ME:120.722 :: Digital Imaging III – 3D Modeling & Animation

Course Description

Offered: Spring and Summer Term, First Year
Instructors: David Rini, Associate Professor, Lead Instructor
Donny Bliss, Assistant Professor
Credits: 3 credit hours

Each class will consist of a demo on the given subject matter for that day and a time when the students pair up and work on the small assignment to accompany each class. Instructor(s) will be available for each class during the work sessions to help students through the tutorial and can be contacted any time outside of class for further instruction. Students will be given a small assignment each class that will be due the following class unless specified otherwise (Please refer to supplemental schedule). These assignments will allow students to get first-hand experience on the various topics covered during class. The main assignment for students will be to animate a cell biology topic of their choice (with instructor’s approval). This project will allow students to utilize 3D modeling and animation techniques to elucidate the cell biology topic. The assignment will be very similar to illustration projects that students have already encountered in other courses in that they will be expected to tell a clear and concise story about this biological subject to the audience they of their choice.

Course Objectives

This course will describe and demonstrate an introduction to the theory and techniques of three-dimensional (3D) modeling, animation, and rendering for electronic output. Upon completion of this course, students are expected to have a general understanding of: the basic tenets of three-dimensional modeling and the ability to apply those ideas to model creation; lighting a scene; creation and application of shaders; creation and utilization of cameras; animating objects, lights, and cameras using a variety of ways; rendering and output options for a scene; the 3D specific vocabulary to address fundamentals of a simple 3D scene; the advantages and disadvantages of using 3D visualization to communicate subject matter of varying complexity; the factors involved in creating dynamic file types including compression and file type export for render output; and the ability to port this knowledge to other 3D applications.


Macintosh computer hardware/software, removable media, scanners, modems, stylus-based input devices, CD-ROM drives, and laser printers. Software manuals, tutorials, and 3rd Party books on various computer topics will also be made available.

Course Assignments

Each student is expected complete and present the following projects:

  • Simple class assignments to demonstrate working knowledge of 3D topics.
  • Word Story Prelims for main project representing narration to accompany final animation.
  • Word Story Final (*.doc) 20pts.
  • Storyboard Prelims for main project outlining basic morphology of subject and animation intentions.
  • Storyboard for main project outlining reaction steps that will represent important transitions in story.
  • Models and Scenes representing all elements involved with appropriate texture-maps and lighting.
  • Animation Prelims representing proposed ideas from storyboard.
  • Final rendered animation and scene file for final project.

Course Evaluation

  • Cumulative class assignments comprise ~10% of overall grade.
  • Word Story Prelims comprise ~2% of overall grade.
  • Word Story Final comprise ~4% of overall grade.
  • Storyboard Prelims for final project comprise ~8% of overall grade.
  • Storyboards for final project comprise ~8% of overall grade.
  • All scenes for final project comprise ~15% of overall grade.
  • Animation Prelims for final project comprise ~15% of overall grade.
  • Final render and scene file for final project comprise ~40% of overall grade.

Failure to hand in assignment on due date will result in 5% deduction of component grade per day.

Each project will be graded on the appropriate use of software and presentation of learning process. The final project will be graded on those elements mentioned in the preceding sentence as well as creativity, educational quality, and design. As mentioned in the Course Description, we are looking at your ability to utilize 3D as a tool to tell a story.

The files produced for each project should be placed into the specified project directory on JBox when completed.


Refer to 1st year calendars and syllabi.

All students with disabilities who require accommodations for this course should contact Catherine L. Will, Disability Services Coordinator for Graduate Biomedical Education ( or 410-614-3781) at their earliest convenience to discuss their specific needs. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive.


Next Course: Digital Imaging IV – 2D Animation