This course is the third introductory course to 3d animation. The objectives of this course are centered on digital sculpting and asset creation. Students will learn production and design skills necessary to continue forward to upper level animation courses. Various modeling and sculpting styles will be explored, including character driven pieces, landscapes, complete sets, and props.


  • Storage such as USB Thumb /flash drive (at least 16GB)(Recommend a least 500GB USB/USB+Firewire external hard drive
  • CD/DVD R/RW blank discs.
  • Sketch/drawing materials
  • Wacom Tablet?

At the end of the course, you will be expected to document your work by burning completed artwork onto a CD/DVD. You may be focusing on the enhancement of your portfolio throughout the course.


                Basic principles of digital 3d asset creation are investigated through in class exercises and projects. Class time will include demonstrations, discussions, videos, technical exploration, and important information relevant to computer graphics.
                Upon completion of the course students will be able to demonstrate:

  • A comfortable level of proficiency within Pixologic Zbrush and Autodesk Mudbox
  • The ability to communicate shape and form using digital modeling techniques
  • The ability to communicate varying surface materials.
  • The design skills necessary to create meaningful 3d assets
  • An understanding of 3-dimensional shape and the ability to translate your concepts into digital renderings
  • An understanding of topology and the ability to create subjects that function in an animation pipeline
  • A basic understanding of translating digital sculpture into real world 3d prints

Each student is expected to complete all projects, exercises, and required readings. Students are expected to maintain a blog documenting their progress for each week of the class. Students are encouraged to seek out inspiring work to share with the class, be it inspiring technically or conceptually. Active participation in class is expected.


Every class will begin with a 30 minute warm up exercise. These exercises will consist of speed sculpting/modeling varying objects at the Instructors' discretion. These exercises are participation based. The student will submit an image at the end of the exercise confirming their participation.



Main In Class Exercises:

  1. Introduction to the Pipeline: Maya to Mudbox.
  2. Composing a Scene: Expanding beyond props
  3. Concept to Creation, Character based.

Bonus Exercises:

  1. A Tale of Topology
  2. Alternate Pipeline: Maya to Zbrush
  3. Alternate Pipeline: Zbrush to Maya
  4. InsertMultiMesh - Each student contributes 1 piece to form a class model
  5. UVS and texturing.
  6. Stamps, Stencils, and Surfacing
  7. Sculpture Flows: Dynamesh VS. traditional sculpting with Subdivision levels
  8. Displacement VS. Normal VS. Bump maps
  9. Prepping for 3d print

Course Projects:

  1. 2 smaller "Challenges"
  2. Prop Project
  3. Creating a Scene
  4. Character

Project One: (20 points) from Aug. 29th- Sept. 24th

“Prop Project”

Envision the tools you use every day. Are you thinking about the pots and pans in your kitchen? Your wallet or cell phone? A favorite jacket or hat perhaps? Or do you bike to work every day? These are the props to the character of YOU. Props are vital to believability in the digital world. They clue the viewer in to the habits, backgrounds, locations, and preferences of everything from characters to sets. They help the viewer form connections and believe in what they are seeing on the screen.  Your task is to create a set of 6 props that tell a story. The story can relate to an environment, to a character, or both. Consider the time period, as this will influence the look of your props, as will the art style. The choice is yours.

  • 3 of these props will be game ready assets
  • 3 of these props will be ready to be used in a film
  • You will be judged based on both how well the props tell your story, as well as  the quality in which you deliver your assets.

TWO PRINTS on 11"X17" papers - Must have the white border


Research DUE: Feb 4th
Checkup DUE: Feb 13th
Critique DUE: Feb 20th
Print DUE: Feb 27th

Project Two: (25 points) from Sep. 26th - Oct. 20th

“Creating a Scene"

What are props without a background? Everything from abstraction to realism utilizes some form of a scene. Your task is to compose a scene. Note that this is different from creating a landscape. You are arranging objects to fill a camera frame from a very specific view.  We're talking cinematography here.  Your final scene will be 1 image file rendered from whichever camera angle you so choose.  Like your props, The scene must also tell a story. Indoors or outdoors both work equally well here. Something as simple as a living room or a front yard tells a vivid story. Strewn notebooks, a discarded backpack, library books, and a bike in the corner tell you what you need to know. Tall grass, overflowing mailbox, and newspapers tell you the owner is on vacation. Again, Consider the time period as well as the art style you choose to depict.

  • You will be judged based on how well your scene tells a story, as well as the quality in which you deliver your asset.



Research DUE: March 4th
Digital Files DUE: March 18th
Prints DUE: March 27th

Final Project:  (35 points) from April 1st - May 11st


We have the props and background down, but what to do with that darn foreground? You will create a foreground character from concept sketching to Animation ready mesh . As with the previous projects, your character must tell a story. Is this a working man? Gnarled and scarred hands, deep leathery wrinkles that have seen too much sun? A smooth Steve Jobs influenced robot? Creatures are fair game here as well. Just know if your alien creature has 20 spikes instead of fingers, there better be a reason for it. Anything that can be seen as a "hero" level character is acceptable. Remember what we've learned from Props here, as props are a major part of any character design. Again, Consider the time period, universe, world, or art style that you choose to depict.

Research DUE: April 3rd
Checkup: April 15th
Digital Files DUE: May 1st

Requirement For Each Project


  • The of the project/assignment file name convention: project name_your user name. ext
  • Turn in Maya file (*.mb) and image file (*.tiff) file formats for in-class exercises  at the end of the section
  • For term projects and the final project, you will need to turn in
    • A minimum of 4 different camera views of your scene digital files of your final rendering in Tiff format as much as you can.
    • The Maya directory of each project on CD/DVD ROM. Conventional Name Format of Maya Directory: project name_ your user name
  • The final output in printing formats: one or more prints (TBA) If you don't print out your scenes images, 5 points will be subtracted off you total scores. (100 point is "A")
  • Update your web portfolio to include your modeling assignments.
  • Students are required to attend and participate in class critiques. This is mandatory. Missing critique without giving the instructor prior knowledge will result in failure of the class.

First project: 20 points 
Second project: 25 points
Final Project: 25 points
Challenge 1: 5 points
Challenge 2: 15 points
Participation/SpeedSculpting: 10 points
Exercises: Each exercise will be worth 1 pt

Grades are based on the quality and quantity of your work. I will also consider your participation, ambition, commitment and development of your work from one project to the next. The following will be considered on grading:

Craftsmanship – Ability to develop the skill, techniques, style, details, and quality of all the projects during the class.

  • Visual thought process.
  • Ability to interpret course concepts inventively, the ability to search for and discover methods and ideas with insight, and the ability to organize clear visual relationships.

Ambition - The ability to study effectively during class hours, the ability to accomplish work on a weekly basis, and the ability to apply constructive discussion during the class.
Productivity - The amount of work completed and how complete the works are.
Development - How much of your work has been developed and improved since the beginning of the semester.

A = Outstanding, excellent work 100 - 90 points
B = Above average work 89 - 80 points
C = Average work 79 - 70 points
D = Below average work 69 - 60 points
F = Failing work 59 - 0 points


3d art is time extensive and the technology associated with it is always changing. Learning the fundamentals is a must. Techniques, concepts and ideas discussed in this class are essential for a 3d Artist. Because of these, attendance is essential.

  • 2 absences = no penalty
  • 3 absences = final grade lowered by 1 letter grades
  • 4 absences= final grade lowered by 3 letter grades
  • 5 absences = Failing the course. Dropping is strongly recommended

Being late to class three times will be counted as one unexcused absence. Likewise, leaving class early will be counted as an absence unless approved by instructor.



Any student who wishes to discuss accommodations on the basis or a disability, please come and talk to me after class or during office hours.


  • No food or drink near computers in the lab.
  • ALWAYS remember to turn off your cell phone before class.
  • No sleeping during class. • No using head/ear phones, chatting online, emailing, my space/facebook/ or other online surfing during class(accept research of requesting period)
  • No playing video games during the class time
  • Hardware: No student is permitted to disconnect, reconnect, or reconfigure any workstation without the permission of a digital arts instructor. Any problems with hardware or software must be reported to a digital arts professor, preferably by email. Report should include name of workstation and exact nature of problem.

If you do not obey the rules, you will receive a first warning. If it happens again, you will be asked to leave the classroom plus receive one half a letter grade drop and a third time you will receive a full letter grade drop on your final grade.


Projects created in any Digital Arts course may be used by the ART department for the purpose of promoting the student, the department and/or the university in general. These materials may also be used by the ART department for instructional purposes in future courses. Please inform the instructor if you do not want your projects used.