AD 454 - 3D Space I - Modeling


Whenever a homework file is handed in, please label it in the following manner:

Unless otherwise specified, put your entire project folder into a folder with your name as the folder title.
Put this folder in the appropriate homework folder inside of the Drop Folder for our class.


Your review entries must be thoughtful and though provoking, written in your own words (not paraphrased or copied from the originating site), and concise. Contextualize the project or infomation you find. Why is it relevant or of particular interest? Why should people care? Each entry should be at least 5 sentences in length + include a picture or video illustration. Please also add comments to other's entries and enter into dialogues with each other.

↓ Extra Credit↓

Polyforms: Using polygon modeling, create two examples of a complex branching network. Your models can be abstract, realistic, or somewhere in between, but you should strive for an aesthetically interesting and well-constructed forms. As always in this course, creativity should be an integral part of your exploration. One of the goals of this assignment is to become more comfortable with your own free-form use of the Polygon toolset, so make sure to explore a variety of methods for form creation. If you feel your models require supporting text to be properly understood, please include it in your folder. Render your polyforms with a ramp texture, a 2D texture, a 3D texture, a bump map, and a displacement texture. For extra credit add lights, shadows, and ray tracing to your polyform renders.

Examples & Resources:

Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel
Biological Branching Patterns
On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Thompson
William Latham Images and Video
google image searches: Branching Fractals, Diatoms, Bubble Architecture

Previous Student Work

↓ project description ↓

Write: a 500 Word (at least) description of your final project. It should describe in detail the environment or object(s) you wish to create. Remember: this is a virtual world you are creating so any limitations on scale and sophistication of the space (even the direction of gravitational pull) should be very conscious choices. You aren't limited by money - so don't make generic choices!

Give explicit references (the names of the artists, set designers, designers, etc) in your description to designers, architects, or artists who work in a similar vein. Add at least 6 - 8 images (photographs or sells) from outside sources (books, digital images, magazine images) to this description that provide clear illustration of the overall style, color scheme, lighting scheme, and general 'feel' that you are going for. Include these elements:

Describe the feel of it. Is it contemporary or futuristic or rustic or realistic or cartoon-style in character? Is the focus on an object or set of objects? Within the genre, got into specifics about the context. Set the scene for us. This should read something like the opening of a script or a stage setting.

Describe the materials - i.e., wood, fur, skin, metals, plastic, glass, etc. Be specific! Velvet vs felt, granite vs lava rock, etc. Be prepared to discuss your material choices.

Talk about the components of the space. Who is the space designed for? How many inhabitants? Who are the users? Is the space an interface? Who is the project designed for? Where do they live? Are they specialists or novices? In other words, define your target audience. Define the context for the space: Would this space be for a gaming environment, a film, a fine art piece, an interior or architectural or industrial design concept?

If the space/ object is more abstract in concept, talk about what you hope people looking at it will understand of it. Describe the metaphors behind it and conceptual underpinning.

Add in a couple of loose sketches of your project idea (i.e., front view, side view).

Overall I am looking for you to be original + thoughtful here and to genuinely take chances. Again, because you are designing this yourself (i.e., not by committee or according to a client's wish list), there is no reason why your environments or design objects should look 'generic'. They should look like they come from you, as the artist/ designer who is an original author and content director.



You will choose an Artist / Designer / Collective on which to give a brief 10-15 minute presentation on in class. You are expected to discuss their work and concepts as well as their background. Include contextual information such as related artists/ works / trends / movements that you find.

Requirements & Deliverables

  • 10-15 minute presentation on an Artist / Designer / Collective of your choice

↓ Scene Illustrations / Sketches ↓

Create (2) full color, polished sketches of your final project scene (ie, your project's main focus if it is not a character) and (3) sketches of your scene. Five (5) 2D illustrations are due in all. Illustrate the top, front, and side of your scene/ environment. Use this assignment to fully conceptualize your project's look and elements. You can create the sketches via hand drawing or photoshop montage. These illustrations should look portfolio-ready (ie, ready to present in your portfolio). Draw any characters in bind pose. Again, you may use photoshop, hand drawing, illustrator, Maya, and whichever other software you'd like to create these images.

You will use these sketches (which you will have to scan in if they are hand drawn) as image planes in your scene to help you model. I will collect these sketches as photoshop, JPG, TIF, or TGA files. Pls be sure they are at least 2048 x 2048 pixels high/ wide @ 72dpi.


Throwing Down A Space: Concentrate on creating the environment, designed objects, or site specific sculpture from your description. Using polygons and subdivision (or poly proxy) models as constructors the environment/ objects, you are to create at least 2 different orthographic drawings for your final project (i.e., top view and side view). Create a 3rd drawing that shows a detail view of some portion of your project. These are your concept art drawings that define the look/ scope of your project.

1) Roughing out the space means using modified primitives to start building out the space and defining it. The details don't have to be articulated yet - that is why this is called "throwing it down." Be prepared to discuss the design decisions you have made during the class crit. This approach is what you will build upon for all the next assignments for the rest of the semester. I suggest implementing stand in objects (such as the people models in the tutorials folder) - even if temporarily - to make sure that the sizes of objects in the scene stay relative and consistent.

It's important that you organize your scene using sensible hierarchies (i.e., groupings and display layers) and labels. Try to get used to working with these in the Outliner and Layer Editor.

2) You will hand in your scene files as well as the image plane files. I will look for the image planes in your scenes.

3) Render out a top, side, and detail view of your scene as well (as tifs) and hand them in. Images should be scanned in at 72 or 96 dpi, and roughly sized at 768 x 1024 ppi.


Still Life with Materials:

- Using your Homework 1 environment, concentrate on creating the best atmospheric lighting and shadows for the space and its surfaces. Apply appropriate materials to the objects in your scene - i.e., refraction on glass, bump maps on walls, bevels on seams, substance procedural textures, sub surface scattering, etc. Refer to the tutorial videos provided to review Arnold Lights and Shaders.

- Render 8 scene images which reflect your main keyframes (ie, your story board images) in .tif format of resolution 1080HD (minimum).
- Your goal is to approach material accuracy as much as possible, with the texturing and lighting skills you have learned so far.
- Paint the mood of the scene. Use ray tracing on lights (in their shadows attributes) and refraction control in the textures for when it is appropriate. (Make sure to turn up ray tracing in the Arnold Render Settings and increase the appropriate sample settings in order to decrease noise in the render.)
- Give yourself plenty of time for the renders as they will take a while to crunch!
- Some images should give us a medium distance overview of the scene while others focus on close-ups that showcase surface detail.
- Use the right focal length on your camera!!!! Correct depiction of scale is important.
- ALWAYS bevel edges on box-y polygon shapes unless they are situated far in the background.


StoryBoard: Continue to fill out your complex environment. You should be building an environment (or an object in a specific context) that relates a full experience. As such, this assignment requires that you not only pay attention to rendering large spaces, but also to modeling/ rendering those detailed areas that bring that place to life and make it specific to your imagination and design aesthetic. In your environment you should include models previously created for Still Life with Material, but ONLY as a starting to the work for this assignment. The space and objects in it should be not just recognizable, but detailed now. For this assignment, at least 4 completed models (not just primitives or stand ins). The full background "setting" of your scene should be clear. Put in a billboard background (textured poly plane) or textured dome. Use depth of field in your renders if the scene is very large in virtual scale. Make 12 renders (in TIF or TGA format, alpha channel off if not needed) that will now serve as the storyboard or 'key frames" of your final camera fly through. Consider how you introduce the space/ objects to your audience through interesting camera work.

• Use one of these storyboard templates, complete with comments describing the scene / shot contents.
Storyboard language
Basic Example
Template 1
Template 2
Template 3
Template 4
Template 5


R• Render: Your entire keyframed camera fly through on the Renderfarm! Hand in: all the frames of the animation render. You should show your ability to stop the camera - ie, bring it to rest - during the flythrough. Renders/ scenes where the textures are not properly linked in the project folder will not be accepted (i.e., where you open your scene and the textures render as non-existent or black).

For Extra credit:

1 Create, in a separate scene, an object that has a two sided texture where one side is glowing (as found in the lamp tutorial). Hand in the scene files and the render.

— and, or —

2 Create an object that emits a tv glow + glowing image (as found in the computer monitor tutorial on the server). Hand in the scene files and the render.

If you want Extra, Extra credit:
Prepare a 5 - 10 minute demo for the class on a tutorial that relates to one of these lighting/ rendering/ texturing issues - on a subject that hasn't been already covered in class. Email me in advance to let me know the content demo you plan to do - and I'll send you an OK back. You can present your tutorial this Thursday or next Tuesday.


UV Mapping: Using previously constructed models, UV Map at least three of them with textures that are image based.

• Hand in a project folder containing one scene file that includes the 3 UV mapped objects along with the 3 texture (image) files (stored in the sourceimages folder). The texture image files may be saved in .tif, .tga, .png, or .jpg format. Avoid the .exr format as it tends to crash Maya.

• In a separate project folder, hand in your full project in it's current state.

All of the surfaces in your environment should be shaded by the time you hand in this assignment. Some materials should be in a refined and even finished state. Consider not only how each individual surface looks but how they go together to create an aesthetically congruous whole.


Playblast your entire fly through - at least 1800 frames minimum. (that is: 60 seconds @ 30 frames per second)

•  Make sure your camera isn't always in motion!! Give your viewer's eyes a rest and a chance to absorb the scene, and the details of your models/ textures.
• The camera movement should be smooth and well choreographed.
• Make the most of the depth of field and focal length possibilities that Maya offers. Remember, these are attributes that can and should be keyed!
• You can/ should use multiple cameras in your final render.


FINAL PROJECT Rendered environment. Render a series of 12 (twelve) high-resolution images (1080p resolution or above) of your project in .tif file format. You should make sure that you have at least ten distinctly different viewpoints on the project represented. In other words, render your environment from at least ten angles (including wide view, aerial, and a number of ambient, detail "still life" shots) to fill out our understanding of the space. Make the most of the depth of field and focal length possibilities that Maya offers.

Also, hand in a 1 to 3 minute fly through animation of the space rendered at full resolution.

It is absolutely essential to make sure that you start rendering your animation tests early and the final high resolution version should be sent to render with great care!