This new Tucson mural is brought to life using augmented reality

Tucson is home to hundreds of murals filled with beauty, color and life.

But a local graphic designer is bringing murals to life in a whole new way — through augmented reality.

Jodie Lewer’s Chertudi mural alongside Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas at 2510 E. Fort Lowell Road now comes to life thanks to an AR overlay she designed.

The mural depicting a traditional Chinese dragon, seven teacups and many clouds was designed and completed by Chertudi last December. After experimenting with Adobe Aero, a program that allows designers to connect physical art to the digital world, she decided to create an AR overlay for the mural earlier this year.

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Via a QR code on the mural, visitors can access the AR experience that allows them to see a virtual teacup, parts of the historical poem “7 Cups” (which partially inspired the mural), the Chinese symbol for prosperity, and lots of clouds to see raindrops that you can walk through.

A look at the AR mural by Jodie Lewers Chertudi at the side of Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas at 2510 E. Fort Lowell Road. Video courtesy of Jodie Lewers Chertudi.

Courtesy of Jodie Lewers Chertudi.

“I love the clouds,” said Chertudi. “They kind of move in and out and you can walk under the clouds. They’re flat, but there’s enough of it that you kind of feel like you’re part of the mural and you can walk under it, and they look similar to what’s actually on the wall. So I think that’s my favorite part.

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“And when you hold the camera up and try to capture the video, it’s like, ‘Oh, those clouds look like they’re in the sky.’ It’s like a video game or something.”

Because the AR overlay was created with Adobe Aero, visitors must download the Adobe Aero app to access the fully immersive experience. Currently the app is only available for iOS.

Chertudi has been a graphic designer with her company JLewers Design since 2010, but has always had a passion for art. For her, creating murals was more of a side hobby than a full-time job.

“Doing mural street art was great because people would come up to you and honk their horns, and it was just really cool,” Chertudi said. “I thought, ‘Oh, I love this.’ So I did that (at first) and then just little things like that in people’s backyards or wherever because I just didn’t have the time and dedication because I was a new mom trying to run a business. So I did all the digital stuff from home. And then Seven Cups pinged me and said, ‘Hey, when was the last time you did a mural? Let us do this.'”

Chertudi has worked with Seven Cups co-owners Austin and Zhuping Hodge on numerous occasions over the past 10 years, including designing their logo and packaging.

So it was a no-brainer for her to take on the challenge of creating a large-scale mural for the couple.

Here’s a look at Austin and Zhuping Hodge who assisted in the process of painting the mural at their teahouse Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas.

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Courtesy of Jodie Lewers Chertudi

“They had total trust in me, which was great for a creative to just allow me (artistic license) and show them a concept and mock it and everything and they were like, ‘okay, just do it,'” she said .

The Hodges even helped paint the mural, which Chertudi says took about 200 hours to complete.

Zhuping is also depicted in the mural as the woman gazing at a cup of tea – an element Chertudi felt was an absolute must in the mural.

“She just has such a power and presence,” Chertudi said. “I mean, she’s wonderful. She is healing and just knows so much about tea and she is just a wonderful person. So I kind of wanted to have her energy in there. I found this cool photo of her just looking at a cup of tea and I was like, ‘I’ve got to put that in the mural somehow.’”

After months of work on the mural, it was completed last year in time for Seven Cups’ 20th anniversary.

Here is Jodie Lewers Chertudi at work on the mural at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas in Tucson. Chertudi completed the mural last December and recently added an AR experience.

Courtesy of Jodie Lewers Chertudi

Now that Chertudi has successfully created an AR mural, she hopes to continue adding an AR element to all of her future work, including possible murals.

“I feel like every mural I do or any other piece of art I do, I definitely want to add that element,” she said. “Because it’s easy enough for me and I’m kind of digital thinking anyway, and it’s easy to add and just makes it kind of unique and fun for other people to try.”

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The completed mural at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas at 2510 E. Fort Lowell Road.

Courtesy of Jodie Lewers Chertudi Get local news delivered to your inbox!