As part of my final year studying for a BA in Computer Animation Arts at the NCCA (National Centre for Computer Animation) in Bournemouth, I was asked to create an environment model based on a small section of a local landmark and render it in Maya using Mentalray. I only worked on the models (and textures) for just over a week due to the fact that I am working on my own for the major project this year. Therefore I did not use all of the available time allocated to us for the project. I'm still pretty pleased with what I created in a short time. Here is a video showing the final model:

The idea was to create a model and interpret in anyway we we saw fit. The rules were that we could not go above 20,000 tri's in the model and it should also be 'scooped' out so that we could see inside it.

I chose a local church and set about coming up with some concepts for the model. The first thing I did was create a composite image of the church that I could use as  reference for the model:

Composite Photoshop image of the church

First Concept 'Sketch'

Developed Colour Study of the proposed model

I work quite quickly in Maya and Photoshop and was therefore able to come up with a model of the church which would help me develop the idea a little further:

A Screen Grab of a Wall Section (tileable model and textures)

A more advanced version of the model WIP

Example of one of the texture maps (AO Baked into the map)

Using Crazy Bump and XNormal, I was able to quickly create working normal maps on the fly, this in turn helped me to see if the model was shaping up as I had expected. With this workflow in place I was able to create a larger work in progress model. I did this to help me ascertain where to make the 'scooped out' parts:

Wireframe of my Concept Model (topology was optimized later)

Day and Night renders of my WIP model.

At this time I also worked on some ideas for possible statues within my model:

A snow covered statue concept sculpted and textured in ZBrush.

During this time I took the opportunity to talk with Dave Fletcher (Senior Environment Artist at SCEE Cambridge) about my ideas and he suggested that I should concentrate on the part of the model that was nearer the camera. This would free me up to add more 'damage' to the model without having to cut too much into the poly budget.

With this in mind (and after playing too much Skyrim) I came up with a new idea for the model. Instead of just cutting away a small section of the model, I decided that by making the church a 'ruin' it would allow me to create more atmosphere and show more of the underlying features at the same time. I enjoyed the opportunity to work on a project that had a clear brief. I always love having the chance to work on fun models and textures and it's something I wish to carry on as a full time career once I have finished my course in June 2012.