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Blocktober: Your Quick Start Guide to Blockouts

Category: Environment Art, Level Design
October 01, 2018 (Updated: October 1, 2020)

Blocktober, Blocktober, the month of October...

Blocktober is an event that begins October 1st and ends October 31. For the entire month you can see level designers, game environment artists and game designers share their blockouts for how they start creating level designs and game environments.

In October 2017, Michael Barclay a game designer from Naughty Dog started the hashtag on Twitter to honor blockots. Because, "level blockouts are art".

Here is everything you need to know to get started for Blocktober in October.

Video Tutorial

What is a Blockout?

Blockout is one of the most important beginning phases of your level design and environment art creation.

Other terms used for blockout are blockin, whitebox, blockmesh, greybox but they all mean the same thing.

Blockout is a process where you use primitive geometric shapes (cube, sphere, cylinder, planes etc.) to block-in your level designs, game environments and game art assets.

Your goal must be entirely focused on blocking-in the layout, shape, establishing size, scale, proportions and composition of your environment and if creating a playable level you also must focus on playable space, flow, pacing, gameplay implementation, scripting so you can begin playtesting.

Blockout's purpose is NOT to finish a level or game environment, NOT to make it pretty, NOT to texture, NOT to light and NOT to detail. Nothing is final in your blockouts and your blockouts will change.

The blockout phase often starts very rough and messy. You have to be flexible and being able to change things around working the whole map, determining the scale and size of your creation.

Remember, use simple geometric shapes and placeholder geometry. You want quick iteration and updates.

As you work, iterate, update and refine, blockouts will eventually become the frame or the skeleton of the level, game environment or asset that you will use to build upon and ultimately finish.

Blockouts become your foundation.


  • Keep your blockouts simple
  • Use primitive geometric shapes (BSP geometry)
  • Focus on size, scale, proportion, dimensions, layout and composition
  • If it is a playable level, focus on gameplay, scripting, flow, pacing to playtest as soon as possible
  • Work the entire environment, don't focus on any one area (you can focus more on each section/area if needed later, after you have the entire level/environment blocked in)
  • Refine, update and iterate often
  • Use developer textures
  • Use simple lighting

How to Start Blocktober

Anyone can start, participate and share their blockouts with Blocktober. Before you do, decide what you are going to work on.

  • Stand-alone game environment (one scene, one location, not playable but could be explorable)
  • Level Design (playable level)
  • Game environment assets (modular asset, hero asset, props)
  • Diorama (self-contained) object, set, prop (no background)

Stand-alone game environment (one scene, one location, not playable but could be explorable):

Level Design (playable level):

Game environment assets (modular asset, hero asset, props):

Diorama (self-contained) object, set, prop (no background):

Where to look for Blocktober blockout ideas:

  • Image reference
  • Concept art
  • Architecture/ArchViz
  • Someday ideas
  • Gameplay/Scripting scenarios
  • Demo level for your game
  • Location in your favorite game
  • Level within your favorite game
  • Movie scene

How to Work in Blocktober

Many artist are very busy and don't have the luxury of taking the entire month or even a week to work on blockouts for Blocktober so they share their previous work, going deep into the screenshot archives. It can be completed work such as blockout phase and final level comparison or unfinished blockouts.

Here is a blockout and final work of "Raye Street House" in Source Engine:

Or, you can start on something new and post your work as you go.

I recommend for the entire month of October you just work on blockouts. Put yourself into the energy of the community - all working on the same thing. Immerse yourself into Blocktober.

Blocktober work ideas:

  • Post blockouts of completed work
  • Post blockouts of unfinished work
  • You have 1 month (4 weeks)
  • Work on 1 project the entire month or work on multiple projects
  • 1 idea/4 weeks = 1 blockout
  • 2 ideas/2 weeks each = 2 blockouts
  • 4 ideas/1 weeks each = 4 blockouts
  • Complete immersion: 31 Days = 31 Blockouts

You don't have to complete your blockouts or get them into finished state. Remember, blockouts are an iterative, creative and explorative process.

After October is done, you can take the level, stand-alone game environment or game assets into completion. If you worked on multiple blockouts, choose one to focus on and get it done.

I recommend the "Abandoned House" tutorial series to see how the entire process was used from blockout to final environment.

Which Software/Tools to Use

You can use any game engine, any level editor and any 3d software - new or old. It doesn't matter. Although you have match what you are trying to blockout, to the tools that give you what you need.

For example:

  • If you want to work on a playable level, then pick a game that has a level editor with gameplay mechanics built in such as any Source based game (L4D2, CS:GO, TF2, Portal, HL2, DoD etc) or pick any other level editor.
  • If you are working on a 3d game asset or modular assets then use 3d software such as Maya LT/Maya, 3dsMax, Blender, Modo etc.
  • If you are working on a stand-alone game environment without any gameplay then use UE4, CryEngine V, Unity etc or any game with a level editor.

How to Share Your Blockouts for Blocktober

After you begin and you have something to show - post it on Twitter with #blocktober hashtag.

Follow me on World of Level Design on Twitter here for updates, shares and secrets and view #Blocktober hashtag on Twitter.

You could also post on Instagram with the same #blocktober hashtag but only as secondary. Twitter is where you will see most of the action.

Your month of October is Blocktober!

BSP Blockout Beginner Tutorials

BSP Blockout Process Tutorials


Blocktober is a big Twitter community event in October where a lot of artist share their blockouts. But, if you missed it you don't have to wait an entire year for next October. You can follow the same guidelines in this tutorial for any other month of the year.


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About World of Level Design

My name is AlexG. 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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