Challenge #3: Environment art!

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art progression

forest environment art

island environment artThe environment art for a game is more than just a backdrop. It sets the mood, hints at the storyline, and gives the player visual cues for what to do next. There’s an unsettling amount of layers to this topic (composition, modeling, texturing, color theory…) so for now we’re just gonna focus on one: recreating a painting in 3D!

First, pick any drawing you want. (Here’s a moodboard you can scroll through to find some. You can search “environment concept art” on Pinterest / ArtStation / Google Images too.) Then, open up Unity, create a new project, and start deciding how to piece it together. There’s a lot of stuff you can add, like:

  • 3D models: castles, temples, spaceships, statues…
  • terrain: hills/mountains, trees, grass
  • lights (try using vivid colors!)
  • a different sky, or “skybox”
  • fog

*New to Unity? Download a project full of starter assets here.

(Make sure you have version 2019.4 LTS installed. You can either double-click YourScene.unity / Demo.unity to launch this project, or copy-paste everything into another project’s Assets folder.)

After that, all you have to do is open up the Prefabs folder and drag + drop them into your scene :) They’ll become “GameObjects” that you can move around, rotate, and resize however you like. I included a bunch of tutorials down below since this might be your 1st time in Unity!

If you’re used to importing assets on your own, check out EXP’s list of free models and textures.

Download Unity here:


How to install Unity Hub

A really good intro to Unity’s interface and how stuff works (especially “GameObjects” and “Components”)

Quick guide to lighting in Unity

Time-lapse of an indie dev creating a stylized environment, start to finish

You can use a simple plane as the ground (easier), or play with Unity’s terrain tool like in the time-lapse to make hills + mountains (more steps, but here’s a tutorial for that too!)


Professional environment art:

Student art:

Today’s meeting (10/15): Environment art

Hey! At 1pm, we’re sharing the remixes we made, looking at more virtual concert stuff, and then getting started on a really cool topic: environment art!! You’ll get to see breakdowns of professional projects from start to finish, some stylized concept art (inspiration maybe?), and then a quick intro to Unity— the game engine we’ll be using to build our own scenes. Come hang with us:

It’s a free-form meeting, so speak up whenever you want! Show us what you’ve been working on, send cool links/videos, talk about class, whatever.

See you! ^^

Challenge #2: Making music with code!

So there’s this cool web app called EarSketch that teaches you how to code in Python (or JavaScript) by making music! It goes over all the programming basics like data types, variables, functions, etc. and you get a whole library of electronic/hip-hop sounds to choose from. There’s nothing to download or install this time— it runs on Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

Featured songs students made w/ EarSketch:

Ciara set

Mid day Parade

BGC Week 3


Hour of Code – Quick intro to EarSketch + programming. It has all the basic definitions, so it’s technically for beginners, but might feel rushed if you’ve never seen code before?

~ or ~

Curriculum – Goes way slower/in-depth and is so much more beginner-friendly. You won’t finish this in one day, though. Pretty much everything you’ll ever need is in Unit 1.

Today’s meeting (10/1): Making music w/ code!

In an hour we’ll be showing off our AR challenge entries and starting a new challenge: remixing music samples using Python / Javascript! Hopefully it’ll be a good intro to programming so we can move on to the bigger topics you guys asked for. See you @ 1!

(And it’s okay if you didn’t get around to the AR challenge. It’s been a busy 2 weeks. You can still come!)

Challenge #1: Augmented reality!

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Apple augmented reality art tours to take place in six major citiesCharacter on trading cardAd taken over by editing or augmented reality

AR (augmented reality) basically takes digital objects and places them in the real world. This used to be way out of reach for just anyone to do, but now free apps can make it happen in 5 mins or less.

So, this is where you come in. Make a photo come to life, throw graffiti on your wall, augment a book cover, hijack an advertisement/poster somewhere, or just place a character in your room. (Maybe throw a backdrop behind them + add some clouds/props until you have a scene.) The best ones will get featured here on OpenLab + on Instagram :)

iOS: Adobe Aero
Get it on the App Store: Link

Adobe Aero for Beginners
Getting Started with AR in Adobe Aero

Android: I just realized Aero isn’t on the Play Store (Adobe whyyy) but I found another app called ARize.
Hopefully that works, but let me know if it doesn’t!!

Download it on Google Play: Link

Introduction to ARize
ARize Walkthrough, start to finish

Reviving EXP for Fall 2020!

So…. welcome back?

We definitely dropped off the face of the earth after the shutdown. It was a weird time – it’s still weird, tbh – but the shock is wearing off. If you’re not ready to think about clubs yet, that’s okay. But if a creative push sounds like what you need right now, come hang with us tomorrow (9/17) at 1 PM over Discord. We’re going 100% online and trying something new.

Every 2 weeks, we’ll announce a new art form (ex. videography, games, interactive art), team role (sound designer, environment artist), or app – then challenge you to make a quick project on it. These will always come with instructions or YouTube tutorials, so you won’t need any experience. Then, the next time we meet, we’ll showcase what people came up with + talk about what it was like before moving onto another one.

Since this is our 1st meeting of the semester, it’ll mostly be an introduction. You’ll get to know the software we use, ask us questions & let us know what you want to see happen.

Also, please feel free to come + go as much as you need to!! No one is getting left behind or kicked out if they miss a meeting. The whole idea is to go at your own pace, but still have a place to connect if you want it. Take your time, ask for help in #technical if you need it, and don’t stress yourself. :)

Discord invite link:
Thursdays @ 1PM

Earthbending in VR!

For our 1st project, we’re making a mini VR game inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender!

aang air scooter

You’ll be able to use punches, hand gestures & motions to earthbend thanks to hand tracking on the Oculus Quest! (We’ll add fire, water and possibly air later on.)


  • Add background music & sound effects
  • Special effects for each move: dust clouds, impact
VR earthbending unity project
An unfinished scene with hand tracking enabled. :)

How to contribute:

Download the Unity project here: Link
Note: Please open it with version 2019.3.0f6!

(We’ll make a GitHub repo soon.)


If you’re using Unity Hub: unzip the download, open up the application, click “Add” and select the “avatar-VR” folder. Then open the project through the Hub.

Otherwise: unzip the download, navigate to Assets > Scenes.

  • For a basic layout (skybox, ground plane, a few random prefabs), open Test.unity.
  • When you’re ready to start building it from scratch, open Earthbending.unity. (It’s an empty scene).
  • Air Temple – Intro Scene.unity is just a bonus, in case you want to help recreate the location shown in the 1st GIF! We found a free handpainted statue online, but it doesn’t match the style— so if you’re up for 3D modeling the original…

Starting a VR hand-tracking project (3/12)

We’re meeting up this Thursday and starting our own VR project with hand tracking on the Oculus Quest! Last week we voted on earthbending (Avatar: The Last Airbender), so we’re designing a training area for that. If you wanna learn how to create a scene in Unity and add background music, come through!
(Same place, same time: V-314 @ 1-2pm)