3D and Animated Design ARCH11248

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Semester 1, 20 credits. Course organiser: Andrew Connor

Lectures: Tuesday 14:10 – 16:00, Basement Theatre, Adam House

Workshops: Wednesday Weeks 1, 4, 7 and 10: 10:00 – 13:00, Atrium, Alison House


This course introduces the techniques that are used in digital design: three dimensional modelling, simple computer animation, image rendering, and the preparation of material suitable for publishing on the World Wide Web. The emphasis is on design. Students advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical project work, exercises and critique in a group context.

Learning Outcomes

Ability to:

  • use applications for modelling, image manipulation, and basic animation
  • work in a collaborative context of group review and critique
  • engage in a creative task within tightly constrained bounds and to present the outcome to conform to precise specifications
  • interpret and apply a set of requirements pertaining to a design task.

Lecture Topics

  1. Introduction to Digital Modelling; Introduction to Maya
  2. Modelling the Object (Economy and Detail)
  3. Digital Modelling
  4. Modelling the Surface (Texture)
  5. Framing and Lighting; Rendering
  6. Introduction to Animation; Principles of Animation
  7. Visual Narrative; Animated Storytelling
  8. Scripting (MEL and python); Particle Effects and Dynamic Simulation
  9. Lighting and Transitions; Post-production Effects and Compositing
  10. 3D Visual Environments; Games & Play
  11. 3D Modelling and Animation in Industry


Two assessed submissions, each worth 50%.

Component 1: Three-dimensional computer model.

Component 2: Rendered three-dimensional models with complex animation.

Note that there will be subcomponents to these submissions. Each main component should be accompanied by an explanatory text of guide length 750 words (PDF format).

See LEARN for further assessment details, project brief, and submission dates.

Criteria for assessment

Work will be assessed on the basis of

  • Demonstrated competence with modelling and image manipulation tools
  • Skills in creatively deploying allocated resources of varying quality and with diverse attributes
  • Precision and competence in presentation
  • Ability to meet the requirements of the project brief and deal creatively with its open-ended aspects
  • Design quality of the work in terms of meeting functional requirements, legibility, clarity, and appropriate use of media

Account will be taken of the risks taken and degree to which the design work deviates from standard solutions

Please note that assessment will take account of tradeoffs between the above criteria, particularly taking account of the diverse backgrounds of students in the class. You are encouraged to seek feedback during the development of your work, but please note that adhering to feedback does not guarantee a high assessment of the completed work. Note also that the assessment of the work is not necessarily commensurate with the amount of time spent on the project work.

Tutors will scale grades and refer to University’s Common Marking Scheme: sites.ace.ed.ac.uk/ddmhandbook/marking-scheme/

Teaching Method

Work in this course is project-based. The project and its tasks provide the focus, with principles of modelling and animation being taught in targeted lecture/seminars as needed to progress the work. In general there will be one scheduled lecture session per week with opportunities to critique and discuss the work, but tutors will be available outside these times as well. You will be expected to work in proximity to other students in the class and benefit from each other’s developing expertise. The main software system used (Maya) has highly advanced modelling and animation capabilities, beyond that needed for the project work. The software will be introduced at a basic level through online materials and tutorials. Students are encouraged to use further online teaching resources to proceed to advanced level as private study. Maya is available as a free download for students to use for a 3 year period, and can be run on both PC and Mac platforms. There will be opportunities to develop further skills in any of the software in other courses, and into the Final Project during the summer.

Principal Software

  • 3d Modelling and animation: Autodesk Maya
  • also available: Sketchup, Blender
  • image processing:
Adobe Photoshop
  • video effects: Adobe After Effects
  • video editing: Adobe Premiere Pro