Change of plan

Our entire set for Black North was optimised and packaged up, which we then handed over to them and they seemed pretty happy with it. At our most recent meeting we were told that a few more blocks of ice were needing modelled and textured…

Below are a few images I looked at to see how ice would react to light (is it transparent, is it solid) and how the surface of the object could look: scratches, cracks etc…

article-0-195225D6000005DC-566_634x422 d4891fe307b7c06300bf6e428653857a ice ucm197598

I then used the tutorial below as a guide/starting point for texturing the ice model, the results were achieved by using a ramp shader and noise map:

Starting off in mud box, I created a rough shape from a cube…

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.07.44

I then brought the model into maya, where I started applying the techniques from the link above, but also making a few adjustments of my own to fit the requirements of what Black North were asking for…

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first render:

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I felt that the render above was a little plain looking.. there was no colour, nothing interesting about it, so I tried to change that. I duplicated the model and resized it so it would fit inside itself,  then changed the colour of this smaller model to a light blue and gave it a slightly brighter ambient colour, in the hope that the extra light might bounce around a little inside the larger object. The transparency of the object was also adjusted to make it more solid/ visible through the first model.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.22.09

I still wasn’t happy with the colour, there was too much blue – no other colours were present, so in an attempt to fix that I placed a cube inside the smaller model, which was less transparent than the others and I gave it a grey colour. Im a bit happier with the render below as now there are a couple of colours bouncing around.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.24.21

We then received a message from the guys at Black North to say that the game had been changed and could we create a new level based on the new designs, giving us 4 days to create the level so it was going to be a bit tight with time. The file below is the example we were given…

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This time our set would be 7 tiles that would join together (we will create one each.) This time the models were to be as low a polycount as possible, this being the main reason the game was changed, and we would still be sticking with the ice environment.

I started off by modelling an environment in mud box…

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which I then brought into maya and retopologised using the quad draw tool (remembering not to press three to smooth the model as it will be taken into soft image when we pass it on) :

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Unwrapped the UV’s by firstly unwrapping using the best plane, decided where my seams would be and cut the UV edges before finally using the 3D unwrap tool. These UV’s were obviously a lot easier to unwrap compared to the previous set…

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.40.21

This time regarding textures were decided we would go for more ice rather than rock and snow, seeing as the panels looked like they were some sort of cave. Below are some of the textures I experimented with…

13-scratched-ice-texture-free-hi-res 10422269_862539437136109_6774744961511944772_n Chiseled Ice clay_snow1 ice_texture___2_by_agf81-d4p2kkm ice_texture2998-1 ice-texture--1033-1 Ice0021_L snow_texture1550

Before settling with the textures below:


Originally I had ice walls and banks of snow at each side but it just didn’t look right, so I switched it to be snow walls with banks of ice which just in general a lot better.

The ambient occlusion was baked in:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.56.35

And multiplied over the textures in photoshop:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.57.33

A normal map was also created using crazy bump:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 00.57.49

Then it was onto lighting the scene, I added an ambient light with a rather low intensity to give some basic light. I wanted my light source to be coming form the ice.. as if it was giving off light that was then being reflected by other bits of ice. So to create this I added in a few spot lights, all different in size (penumbria and cone angle) intensity and colour giving the results below.

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Once I (and the rest of the team of course) were happy with the lighting, the light and colour were baked in:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 01.07.43


Fly through:


Preparing to texture

Seeing as we are all relatively new to what texture baking is, the link below explains the attributes of texture baking in maya, making it a little bit easier for us all to understand.

before baking in our Ambient Occlusion we had to set up a linear workflow, we’ve done this by following the tutorial below…

Fortunately our tutor had already gone over setting this up when talking about uses and benefits of multiple render layers and passes…

The first thing we had to do was to apply an ambient occlusion and bake it to our mesh, the AO bake would then be found in the render data folder of the current project, mental ray> light map…

One problem I had was that when I combined my UV’s all onto the one map, some of them were too small to texture… and the textures when rendered were very blurred…

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So for the time being I have multiple maps… the icicles I was able to group onto 3 maps, rocks onto 4, and the rest of the models were each on their own, so I had 19 altogether… however this problem is solved later on in the week!

My Ao maps…

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The settings for the AO were, samples: 124

To bake the AO go to rendering in the drop down menu to the top left then lighting/shading>batch bake (mental ray) and settings are as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 19.57.39 Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 19.57.54

Then convert and close!

I also decided to do a little research on texture maps, to gain a better understanding:

some notes I took from Digital Tutors, with the link below:


I also had an issue of 3D artist, that had a section entitled ‘A beginners guide to texturing’ which I found extremely useful as it went through and explained the different types of maps that can be used and why they would be used.

IMG_0766 IMG_0767 IMG_0768 IMG_0769


Billygoat Entertainment

William Barr from Billygoat came in to talk about the work they’ve done and more recently their kickstarter campaign ‘Her Majesty’s Spiffing’ and the progress they’ve made.

A few that he mentioned…

Knighty Knight, a medival themed game for iPhone/ipad/ipod:

Chain reaction Pro-cycling:

Outfoxed, you play the clever fox raiding the farm:

and HMSpiffing… the link below shows their April update and the progress being made…

Her Majesty’s Spiffing will be an intergalactic point click adventure game:

However their Facebook page ‘HMSpiffing’ shows a lot more of their artwork and animations that are going into the game.

We were also then treated to this little short, created by William, which is pretty witty…



Environmental design for games

Max Boughen talks about environment design in games and putting the experience of the player before the visuals…

Liam tart is also a 3D environment artist for games, working on Alien Isolation…

Rally games are a great source of environment design in games already existing due to multiple environments throughout the games.. ice, forest, desert etc..

Steve Andrew was an environmental artist for the Colin McRae rally series working on various environments including Farmland, Railway scenes and more importantly ice/snow environments…

David Baldwin is an environmental artist, working on games such as uncharted 2 and 3, and vanguard: a saga of hero’s.

Below is a link to his demo reel containing the environments he has worked on:

On his website he provides stills of his work showing the level of detail in each scene, his work most relevant to ours would be Uncharted 2: Shambhala – which has a background consisting of mountains but all of his work is rather impressive…

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Christopher Gadsby, environment artist.

“As an Environment Artist for games my main responsibilities are the general look and feel for the levels that are in the game. Bringing them from blockouts to full working levels for this and the next generation of platforms, I usually work close with the Art Director, Lead Environment artist, Level Designers to design and form the vision of the level but also the together with technical art and tool programmers to set the workflow & art pipeline to get levels running smoothly at the intended frame-rate.”

His work is a great point of reference for us to look at for when it comes to texturing especially his personal project entitled, Evergreen mountains…

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It may not be created using maya but it still has a few tips that can be applied to our own process, such as instancing duplicates and using a biped model for scale, it’s still a rather interesting read on how Andrew Finch, who has been in the games industry for over seven years, goes about creating his sets


Another great source of reference for texturing and lighting snow environments was snowboarding games, I looked at the PC game Shaun White Snowboarding, the cloud was a great addition to re-create the high altitude – this could be something we look at when the time comes.. adding some clouds to a plane to create low lying fog or just clouds might help add to the players experience…

link to the video: 

and a few screen shots that I had taken:

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however I feel this game was a little too much just snow, that seems to be the only thing going on so I then came across a video of game play for SSX, another snowboarding game, only this time it’s textures are much more interesting… in with the snow are various rock textures which is much more useful to us as a reference, the lighting is also quite a nice set up… and we might use it as a point of reference for something we would like to re create when the time comes:

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Animation and Design for games development

Game development is an active art form, as the player has the ability to influence the path and the destiny of their character.

A short history of Games:

-1950’s: pre video games, including boardgames, sports…

-70’s: early arcade games were introduced… space invaders/pong/asteroids.

-80’s: dawn of the mass produced video games… these years saw the rise and fall of the Indie game developer. Games including Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda and Super Mario brothers along with Alexey Pajitnov’s, Tetris, are present on the top 10 best feeling games of the 80’s.

-90’s: Saw the beginning and rise of the 3D graphical game. Doom (1993) and quake (1996)

2000’s: Larger, more complex games were being created, online multiplayer games also saw a rise in players. World of warcraft (2004) X box and Playstation 2 were released onto the market, the playstation coming out on top as the best selling console, however Microsoft were only just appearing onto the market as Sega started to disappear.

2010+: The Inide game developer was re-emerging back onto the market. Mobile gaming became more popular and new technologies were being released, Oculus Rift and more recently the Xbox one and Playstation 4.

Game Design, theory and practice: This link contains an excerpt from Richard Rouse III’s book entitled, ‘Game design- Theory and Practice: The elements of Gameplay.

Main element of a game studio: Art | Animation | Audio | Game Design | Management | Programming | Quality Assurance.

Artist Roles: Concept Artist | 3D modeller | GUI Artist | Texture Artist | Technical Artist | Visual Effects Artist.

Games Concept Artists…

Peter Chan Working for companies (mainly as a concept artist) such as EA, Double Fine and Lucas Art Entertainment, but also working on films as concept artist/ illustrator: films including Monsters University, A series of Unfortunate Events, Box Trolls and many more. His work has an interesting ‘sketchy’ style to it which when combined with his slightly forced perspective makes it interesting to look at.

Victor Antonov Working for Arkane Studios, Dishonoured… His style of work is combing the fantasy elements with that of Photorealism.

3D Modellers, creating objects, environments and characters from concept art.

Peter Adamson Character Artist.

Liam Tart Environmental Artist, Alien Isolation, Natural Selection 2

Texture artists – games rely heavily on quality texture mapping.

Tor Frick working on games such as Far Cry, Games of War 3…

Kris Kelly: Character and texture artist, Working on games such as Shadow of Modor, Call of Duty ghosts…

Technical Artist, responsible for rigging, vfx, programming, dynamics, writing scripts, plug-ins..

Andy Green

Vfx artist: Ludvig Lindqvist, 

William Kladis

Dave Samuel

Animation, Cyles need to be efficient and blend well between one another, for example blending between a walk and a run. Animating objects, scenery, vegetation and characters.

Chris de Lloyd

William Barr