module specification

CU5004 - Advanced 3D Modelling and Animation (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Advanced 3D Modelling and Animation
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   CW1 (Production1): Research and Design for 3D game assets and character, 5 x A4 pages; 3D game assets & character model
Coursework 60%   CW2 (Production2): advanced 3D character animation + In-Class work presentation;
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module is designed to give students a solid theoretical background and the underlying concepts for the advanced 3D Modelling and Animation. The main focus is on the 3D game assets/environment (hereafter referred to as “game assets”) and character design, modelling, and animation using the appropriate workflow, tools and techniques.

In the first part of the module students will be introduced to the main concepts and techniques used to design, model, and texture game assets as well as model, rig, and implement basic game character animations using high-end modelling and animation industry standard software tools.

Students develop fundamental modelling and animation skills, also apply these to create various 3D game assets, characters, and relevant basic animations for a game (prototype).

In the second half of the module students will be introduced to the advanced techniques and will have to develop more advanced skills by creating much more complex variety of 3D character animations and behaviours (for example, interaction with or manipulating other game assets in the scene or animation of character’s facial expressions). They will have to apply the theoretical concepts, creativity, skills and techniques to build more advanced 3D character animations for various applications (video clips, games, commercials, movies).

Prior learning requirements

This module requires a successful completion of Level 4, i.e. basic knoweledge and practical skills of the 2D/3D modelling and animation.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to provide an advanced level of knowledge and understanding as well as ensure students develope advanced level skills necessary throughout the entire 3D game assets and character implementation workflow (concepts, design, techniques for 3D game assets and character modelling, texturing, rigging, animation, and rendering). It also aims to help students develop and apply relevant practical skills, tools and techniques as well as get experience in successful 3D game assets and character project implementation according to the requirements of the game quality in a variety of contexts and applications.

This module aims to:

- enable students to understand the fundamentals of 3D game assets and characters;
- implement the production workflow of 3D game assets and characters output from a relevant industry standard tool(s);
- develop communication skills with particular reference to 3D game assets and character development;
- equip students for employment in the CG, games, web and multimedia, design and publishing industries.

The module also aims to help students to continue development of a personal portfolio by adding a 3D work that demonstrates understanding of the key principles and capability to create a complete and fully rendered 3D game assets and characters.


> Pre-production (for creating a 3D game assets and character):
- research and design (3D game assets, game character’s type/role, concept art, model sheets, etc)
- project setup and reference images/planes
> Modelling of a 3D game assets and character:
- game assets according to a design/blueprints
- character’s torso, arms, legs
- hands and feet details
- head and facial details
- cloth and accessories
> Deformation testing:
- skeleton setup and binding
- deformation testing and adjustment
> Texture preparation and painting
> Character rigging
> Animation of a 3D character:
- setup and test using variety of relevant techniques (splines, editors, IKs, FKs, constraints, blocking out animation, timing, …)
- adding secondary animations and sequences (walk/run and etc cycles as well as other combined variety of animation sequences)
> Animation refinment (and editing)
> Character’s facial animation 
> Animation rendering (cameras, lights, action)

Learning and teaching

The key 3D game assets and character development concepts and theoretical material will be covered in the lectures and workshop based sessions (using tutorials and relevant examples).  Time will be devoted to the discussion and evaluation of problem solutions.  The student will be expected to spend an equivalent time in private study (research connected with the subject, directed reading, and developing their own modelling and animation style/techniques).  In addition to this, a substantial coursework will be set.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student will be able to:

LO1: understand the key concepts, creative and technical issues of 3D game assets and character production workflow (design, modelling, texturing, rigging, animation, editing and rendering);
LO2: analyse 3D game assets and character project requirements, identify and evaluate possible problems;
LO3: demonstrate a capability to choose the appropriate advanced tecniques and tools as well as apply in practice the knowledge and skills to match project requirements and suggest effective problem solutions;
LO4: demonstrate competency, confidence and an advanced level of creativity and skill by implementing a 3D game assets and character animation (for example, by combining simple/basic animations into more complex character animations, movement and behaviour including interaction with or handling inanimate objects).
LO5: Use and integrate diverse tools and techniques at a professional level as well as implement creative ideas in CG.
LO6: Effective oral, visual and written communication skills via presentations, reports and demonstrations.

Assessment strategy

The assessment will consist of the two components: CW1 and CW2, all pass on aggregate. The tutor will set the subject.

CW1, the first assessment (40%) will ask student to research, design, and model basic 3D game assets (concept art/sketches/model sheets/blueprints, storyboard according to the assignment brief, implemented models). This will carry a teamwork element, where one or maximum two BSc GMAE students (modellers & animators in CU5004 module) will work together with at least one BSc CGP student (game programmer in CU5006 module).

In the first assesment BSc GAME student will have to model 3D game assets and a character, texture them, create a rig for a character and create basic poses of a character accroding to a game design (for example: for walk/run cycle, jump, kick, punch, etc). The results of first assignment BSc GMAE student will have to pass to a BSc CGP student as a set of files using an agreed file formats. The implementation of models must be completely original and have relevant level of detail for a game prototype (project).

CW2, the second assessment (60%) will ask student to produce an advanced and refined 3D character’s animation (for example, walk/run cycle, interaction/manipulating an object(s) including secondary motions, facial expressions animation matching the manipulation or interaction with the game asset) according to the design in the first assessment.  In this last assignment student will also have to give a presentation of their work to the module teaching team. 

Note: The CU5004 module first assessment results created by modellers/animators are expected to be used by programmers in a relevant module of BSc CGP course. The results of the second assessment component  (CW2 results) will not be used by programmers. The reason is that modellers/animators CW2 deadline is w28 (due to advanced work to do) and by that time programmers simply will not have enough time (just 1 or 2 weeks) to do the required coding to use the CW2 results.

All assessment assignments are designed so that student will have to demonstrate their capability and skills to use and apply various techniques they have used throughout the complete 3D game assets and character production workflow. Based on the assessment strategy, CW1 assignment will have an individual and teamwork elements, while CW2 will be only individual asignment work.

To reduce a student workload and ensure efficient and useful feedback to students all assignments will be spread in time throughout 30 teaching weeks. Students will have many opportunities for assessed and non-assessed feedback during entire module teaching time (see next section).


Suggested bibliography (the latest up-to-date list will be provided in the module handbook):

  • Cabrera, C. An Essential Introduction to Maya Character Rigging, Focal Press,ISBN: 978-0-240-52082-7.
  • Eric Luhta, Kenny Roy, How to cheat in Maya 2012, Tools and Techniques for Character Animation, Focal Press, ISBN-13: 978-0-240-81698-2.

Recommended supplementary reading:
Osipa, J. (October 12, 2010) Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right, 3rd edition, Sybex, ISBN-10: 0470609907, ISBN-13: 978-0470609903.
Kerlow, I. V. (2000) The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Imaging, Wiley,
ISBN 0-471-36004-X.
O’Rourke, M. (1998) Principles of Three-Dimensional Computer Animation, Norton,
ISBN 0-393-73024-7.
Eisner, W. (2001) Comics and Sequential Art, Poorhouse Press, ISBN 0961472812.
Eisner, W. (2001) Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative, Poorhouse Press,
ISBN 0961472820.
Kerlow, I.V. (2004) The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects, Wiley,
ISBN 047143036-6.
McCloud, S. (1994) Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, HarperPerennial,
ISBN 006097625X.