3D environment design and art for 3D video game by Environment art team of Aloha 3D Studio


One of the most important aspects of the game is the depiction of its universe, where the player will interact extensively with the many elements of the game’s map. Thus, even the smallest assets in the game world can shape the atmosphere of the space. During game development, determining the art style for the game’s segment is very important and must go through many different stages. However, environmental art can be a general term, encompassing a number of different fields, such as Level Design, Textures and Props, Lighting, World Building. So, before diving deeper into the styling process for a 3D game environment, let’s discuss the basics around it.


When developing the game world, we have to take several important factors into account and draw on the experience that comes from the game developers and environment designers on the team. Aloha 3D Studio, owns a team of experienced environmental artists who contribute to the design of 3D environments for our game art projects and services.

Beginning with environment design with concept art and composition

The game art and environments should reflect the game’s universe and become another tool for conveying the story of the game or scene. Here, we must grasp the lore elements surrounding the game before moving on. Concept art is so important at this point, the artist’s ability to gather and use visual references and mood boards to establish the overall atmosphere and stylistic direction. It is not possible to achieve a consistent and solid world atmosphere by blindly creating and adding content without references. The basic idea of the game world was the central point of all subsequent developments. Perhaps the most notable result has come from the game artist’s ability to harvest concept ideas without completely copying from references. It is not something that is easily learned, but something that is absorbed and applied throughout an artist’s career.

Environment design tools

Although it is possible to use non-original 3D models from the asset stores, they must work together eventually. Even while it is feasible to employ non-original 3D models from asset shops, they eventually need to collaborate.
The 3D objects and props must also be able to fit the story. Given the size of the game world in this situation, it is unlikely that random elements from various third parties will integrate seamlessly. When approaching a project , we created a fully unique and original artwork followed by 3D models specifically designed by our art team.
It was very important for us to understand the materials, shaders, lighting systems, and general scene-setting procedure within the game engine. It’s crucial to understand how to use terrain tools when building the game world. In this case, we had also to familiarize ourselves with how the water, atmosphere, and landmass will be working together. Drifting away from the software’s vanilla tools and using add-ons can be highly fruitful if we have to increase our capability. Packages such as Houdini, Instant Terra, World Creator, and Gaea are outstanding industry-level instruments for world creation one might find useful at some point.

Landscaping knowledge for environment design

Knowing the fundamentals of landscaping is necessary. So, observe and study erosions, vital components in natural formations.
It’s important to understand the foundations of landscaping. So, pay attention to and learn about erosions, which are essential to natural formations. In this regard, creating convenient immersive scenarios may be accomplished by learning to add specialized components to slopes and high-altitude places. The best allies in this process are the brushes. Using brushes in aterrain editor as Houdini to increase the variety of erosion kinds, that allows to work with various terrains and design them according to the project needs.

3D Environment Lighting

It can be challenging to work on the ambient lighting. In 3D scenarios, every region holds multiple lighting possibilities.
Working on the environment, we should use lighting to emphasize the scene’s atmosphere while boosting the global vibe with presence and contrast. Using shadows and accentuating specific items strategically are excellent ways to accomplish this.
For instance, this screenshot from this project presents a lightly dimmed area where the player is. However, a few feet above, the skylight indicates some type of monument, intuitively making a path for the player. There’s something important there. Furthermore, it’s possible to see the path progressing into the shadows, showing that the structure extends for a reasonable distance above.
Working on the project, we had to take all of that into account to create an atmospheric lighting that would complement the scene and result in having high-quality visuals.


To design a stylized 3D environment and art, a proper workflow is a paramount. It’s a challenge to have it all sorted out before starting the actual modeling and design. During the pre-production stage, we often invest time assembling a mood board, reference images, and asset list. Design the broad layout of the scene at the outset, and wait to use every prop and asset until the fundamental composition has been established. Another challenge in creating 3D environments is optimizing the timeline.
In this case, we wanted to design the fundamental ideas and scene arrangement as quickly as we could to avoid wasting too much time. While we shouldn’t rush it, taking too long runs the danger of changing our minds and departing from our original plan of action, which could be harmful to the environment design process. In other words, we risk spending too much time designing ideas and materials that either won’t be used in the final scene or that will need to undergo a big re-design after we consult with the art direction.
Working with this project, we invested our time to designing the concepts and adhering to the initial art direction at all stages of production. Optimized the workflow by relying on advanced resources. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss 3D environment design with our studio.

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