Modular Environment Student Project Breakdown
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Modular Environment Student Project Breakdown
21 September, 2018

Rebecca Roe did a little breakdown of her recent environment production project.


My name is Rebecca Roe and I am an artist from Scotland. I was studying game development for 2 years at west college Sortland before moving to Dundee to study games design and production management at Abertay University.

I have worked on a number of indie projects over the last few years at game jams and I mostly work with voxels but I have an interest in environment art and design using a more traditional modelling style too – such as this project!

The Purpose of the Project

This project was for my final year at Abertay and I wanted to really challenge myself by taking on an intricate and detailed 3D environment instead of my usual voxel stuff. I did this because it’s important to me to improve my 3D and texturing skills as an environment artist and thought this project would produce a strong portfolio piece. I think voxel work is always best for smaller projects that have tight deadlines since I’m able to create nice looking art assets but in half the time as traditional modeling. However, I had around 5 months to make this scene so it didn’t feel right to use voxels for this one.

I have done 3D modeling before so it’s not completely new to me however this was the most ambitious project I have done alone. My pipeline and workflow may not have been the most efficient or optimal way of doing things compared to how an expert 3D artist would do it, but I am really happy with the final result regardless!


My initial ideas for the projects was to replicate the style and design of European architecture and so I looked at a lot of rural villages and concept work from similar projects. This idea shifted slightly to incorporate the artistic style my favourite games, Dishonoured 1&2 (primarily) and Bioshock Infinite later down the line.

I wanted to have a really moody and dark environment to replicate dishonoured 1 style and looking back at the images of the map near the beginning of the project you can really see that influence.

As time went on though, and I became more comfortable with what I was capable of doing, I started to branch out from that reference and eventually turned out completely different at the end!

For the colour pallet I was initially looking at making the scene look quite cold overall but still sunny, like an early morning in autumn. Looking back at my notes below I can see that I deviated slightly from my original ideas, but I still think the same tone and feeling is put across.

  • Cool dominant light with highlighted warm colours
  • Blue/ Grey as Dominant colours – calm, but also depressed (sky)
  • Oranges/Yellows used for accents and highlights – Autumn colours of change (street lights, windows)
  • Whites – buildings and fog

Stressful Moments

The beginning of the project, way before I started modelling any of the assets, was probably one of the most stressful stage because I had so many worries about whether my modelling/texturing skills were good enough to pull this project off by myself, and to also do it a standard I’d be happy with.

One of the first things that I did was look at lots of concept work from Dishonoured 1 and 2 as well as going back and playing these games to see if there was anything that could be replicated in my environment to give a similar feel. I couldn’t only concentrate on the level design layout without thinking about the eventual designs of the individual assets or the overall theme/style of the map to help dictate the layout. Therefore, I also looked at a lot of Victorian photographs and concept work from various games that had the style I was going for. What I noticed about Dishonoured’s Dunwall was the small side streets and alternative paths you could find from following signs and how interesting the buildings looked at a high angle. I knew I wanted to incorporate one or two side streets and have incredibly tall, detailed facades when first thinking about the initial layout.


To be able to make a highly adaptable scene that could be quick and easily changed, creating a modular kit of assets was the most important aspect of the art production process which means all the building façade models I created for this project were created from a small set of modular pieces that I could fit together. This was great for timesaving as I only needed to make a few variations in order to produce a variety of building designs.

This was a good approach for the building facades but the roofs of the building had to be bespoke for each building because of the odd shapes I created out of the wall assets. This wasn’t an issue as it helped me identify a time-wasting aspect of my chosen approach but also helped improve modelling more organic shaped objects.

I used some assets from Epic Games’ Soul: City pack to add in the extra little details like the pipes, awnings, and balconies because I was on a tight schedule and the deadline was approaching fast. Ideally, of course, I would have wanted all the assets to be made by myself and those assets will be swapped out with my own when I come back to redo this environment in the future!

The meshes are all low poly and most of the details come from the texturing. As this was a somewhat new challenge for me I didn’t want to deal with really intricate shapes of obscure assets if I could get a good-looking result with simpler ones.


It was a lot of iteration and change throughout of the project when it came to the overall composition and layout – which is what makes modular assets so perfect to use; I could swap out sections easier and try out new things at will. I had a general idea of what I wanted the layout to be from looking at game maps and seeing what worked and what didn’t. I knew there was going to be the main street with smaller side streets but I was also aware that this environment was not intended to be a playable scene and so I didn’t have to worry too much about gameplay elements. It was a standalone environment to showcase my art skills.


I started this project around the 18th January 2018 and finished around 1st May 2018

Rebecca Roe, 3d Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev.

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ThorEthan Hunt Recent comment authors

It looks lovely!
Love the autumn birch trees, and how the contrast to the bleak-ish buildings!

Ethan Hunt
Ethan Hunt

This is beautiful, great work. Would love to walk around in this city

Character Art Program
Environment Art Program