Games Design @ Hull School of Art and Design


3D Realisation (Y1, S1)

Year 1 of my Games Design Course, a module based on 3D techniques. An Introduction to 3D Realisation. Module 3. Semester 1.

3D Realisation – 3D Development Challenges (Week 2)

During this week we did things a little different. Instead of picking a card we got a number assigned to us. The numbers were randomly generated via the main computer and each number was designated to each seat (we had the choice to switch seats before the unveiling of each number, however no one did switch). That number was then linked to an image, each image was a photograph of an object somewhere hidden in the college. Our task was to find this object and model it; so therefore we had to take lots of reference photos and videos otherwise we would have to travel back to that location for research.

Here is the Object I got given:


A camera found in the camera stores downstairs. This camera is so big, but you have so much control over the settings manually. This camera can help to focus, use depth of field, acknowledge tilt and shift and also alter the viewpoint as well as the visual perspective. I went down to the stores and asked Nathan about the Cambo Camera (as he is based in the photography field) and he said that this camera works on a bellow system. This bellow system allows the user to be in such good control of it because you can move each side of the bellow to your liking therefore changing how you want the main subject to look and how the background will effect the main subject etc. This is when Depth of Field, Tilt-Shift and Visual Perspective comes into use.

Here are my photos and visuals of the camera that I took for reference:

I regret that some of the images that I took was not clear enough, however, I took another look at the camera and realized that most of it is symmetrical so I could create one side of the camera and duplicate it then edit any differences that are needed. Below are some more techniques that I used during this 3DS Max challenge:

  • How to ‘Cut’ objects.
  • Learnt how to use different lighting techniques.
  • Create a scenery to display the final product.
  • Rendering.
  • Duplicating/Copying.
  • Learnt about the Snap Toggle.

Here is my final product:

I prefer this model to the previous challenge as it looks more like the actual object and the final rendered image is very clear, I enjoyed making this one more as I was a bit more independent with my work and I was more focused as I had a more clear understanding on what to do and how to do it.

Credit goes to Nathan Pidd for giving me information on the camera and letting me use the camera for research and evidence towards my model.

Here is information on his work and details:


3D Realisation – 3D Development Challenges (Week 1)

Throughout 3 weeks time we have been given a task for each week. Each week the task has been different and more difficult as we learn more about 3DS Max. So far I really enjoy creating 3D models like this as they are given at random and it is so unexpected as well as fun.

The first week our teacher put lots of objects on a table (e.g. an iron, a set of headphones, a hammer etc.) and each object had a playing cards underneath them, next we had to pick a card shuffled by the teachers. The card you pick would match an object on the table then you model that random object. I picked the card that lead to modelling what is called a ‘pipe bender’. At first I had no idea what it was called but so to start with it was called ‘Thingy’, but it is known as a tool that bends pipes to fit together.

This object was one of the most difficult objects on the table but I was glad that I got a card that challenged me. I did research on my object by taking photographs and videos so then I could have evidence of observation and it would help me to model. Below is my evidence.

My method of working around this object was to break the object down in my mind. I broke the object into different shapes for example the main section is cylinders with holes in, a few of the torus shapes and free-form shapes. Throughout this first week of 3DS Max I have learnt:

  • How to use the ‘Wield’ Tool.
  • How to ‘Target Wield’.
  • How to ‘Attach’.
  • Using the selection of ‘Vertex’, ‘Edge’, ‘Border’, ‘Polygon’ and ‘Element’.
  • How to use ‘Swift Loop’.
  • How to ‘Lock and ‘Unlock’ and Object.
  • How to ‘Copy’ an image.

Here is my final Product:

I am proud of my final outcome as I didn’t believe that I could do it as soon as I saw the object that I had to model but I finally got to a result I was happy with and I am happy with what I have learnt. My favorite part of this model has to be the little bits of detail as I thought they would be quite difficult as they were curved and shaped differently to the rest of the object.

Also special thanks to Paul Starkey and Barry Briggs for helping me on certain aspects of my model as well as teaching me new techniques.

Follow their blogs here:

3D Realisation – UV Mapping

The two letters ‘U’ and ‘V’ are from the coordinates of the vertex texture. A flat 2D shape made to cover a 3D object. Just like a when creating objects out of paper; we create a net first and then put the object together. When creating a cube we have 6 squares out flat and then these 6 squares put together create a cube. The process of UV Mapping involves using a 3D program (in our case 3DS Max) and creating an object; when finished with this object you unwrap each part of the object and stitch/connect/wield the sides of the UV Map together. Finally you bring this map into Photoshop and paint over it or transfer an image on top of it, then take that texture back into 3DS Max to create your final piece.

Here is my UV Map:

UV Map Test2

Here is my Final Piece as a 3D model:


I also have a tutorial which I will either post as a blog or send via email if you prefer.

3D Realisation – Topology

Topology is the way in which lines show the form of a shape. 3D Topology can be complex depending on the model and also depending on the amount of detail the 3D object contains. When using topology quad-polys and tri-polys are created by the lines which form around the object, a tri-poly is not used as much as a quad-poly because a computer can read quad-polys easier.

The website defines topology as such:

“Basically, topology is the modern version of geometry, the study of all different sorts of spaces.”

Below are some examples of Topology:

Topology 002

When making a topology model, there will be multiple layers. When you take away the character shape layers and keep the topology you should be able to see just the topology and you should be able to understand what this object/person is. From the above image you can only see topology and I can tell that it is Jane from the Disney film ‘Tarzan’.

Topology 001

Again an example from the Disney film ‘Tarzan’. The character on the left has no topology lines whereas the character on the right has the topology lines on top of the model. You can see that the smaller the poly the more detail is in that area; also the lines curve so you can understand the 3D model and so that the image doesn’t look as flat.

Topology 004

In this face you can see lots of different colours. The colours represent movement along the contour lines and the polygons are all different sizes as the smaller the polygon the more detail/movement.

Topology 003

This is from the Disney short film ‘Paperman’. The hair is made from very little polygons therefore the shape is more rough rather than being smooth (to smooth the object you would add more polygons).


Our brief requires us to create topology for a celebrity/cartoon bust, a world war aircraft and a sofa. Here is my celebrity bust, I chose Hercules as he has quite a strong figure. For my first attempt at Hercules it went ok but I will be practising a lot more to get the topology correct.

Sofa 003.gif

I found the Sofa topology easier to do, however, I still know that I have a lot of room to improve. I know where I went wrong as I spoke to my teacher about how I am struggling with topology. My goal is to improve my skills in topology.

World War Aircraft 003.gif

I am proud of my World War Aircraft because you tell tell that is an aircraft just by looking at the topology.

Overall I am proud of my topology and I know where I need to improve. I am currently working on more topology work to improve my skills.

Games Design – 3D Realisation – Sculptures

In our 3D Realisation lesson I had the option to choose a certain topic of interest. The options included Character Design, Prop and Object or Environment; I chose character design as I really want to improve my skills as I feel I am not as confident as I should be with character design as I am with the other options. Initially I was going to get my idea from a film/game/book but I then I randomly created a shape and my creation took place there. I felt more confident after this lesson as I discovered you can create characters easier when using shapes.

image (5)

Above: The front view of my sculpture.

image (6)

Above: The side of my sculpture.

image (7)

Above: A view of the top of my sculpture.

image (8)

Above: Another side view of my sculpture.

I think overall I definitely have room to improve but I am quite proud of what I have created. The main concept I would like to learn next would be how to get rid of any of the cracks and also smooth out more of the sculpture and maybe also add a bit of texture.

Sculptures are a great use of a design concept. From a sculpture you can see all of the textures, the width, height and length of the chosen subject and with the technology with have now, we can transfer our created sculptures onto a computer program and further improve the creation as well as add colour and put the image in a scene/environment/background. Sculptures are sometimes put into computers so that they can be animated, however, I like this animation created by sculptures with no use of computers at all.

My favourite sculptures include the ones from the Pixar Studios in Burbank California, Emeryville. I am interested in the works of Kent Melton and Greg Dykstra as they have created so many memorable characters over the years that we still know and love today. Greg Dykstra is mainly known for the sculptures of Remy from Ratatouille, whereas Kent Melton is known for The Incredibles characters and even characters from The Lion King. I really like their work because they look so realistic and they must put a lot of effort into each piece. Also they create more than one version of each character to show different poses, positions, facial expressions and my favourite of all is when a character ages seeing the difference using sculptures. Here are some examples of their work.

Greg Dykstra

Greg Dykstra

Above: Dykstra creating one of the many Ratatouille characters as you can see the characters on a shelf behind him.

Greg Dykstra2

Above: One of Dykstras Sculptures being put into a computer and being manipulated.

Greg Dykstra3

Above: One of my favourite sets of sculptures. Carl Fredrickson from the film ‘Up’ being shown as a child, a young adult and elderly.

Kent Melton

Kent Melton4

Above: Melton holding a sculpture of Simba he created.

Kent Melton

Above: The Genie from Aladdin created by Kent Melton.

Kent Melton2

Above: One of my many favourite Disney Pixar characters. Violet from The Incredibles.

Kent Melton3

Above: Tarzan from the film Tarzan

As you can see their artwork differs and varies. Melton creates Disney as well as Pixar and when Dykstra creates his artwork he creates a series of sculptures for one set film e.g. Ratatouille. Overall I really like their styles and would love to create work like they do.

Games Design, Environment Design – Bethesda Softworks, Noah Berry


(Elder Scrolls V, Skyrim)                             (Fallout 3)  Source:

Noah Berry is an environment artist from Bethesda Softworks who was influenced to enter this career choice as they enjoyed fine art and graduated from University with a Ba (hons) in the subject. Berry gives advice towards environment art saying that you start with the basic shapes then work your way into the detail, use basic shapes at first and then add in texture, colour and lighting effects. I am a huge fan of Skyrim and I believe that the graphics for the game are highly realistic and very stunning, from the environmental concept art that I have seen I like the way they have drawn the image from a certain camera angle; from the first image above you can see the camera angle is stunning. The image shows the sun in the centre and the light creates a shadow on the character as well as setting a tranquil setting on the beautiful lake streaming from the mountains which is slightly glistening in the sun. (The use of The Rule of Thirds).

Berry uses a program by Unity called World Machine in which you can create the world you want using all sorts of different terrains and detail. The environment is obviously one of the main important aspects that needs to be created with detail and the correct colours to know where you are and also when you are because the environment can debate the time era as well as where you are whether it be somewhere around the world or even in a completely different dimension.

Games Design, Character Design – 2K games, Gavin Goulden

2K Games are a great company for RPG (Role Playing Games) games such as Borderlands, Duke Nukem and The Darkness, however one of their most successful games and also one of my favourite has to be the Bioshock Series. All of the characters are unique in their own way and are all very detailed also the game is quite gory and has that horror style aspect to it so the characters needed to be created in relation to the theme.  The game director Ken Levine is a very inspirational person as well as creative, because Bioshock is such an unpredictable game.

As well as being imaginative it makes us curious to what was going through the directors mind whilst he was creating the storyline/plot to the game. Here are some quotes which made me understand more from his point of view in what the moral of the game is about and why he predicted this sort of outcome; “We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.” – Ken Levine. I believe that this quote is aimed towards the first Bioshock and life in general honestly. The parts of Bioshock in which you make choices, for example saving or harvesting the twins can influence the twist of the story and the way the game ends. The other quote that I really like would have to be “What is a drop of rain, compared to a storm? What is a thought, compared to the mind? Our unity is full of wonder which your tiny individualism cannot even conceive.” – Ken Levine, I think that this quote is an easy explanation to why the story is so unpredictable and this is also the way in which he is using his creativity as well as imagination.

2K games wanted to create a game with highly realistic graphics and to do this they based one of the main characters on an actual person; this person is called Anna Moleva, she is a famous cosplay artist who was headhunted by the 2K developer to portray the character Elizabeth. I think this was a really good idea because you can use her face but you can add/edit it as much as you want so the character can be developed in many different ways.


Anna Moleva as Elizabeth

Gavin Goulden is the lead artist/character designer for Bioshock Infinite. Goulden uses 3D programs to create incredibly detailed characters such as the patriots, the boys of silence and the vox (basically he designed most of the antagonists in the game).  His best model, in my opinion, would have to be the motorized patriots that he created.  The base/unfinished model is without colour and it looks great as there is a lot of depth within the tone and shading that has been used but as soon as colour has been added you can see all of the textures, for example you can see that the flag is dirty and some of the metal is rusted.

Personally I like the way in which the antagonists he has created relate to either the story/environment/main characters as an example I mean that ‘The Boys of Silence’ are made to have similar aspects of the ‘Songbird’ (Songbird being the main antagonist, The Boys of Silence being the sidekicks/henchman). Another example would be the ‘Motorized Partiots’ I feel that the American sort of themed Antagonist relates to the environment. In Bioshock everything is set in 1912 in a nice sunny city called Columbia which happens to be a mystical flying city based on the physics of quantum levitation (magnetic pulse/field in which the objects such as blimps and buildings conduct the field).


Artist: Gavin Goulden


(Quotes from )

Games Design, Character Design – Oddworld Inhabitants, Farazad Varahramyan

The games company ‘Oddworld Inhabitants’ created ‘Abe’s Oddysee’ in 1997 on the PlayStation One console. Because of the technology at that current time, the game graphics quality may not be up to standards, however, Oddworld Inhabitants main goal was to be one of the first games to create a 3D platform game atmosphere. Even though you could only move left and right from different screens you still had that 3D aspect coming from the character style as well as the environment art. To create this 3D effect one of the methods included using what is known as the ‘Parallax Scrolling Effect’; this basically creates a 3D atmosphere using camera techniques. To create this effect the game is made up of the foreground, mid-ground and background. The background camera pans really slow and the images in the foreground move faster than the camera at the back which therefore creates an illusion of depth in a 2D format.

I like his work because it’s unusual, creative and quite realistic. Also in this concept art here he has looked at the character from different perspectives. You can also see his work progressing from 2D sketches to the final 3D piece/form. The character he has created here you can tell is made from a metal and using water colours and pastel Varahramyan has the use of texture, 3D form and detail in his work.

The main reason I am a fan of his digital character designs is because in 1997 artists had to use different technology to create digital art, also the process of creating the game ‘Abe’s Oddysee’ started in 1955 whereas the game was actually released in 1997; so a lot of hard work was put into creating this amazing game. Lorne Lanning (co-founder of Oddworld Inhabitants) explained “We went through much iteration, and continued to change the design until the look of the characters emoted the feelings we wanted to communicate” (quote from ).

Abe 1

Artist:   Farzad Varahramyan


Farzad Varahramyan didn’t play as big a part in ‘New n Tasty’ as much as he did in ‘Abe’s Oddysee’ and ‘Abe’s Exoddus’, however, he still did a few pieces of concept art towards the new game. Here is one of his pieces of work all in black and white (bottom left image). You can see how much his work has improved since the release of the first of the Oddworld series. His work is more detailed now and more complex as well as looking more realistic and 3D.

The image on the right is from the Alien vs Predator game; a piece of digital artwork done by Varahramyan. This digital work is very interesting as the whole canvas is used so when you look at it your eyes are guided around the whole image by the use of artwork. Even though it’s in black and white you can still see the detail as a lot of tone and contrast is being used.

Abe 2Alien vs Predator



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