Course Syllabus


Fundamentals of Game Art
Instructor’s name:
Rebecca Kramp
Friday 9:00-11:50
Studio BB4
Saturday 9:00-11:50
Studio BB5
Primary email:
LCAD email:


This class teaches the fundamentals of game art production from a broad perspective. Students will learn to work within multiple specialties within the game art field in order to build up a general understanding of the pipeline and processes involved.  Emphasis is placed on strong foundation skills, compelling conceptual ideas, and self-motivated problem solving.  Class will consist of lectures, demonstrations, in-class workshops, and take home projects. This class is also a Blended Learning Class this means that there is content on the blog associated with this class and the lcad ftp that will assist the students in their learning. The second half of the class will be devoted to an all-inclusive final project, where students will work in groups to build a compelling game world.  The final project will serve as a culmination of all they have learned in the class, as well as become a platform for further experimentation and problem solving.  This class will not focus on a single element, but rather, it will attempt to give a broad overview of the role that art plays in the creation of games.


Students in Fundamentals of Game will obtain an understanding of the software used in pipelines to create concept art, in-game structures, props, characters, rigs, animation, and game levels. The Game Art major is focusing on building working team players for a career path in the video game industry. In this class students will have the opportunity to identify which aspects of the game team will be their educational career path and how it applies to the industry.


  • As a student you will be able to have a conversational understanding of the skills and technical aspects of game development.

  • This class will enable you to identify the skill sets needed to achieve your personal career goals as a vital development team member

  • You will have a better understanding of 3D Max and Photoshop as it applies to game art.

  • You will increase your problem solving skills and increase your capability to integrate your own ideas within an existing system, like a game engine.

  • The class will enable you to acquire vital skills related to game art content creation (models, textures, animations, lighting, environments).

Class participation and attendance = 15 points maximum
Assignments/HW/Quizzes = 85 points maximum
Final project = 60 points maximum
Total Class points =  160

  • Each unexcused absence will lower your “Class participation and attendance” grade (and thus your final grade) by 5 points.
  • More than 2 unexcused absences will automatically lower your grade one level, ex. B to C. After the fourth absence you will be dropped from the class.  An excused absence is a serious emergency with some kind of note/documentation.
  • Arriving late to class or leaving early counts as half of an unexcused absence.
  • Any class missed will require you to get the previous week’s information from fellow students.
  • You are expected to stay for the entire class unless the instructor has expressly lets the class out early.
  • Please contact me if you are going to be absent.


  • All homework assignments are expected to be in the network drop folder BEFORE the start of class. Any homework assignments that aren’t in the network folder on the day due will immediately lose 3 points. (ex a 25 point assignment, looses approx. 5%.
  • If an assignment is turned in a week late, the best it can earn is a B. Two weeks late, a C, and so on. See Example.
Late Penalty Criteria
Final Points Earned
First week
Second week
Grade with penalty
Third week
Letter Grade

  • Bottom line: Get your assignments done on time, otherwise you will fall behind and your grade will suffer as the class is very fast paced.
  • You are always welcome to email me for help in between classes.
  • If you complete each homework assignment accurately, you midterm will not be stressful crunch in the middle of the semester.

All homework assignments are expected to be in the network drop folder/FTP BEFORE the start of class. Instructor will create unique folders for each assignment.
Homework needs to be submitted in a compressed folder containing all required parts of the assignment and labeled with students name. Assignments should be submitted for
Instructor review and feedback promptly, Reviews happen before lectures, an assignment not on the FTP for review will lose out on valuable critique and possibly points.

      A         4.0       A-        3.7      
      B+        3.3       B          3.0                              
      B-        2.7       C+        2.3      
      C          2.0       C-        1.7                  
      D+       1.3       D         1.0
      D-         0.7      F          0

Sessions are Friday and Saturday Mornings 9-11:50 for Spring 2014

Week 1 –
Syllabus overview and introduction to 3D Studio Max.
Homework: Prim Cities – Create a city using only 3Ds Max primitives. Use color, shape, and juxtaposition to create interesting city blocks. Five screenshots (do not have black for you background color) and .max file due at start of next class.
Day 2 –
                  Polygonal game modeling: Box modeling structures.
Homework: Use box modeling techniques to recreate one of the provided examples from a single mesh.  The mesh should make use of proper smoothing groups and contain no holes or gaps. Be careful of hidden faces.
Look at next week’s homework… Be prepared to start sketching creature concepts in class next week OR bring existing creature sketches to work from.

Day 3 –
Modeling from concepts.  Low-poly character modeling: Part 1
Time to start a creature using the tools learned in 3ds so far. Main focus will be conservative use of polygons and rounding out that form.
Homework: Crazy Creatures – Draw up concepts for a unique, non-human creature.  Create concepts from front, side and three-quarters view.  Bring them into 3ds Max and rough out broad shapes for the model using polygonal techniques learned.  Your model needs to have a decent good start by next class or you will fall behind.

Day 4 –
Low-poly character modeling: Part 2
Finishing up example creature, focus is on proper edge loop flow, cleaning up stressed or twisted faces, checking for breaks and holes and once again rounded out form.
Homework: Crazy Creatures – Finish creature model using polygon budgeting and proper edge-flow for deformation techniques. .max file due at start of next class. Instructor will be focused on mesh appearance (rounded out form), use of edges, or potential problem areas for texturing.

Day 5 –
Creature base mesh due at start of class!
Brief review of creature models to provide feedback.
On to UV layout and texturing: Part 1 – Laying out UVs, discussing texture maps and how they pertain to models. Applying and troubleshooting the Unwrap modifier.
Homework: Crazy Creatures – Refine smoothing groups and make any final fixes to model geometry, layout UVs, and create UV snapshot to use in Photoshop.
Have UV snapshot image and .max file complete for next class. Get a head start on painting your texture.

Day 6 –
UV layout and texturing: Part 2 –
Painting textures and applying Shaders. Setting up a simple light rig, re-render with wireframe. Creating a model presentation sheet. If time allows, lecture on normal/spec/AO texture maps.
Homework/MIDTERM: Crazy Creatures – Finish Crazy Creature! He must be done, Done, DONE! Give him at least a diffuse texture (needs to be painted, a solid color will not get you a passing grade.) Other texture maps such as normal/spec/AO are optional but encouraged.
Apply via appropriate shader and Render from 3 different angles both diffuse and with wireframe (6 total). Make sure he is lit and background in not black.
Create character sheet of model, with texture (s) presented and wireframe rendered .max file, texture files, and 7 images (3 camera angles with and without wireframes and final Character Sheet) due in compressed folder at start of next class.

Day 7 –
Textured creature is due with texture map and renders today! This is your mid term! The text in RED above is everything you need for a complete midterm!

Introduction to character rigging part 1- building the skeleton and applying the Skin Modifier. Instructor evaluation of skeleton progress in class.

Homework: Rig your crazy creature to a simple skeleton and apply Skin Modifier. Make sure the skeleton in complete before next class and at least start weighting or you will fall behind!
Day 8 –
Introduction to character rigging part 2- binding and weighting the model, adding IK handles and dummy objects.
Homework: Finish the rig with accurate weighting and IK handles. Have fully rigged model .max file ready for next class.          

Day 9 –
Introduction to character animation/ Light rig render and introduction to Final project-
After Lecture there will be time to work on animations and final project groups will be chosen.
Homework 1: Create an ambient animation using your previously rigged creature. .max file, textures, and viewport movie due at start of next class. Also using the 3 point lighting technique create a posed beautiful high resolution render for next class.

Homework 2: Brainstorm with your group member about final project premise and prepare to present ideas to instructor and fellow students at next class. You are encouraged to start pre work on your game. Groups are limited to 3 students only.

Day 10 –
Rigged and animated creature due! Render with lighting is due!
Introduction to game engine and final projects. In-class work time for final projects.
Homework: Begin production on final project within your groups. Create schedule for completing the project and determine each team members’ role. Be prepared to show some production progress next week. (Concepts, models, terrain
in Unity etc.) Create a Blog to track your progress and present to the class on presentation days.

Day 11 –
Getting farther into Unity. Skyboxes, trees, water, particle effects, lights, Pre-fabs and more! In-class work time for final projects.
Homework: continue working with group on final. Brainstorm potential roadblocks/ ideas that have not been lectured on for your project and discuss with instructor for unique tutorials. (ie follow_scripts, destroy object, counters/collection, special cameras)

Day 12 –
Visual storytelling in Games. Use of lights. Exporting and hooking up animations for in-game player-character/avatar. The 3rd person character controller demo. Walk run jump cycles. In-class work time for final projects.
Homework: continue working with group on final.

Day 13 –
Groups present progress. More on scripts and learning about triggers. In-class work time for final projects.
Homework: continue working with group on final.

Day 14 –
Groups present progress. Trouble shooting Unity levels. In-class work time for final projects.

Homework: continue working with group on final. Due next week!!

Day 15 –:
Final critique.

Detailed assignment and final project descriptions will be given as they are introduced. Adjustments to lecture dates may change based on class pace. You are responsible for catching up from your classmates on anything you may have missed due to absence.

That’s it students! I look forward to a great class with you.


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