Teaching Teens 3D Graphics with Video Games Like Minecraft

If there’s one thing parents know these days, it’s that teens love video games! So I figured I’d try to leverage some of that enthusiasm for teaching teens 3D graphics with video games like Minecraft.

I created the Sensei and Son HD128 Minecraft Texture Pack as a way for me to give my teenage son the opportunity to learn 3D computer graphics in a fun and engaging environment. The wildly popular computer game Minecraft has the ability to load custom resource packs that may be used to completely change the artistic look of the 3D real-time game. I figured we could improve and upgrade the look and feel of the Minecraft game from the extremely low resolution16x16px pixelated default look to a higher resolution 128x128px and more realistic improved look for a more immersive game experience.

I set up a private online Minecraft server that I could use to teach my son how to design and create 3D textures as well as how to install and manage an online Unix server. He could use this server to play the game with his friends while we tested the textures and explored various artistic approaches. Within this project he could learn how to use a Wacom tablet with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator as well as how to design custom filters in Filter Forge to create 3D computer graphics textures and more. He could learn how to plan and layout 2D textures for mapping on 3D objects, how to install them, test them out in-game and make any necessary adjustments and improvements so that they would all work together to create a cohesive overall artistic style for the game. He would have the opportunity to learn how an online live Unix server is set up, upgraded and managed using Mac OS X’s terminal. He could also learn how to manage and deliver a large-scale project composed of hundreds of individual deliverables spanning multiple areas and various phases from initial conception through online delivery and branding. We worked on this project in our spare time over the course of a few years starting with Minecraft 1.4 through Minecraft 1.7.10.

The result of this project is the Sensei & Son HD128 Minecraft Texture Pack which is a high resolution realistic looking Minecraft Resource Pack with a medieval martial arts influence. If you or your kids use Minecraft, then feel free to download the texture pack and give it a spin! This project also serves as a portfolio sample of our 3D texture and graphics design capabilities for game and mobile app developers.

Sensei & Son HD128 Minecraft Texture Pack

Teaching Animated Texture & Filter Design in Filter Forge Node Editor

We used some customized filters in Filter Forge to generate various texture elements that we could incorporate into some of the Minecraft textures. This provided the opportunity to introduce basic node map editing and customization. I even created our own set of custom Filter Forge filters from scratch to generate some of the more complex animated textures we needed for fire, lava and water. I’ve made these available for others to use by posting them in Filter Forge’s online filter library as: DLI_FireFlow, DLI_LavaFlow, and DLI_WaterFlow.

Teaching Basic Film-making Concepts in Minecraft

I even used this project as an opportunity to teach him some film-making basics. I had him create a short walk-through / fly-by video to show the Sensei and Son HD128 Minecraft Texture Pack being used in some of the areas we’ve built on our online Minecraft server during the process of creating and testing all the various textures. I used this sub-project to introduce him to various film-making concepts such as location scouting, planning out camera shots, blocking viewpoints and composition, shooting virtual footage, using transitions and time-lapse to convey and compress the passing of time, basic video editing with iMovie, video compression and final online delivery on YouTube. Here’s the short introduction video example that he created to show off the textures.

This video is available in HD720p, so if you have a fast Internet connection you may click on the gear icon and change the quality to 720p for best viewing.

Sensei & Son HD128 Minecraft Texture Pack

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