Next Level Games environment art test


So i decided to take a shot at the Next Level Games environment artist test for environment artists, here is the test scene i have to model and texture

having familiarized myself with normal mapping, i thought i’d try using it for the test (hopefully next level is looking for normal map abilities too…) I’ll admit i went a little crazy with it, practically everything was normal mapped, down to scratches and little bumps on the floor.
here’s the wireframe. The whole setup is 1816 Tris

[color=white]The model itself is nothing to be proud of, i know. i spent most of my time working on the normal map for it. the more obvious shapes in the normal map was created from a higher poly scene using trasfer map(surface sampler in maya7, i’m using maya8)
most of the detail was hand painted onto the normal map with photoshop (it’s easy once i memorized what color makes the normal face which way) here’s the shaded scene with normal map applied [/color]

[color=white]with normal map taking care of everything, the actual color texturing was pretty easy. in total i used 4 1024x1024 maps for the entire scene. 1 color map for the floor, 1 for everthing else, and then 2 normal maps for floor and everything else [/color]
Since maya’s software rendering and metal ray doesn’t support normal maps, i had to render it with hardware render. good thing about it is that if i plug it into any game engine that supports normal map, it’s render very much the same in real time.(i consider using mental ray for gamer’s demo reel cheating!). the bad thing is, hardware render doesn’t support reflections, so i had to use CgFx bump reflect shader for the shiny ball in the middle, doesn’t look as good

[color=white]i thought i may be more effective to show them side by side: [/color]

comments would be great! i want to know what people thinks and perhaps change it accordingly before i shoot it over to next level


I think it’s looking great, man. You did a great job at reproducing the cell shaded look of the concept art in 3D. There were only a few tiny things that I caught.

The wire in the upper right of the image looks like it might be bleeding the yellow color of the coupling into the wire, but this might also just be the way the light is hitting it that causes it to look like it is.

The smudge mark on the upper left panel seems much darker than the rest of the dirt-ish marks. It causes it to stand out a bit too much from the others.

The last thing is just a personal opinion, but I think the glowing part of the centerpiece would look a lot cooler and a lot more like the concept if you took down the transparencty of the outer glow and scaled the inner ones up closer to the ball. The concept looks like the ball is being held by the energy flowing from the device, but with your glows being so far away from the ball it looks like yours is just floating in space.

But again, I really like what you have going. Be sure to put up the final version!


Looks good, but I’ve seen better of it,
it looks too shiney in a lot of places.
and I wouldn’t get your hopes up about them hiring, they’re in the process of outsourcing alot of their art to china :stuck_out_tongue:

…it was a good place to work while I was there tho :smiley:


I think you need to mix up the specularity’s strength a bit. Get some contrast in there to show it off; some bits shiny, some quite diffuse, etc… at the moment everything has near identical surface texture.

Maybe add a little more general dirt and wear/tear, too. The dirt placement looks pretty forced and sparse at the moment. I know it’s not explicity shown in the concept, but with the dirt that’s shown there, I think it should be taken as read that it’s a pretty industrial/dirty and slightly worn/old environment. Then you can kill the spec on the dirty areas and it’ll show it off even more :slight_smile:

Still, it’s looking promising. You’ve made good use of the normal maps for the basic forms, but I think you could push it further with a bit of the old nVidia plugin :wink:


“most of the detail was hand painted onto the normal map with photoshop (it’s easy once i memorized what color makes the normal face which way)”

Advice: Do not do that. You do not have a prayer of getting it correct. You will not get hired doing that.


look really nice over all
but as ppl about said it have too much reflection on the surface
and it look too clearn compare to the concept drawing

1 thing i really dislike about it is your light that make the ball flowing
i dont know how you did it but i guess is done by transparent map on an gemotry
doesnt look like light at all

try to use a light fog effect it will look much better
but i am not sure hardware support it or not


Thank you for all the feedback, now i have a pretty good idea what to change, though the “how” is another matter that i have to consider…
i found the light surrounding the ball one of the most difficult things to reproduce, mainly because of hardware render’s limitations on certain effects

they’re in the process of outsourcing alot of their art to china :stuck_out_tongue:

Confracto wow you’ve worked there? cool! though can you explain what does it mean outsourcing art to china? does it mean they’re sending artists to china? (i really have no idea)

i wonder if it’s ok if i show this art test to other companies while applying?


Looks good, but I’d avoid 90 degree bevels on the hipoly source, that is if your extracting your normals from geometry, some of the bits are bit flat even with normal map applied.

overall you did a great job so possitive voting from me :slight_smile:


model and normalmap looks good, but i think you could definitly push the diffuse and spec a lot more.

  1. dont handpaint in your normalmap, paint a bump instead, convert it to normal, and overlay

  2. for me it looks way to clean and plastic. i dont get the impression of cold dirty metal, but rather plastic panels with coffee stains. i would add a lot more texture and variety to the diffuse and spec maps.

great work though!


after tinkering with it a bit i believe it’s going somewhere. in a good or bad way, i don’t know…
i tried to dirty up the whole scene a bit, but i worry i might go too far if i just keep modifying it, so i’m here again seeking input
here’s the newer version:

don’t know why the bumps i put in the normal map lessen when i rendered it, it looked perfect in viewport… oh and, can somebody tell me if shadows work in hardware render? because my video is an ATI X850xt, and alias/autodesk doesn’t seem to support this card (high quality render didn’t work) so i had to soft mod my card into a fireGL, but i’m unsure if that’s the reason some functions doesn’t work, or if it’s originally unsupported.


looks great I think but there is one thing you could do at the floor.

The lowpolyversion above is your final version, isn´t it.
so as you use a normalmap you should use the full power of it, and model the round parts of the floor in your highpolyversion round like in the concept.

keep it up :wink:


kischi, nice work so far. I just wanted to mention that when you compare the concept with your scene, noticably the geometry doesnt quite match up correctly and there are things that you have ignored. eg, panels on sides too wide, wires on the right are less detailed, some parts of the machines are longer than in the concept. Remember to model what you see and not what you think you see.

The floaty ball thing is the center point/important part of the concept and you can hardly tell it is there on you render.

It is very important to produce art that closely matches the concept if you’re after a job in games. The texturing needs a little work that people have already mentioned but I guess the geometry is the main thing that doesnt sit right with me.

Perhaps if you overlay the concept over your render in PS then it’ll be more evident.

Dont be discouraged though, :thumbsup: keep up the good work.

P.S outsourcing means hiring other people/companies to do some work for them. Cinematics is a common thing to be outsourced.


they started outsoucing cinematics ages ago,
this is actually creating sub studios that are just the art teams in china.


man, this is ridiculous, i moved here to canada only to find companies outsourcing their art to my motherland!


and India, and Singapore!!
isn’t next gen great! (what with driving up production costs and forcing studios to find cheaper ways to make money while paying their empleyees even less)

…makes me kinda glad I’m in film right now.


i dont see the problem with outsourcing, i mean, if your good, your always going to have work in the game industry simple as that not to mention the contacts u make thro work


no no, by no way did i mean outsourcing is bad, it’s only business
:stuck_out_tongue: it’s just a jobless artist whining that’s all lol


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