DMST 3600

Introduction to 3D Modeling

Catalog Description:

This course will serve as an introduction to 3d modeling, texturing, lighting and animation on the computer. Students will complete a series of projects in which the processes of preparing and producing a 3D piece will be explored. Various strategies and techniques for creating detailed models to be used in animation will be examined. Animation concepts, such as keyframing and procedural animation will be discussed and utilized in the student projects. Additional attention will be spent on virtual camera techniques as well as the use of compositing in creating final pieces. Current trends in the field will be addressed through the analysis and discussion of current and historical examples.

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Course Overview

This course will introduce you to digital 3D sculpting and digital imaging using the Maya software package. This will be one of the most difficult pieces of software to learn because by its very design it is very open and typically used by a number of people who have specialized in various aspects of it. This course, combined with the second and third parts (DMST 3630 and 3650 3D Animation,) will build a foundation that will allow you to be able to use the software to further express your artistic ideas and enhance your other work in video, game creation, and digital imaging and visualization. This part of the course (DMST 3600) will introduce the software and concentrate on modeling, surfacing, lighting, rendering, and compositing. The second course (DMST 3630) will concentrate on animation and rigging, and the third course brings everything together. WARNING!! This class will be VERY time intensive. You will need to spend at least 5-10 hours outside of class each week to practice and work on assignments. Also understand that taking these three courses will not prepare you for jobs in industry houses such as PIXAR. These courses are meant as a basic foundation to allow you to use 3D in your creative work, games, and productions and a starting place for you to further develop your skills on your own or in a specialized institution. We will be seeing many examples of artists/designers who work in 3D animation and gaming as well as those who use 3D technology in creative ways in their productions.

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Course Objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  • Think critically about 3D space and digital imaging
  • Have knowledge of the history and future of CGI
  • Consider the strengths and weaknesses of using digital 3D imagery/content
  • Have working knowledge of various methods of digital modeling
  • Understand the process of planning and executing digital 3D work
  • Understand working with textures and lighting to simulate or distort realism
  • Understand rendering and compositing techniques
  • Create meaningful content laden digital environments, characters, and forms

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  • The recommended text for this course is to be determined. Several Maya texts are available for free via digital format through the library. Another strongly recommended text is Digital Lighting and Rendering (2nd Edition) (Paperback) by Jeremy Birn available from online retailers.
  • You will need at least 1GB of portable storage (flash or thumb drives, ipod, portable hard drive, etc.)
  • You must have or purchase a sketchbook approx. 8.5"x11" and a pad of similarly sized graph paper

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    This class will combine individual work in the lab with individual and group instruction. Students must come to class prepared to work. Showing up without necessary files or equipment is the same as not attending. Although students may also use their home computers to work on projects, this is not a valid reason to not attend. It will be necessary to work outside of class to complete all projects and assignments. A minimum of eight hours per week of work outside of class is suggested to get an average grade of a C. Computer failure, equipment malfunction, and file corruption are not accepted as excuses for late or unfinished work so BACK UP YOUR WORK. You will need to increment your file saves in order to be sure you do not lose weeks worth of work with one save.

    The computer labs are used by many students, so the labs are in high demand. Budget time accordingly as "unavailable computer time" will also not be accepted as an excuse. Participation in all class discussions and critiques as well as constructive use of lab time is considered in the final grade for each project. At any time in the creation process students should be able to produce notes, drawings,charts etc from their sketchbooks, as well as discuss and articulate the nature of their work to their peers as well as to the instructor.

    Attendance is mandatory. Attending class is the responsibility of the student. Lectures and demonstrations may be given or changed without notice and every class will start with professional examples of relevant work so punctuality is essential. An individual who is absent, late or sleeps during class will be responsible for getting the information missed. Students will be allowed two (2) absences without penalty. Any absence in excess of two will result in a 10% grade reduction of the final grade for the course per absence. All absences will be counted. A student who misses 15 minutes or more of a class (late or leave early) is considered absent. A student who sleeps will be considered absent. A student who will acquire absences due to a University sponsored activities must provide necessary documentation from the appropriate office prior to the absence to make any special arrangements for missed work.

    For any absence due to religious beliefs, written notification should be provided in the first two weeks of the quarter; the student is responsible for any missed work. Any special medical or personal problems that occur, where absenteeism will exceed the allowed two, will require verification by a physician or emergency medical association (a letter from Student Affairs merely explains an absence, and will not qualify as an excuse). These situations may require course withdrawal or "Incomplete" status on the final grade. Six absences mandate an automatic grade of "F." Three late arrivals (less than 15 min.) will equal one absence.

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    Grades will consist of the following:

  • Assignments @ 50%
  • Project 1 @ 15%
  • Project 2 @ 25%
  • Participation @ 10%
  • Projects and assignments will be graded on the following basis, listed in order of importance.

  • Development, creativity and originality of concept or problem solution
  • Technical development and demonstration of skills
  • Craftsmanship and presentation of work
  • Participation in classroom discussions and critiques in connection with the work
  • Your grade will be calculated according to the following standards:

  • A = Excellent (100-90%)- work pushes far beyond the project stipulations and shows clear evidence of extreme time, dedication, care and thought about the project as evidenced in effective execution of original/thoughtful ideas.
  • B = Good (80-89%)- work exceeds the basic criteria, provides creative solutions to the problems and shows technical proficiency. Student has made the project "theirs" in that they do not need to explain project stipulations before showing the work.
  • C = Average (70-79%)- work fulfills all requirements, does not expand on techniques shown in class, ideas are close derivations of popular culture.
  • D = Unsatisfactory (60-69%)- work might meet basic criteria but in a careless and/or thoughtless way. Technical proficiency is rudimentary and no chances were taken.
  • F = Failure (0-59%)- the work does not meet the basic criteria.
  • Late projects will be penalized a letter grade for every class period they are late. Turning a project in after the beginning of the critique counts as one class day late.

    Graduate Student Requirements

    All graduate students taking this course for credit will need to produce an additional project in addition to the requirements stated above. The additional project will encapsulate their advanced level of conceptual and technical expertise as acquired through extensive independent research and conversations with the instructor. The student will need to use web and text resources to gain and display techniques in modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering beyond those covered in class. The project should explore ideas related to either their thesis work or more advanced/experimental work that extends and expands on class instruction. Students are encouraged to explore ways to bridge from the 3D software package to other software allowing for things like realtime exploration/manipulation and video post production. The project will be developed during the entire quarter in consultation with the instructor with all modeling completed by week five.

    The grade balance for the Graduate students will decrease the weight of the Assignments as follows:

  • Assignments @ 35%
  • Project 1 @ 15%
  • Project 2 @ 15%
  • Project 3 @ 25%
  • Participation @ 10%

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    Lab Rules

    It is your responsibility to adhere to all rules regarding the use of the DMS labs and equipment. You will be given a sheet stating all rules. Please see Kate Burns in the DMS office before class if you need a form to access the DMS lab.

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    Solutions to assignments you submit will be your own work. A student who is discovered to have plagiarized another's work will immediately receive a grade of F for the course, and a recommendation for disciplinary action will be forwarded to the Dean of Students.

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    While you are not required to purchase the software that we are using, not having the software is no excuse for failing to complete your projects. It is your responsibility to work out times when you can use the DMS labs or to make other arrangements for doing your work. Please do not download and/or install trial versions of this software or any other onto campus computers. Maya can be purchased as a 14 month student license at academic pricing online here for $199 and is available for both the Mac and Windows OS.

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    Course Outline

    (The following schedule is open to revision at any point in the quarter.)

    03/24 - Introduction, history of CGI, thinking/working in 3d space, Assignment 1

    03/26 - Snow day

    03/31 - No Class

    04/02 - No Class

    04/07 - Objects, shapes, modifiers, selections, grouping, cloning, Assignment 2

    04/09 - Mesh editing, soft selection, smoothing, Box Modeling, Assignment 4 Modeling with references

    04/14 - Working a model, booleans, patching and cleaning Assignment 4

    04/16 - Project 1 assigned, Patch modeling, creasing, slicing, connecting, boolean Assignment 5

    04/21 - Present Project 1 ideas, sketches, basic lighting and rendering

    04/23 -

    04/28 -

    04/30 - Work in progress , coloring and materials basics

    05/05 - Work in progress, ambient occlusion

    05/07 - Project 1 Due

    05/12 - Project 2 assigned, materials and surfaces, procedurals, Assignment 8

    05/14 - UVW mapping, maps, composite materials

    05/19 - Mental Ray, advanced rendering, Assignment 9

    05/21 - Particles, animation basics

    05/26 - Work in Progress

    05/28 - Work in Progress

    06/02 - Final Critique 2:00pm - Project 2 Due

  • Project 1 = Its all you.

    Your task is to create a character which is you, expressed, exaggerated, reconfigured, re-imagined. Move beyond the street-side cartoon artist version of you. What are you, what do you feel like you are? You will be concentrating on form, so do not count on textures and colors to remedy or carry the weight of the idea of you. Do not worry about the environment or the situation. The character is dropped into pure white or black space, how will the facial expression, the clothing, the length of the legs all come together on the character to tell us about you. You will submit an ambient occlusion and a colored version of the model. Due April 28

  • Project 2 = Final Project:

    Surreal Space

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    - Lecture Three

  • Free tutorial site for Maya Modeling
  • Another free tutorial site for Maya Modeling
  • Yet another free tutorial site for Maya Modeling
  • Example tree model in Maya

  • - Lecture Four

  • homework 3 example, cannon camera model in stages

  • - Lecture Five

  • homework 4 - character modeling tutorial
  • pictoplasma

  • - Lecture Six

  • Walt's Head for lighting exercise.
  • Three point lighting setup

  • - Lecture 12

  • Walt's Head with ambient occlusion
  • Tutorial for setting up ambient occlusion (only need steps 1-3)

  • - Lecture 16

  • Creating Displacement , Normal & Bump Map Tutorial (we will not be using normal maps

  • - Lecture 18

  • Basics of UV texture mapping
  • Test pattern for making UV map

  • - Lecture 19

  • sample of student created abstract landscapes

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