Yap brings ‘Avatar’ creatures to life

Concept artist essential to Cameron's megahit

Auds and pros alike have flipped for the beautiful, lifelike creatures of “Avatar.”

Among the production design team, helmer James Cameron singles out concept artist Daphne Yap as essential to creating the creatures’ dazzling look.

“She just was the most amazingly detailed texture designer that I’d ever seen,” Cameron says. “She created all the textures and the patterns on all the creatures.”

A San Jose native, Yap majored in toy design at L.A.’s Otis School of Design, “I never knew much about film; I was thinking about videogames,” she admits. But a book of her art was published, and that led to her being hired for “Avatar.” She’s already added credits as a concept artist on “Star Trek” and “Alice in Wonderland,” and is part of the team on Disney/Marvel’s “Thor.”

“I don’t have dreams of being an art director or production designer, but I’d like to be able to pitch my point of view without losing the ability to illustrate. I think when you (rise in production level) you don’t get to draw anymore.”

Yap continues to create her own art, loves designing characters and costumes (she touched most of the Na’vi costumes and jewelry).

Eventually we came up with a process where everybody’s creatures had to go through the Daphne-ization process as the last step,” Cameron says. “It was kinda like sending it through the paint booth. You build a car, but then she gets to paint it.”