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Tutorials to Becoming the Best Level Designer and Game Environment Artist (since 2008)

Photoshop Paths to Maya Environments

Category: Maya/Maya LT
October 27, 2008

Creating environments from Photoshop to Maya.

This workflow is fairly simple and very effective in creating environments.

We are going to be using Photoshop and generating paths. Saving those paths as Illustrator paths and then importing them into Maya as curves.

This particular tutorial goes great with this one I wrote previously: Creating Unique Overviews: PS Wave/Polar Filter.

In Creating Unique Overviews: PS Wave/Polar Filter tutorial I generated unique top down view. We now going to be taking those and creating a base to work from in Maya.


File --> New Document

Then create an image, basic top down view using marquee selection and fill it with black.

Go to Filter --> Distort --> Polar Coordinates --> Rectangular to Polar

This is what we end up with after running the filter from the above image.

Cntrl + LMB click on the layer thumbnail to select all, or just press Cntrl+A to select all.

Copy the selection by pressing Ctrl+C.

Switch to Channels tab and create new channel, then paste the selection into this channel Cntrl+V. What this does is creates your image as an alpha channel.

Ctrl+LMB on the alpha layer thumb or Cntrl+A to select the alpha channel.

With the alpha selected switch over to Paths tab.

Select Make Work Paths.

We are ready to export these paths as Illustrator paths and import them into Maya.

Go to File --> Export --> Paths to Illustrator.

Switch over to Maya.


Go to File --> Import -->

and import the paths that you just saved. Maya will bring these paths as CV curves and they will usually be 90 degrees to the grid.

You want them flat to the grid.

Select all the curves, group them by pressing Cntrl+G and then rotate them so they are flat along the grid. As so.

Select the curves. You can either select them all or individually. Difference is if you select them all, you will have all the objects as one. If you select them individually and do the following steps then each curve will be a separate piece, which will be better when you export it into a game engine.

For the tutorial I chose all the curves.

Go to Surfaces --> Planar Option Box

I chose the following:

At this point you will have planar Nurb surfaces. We don't want that. We want polygons.

Select your newly created nurb planes and Modify --> Convert --> NURBS to Polygons Option Box

Go to your Hypergraph and now you can delete everything except your Polys.

Now its time to clean up. You want to have nothing but 4 sided polys. No 3 sided, no 5 sided. Only 4 sided polys.

This is after the conversion to Polygons.

After clean up.

Now all you have to do is select polys and extude them. This will be to you and how far, how detailed you want to go.

This is my quick extrusions.

Here is a quick 45 minute modeling I did. Nothing fancy but gives you great start for environments.


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About World of Level Design

My name is AlexG. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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