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Tutorials to Becoming the Best Level Designer and Game Environment Artist (since 2008)

What I Learned as 3D Instructor in Last 6+ Months

Category: Game Environment Art, Level Design
October 22, 2021

6+ months and no updates.

It's been a while…

What has been happening? And is WoLD coming back?

WoLD is never going away until I go away. As long as I'm here, I will continue to create tutorials, courses and books on becoming the best level designer and environment artist.

Even though I've been absent, I have not gone away and I am coming back to publishing tutorials.

Reason for my absence is due to taking on a contracted position as a 3d instructor at DAVE School in Orlando. I've been teaching aspiring artist the fundamentals of 3d art, design, modeling, UVing, texturing, rendering and sculpting. And as a result I've been also leveling up in silence.

The curriculum at DAVE is extremely fast paced. It takes only 1 year to go through as opposed to with traditional college where it takes 2-4 years. The amount of work students are required to do is astonishing. You move from one project to another, from one course to the next without any breaks. Yet, you learn faster because you don't have time to overthink. It made realize that most of your learning and most of your project can be cut in half the time if not more by using the following principles.

In this post I will share what I've learned as a 3d instructor in last 6+ months and how it can help you to become a better artist and complete your work.

Video Tutorial

12 Week Sprints

Each term is only 3 months (12 weeks). You get very limited time to get things done and the time goes by quick.

The 12 weeks are a sprint. You must create as quickly as you can, moving from one project to another.

  • First 2 weeks there are 4 projects to do.
  • Next 8 weeks there are 8 projects to do (1 per week).
  • Last 2 weeks are dedicated to the final project.

Students end up working on 13 total projects in 12 weeks.

There is no time to procrastinate and most importantly, there is no time to overthink.

I really like the idea of weekly sprints on smaller projects, then few weeks in a row for larger projects.

Here is what you could do:

  • Split the next 3 months into 12 weeks
  • First two weeks do four small projects
  • Then do one project per week for the rest
  • Towards the end of your 12 weeks sprint, give two weeks for a bigger project

Now begin. Learn and apply in the same breath. Don't overthink, over-plan or change your projects. Get things done as quickly as you can. Watch tutorials, learn and apply all in one action.

Move from week to week, from project to project.

Start Before You Are Ready

I used to think I need to know all the techniques for the project before beginning. This led to never starting on projects I wanted to do or it led to many unfinished projects. I would get sidetracked, pulled into different directions and abandoned whatever I was working on.

You must reverse this thinking and start working on a project before you think you are ready.

If you only have one week to do something then you don't have time to make any other project a priority. Jump into your weekly project before you're ready. Learn and apply at the same time.

If you don't know how to do something? Find a tutorial or a course. Ask someone. Ask me. Figure it out and apply it. Move on to the next step of the pipeline. Repeat.

Keep moving forward on every project and only stop to look something up because you encountered a problem or don't know how to do something.

Remember: ONLY learn what you need for that project then apply it right away.

Make Repetition Your Mantra

Doing things once isn't enough. You must do them over and over again until design tools, techniques and principles become automatic.

To learn anything quick and make it stick you have to repeat it.

Many students are afraid to experiment to see if something will work better. Or they don't want to mess up the model they already have. They want to do it once, submit the project and take the weekend off.

This will NOT make you into a good artist.

You must embrace repetition.

You must be willing to do things over and over and over again.

  • Something isn't working? Start over..
  • Something broke or got corrupted? Reload the last version of the saved file and redo.
  • Can't find a way to do something? Find a new technique and repeat the one you know over and over.
  • Finished the project early? Do it again but now do it faster and better.

You must be willing to create something over again from scratch. You will find when you try to do something again, you will be faster than before. You will be able to finish in half the time.

Deadlines

Deadlines are the key to completion.

Problem is a self-imposed deadline. If YOU set a deadline for this weekend then life comes up, you push the deadline forward. There are no negative consequences because you created the deadline so you can change it.

However, if a deadline is created by your boss, a client or an instructor then no matter what happens you must finish it. Life may happen but in the end only thing that matters "did you finish on time?"

Externally pressured deadlines will always force you to work. Deadlines you create are not set in stone, but they should be.

When working on personal projects - set a hard deadline and treat it as if it was created by someone else. If you don't then you will forever go through the same habit of changing the deadline further and never completing your projects.

Enough is enough. Set a deadline then start and finish.

Remember: final project doesn't need to be perfect but it needs to get done.

If you create a poor model and project sucks at least you finished by the deadline. Something is beginning to change.

You can then decide to do the same project again but give yourself an extra day.

Yes, you read that correctly. Do the same project again. You will likely complete the project faster and with a better result. You will also be utilizing repetition mentioned earlier in this post.

You must begin to become the type of artist who can set his own deadlines and get it done on time no matter what. Treat all your personal projects as if they are set by an instructor, a client or art director.

Work Minimum of 3 Hours Per Day

Setting a deadline is important. Reaching the deadline is a whole different matter.

How do you complete your work by a deadline?

Work.

You have to put in a set amount of hours, every day.

"Little and often."

The class length I have to teach is 6 hours. It varies between lecture, exercises, questions & answers and working on that week's project.

To make significant impact on any project you work on, you have to dedicate a set number of hours each day, then show up and work. I found 3 hours to be the sweet spot. If you can do more than 3, you should.

If you can't do 3 hours, then do 2 or 1 hour per day. You need to work on your project consistently and every day.

Always Do Extra

Students that get good quickly always do extra. They never turn their project early and they always test, experiment and add more than what's required.

What does "extra" mean?

  • An extra prop
  • An extra scene
  • An extra lighting experiment
  • An Easter egg
  • Take props you created and arrange them into a set, a small environment

Every project you work on will have an opportunity to do something extra. Doesn't have to be anything time consuming. Focus on something small and unique. You need more practice. Since you are already deep in the project, it will be easier to get something additional done.

When everyone else does bare minimum, you will do a bit more.

Do more than what's required.

Reuse Your Art

Don't create once and forget it, especially for environment art. Many props can be reused in many scenes without modification.

One of many exercises I have students do is to bring in models they've done before. For example during lighting project students would bring in previously completed props to light their scenes. This gives the ability to re-use your work while continuing to focus on the project at hand.

Once you've created something, bring it back into another scene. Working on a modular set? Bring props created few weeks ago. Update them if necessary or use them as is.

Build upon your work. Create more, create bigger, reuse.

Remember

You are better than you think you are. Unfortunately, you don't know this yet or you forgot because you've stopped surprising yourself.

The way you break out of that is to create art in less time than you think you can. Set a deadline and do everything possible to NOT break that deadline.

You need to go through projects where you thought you weren't going to pull through and finish. But because you had to rush to complete by a deadline, you ended up pulling through.

"Damn, I did that. I thought I wouldn't make it but in the end I pulled through and finished. I didn't know I had it in me."

Put yourself through pressure and stress by completing a project against a deadline no matter what.

Can you push the deadline?

Sure. BUT DON'T.

This will build confidence and you need this experience. You need these types of projects.

Get it done.

I'll talk to you soon.

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About World of Level Design

My name is Alex Galuzin. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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