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:

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.

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