ART 454  |  Syllabus  |  3D Space 1

Schedule: Tuesday / Thursday 9:00am - 11:40am

Professor: Sabrina Raaf, sabrina @

Office hours are by appointment only

Lab System Admin: Alejandro Acierto, acierto @


This schedule will undergo change! 

Depending on the depth of student interest and expertise in various areas of 3D modeling, this schedule will be updated online as the course progresses. Students will be notified of any changes in assignment due-dates.


This course will provide an introduction to 3D modeling techniques and applications in the arts, design, architecture, biovisualization, and computer science. Students will explore object modeling, environment construction (including set design), surface texturing, lighting, image rendering, and basic camera animation. Advanced lessons will focus on detailed surface mapping and fine-tuning topology. Through lectures, tutorials, and in-class projects, students will come to develop a multi-purpose skill set that may be used for innovative content creation such as for filmic animation and compositing, previsualization of designed objects and sculptural installations, and other cross-media explorations such as virtual worlds design and digital printing.

The 3D Space I class will concentrate on modeling and still image output. 3D Space II, taught in the Spring, is a continuation of 3D Space II and introduces animation, dynamics (including particle and fluid systems), rigging, and an introduction to scripting for generative systems.

Course Goals

• Understand how visual information is created and produced in 3D

• Model complex objects and environments

• Apply and create materials that control surface appearence

• Render images that showcase your creative talents

Student Responsibilities and Requirements

Willingness to experiment and take genuine artistic risks.

Ability to be resourceful and seek out help when needed.

Participation in all class activities (discussions, workshops, labs, etc.) is very important and will be monitored closely.

Your participation in group critiques is vital to the experience of the class and your evolution as an artist. Each student will be required to give a verbal presentation of their work as well as critique the work of their classmates.

You are encouraged to share knowledge amongst yourselves during lab times - remember, there's much you can learn from each other. Please be respectful, however, if someone is working hard and needs to concentrate.

Taking notes in class is essential and will help you remember what you've learned when you are working on your own time.

If you are absent, it is your responsibility to get notes from your peers. Do not ask a faculty to re-teach a class for you.

Please do not read email or surf the web during lectures and discussions - it's distracting to all of us!


This class focuses on the imaginative use of Maya tools. The series of assignments given is constructed to allow you to build a large project over the course of the term if desired. Click on each of the assignments below for further explanation of their content.

Assignment 1Polygon Modeling: Create a complete and complex environments with camera fly-through.

Assignment 2Lighting and Texturing / Materials: Using previously constructed models, populate a chosen environment with a full set of sophisticated materials.

Assignment 3UV Mapping: Create two complex virtual sculptural works and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Assignment 4Advanced Lighting and Atmospherics: Expanding upon your "set design", further populate your environment and refine the textures and lighting to as sophisticated a degree as possible

Assignment 5Final Project: Rendered environment multiples. Using a series of high-resolution images or a animated camera footage, complete one of the following: 1. Create a complete visualization of a complex situated artwork or 2. Create a multi-layered, multi-faceted environment that stands as a finished art piece of it's own.

Reading Materials


Comprehension of concepts and integration of artistic goals and technical skills learned.

Participation in discussions, lab sessions, and all aspects of class.

Amount of time spent and depth of engagement with material.

Ability to use the techniques introduced in class in an innovative and inventive manner for creative assignments.

Personal initiative and artistic development over the length of the semester.


Participation is worth 7% of your grade, including your productivity during lab time, workshops, discussions, critiques, and active engagement with all aspects of the class.

The major assignments are weighted at approximately 40% of the total grade.

The final project will count towards 25% of your total grade.

There will be tutorial homework assignments to help you gain technical skill. These are worth 20% cumulatively

Blog assignments count towards 8% of your total grade and are graded upon the insight in your writing and the overall resourcefulness/ usefulness of the content.

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Assignments submitted after the due date will be penalized one letter grade. No assignments will be accepted for credit later than one week beyond the the due date. However, you may still hand them in.

Extra credit can/ will be given in the case where the work done goes well beyond the parameters of the assignment.


Attendance is required. There are lecture topics that cannot be made up outside of class. The instructor will not be available to personally re-teach a class if you are absent.

Announcements and directions will be given at the beginning of class: it is important that you arrive on time.

Even though the instructor keeps attendence records, it is the student's responsibility to also keep track of their absences and late arrivals. The instructor may - but is not obligated to - notify the student if their total number of absences is nearing critical.

Students are expected to utilize work time during class productively. If a student leaves class early without approval from the instructor, they will be marked as absent or tardy - even if it is a "work in class" day or the instructor's lecture is completed before the class period ends.

Absences / late arrival / leaving class early will reflect negatively on your grade:

• Maximum: two unexcused absences for the semester.
• Three unexcused absences : your grade will drop by one letter grade.
• One letter grade will be dropped for each additional unexcused absence.
• Five or more unexcused absences results in failing the course.
• Missing class on scheduled presentation / critique days is equivalent to missing / i.e., failing an exam.
• Three late arrivals or early departures will count as one absence.

• Communicate with me : if there are serious or extenuating circumstances that prevent you from arriving on time, or from attendance with full participation, for a required class session; be prepared to present a doctor's note if absence is due to illness.

• It is your responsibility to find out what you missed; plan to complete any work assigned during the missed class.

Lab Policies

Clean up after yourself.

You are responsible for your data! Back it up, store it in multiple locations, burn it to a disk, do whatever you have to do to ensure it's integrity. It is NOT recommended that you leave any data except for copies (not originals!) of the assignments on the server disk space of the lab.

Lab Hours



Projects created in this course may be used by the Department for purposes of promotion for students, the Department, or the University in general. The Department may also use these materials for instructional purposes in future courses.