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

Monthly Level Design/Environment Art Focus

Category: Productivity/Time Management
March 22, 2010

Whatif you could focus on one area in your level design process and develop thatskill for an entire month? What would it be? What would you learn and work on?What would you focus each month on? What would your entire year look like?

Level Design Environment Focus or LDEFis the idea of focusing on one specific skill of your level design orenvironment design process. One skill that you want to learn, improve on ordevelop for upcoming month.

Theidea behind this is simple.

Eachmonth you focus on one single aspect of level design process. One aspect of 3denvironment design. Specific area you want to learn or an area you want to pushyourself to a new level. For the entire month you read, watch videos and createyour own projects with a single focus on improving or learning that one aspectof the process.

Thismeans that you could choose to spend entire month on improving and/or learninggameplay + flow, 3d modeling, texturing, learning Hammer Source, UDK, lighting,optimization techniques etc.

Insteadof working on many projects at once or just creating work with no focus. LDEFis choosing one specific area, one single element of level design process.Then, spending an entire month of learning and implementing the techniques ofwhat you are learning into projects.

Doinga monthly focus for the entire year can yield huge improvements in your work.That is 12 specific skill sets you could improve and focus on.

Developinga monthly focus is something that I have been using for last few months. It hasbrought me great results. Better and deeper understanding into areas of leveldesign and 3d environment design that I often neglected or "didn't have time"to spend on. Instead of bouncing from project to project and limiting my ownresources I decided to focus on improving one single specific aspect of mydesign work.


Make a list of all the thingsthat you would want and/or need to improve on. One skill. General terms forright now. Such as architecture/structure, lighting interiors, modeling organicobjects, story telling, texturing, L4D2 mapping, UDK and so on.

Pick one area per month. Thismeans you will have to do a lot of cutting. Don't pick multiple monthlyfocuses. At this point you could write out monthly focuses for the entire year.

4 ways to help you pick an areato focus on for the upcoming month?

1. Pick an area that woulddrastically improve your environment design and level design. The biggestreturn on your time invested.

2. Pick an area that you getexcited about it the most. Passion is an important motivator.

3. Pick an area where you are theweakest in and would need/want to improve in.

4. Pick an area where you are thestrongest in and push your strength to a whole new level.

Now you make your focus veryspecific. The more specific you can describe what area of your artwork you willfocus on the better. Answer this question; What would you want to have doneafter one month?

For example: Gameplay and flowfocusing on single-player campaigns in L4D; modeling urban environments inMaya; learning the basics of a 3ds max and to be able to model my apartment.

Create 1-2 projects. Or createmultiple exercises. Important thing here is to begin implementing yournew knowledge as soon as possible. Start creating a new environment or a new mapwith a specific focus on getting better or learning specific element of theprocess. Start watching videos, reading tutorials and asking on the forums. Youwant to have something to show at the end of the month.

You can still work on creating afull playable map, but your time should be spend the most on working on theelement of the process that you chose for this month.
During this learning andimproving process, focus on really understanding the in-depth elements of theprocess. Focus on getting to the advanced skill level. Fail, fail often and trynew things. "Break the editor".

LDEF is a very simple idea with a lot of powerbehind it. You will begin to improve at amazingly fast pace then ever before.

EnvironmentArtists/Level Designers Monthly Ideas:

Interior or Exterior Lighting
Daytime/Nighttime lighting
Specific style of architecture (Art Deco, Neoclassical etc.)
Gameplay, Layout and Flow
Unreal Developer Kit
Hammer Source Editor
Game Specific Level Design (L4D1-2, CSS, Unreal3,TF2 etc)
3ds Max, Maya or other 3d app
Modeling Hard Surface Objects
Modeling Organic Objects
Urban Environments
Rural Environments
Style based (cartoon, fantasy, hyper-realism)
Painting/Concept Art
Architectural elements
Low-Poly modeling
High-Poly modeling
Low-Poly to High-Poly and Normal Maps
Image Reference Re-Creation
11-Day Mapping
Speed Modeling/Texturing
Speed Mapping


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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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