VGA 1 – Control Tower Diffuse Map

Below are a few images of a diffuse map (with UVs visible) that I created in Photoshop as part of a recent in-class assignment. Below that is a small compilation of screenshots of the model with texture map applied in 3DSMax. The model of the control tower and the UVs were provided beforehand, fyi.

Rachel_Ahern CtlTwr_D


VGA 1 – Painting Normals

Per class requirements, I’m posting below a simple (and quite unattractive, in my opinion) normal map that I painted in Photoshop in class last week as part of an in-class exercise.


To finish the exercise, I learned how to create a material in 3DSMax, load my freshly painted normal map, and assign the material with normal map to a plane. You can see the final product below lit by a small “free light”.


I’ll admit I’m not too familiar with 3DSMax yet, as I learned animation and some rudimentary modeling entirely in Maya. You know what this means… new software to tackle!

Storyboard Animatic – Mystic Wood

Above is my final project (animatic) for my Storyboard class in the fall. Overall I’m pretty happy with it, although I’ll admit I may have gotten a little carried away… for something that was only supposed to be an animatic, I mean. All imagery was drawn in Photoshop using my tablet and compiled in Premiere.

The class was given complete creative freedom for this assignment, which I thought was wonderful. Unfortunately, so much freedom meant that I struggled to pick a premise and stick with it… Too many ideas to choose from. Finally, I turned to music for answers, as I often find inspiration in music for cinema. In the end I chose Mystic Hood published by It was the final, closing notes of the song that inspired that final, closing shot. I essentially worked backward from there.

Intro to Tech Animation & Rendering – Brute Warrior Animation

Our final project for this class was to create a short animation of this Brute Warrior lifting his axe from where it’s embedded in a rock. The Brute Warrior was modeled by David Jennison ( for use by ACC and its students, and I believe rigged by my instructor, Brandon Lackey.

Playblast in Maya:

Final animation, composited and rendered in Adobe Premiere:

Intro to Tech Animation & Rendering – Fish Model, Rig, Animation

Our next assignment was to model a fish– a rainbow trout, to be exact. The goal was to keep the tri-count under 600. My fish landed at 562.


The finished model with background:


After modeling the fish, we rigged it. In the picture below you can see the skeleton and joints.


Controls for animating:


And finally, a couple of cycling animations of the fish swimming:

Intro to Tech Animation & Rendering – Basic Modeling in Maya

Hey, everyone. I realize that I pretty much abandoned this blog as of June 2013, but I’m going to make an effort to resume posting my progress here. In fall 2013 I moved to Austin, TX to continue studying 3D Animation at the Austin Community College Game Development Institute. I took four classes that semester and failed to post anything about it here! For shame! So I’m going to make an effort to get caught up.

First, there was Introduction to Technical Animation & Rendering, a.k.a. Intro to Maya. I had already learned the basics of modeling and animating in Maya at Richland College in Dallas during the spring semester, so this class was more remedial than anything else. However, I did learn a few new and useful things and met some good people.

We began with an extremely simple exercise: modeling and applying colors to a lineup of primitives.


After that we modeled a bunch of pots. This was time-consuming and very tedious, but a good learning exercise in my opinion.


The final product of this pots assignment was the very short rendered video below.

VGA Intro Post – A Favorite Game


One of my all-time favorite video games is Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar Games.What first sparked my interest in this game before it was released in 2010 was a screencap of the game’s main character, John Marston, sitting stop the back of a horse and gazing out across the vast landscape of the then-undeveloped American west.

In truth, it was the horse in the image that caught my eye. I am a huge fan of animals and other creatures, real and imagined, in video games and film, and it was clear to me immediately from that screencap that a great deal of care and attention had been given to the horses in Red Dead Redemption. (I should mention that the image I’ve posted above is not the screencap described, but one that I set as my desktop wallpaper in the months leading up to the game’s release.)

Of course, there is so much more to the game than the accurate appearance and locomotion of the horses (and other animals abundant throughout the game). In playing Red Dead I truly felt as if I had become a part of that world. I came to care very much about the fate of the character I played and the plethora of quirky characters I crossed paths with in my virtual travels. I also thoroughly enjoyed the ability to interact with the environment in ways I had never expected, such as shooting any bird within range out of the sky, and locating its fallen carcass to collect feathers which I could then sell at a general store in town. Also, roping deer on horseback… and much, much more. But I’ll leave it at that for now.

In short, great game!