AD 454  |  Syllabus  |  3D Space 1

Schedule: Tuesday / Thursday 1:00pm - 3:40pm, A+A Building

Professor: Sabrina Raaf, sabrina @

Office hours are by appointment only

Lab System Admin: John Messer:


This schedule is subject to modification depending on the depth to which various material is covered. The schedule will be updated online as the course progresses. You will be notified of any changes in assignment due-dates.


This course provides an introduction to 3D modeling with Maya for graduate and undergraduate students in the arts, biovisualization, industrial design, architecture, and computer science. Students will learn to utilize Maya’s sophisticated interface to explore object modeling, environment construction and set design, surface texturing, lighting and image rendering. ZBrush, Mudbox, Maxwell, and TopoGun will be introduced for finishing texture and topology. Through lectures, tutorials, and in-class projects, students will develop a multi- purpose skill set that may be used for innovative content creation such as for filmic animation and compositing, biomedical visualizations, virtual worlds design, as well as for previsualizing design objects, sculptural installations, and other cross-media explorations.

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

Course Goals

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 3Sub-D Modeling: 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

Supplemental Materials

Many Digital Tutors DVD's available for student checkout from the DVL library



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 MANDATORY as 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.

Be considerate of other classmates and show up on time for class! Late arrivals are disruptive for everyone. Being late to class two times will be considered as one unexcused absence.

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.

one absence = no penalty except for loss of instruction

two absences = grade lowered 1/2 letter grade

three absences = grade lowered one letter grade. Plus, a 20 minute tutorial presentation given to the class on a techical aspect of maya - a topic not already covered in class and one that is pre-approed by the instructor - will be required

four absences = whether the absences were cleared in advance or not, four absences will result in an automatic failure

Lab Policies

Please review the EV/ID areas' laptop policy. You can find a copy of it in the Pick Up folder of your class partitio

There is a required laboratory fee for this course which is used for software updates, course supporting materials, and supplies.

No eating, or drinking in the lab.

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.

Reconfiguring the system on any computer so that it is unusable to other students may result in dismissal from the course.

First Day Login

Students with no prior DVL Account: Login using your NetID. (This is the character string before your e-mail address.) The password for your first login will be the word: password. Once you login, you will be prompted to enter a new password.

Students with a DVL account from a previous semester: You should be able to login with your old DVL ID and password. If not, try your NetID and the password: password

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.