Brad Rhodes: Redefining How to Achieve Photorealism
In 2016, Adobe asked a group of graphic designers to use a pre-release version of Project Felix in their work. In this editorial series, we share the experiences of some of those designers, what they learned, what they accomplished, and what they can do with Project Felix that they haven’t done before.
Brad Rhodes, San Francisco resident and former Art Director at Gap Inc., has worked in the field of graphic design for over two decades.
“What strikes me about Brad’s work and his approach is that he is always going to push the envelope and fine tune the work until it delivers the right message and the right information,” Chantel Benson, Project Felix product manager, said.
Brad was classically trained in visual communication at Virginia Commonwealth University, but up to this point in his career had little to no experience working with 3D software. After experimenting with Project Felix, he discovered how easily the program made working with 3D assets like lights, materials and model to quickly composite 2D images that look and feel like photographs.
Project Felix opens doors to redefine photorealism.
If you’ve been in the design business as long as Brad, you’re probably fluent in Illustrator CC, InDesign CC, and Photoshop CC and you might wonder what Project Felix allows you to do that you can’t already with your current toolset.
While Photoshop and Illustrator are his go-to software programs and have some 3D features, he said Project Felix gave him the same 3D effects, but easier.
“I think that’s where things become very, very exciting, especially with the involvement of virtual reality,” Brad says. “The excitement I have for Project Felix is: What will people do with it? How will they really push those boundaries of what is ‘realistic’?”
Reshaping reality by highlighting the surreal.
In his personal design, Brad uses Project Felix to create surreal images that still feel like photos. In his series “Surrealist Playground,” Brad creates scenes where things that don’t necessarily belong are put into real situations. His first image created in Project Felix features a giant rubber duck at Doran Beach in Bodega Bay.
“I had this image — a background image — that I shot of Doran Beach,” Brad says. “It’s just a really nice, serene, beautiful photo with the sun glowing on the hills with the ocean to the right. I wanted to leverage Project Felix to enhance this image.”
Brad wondered how he could make more of a statement and bring in humor at the same time. “I thought it’d be funny to play with scale and surrealistic factors here, so the idea came — what if we just bring in a rubber duck?”
He used his original photograph as a background image and layered 3D models on top of it. Using Project Felix’s Auto-IBL (image-based light) feature, he was able add light and reflections from the natural light sources in the picture to the inserted rubber duck model, creating the feeling that it had been part of the original photo. Rather than a composite that looks like something was put on top of a background image, this looks like it was placed inside of it.
As he continues to use the beta version of Project Felix, Brad creates additional images that combine photorealistic qualities with surreal situations, like a cardboard elephant flying through the air.
The final series of images was something Brad said he never would have come up with if he hadn’t been working in Project Felix. Sometimes the capabilities of the tools designers have at their disposal can be the source of inspiration for a new project.
“I do think there’s a lot of new learning to be had,” Brad says, “and I’m really, really excited to see — as Project Felix becomes more widely distributed and used — where people push the boundaries of photorealism.”
Learn more about how you can get creative with 3D compositing in Project Felix by downloading the beta app, and stay tuned for more stories from designers who are discovering the possibilities that exist with composite 3D images.