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Stylized 3D Asset Creation for Games

A 10-week course for creating finished environment assets and props for a stylized game environment

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Create fully rendered game environments

In this course you will create finished key environment assets and props that will work together in a stylized game environment. We will look at various stylistic approaches to games. Lectures and assignments will explore different styles for hand-painting textures, blocking out your scene, modeling your stylized assets, and creating final stylized textures for your assets. The goal is to create a fully-rendered collection of assets that you can include in your portfolio. Software used in this course includes: Maya, Photoshop, Z Brush, 3D Coat, Marmoset, and UDK 4. *Note: Must submit portfolio that includes some digital paintings, textures, & uv maps.

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Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individual recordings
Duration:   10 weeks
Assignment:   Deadlines each week
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Maya, Photoshop, ZBrush, 3D Coat, Marmoset, and UDK 4
Skills level:   Intermediate
Prerequisites:   Intermediate to advanced knowledge of Digital Painting (required), Basic to intermediate knowledge of modeling and Zbrush, and texturing skills. Course pre-req's: Intro to Production Modeling, Zbrush for Concept & Iteration, & Digital Painting.

Environment design WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Relevant games | Artist/influencers | What makes an asset stylized | The box: introduction to texture painting
Relevance | What games use 2.5 D | How it is used | 2.5D exterior scene: gather reference, block out scene, material painting demo: rocks
Examples of terrain blending | How it works | Vegetation painting demo: grass, dirt/soil | Blending in 2D for 3D
Examples of 2.5D Trees | How it works | 2.5D tree painting demo
Coming up with your own concept | Gather reference | Mix styles, references, ideas into 3D blockout | Implement 3D blockout into Marmoset | Concept a 2D painting over Marmoset Render
Paint-to-cam examples | How it works | Paint-to-cam demo | Intro to 3D Coat | Sketch in perspective | Floor painting demo in Photoshop | Clean in Krita
How prop sets are constructed | Block in 3D models (Maya) | UV (3D Coat / Maya) | Texture re-use: how to set up UVs to paint texture set | Block in using 3D Coat | Finish in Photoshop
Create stylized assets for RTS camera view | Intro to RTS gameplay / camera angle / style | Asset references
Tile-able textures in ZBrush | Block in designs in 2D | Block model in Maya | Implement into ZBrush | Sculpting techniques: brushes, workflow; bake maps from Zbrush; retopo high- low-poly; texture clean-up in Photoshop
Three faction types / structure types | How it works | Gather reference | How to concept / implement assets quickly | Block in model | Implement into Marmoset | Concept over asset blockout in Photoshop | UV in 3D Coat | Finalize texture in Photoshop
Instructor

Your journey starts here

Lectures by Kevin Griffith

Kevin is an artist, game developer, and educator based in Berlin, Germany. He was most recently a Senior Environment Artist at Bigpoint GmbH and now working for Treasurehunt Studios. He has over 10 years of experience in the games industry on 8 AAA titles in various genres. His credits include several Blizzard games, such as Diablo III, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Litch King , Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void, Total War: Warhammer. He has previously taught at Gnomon School of Visual Effects, instructing students on real-time asset creation, texturing, and world building, as well as portfolio mentoring.

Student interviews

COURSE BEGINS

July 20th!

May 14th - July 23rd

fall TERM Registration

Only

$998

COURSE BEGINS

July 20th!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

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Creating Hand-Painted Dioramas

Interview with Dawnson Chen

Dawnson Chen breaks down the assignment he did in Stylized 3D Asset Creation for Games

Hi, my name is Dawnson Chen and I am currently taking the Stylized 3D Asset Creation for Games course, taught by Kevin B. Griffith, on CGMA. I am going to break down one of my assignments we did in the course.

Background

I graduated with a four-year Bachelor of Arts and Animation program at Sheridan College. That was where I learned most of my traditional skills, like drawing and painting. Following Sheridan, I took a one-year Game Arts program from Seneca College, where I learned how model and texture.

After school, I landed a job at Gameloft Montreal as an Environment Artist, and that is where I currently still am. We recently released a new game, Gangstar New Orleans, which is my first released title.

This is my second CGMA course; the first was Environment Design with Aaron Limonick. The goal of taking both these courses was to improve my design skills. Both Aaron and Kevin have been great mentors in helping me achieve that.

The Assignment

The goal of the assignment was to create a small stylized 2.5D vignette that included multiple material elements: rocks, terrain, foliage and something manmade. It is based on a workflow similar to games like Diablo 3 and League of Legends.  We used four 2048 textures, one for each element, and the final scene was to be presented and lit in Marmoset Toolbag.

The Concept

I chose to do a witch’s cauldron brewing a potion in the woods. Normally I would do a bit of a concept painting, but time was an issue. I only had a napkin sketch of the idea, so instead, I found a really nice painting on Artstation, done by Grace Liu. I used it as a mood inspiration and tried to imagine my cauldron inside that painting.

 

 

 

 

NOTE: image from 80.lv^

 

Block Out

I began modeling a block out inside of 3dsMax, just to get a sense of scale and position for most of the elements. Everything is really rough here. I didn’t use any of these meshes for the final.

 

 

Modeling and Texturing Rocks

Then I went to Photoshop and began painting the rocks. I used the meshes from the block out as a reference and painted their approximate shapes. When I was happy with the painting I went back to 3dsMax to start modeling. I started by mapping the rock texture to a plane and began cutting the plane, trying to follow the volume of the rock.

 

 

Once the plane was all cut, I began to mold it into a 3d shape. I pulled out the areas that came forward, trying to give the rock some volume. This part can be a bit tricky; it just takes some time to massage the mesh into the shape you want without stretching the texture too much. After I finished all the rocks, I replaced the block out mesh with the textured mesh to see how it fit into the scene.

 

 

Terrain

The next part was the terrain. I painted two tileable textures: one rock and one grass. Then I blended the two of them together, trying to keep the shapes of the blades of the grass. After I painted in a rough shadow on a separate layer, I keep it rough because at this point things are still being shifted around. I also painted a circle in the alpha channel to give the base a circular shape and grass coming off of the edges.

 

 

Paint-over

Here I did a quick paint-over of the props I wanted to make for the next stage. I like doing this because it helps me take inventory of what I have left to do, and also see what I can get away with repeating a few times. As you can see, I changed my mind about a few props for the final. After getting feedback from Kevin and other people, I thought it would be clearer if I left out the some of the props and kept it more focused on the witch theme.

 

 

Marmoset Toolbag and Lighting

*Note: I added the trees and foliage; they were made the same way as the rocks so not much to explain.

At this point, I imported everything into Marmoset Toolbag and did the first pass on the lighting. The lighting for this scene is very simple. I just had one main warm directional light coming from the top left and a cool backlight to give the objects some rim lighting. Then I added some Omni lights in a few places where I wanted to draw the eye (the fire, the book etc.)

 


  

*warm directional light is offscreen

 

Props and Polish

The final step was making the props. Unlike the rest of the scene, which is 2.5D, the props are all 3D. This way I could rotate and place them around wherever I needed. After I finished painting the props, I scattered them around the scene.

Finally, I went back and did a polishing pass. I cleaned up some areas in the rocks and trees, just adding some details at the points of interest. I made sure the shadow on the terrain matched the rocks and props and I fixed the discoloration in the grass planes. And for the cherry on top I added some bubbles.

This was a fun scene to work on. I enjoyed having time to paint everything and polish until I was satisfied. It was really good practice for doing hand painted textures, which I hadn’t done too much of it the past. Thanks, Kevin, CGMA, and Gameloft for the experience.