The making of game art

Working as an artist at a game studio often requires more from you than drawing a pretty picture or making sprites in Photoshop once in a while since a lot of games these days are in 3d.

For a lot of people, making 3d objects for games and films is pretty hard to wrap your head around and it is also very hard to explain to people how it works, as Rob wrote in a previous post about Visual effects for games. (So how do you paint smoke?)
With this post, I’m going to try and cover another part of game graphics and hopefully straighten out a few question marks around the modelling of a 3d object.
With a few steps and images, I will show you the making of this car!


Step 1: Modelling

I use the program Autodesk Maya which is one of many modelling softwares.

I always start the process by choosing one of the primitive models in Maya; cube, sphere, cylinder, pyramid etc. For this example, I will use a cube as base for my model.
The actual modelling process is all about me moving the corners of the primitive model to change its shape. I can remove or add more points any time to make the final shape more complex.


After a while of pushing, pulling and adding these points on the basic cube, the result can look like this!


Step 2: Texturing

To make the car look a bit less boring, we want to add color to it. This step in the process is called texturing, and is often pretty confusing to a lot of people. How do I paint on a 3d surface? I usally explain this in the way papercraft models work. It’s a paper folded into a 3d model.
The image below is an unfolded papercraft model of Pikachu, it’s pretty easy to see how it could be assembled.


To be able to paint the car, we need to unfold it to make it flat, like Pikachu on that image.
Inside Maya we can cut the car up, just like you would if you unfolded a papercraft model, and make it a flat image.
Next thing we do, is that we take the flat image of the car and paint it, inside of Photoshop. Here’s how the painted, flat image looks!


After that, we load the painted flat image onto the model inside of Maya, and it’s done!


Also keep in mind, that this process covers the most basic but at the same time the fundamentals of an everyday workflow as a game artist. There are a lot of other stuff to learn that make games look even more awesome!

Hopefully, if you didn’t already, you now have a better understanding of how it is working with 3d modelling as a game artist!