Welcome--Section 002


Mark C. van Langeveld longfieldstudio@gmail.com


Ryan Vance vancerm@gmail.com


Josh gimliosam@gmail.com

Class Lab Hours:

Section 002 (Thursday 3:40--6:20 PM)


MEB 3225

Extra Lab Hours:

Thursday 6:30 to 9:00

Course Description

Introduces students to asset design and production pipeline for 3D game engines focusing on characters for machinima, games and animation. Students will utilize advance graphics software packages that are prominent in the video game industry such as MAYA, PhotoShop, DAZ3D tools and SoftImage Mod Tool. These sw packages will be demonstrated from a users perspective and explained from the software engineers angle. This is a project-based class that includes a teaching strategy of short lectures, project demonstrations and one-on-one training in the lab.

The main project is broken into many stages with the goal of creating a custom character. This includes designing, modeling, texturing a character of the students choosing. They will also learn to adapt a given model.

The projects start with drawings, clay models and verbal representations of the character design, and then the students will be taught to apply professional practices to digitally sculpt their characters in MAYA and then texture models using PhotoShop.

The modeling strategy and philosophy taught combines low and high resolution models in one middle resolution model that can be adapted for use in games, machinama, animations and movies. The techniques are specific and are taught from the starting with the assumption of no prior knowledge of the specific techniques. Each project will advance through the production pipeline at different rates, depending on the background of student and the complexity of character chosen; although, all students will be taught the entire process.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

  • To teach production pipeline application for CG character development for games, animation and machinima products based on techniques that teach the foundations of original character development
  • To help students learn the critical elements of digital figure modeling that distinguish levels of sophistication in character models
  • To introduce students to computer graphics (CG) for the game and animation industries and the professional practices associated with character development for machinima
  • To introduce students to algorithms used in specific modeling techniques including: smoothing, polygon decimation, vertex merging, edge loops selections and edge loop inserts
  • To familiarize students with MAYA's Embedded Language (MEL)
  • To help students learn to translate design concepts into physical representations (paper, words, images and clay) and then continue with the translation into a digital representation of their character
  • Assist students in mastering several complex computer graphics production software packages
  • To help students experience the tools and learn techniques allowing them to customize their machinima projects, enhance animations and demonstrate competency in games asset production pipeline
  • Create an exceptionally high-quality CG character that can be used for games, machinima and animation classes


  • Drawing/tracing ability at a elementary school level
  • Clay modeling/sculpting ability at a elementary school level
  • Ability to write discriptive characteristics in bullet point format
  • Desire to learn graphics systems
  • Interest in EAE related topics

Class Structure

Each class period, a short lecture will be given. There will also be demonstrations. Each class section must attend their assigned lab sections where one-on-one instruction will be given on their personal project. Short visual-lectures will be given to the labs also.

Lab Structure

Regular lab/class hours are mandatory (during regularly assign class times); whereas, optional lab times will be setup for working on projects with one-on-one time with TAs and/or instructor. The lab will have many open hours for students to work independently on their projects. You cannot switch class sections or section lab.


Each student will be required to design and develop a CG character of his or her choice. The level of development required of each student will differ depending on the complexity of the character and experience of the student as decided by the instructor. The projects will be broken down into milestones for grading purposes.

Characters choices can range from realistic to fantasy and from human to alien. The instructional examples will typically demonstrate modeling humanoid characters, but the techniques and practices will apply to all types of characters. I want you to have passion for the character that you choose, because for one reason you’ll be spending an entire semester working on it.

Student’s projects in the past included: elves, werewolves, humans with fish faces, Ninja, bathing suit models, Roman and Polish warriors, mannequins, aliens and fairies. Your imagination is the only limit.

Every week after the fourth week a VizTrails--MAYA file must be emailed to instructor.


Students will be graded 80% on their character project, 10% quizez/assignments and 10% on their class/lab participation (including surveys). The character projects will be broken down into different stages as designed by instructor uniquely per student (as each individual project will have different stages) and the 80% will be divided per the stages of individual projects.


The final presentation of projects will be held during final hours. All work will be turned in on a DVD with every saved version and all other related images after final presentations.

Materials Required

  • Roma Plastilina Sculpting Clay—softest grade available
  • Armature (could be metal coat hanger)
  • Vellum Tracing Paper
  • Pencil and eraser

Software (provided in labs)

  • Alias MAYA (Autodesk)
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • DAZ3D Studio—available free
  • SoftImage Mod Tool—free download

A few Readings, Tutorials and References for starting off—(no text books to purchase)






August 28, Thursday

Class Introduction


Research Characters/get materials


Sept 4, Thursday

Character Design

Anatomy of character lessons—the usual misconceptions

Start working on sculpture, drawing, composites and/or writings


Survey 1

Bring materials to class lab


3 Random students to share there characters

Sept 11, Thursday

Intro to MAYA’s interface


Importing reference images and Project set-up and working with references/layers

Finish up references


Input references and Start modeling torso is the simplest form

3 Random students to share there projects



Survey 1

Sept 18, Thursday


Modeling torso

Modeling Strategies—Quads only, smoothing, mirroring symmetries and simple to complex



Character Bullets


Project setup: references input with started model



All character references—clay, drawings and bullets

Sept 25, Thursday

Contours and Extruding simple Legs and arms.

Algorithms: Smoothing, edge loops

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in

October 2, Thursday


Simple hand and Simple feet demos

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in

October 9, Thursday


Facial Anatomy, common mistakes with modeling in MAYA

Algorithms: Merge Vertices

Simple face demo

Work on Projects


Take home quiz 1

VizTrails Turn-in

October 16, Thursday



Fall Break



October 23, Thursday


More detail to face


Next level of detail to body

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in


Take home quiz 1

October 30, Thursday


 Connecting separate meshes

MAYA Embedded Language


Clothing and accessories

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in

November 6, Thursday


Even More detail—Sculpting tools


Morphs/blend shapes

Facial expression

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in

November 13, Thursday



Texture mapping—in MAYA

Laying out UVs


Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in

November 20, Thursday


PhotoShop for texture maps


Work on Projects


Take home quiz 2

VizTrails Turn-in

November 27, Thursday



Thanksgiving Break




December 4, Thursday


Texture maps, Bump maps, Specular Highlight maps, and Displacement maps

Algorithms: Polygon Decimation

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in


Take home quiz 2

December 11, Thursday


Skeletons and painting weights


Rap-up final Projects

Work on Projects

VizTrails Turn-in

December 15, Monday 3:30-5:30 PM


Final Presentations


VizTrails Turn-in


DVD of Entire Semester’s Work


More Notes, References and Downloads