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The Making of 'Totem'

3D World Cover, with Alex Alvarez

Sample Clip

In this DVD, Alex Alvarez shares his workflow and techniques for creating ‘Totem’, a commissioned 3D illustration for the cover of 3D World magazine. Over five six of lecture, Alex delves into all aspects of how the image was created. Beginning with the initial design brief of a ‘stone head in a jungle’, Alex began with a series of sketches for approval. The 3D development began with the head in ZBrush, moving to terrain layout and camera setup in Maya. The terrain was then sculpted in ZBrush to finalize the foundation upon which all of the plants and trees would be placed. Scene lighting was then blocked out using Mental Ray’s physical sun/sky system, while designing the areas of illumination and shadow using a library of trees created with Onyx. Plants and trees were created using SpeedTree, including custom assets such as hanging vines and ground ivy. The moss that grows upon the stone head, as well as the tree branches, was creating interactively in Maya with custom PaintFX brushes. Further areas of discussion include texturing, shaders, the SP Paint script, nDo, Quixel Megascan, ZDepth, Volume Fog and final compositing in Photoshop. As an intermediate to advanced level lecture, artists who have seen Alex’s DVD series on natural environments will greatly benefit from this detailed overview of his creative and technical process.

  • Design
  • Head Sculpting
  • Terrain
  • SpeedTree to Maya workflow
  • Head Texture and PaintFX Growth
  • Fog and ZDepth
  • Photoshop Comp
  1. Introduction
  2. Design
  3. Head Sculpt
  4. Initial Layout
  5. Terrain
  6. Lighting Layout
  7. SpeedTree Overview
  8. SpeedTree to Maya workflow
  9. Ground Texture Megascans
  10. Rocks nDo
  11. Grass SPpaint 3D
  12. Water
  13. Head Texture and PaintFX Growth
  14. Hangingc
  15. Fog and ZDepth
  16. Photoshop Comp
  17. Conclusion

  • Product Code: AAL27
  • ISBN: 1-59762-729-1
  • UPC: 805366018351
  • Duration: 382 minutes
  • Formats: Digital Download, Online Subscription

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  • Software Used:

  • Pixologic

  • Autodesk

  • Adobe

  • IDV

Alex Alvarez

Founder, Director The Gnomon Workshop
Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Alex Alvarez is the founder and president of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, the Gnomon Workshop, Gnomon Gallery, SketchTheatre and Gnomon Studios. Having dedicated the past fifteen years to educating students and professionals around the world, Alex has helped change the face of computer graphics and design education. He has been published in industry magazines, websites and books, plus he has taught workshops at several major trade conferences. He continues to work on personal and professional projects, recently as a creature development artist on Avatar, Star Trek, Green Lantern and Prometheus. Prior to Gnomon, Alex worked for Alias|Wavefront as a consultant and trainer for studios in the Los Angeles area. Alex is an alumnus of the Art Center College of Design and the University of Pennsylvania.

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"Whenever I need to breathe life into my characters, Alex Alvarez is where I go. Whether it be to collaborate on concepts with him directly or to watch his DVDs, I am always confident in accessibility to great information. Not only has his technical prowess pulled me out of many holes, but his character sense has given rise to some wonderful moments on some major motion pictures (Avatar and Star Trek). These new DVD's encapsulate what I gush about. Crazy and creative character design coupled with empowering technical know how."

- Neville Page
Character/Concept Designer

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