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The Making of 'Dirge'

with Alex Alvarez

Sample Clip

In this extensive eight-hour DVD, Alex Alvarez delves into the the creation of 'Dirge', his hellish new animated personal project. Created as a high-resolution two-minute animated loop at 2560x1600 for viewing on a 30" framed display, 'Dirge' was created using Maya, ZBrush, Photoshop, After Effects and Mental Ray. The entire workflow will be explored, including character and environment design, modeling, sculpting, texturing, shaders, dynamic effects, rigging, animation, lighting, volumetric effects, and compositing. As this project represents a diverse range of tools and techniques, it is an in-depth look at the process with an assumption that the student has an intermediate understanding of the tools. Anyone interested in creating a dynamic and cinematic 3D digital environment will benefit from Alex's approach and breakdown.

  • Design and Composition
  • Base Mesh Modeling
  • Character Sculpting in ZBrush
  • Environment Sculpting
  • Texturing with Photoshop
  • Mental Ray Lighting/Shaders
  • Rigging and Animation
  • Instancer, Particles, Fields
  • Volumetric Effects
  • Depth-of-Field
  • Motion Blur
  • Using Stock Footage Effects
  • Compositing
  • 1.1 Character Modeling & Sculpting Part 1
  • 1.2 Character Modeling & Sculpting Part 2
  • 2.1 Walls Modeling & Sculpting Part 1
  • 2.2 Walls Modeling & Sculpting Part 2
  • 3. Island Modeling & Sculpting
  • 4. Lighting Tests
  • 5. Sky Dome
  • 6. Scythe
  • 7. Character Texturing
  • 8. Environment Texturing
  • 9. Photoshop Look Dev
  • 10. Final Lighting
  • 11. Volume Fog & Depth of Field
  • 12. Locusts
  • 13. Particle Effects
  • 14. Stock Footage After Effects Comp
  • 15. Character Rigging & Animation
  • 16. Conclusion

  • Product Code: AAL09
  • Duration: 448 minutes
  • Formats: Download Only

Digital Download Requirements:

Minimum Operating System:

  • Microsoft® Windows® Vista®
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  • Apple® Mac® OS X 10.2


  • QuickTime Movie Player (Version 7.0 or higher)
  • Acrobat Reader (Version 5.0 or higher)

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  • Software Used:

  • Autodesk

  • Pixologic

  • Adobe

  • Adobe
    After Effects

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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