other
online stock agencies, but I couldn't find a single photo that I
So, I created my own.
I drew very complex lathe templates in Macromedia Freehand 9. Freehand
allowed me a lot of precision in constructing the
basic shapes of the model:
- Chain Links
I lathed the paths in Strata
3D and applied a basic gold texture. I was pleasantly
surprised to discover that I could import path groups, lathe them,
and then ungroup them and apply different textures to them. Using
this technique, I was able to apply gilt edges to the glass bowls.
The links of each chain were created directly in Strata 3D. I modeled
one link and then replicated it along the Y-Axis with a 72 degree
rotation per link. This gave the links a gentle rotation along each
strand which helps reduce the mechanical perfection you often get
with computer models.
The flag was very difficult to create. I tried many, many different
techniques before I decided to split the flag into two models: I
had to separate the stars and stripes. I then drew simple paths
and skinned them. Adjusting model complexity was pretty much hit
and miss: too many polygons and the thing wouldn't render, too few
and the flag had very sharp edges. I also spent a lot of time tweaking
the textures. I created custom bump maps that included a slight
rise and dip at each seam and relief for each stitch. I then layered
the basic cloth pattern (a combination of the 'burlap' and 'canvas'
settings in Photoshop's Texturizer Filter) with
Strata's Silk Shadier. Again, this was pretty much
trial and error until I got what I wanted.
Finally, the nightmare of rendering.
I needed a VERY high-resolution image. The finished product is
printed at 400 dpi (a setting recommended by my printers), so I
should have rendered this image at 4,000 dpi. Unfortunately, Strata
couldn't handle it.
I spent weeks talking with colleagues at Strata Cafe (fortunately,
we weren't on a tight deadline) and they helped me decrease my poly
counts and adjust my render settings., I ordered another 512MB of
memory (upping my system to three-quarters of a GB), and it still
wasn't enough. Strata just isn't very good at memory management
on large renders. Unfortunately, it was too late to switch to another
application (although I seriously considered it). Finally, I managed
to tweak and tease the app into giving me a medium-quality 3,200
dpi rendering. I took the image into Photoshop, softening some of
the sharp edges and manually trimming jaggies where needed.
The final, hi-resolution image was rendered with raytracing (to
capture the flag's reflection in the gold); the background clouds,
soft shadows, and the lens flare were enhanced in post production
In general, I'm pleased with the final outcome. It was a lot of
work, but the basic elements and textures have already proven to
be versatile. I've used the gold and glass textures, the cloud background,
and the flag again (this time with a texture of the Texas Flag applied)
for the Texas Museum
of Natural History.
I will not, however, use Strata 3D for a project that needs more
than 3,000 dpi output. The current version, 3.5, just can't handle
it. It is, however, definitely useful for medium- and Web-resolution
projects and I will definitely use it for those projects.
View Print Samples >>
full image > >
NOTE: Variations of this image are
available for purchase through www.rebelartist.com.
Go there and do a search for "Justice Flag."