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Environment Modeling for Games

with Nate Stephens

Sample Clip

In this demonstration, Nate explains and shows the process by which a piece of concept art is interpreted and used to model out a game environment in Maya. In the process, Nate will explain various modeling tools, techniques, and workflows, as well as numerous theories and methods used to create game art. A timelapse video of the entire modeling session is included so that the viewer can see and understand all the techniques being used. Nate will also cover common errors and mistakes to avoid so that the scene will run efficiently in real time and light correctly.

  • Interpreting concept art and using it properly
  • Maya scene setup for modeling environments
  • Using Maya image planes
  • Scene blockout modeling and planning
  • Using the Maya grid for precision
  • Translation and poly modeling tools
  • Using curves, curve history techniques, and creating curves from edges
  • Proxy modeling techniques
  • Selection tools and tricks
  • Variety of theories and workflows explained to understand different pipelines
  • Modular building and geometry reuse to build a scene efficiently
  • How to clean up modeling properly so that it will texture and light well
  • Color sets, bake sets, ambient occlusion, and how to stress test your environment
  • How to model high poly geometry to be used later for texturing and ZBrush
  • Creating normal maps from high poly objects
  • Mental Ray lighting basics
  1. Concept Art
  2. Scene Blockout
  3. Translation Tools
  4. Modeling Tools
  5. Modeling with Curves
  6. Proxy Modeling
  7. Selection Tools
  8. Modeling from Concept, Part 1
  9. Modeling from Concept, Part 2
  10. Modeling from Concept, Part 3
  11. Modeling from Concept, Part 4
  12. Modeling Cleanup
  13. High Poly Detail
  14. Conclusion
  • Product Code: NST01
  • ISBN: 1-59762-769-0
  • UPC: 805366017958
  • Duration: 229 minutes
  • Formats: DVD-ROM

DVD-ROM Requirements:

  • 1GHz or faster processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 64 MB Video RAM
  • DVD-ROM Drive
  • 5 GB of hard disk space
  • 1280 x 1024 display

DVD-ROM and Digital Download Requirements:

Minimum Operating System:

  • Microsoft® Windows® Vista®
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  • Apple® Mac® OS X 10.2


  • QuickTime Movie Player (Version 7.0 or higher)
  • Acrobat Reader (Version 5.0 or higher)

For more information on DVD and Digital Download policies click here here.

  • Software Used:

  • Autodesk

Nate Stephens

Lead Environment Artist
Sony Computer Entertainment America - Santa Monica

Nate Stephens has been working as an environment artist in the video game industry for the past 10 years. Through work on many projects Nate has become an expert in all disciplines including modeling, texturing, animation, and lighting. Over his career he has worked for such companies as Sony Santa Monica Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Swingin' Ape Studios, and Cryptic Studios. Currently as Lead Environment Artist at Sony Santa Monica, Nate works to push the envelope in developing award winning games that raise the bar in terms of graphics and gameplay. Nate has been a driving force on such games as God of War 3, God of War 2, Starcraft Ghost, City of Heroes/City of Villains, and a new exciting unannounced project.

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"It's not hard to find Nate's 3D levels and scenes in God of War franchise. His massive epic environments that were masterfully modeled and sculpted in Maya has been praised by critics and fans worldwide. I have worked closely with Nate for more than 5 years at Sony. He's truly one of the most experienced and talented 3D environment artists I've met. This DVD will guide you through how Nate will translate my 2D concepts into 3D game assets. I recommend highly for anyone who wants to take a peek at high-end AAA game production. "

- Cecil Kim
Lead Concept Artist
Sony Santa Monica Studios

"I had the pleasure of Art Directing Nate on God of War 3. He is a very talented Sr. environment artist that has an excellent understanding of how to make professional artwork for games at a very high creative level that is technically sound. There is a lot to learn from Nate's approach to building environments, I highly recommend this DVD."

- Ken Feldman
Art Director - God of War 3

"Nate is an Environment Artist that offers the whole package. He can model, texture, light, and manage a file with the best of them. On top of this he has the a good sense of game design, and how art can augment it. Simply put, Nate rocks. Listen and learn."

- Stig Asmusse
Creative Director - Sony Santa Monica Studios

Lecture Stills Gallery