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3D Team Workflow

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Estimated reading time: 8 min

BRIEF: 

The goal of this document is to outline the workflow for the 3D team to improve efficiencies, process and communication across teams. 


GUIDES INDEX

  1. 3D Practices
  2. Texture Practices
  3. Possible Rejections

SIGN IN/SIGN OFF PROCEDURE:

At the start of each shift, artists will sign in with the following:

  1. Tasks that they will be working on that day
  2. Status of those tasks when you complete the day
  3. Screenshots of new models and gifs of animations, whether they are incomplete or complete. When they are work in progress, please include a note for what is complete. When they are complete, simply mention that they are complete.
  4. Include drive links to files that are finished (mandatory) or you would like to be checked on (optional).

 

EXAMPLE:

SIGN IN:

  • Animations – baytek – NPC monster
  • Rigging – Yung Bae – enemy
  • Modeling – Aggretsuko – environment props
  • QA – Baytek -Environment models.

SIGN OUT:

  • Animations – baytek – NPC monster (complete)
  • Rigging – Yung Bae – enemy (Complete)
  • Modeling – Aggretsuko – environment props (WIP)

 

If we stick to this format it will make it much easier for team leads to see what team members are up to. This applies to all 3D artists. Everyone must sign in and out.


TASK ASSIGNMENT PROCESS:

Tasks are organized by project. Part of maintaining a cohesive look and feel to a game’s animations and art is improved by having the same team members working on a project when possible. 

Know when a task is too far outside of your comfort zone and level of experience. If an unassigned task is above your current skill level, ask your team lead before assuming it, and move to a task that is aligned. That said, working outside of your comfort zone is an important element to growth. Know your limits, but push yourself in a healthy way to improve and grow. 

This is the consolidated task list for the 3D team: 3D Sign Off Sheet.

Tasks that need a reference will have a reference added in the task assignment on the 3D Sign Off Sheet. Tasks that do not need a reference, such as basic shapes, objects and props, will be be moved towards modeling without concept art.

 

Concept art should show front, side profile/quarter view and back. 

 

Each game has its own 3D Spec that takes everything into consideration: Target platform, Vertex count, Bone limit, Texture notes, and where relevant, specific shader or material details an artist may want or need to know during the design process.


QA PROCESS:

When signing out, include either completed task files or screenshots of incomplete task, but also do the steps necessary in the Workflow section below, wherein you mark your task status as Review Ready once you’re finished or WIP if you’re still working on it.

Tasks marked as Review Ready should be picked-up by QA and checked against the QA checklist below.

 

QA CHECKLIST

This checklist should eventually become internal, and be fully integrated into your workflow. Initially when creating a new habit, or in early stages of your 3D design career, this checklist should be followed precisely to help improve efficiencies and reinforce good habits for team members. This is the asme QA standard to be completed by:

  1. The artist
  2. The team lead
  3. The production team

 

For the base model:

  • Model cannot be found (in files)
  • Model file is empty
  • Vertex count overshot
  • Poor topology/Lumpy faces
  • Non-planar faces
  • Non-manifold geometry
  • Self-overlap
  • Flipped normals
  • Axis fighting (when two faces are too close/overlapping)
  • Scale not applied on export
  • Rotation not applied on export
  • Object dimension beyond 2 decimal places (Meters)
  • Object origin is not at the center bottom of the object
  • Object pieces are not parented/not parented correctly
  • Poor anatomy
  • Reference image not followed
  • Does not follow style guide (art style for specific games)
  • Model not to scale with other assets from the same game
  • Unnecessary interior geometry
  • Facial expressions included in the model
  • Objects parented to an empty
  • Excess objects left in the exported file (usually happens in Blender)
  • Model file format is not FBX

 

For texture:

  • Texture missing (either really empty/not sent in or missing texture on some parts of the model)
  • Not following the naming convention
  • Not a Power of Two image (32, 64, 512, 1024, etc.)
  • Image format is not PNG
  • Poor base texture quality (Low res, mismatched styles, etc.)
  • Not UV mapped correctly (UV map does not match the texture)
  • Not UV optimized (priority not given to faces with text, images)
  • Non-proportional UV sizes (Ex. huge eyes, small face)
  • Not Atlased (Using large areas of solid color or not combining multiple object textures in larger images)
  • Unnecessary maps in general (depends on project to project basis)
  • Unnecessary Normal maps (Normal maps that are basically blank or no adding anything to the geometry)
  • Colored base maps when greyscale is specified.
  • Existing geometry is still added into normal maps.
  • Using roughness, metallic, and specular maps that aren’t made for Unity workflow (Non-combined maps)
  • Image texture size too large (Either unnecessary or not to spec.)
  • Uses an opacity map (where it should not be used)
  • Image is not compressed (via Megatools or anywhere else)
  • Not using a tiling texture where one can be used
  • Licensed logos or copyrighted materials that we don’t have rights/licenses to use.

 

For animations:

  • Bone count overshot
  • Self-overlap
  • Clipping
  • Clunky/Stiff animations
  • Weight painting is incorrect
  • Body parts going through the ground
  • Limbs extending further than intended
  • Objects getting displaced unintentionally
  • Animation not to spec.
  • Animation not seamless
  • Animation breaks when imported in engine
  • Deforming incorrectly, such as body parts getting crushed when moving.

The purpose of the consolidated process sheet is to track total art assignments across the team, see the status in the workflow to determine fail points or issues to be addressed, and to allow self-assignment for tasks by team members without having the explicit need for a team lead to assign. 

 

This is the consolidated process sheet for 3D team: 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10Ar5AeNuEshZnZBGw7ZxEzKxPynNZMehA3EVnfFWbfg/edit?usp=sharing

 

THE PIPELINE PROCESS:

Concept art > QA > Modeling > QA > Texture > QA > Rigging and animation > QA > Send to the production team, technical team, or the lead dev (with a note for a final QA on any issues that may have been missed).

 

The column named “Current Step Status” is only for team leads, producers, or technically artists to use. This column dictates which part of the process the specific item is currently on.

  1. Concept Art – In this phase, there is no action required from the 3D team. These tasks may be passed over.
  2. 3D Workflow – This is where the 3D team’s responsibilities begin. Once an item is on this status, the 3D team is required to start working with the 3D pipeline process:
    Modeling > QA > Texture > QA > Rigging and animation > QA > Send for Final QA/Use
  3. Completed – A producer, technical artist, or team lead will set this once the final QA is passed and the assets no longer need any revisions. A QA may also do this once they’ve confirmed with any of the other 3 that an asset is good and requires no further revisions.

 

3D WORKFLOW

When an item has gone into the 3D Workflow, the cat assigned to it (or the cat assigning themselves to it) must change the status to WIP.

Once they’ve completed the model and it’s ready for QA to review, they must change the status to Review Ready and place the latest file under the File Link (CTRL + K, paste the link in) tab.

If it passes the QA, then it gets sent to the next step; if it fails, then the cat who worked on it must re-set the status to WIP > Review Ready once they’ve revised and are ready for another set of QA.

As a reference, this is the Reasons for Asset Failure sheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uWF8Q3msRDSOEoCSE-OYa_2vx-2T3vpugyipaKgMjeg/edit?usp=sharing 


MONTHLY ASSET PERFORMANCE REVIEW:

THE 3D SCORECARD:

The purpose of these metrics is to provide a constructive feedback loop between departments (engineering, production and 3D art), team leads, and artists to elevate the individuals along with the team. Calling out when someone is contributing amazing work, new innovations, or going the extra mile is equally important to someone struggling with the same feedback, or making the same error over and over again. 

 

  • Tasks Complete: This represents the total tasks complete. By itself, it is useless. In context, it can help summarize an artist’s work throughout a month to know that they finished 50 props in a low poly project, or 5 complex character animations. 
  • QA Cycles: The goal is for each artist to correctly and closely review their work before submission to the next team member in a workflow. The QA Cycles metric shows how many times a task is kicked back to an artist to repair before resubmission.
  • Creativity: One of the unique challenges with 3D art is that it is both technical and emotional. Creativity is key to art, and creating an immersive world means thinking actively about what fits a game’s design standard as well as the platform and technical limitations. 
  • Attendance: A total number of days worked that includes both days missed as well as optionally added additional days. 
  • Communication: A broad 1 to 5 metric showing someone’s level of engagement with their team, their team leads, and peers in other departments. 

 

These Score Cards are provided privately by Head of Production & Team Leads together in a group chat to help support, troubleshoot, and improve the strength of the team.


ROLE OF A TEAM LEAD (TL):

Leadership at Mega Cat is more than task allocation. A leader at Mega Cat has demonstrated their technical and artistic abilities along with good soft skills. Soft skills at Mega Cat include communication, listening, time management and interpersonal skills.

Our Team Leads subscribe to the Servant Leadership Philosophy: Lead by example, and treat others as you want to be treated. 

Servant leadership and traditional leadership employ different techniques and offer vastly different outcomes.

With a traditional leadership approach, the leader encourages people to do their jobs by providing them with guidance, direction and motivation. The main focus of a traditional leader is to improve the business position of the company or the organization in the market.

Servant leadership occurs when the leader’s main goal and responsibility is to provide service to their people. A servant leader focuses on the people that are directly below them, rather than the company as a whole. In servant leadership, the leader ensures that the followers are growing in all areas.

Many believe that when leaders shift their focus from the company to the immediate team, they are more likely to produce skilled, talented, knowledgeable and motivated team members which, in turn, will help to improve the overall operations and management of the organization.


TEAMS WITHIN THE 3D DEPARTMENT:

  • Soft Surface: Works on organic models such as humans, animals, plants, etc.
  • Hard Surface: Works on non-organic, man-made models such as cars, furniture, buildings, etc.
  • Animation: Rigs and animates models that need these steps. 
  • QA: Checks and ensures the quality of all assets being sent to the production team and development team.

 

Discounting the necessity of concept art, Soft Surface and Hard Surface will rarely have an overlap due to the difference in their designations– both teams’ responsibility comes at the very first stage of the 3D workflow process.

Once a model goes through the first round of QA and is approved, these can be sent forward to texturing. After texturing it’s once again sent to QA.

Texturing can either be done internally (if they are simple or solid colors) or a UV render can be sent to the 2D team for more detailed textures.

Depending on whether animation is needed for the object or not, the file might directly go to the production/development team for a final QA or use.

If it does need animation, then all of the models are sent to the animation team where it’s rigged and then animated before being sent to QA again and then the production/development team for a final QA.

3D art team’s internal QA team will perform the QA tasks in between the different steps in the workflow.


BECOMING BETTER CATS: INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL RETENTION

The company internal wiki represents the knowledge base contributed by team leads across departments. As we grow and add in new tools, project types, and improvements, these documents grow alongside the company. 

One of the most important contributions a Team Lead can bring to Mega Cat is a Cat Global improvement that elevates their team. 

New plugins, tools, shortcuts, techniques that make your life easier demonstrate your individual goals to always be learning, improving, and growing. Sharing this knowledge and energy with your team multiplies that effort. We are all only as good as our team, and supporting your brothers and sisters in arms is key to our success. 

When you have a suggestion for an improvement, or new process, please share it with James via direct message. 

 

MEGA CAT INTERNAL WIKI:

  • wiki.megacatstudios.com/wp-admin
  • Wiki General Login:
  • GeneralCat
  • Zug$&Us505*pDJrQ*YI4)9Vm

 

FINAL FILE SUBMISSION:

Final file submissions are managed by QA. Producers, technical artists, or team leads, but most often QA with the approval of the former 3, will mark the task as “Complete” under the “Current Step Status”. QA will then upload the final file to the appropriate directory, and include it in their sign off message.


COMMON WORKFLOW ISSUES & FAQ

  • Texturing, rigging, or animating models that haven’t passed through the previous steps. This costs a lot of resources to redo.
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