4 Environments in 4 Weeks

So here we go!

Just graduated and wanted to make a neat challenge to beef up my portfolio. Create 4 environments in a month. Sound impossible? We’ll just have to see. I’m excited to see how this turns out. The idea is that starting on May 24,  at 9-10pm (EST) each night I’ll submit new content on my progress. Then, at the end of each week I’ll post 3 final images to this site and continue the same progress each week. Hopefully, getting better and better each time. They will all be loosely based off of one video game company style making these into potential video game levels.

Here’s the schedule as of now:

Environment Schedule

This schedule may change as it may need to be revised.

Week Links:

Week 01 – Underwater Robots
Week 02 – City Bank & Earthquake
Week 03 – Volcano Cave Dwellers
Week 04 – Ninja & Public Bathroom

Week 01 – Underwater Robots


Week 01

Monday May 24th

Top Links ↑

Here’s Monday’s Concept Art. Working on an idea where in the future, robots populate the Earth with humans. Since resources are low, robots decide to go deep sea diving to retrieve machine parts to use for rebuilding their society. Sounds weird but, just a start of an idea to draw off of. When I get my tablet in the mail, I’ll go back in and color them.

1: Submarine room, 2: Deep Sea Excavating, 3: Robot Disarming a Bomb Underwater

Tuesday May 25th

So today I’ve been working on modeling and decided to choose the interior of a submarine. Been fun but a bit more time consuming than I thought. May stay up a bit more or wake up early to finish.

1: Interior of a Submarine, 2: Submarine Model Test

Wednesday May 26th

Took out more time to model. Will find a stopping point tonight. I’ll keep on trucking and carry over some UV work tomorrow.

1: Level Description, 2: Model of  Sub Entrance, 3: Control Room

Thursday May 27th

Been working in Modo to try and get the UV’s laid out for textures. For those who don’t know, UV’s are used to help artists paint textures onto a 3D model. For today, I cracked a shot at the submarine door lock. In Maya I use an automatic map to make sure no UV’s overlapped another. Then, I saved it as an OBJ file to import into Modo. I’m in the process of trying to figure out how to layout the pieces to make it easier to read so I know where to paint.

1: Maya Before UV’s, 2: Modo Start of UV mapping

Friday May 28th

Working on the textures now and I have the door’s UV’s laid out for the most part now. Will update more with textured models tonight. I just wanted to post a little early.

*Edit* OK, so I’m doing some lighting tests. Needs lots more key lights but the color scheme is working it’s way in there. Will continue to work out more textures and lighting.

1: UV’s for Sub Door, 2: Light Test 01

Saturday May 29th

Been fun so far to see how everything has come out. I’ve used Maya to paint in the model for the console board on the left. This is just for temporary purposes so I can layout better textures in Photoshop. I then started working out the lighting a bit more.

It’s coming along but I will have less time to work on this environment. Heading off to work and will have little to no time in my schedule to work on it tomorrow. I may update. And in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

1: Console Texture PreViz, 2: Lighting Test 02

Sunday May 30th

Like I thought, I didn’t have time to update this day. I edited some lighting elements and added steam from yesterday. That’s all.

*Edit* Here’s the final images as of now:

1: Image 01, 2: Image 02, 3: Image 03

Week 02 – City Bank & Earthquake


Week 02

Monday May 31th

Top Links ↑

I’m moving on! I know. You’re like, “What?!? It’s not even done!” Even though it’s not what I want, it’s kind of the idea. I’m keeping a schedule and I will go back after these projects to perfect them. However, for now, I’m focusing on getting progress in. After awhile, I should be getting the hang of this. Been looking through “[digital] Texturing and Painting” by Owen Demers. Has a lot of good information on how to understand textures as we seem them in real life.

“Just keep swimming!”

Today’s theme is City Bank and Earthquake. Reference to Raven Software games. Will update when I get the chance. I now have my drawing tablet!

Saturday June 5th

I regret to inform everyone who is following my thread that week 02 will be postponed to next week. Some family obligations came into effect and I have taken careful consideration to have my work rescheduled. So, instead of week 02 being May 31st-June 6th, it will be June 7th-13th as well as everything else being pushed up one week. Thanks for your support!


Monday June 7th

Revisiting my drawing process and tried to really break down my architecture elements as if they were in the aftermath of an earthquake. I’ll post all drawings so far. Have a very rough color sketch for the inside of the vault.

1: Bank Building, 2: Bank Interior, 3: Inside Vault, 4: Inside Vault Color

Tuesday June 8th
Worked on fleshing out some modeling parts for the bank vault. May model more but will call it a night soon.

1: Model Vault 01

Wednesday June 9th

Got some early tests done and wanted to have this model and lighting test out. Thinking about the light source coming from outside. Will update with more images and make it more “earthquake-like.”

1: Vault Light Test 01

Thursday June 10th

This is what I got my hands dirty with, haha. I started playing with some particle effects to scatter coins into the scene. It was somewhat successful but has a lot more tweaking before I would be able to get it to look right. Lots of Maya crashing.

Today, I have a video of the simulation with spheres. The idea would be to instance those spheres with coins which I would have rendered out (took a bit to figure out too). I’m uploading the video on Vimeo and should be up in about 40 minutes.

I may or may not use this idea due to time constraints but at least I know how to now. Was considering using this to scatter broken concrete around in the scene.

1: Break shelf unit, gate, and vault door. 2: Make broken concrete. 3: UV brick walls.

1: Coin Render Test, 2: Coin Particle Problem Areas, 3: Particle Video

Friday June 11th

Worked heavily on the vault door. Came to a problem with the door though. It’s reversed. If the image is from inside the vault itself, there’s no way it could fit through the door due to the door hinge and the fact that it’s a massive heavy vault door. So I fixed this in the image but I’m going to have to fix the composition again. Have a render of the door too.

1: Room with Door, 2: Vault Door

Saturday June 12th

Made some destruction parts here and there but not too much for today. Heading off to work but hope to have time to get more destruction in when I head back home. G’night!

Sunday June 13th

Still needs much more work but here’s the submission of Week 02’s environment. Would love to go back to this one too. Onward to Week 03 where I’ll be doing Volcano Cave Dwellers in the style of Vigil Games.

1: Image 01, 2: Image 02, 3: Image 03

Week 03 – Volcano Cave Dwellers


Week 03

Monday June 14th

Top Links ↑

Got some references together for volcanoes and animals that dwell around them. I was able to watch some of the BBC series “Lost Land of the Volcano.”  Thinking about using Iceland volcanoes as the main reference. Use a development of larger creatures that live around either the mud pools, warmer springs, or volcanic caves. Should be able to update drawings later tonight.

1: Cave Drawing, 2: Critters, 3: Inside Cave

Tuesday June 15th

Just a beginning on the modeling. Will flesh out more tomorrow.

1: Cave Model 01

Wednesday June 16th

Sculpting out more of the cave. Just some simple models so far. Have the lava in so come and jump on in! Thinking about texturing the lava with molten cracks and letting the glow seep through.

1: Lava Flow

Saturday June 19th

Doing a little bit more rescheduling of my projects. Had to go out of town Thursday and Friday and have been working a little bit more again. It’s won’t stop me but I’ll have to push more throughout the last weeks. I’ll post finals tomorrow.

Sunday June 20th

Here’s the latest posts so far. This will need some serious work. Would like to go back when time permits.

Week 04 – Ninja & Public Bathroom


Week 04

Monday June 21th

Top Links ↑

Finished some work that was creeping up from last week. This week is “Ninja & Bathroom” in the style of Value. Should be fun but still playing a little bit of catch up. I’ll keep progress posted as soon as I can. May have to stay up late tonight for this one. Will post sketches as soon as I can.

Thursday June 24th

Been having major artist block. Doesn’t seem that ninja and bathroom really work well together, aesthetically. Thought about the versus games Valve has made: “Left for Dead” with zombies versus humans, “Team Fortress” with various classes of weapons against each other, even “Portal” with human against machine.

In my own environment I tried to do the same with the classic ninjas versus pirates, samurai or, even other ninjas. However, my ideas became too clique and I became quite uninterested. I’ll keep striving more, continuing to develop something that strikes me as fun and interesting for the player within the game level. Here’s one idea:

1: Ninja escapes Pirate, 2: Pirate and Ninja meet, 3: Ninja Mischief

Friday June 25th

Been harder and harder to get caught up. Finally have some models done. Will work more and do textures tomorrow.

1: Bathroom Model 01

Sunday June 27th

Getting late so I’ll post some progress but will work again once I get back up. Catch ya soon.

01: Bathroom Final 01, 02: Bathroom Final 02

10 Replies to “4 Environments in 4 Weeks”

  1. don’t get discouraged dude. Cliched (think thats what you meant about your artist block and the pirate/ninja thing) things WORK its just the execution of it that matters. Some of the best games are cliched as hell, but they are good for their execution.

    1. Hey Joey,

      Thanks for the encouragement. Sorry for the late reply. I really haven’t checked this site in a bit and need to update it badly. I really appreciate your kind words and helps me keep “swimming.” Working on starting a game company in Ohio now call Multivarious Games. Hope to get a game out next year called Dangerous. Just released a game called Call of 2D. Just gotta keep pushing!

      If you ever wanna talk more games, let me know. ^_^ Hope your doing well.

  2. Great tenacity–you are on the right path. Here is something I want you to consider. While lighting will provide a road-map for your viewer’s eye, the placement of each object will also play a considerable role. Think back to your sleepless nights Freshmen year… use those design skills to control the viewer’s eye. Use size, pattern, and rhythm to guide us. Everything in the scene must lead our eye to the subject. For example, the earthquake: is the door the most important? Or the drawers? Or the coins?
    Secondly, really look at the environmental cause of the destruction… in an earthquake, the top-most drawers would have been thrown out of their slots. The top-most hinge on the door would have broken / cracked.
    Keep up the tenacity! You have already proven you are hungry and willing to do the work necessary to land your dream-job! Proud of you!

    1. Thank you Charlotte! This information is great.

      You are correct. My intended goal was to focus on the door. However, I made a mistake on the fact that the vault door could not actually enter the safe even in an earthquake (or would at least very very unlikely). I did want everything to point to the door in design, such as the brick wall, drawers, rubble, and the shelf holding the money. Therefore, more of this items will have to be changed to achieve this goal.

      I would also like to go back and do more destruction work on the shelf, vault door, and gates doors. After the challenge, I plan to fix this er… tear up this environment more. Never thought about the drawers on top sliding out the most. Makes sense since the center of gravity would be lower on the shelf.

      You were right too about the work. I think I’m getting better. After this challenge, I hope to go out and do some life drawing like in the sense of cafe sketch, only with environments.

      You’ve been so much help! Thanks.


  3. Nice work on your underwater scene so far! It’s looking pretty great but there are a few things you might want to work on. First for composition, the long / wide shot looks good, but has a little bit of slant to it, which might work well to give a feeling of being underwater, but if that’s what you are going for you might want to implement that same feeling into your other shots as well for a little more consistency.

    Also, I’m not sure about the amount of light being used, it seems fairly bright for an underwater scene. If I were thinking of underwater machines, I would think of subtle glows, faint lights and really bright spot lights with harsh shadows stretching over the pipes and things. For color, I’d keep with the blues/blue-greens and sea-greens and maybe mix in a few dots of red here and there to emphasize attention where you want it.

    The modeling looks great, especially for the time you had to get them done with. Just a few things here and there, like maybe cleaner geometry (don’t be afraid to do things like splitting that heavy door down the middle, duplicating it and then merging the vertices for cleaner geometry), but you have a lot going for you here. When you’re finished with everything you might want to think about coming back to this one to work on materials with. Great work, I’m excited to see the next one! (and I’ll try to keep on top of it this time and give critique as you go… sorry about that)

    1. Thanks! That’s a lot of good information. The lighting critique gave me a great perspective. I was going for an indoor working lab facility look but, making it look more like it was sunken underwater is an interesting idea I would like to pursue.

      If you have a chance, could you explain the mirroring if the heavy door? I wasn’t sure what you meant by cleaner geometry. I want to make the meshes light so they can be considered for game play but I also don’t want to sacrifice general solidity. I think I went a bit heavy here overall but I will continue to work on this.

      In my revamp version on this, I will work on textures more with bump maps. I would like to add more complementary colors too. Thanks for the advice!


  4. WOW!! I agree, no wonder you sit infront of your computer for hours. This must take forever!!!!!!!!
    Very impressive Wes ! Thanks for sharing with me. And keep up the good work, it’s Great!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. PiePal Wesley,
    Thank you for sharing your site. Very impressive. No wonder you time is so limited and valuable. Your work will be rewarded. Good luck with your environments. Thanks again, God be with you, and GoodPie! Tony

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.