My sophomore year, I modeled a room and that was before I had any real experience in UVs or texture editing. So taking on a natural environment was a whole different ball game. Making the natural jungle creek environment for Guavo was particularly difficult to light. As my professor said "you don't want it to look like it is inside a studio or a zoo."
As with all projects, I learned a lot of new tricks with the natural environment for Guavo. I learned how to make grass in Maya for the first time, and I learned how to use the ocean simulation shader in order to fabricate the water in the creek. I also learned how the texture of each object and the light acting on it has to interact just right in order to keep that natural balance.
Every rock, tree, and landmass had to be modeled in a convenient way. What ran through my mind most is the fact that "what the audience doesn't see won't hurt them." So luckily I didn't have to model the tree tops entirely, and the rocks could look bizarre so long as the bizarre part was under water. But one good thing about designing nature is that nothing has to be a regular shape.