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Creating Trees in Maya / Onyx

Forest Techniques, part Four with Alex Alvarez

Sample Clip

This DVD explores how to incorporate the Onyx Tree suite of programs into a Maya and Mental Ray workflow, while demonstrating scene layout and rendering techniques that apply to any artist interested in natural environments. We begin with Onyx Broadleaf, an invaluable tool for quickly creating a diverse library of physically accurate trees. The user interface is explained while demonstrating how to export geometry to Maya, including wind animation and a custom Gnomon mel script for importing Onyx animation. Beyond Onyx animation, we also look at how to use softbody lattices to manually animate tree leaves for quick turnaround animation. A thorough demonstration of physical sun/sky, final gather and miaMaterials for trees is then provided including a detailed review of how to create custom leaf textures from scans. Broadleaf techniques culminate in the creation of an overgrown Highway scene with a final 4k composite in After Effects that includes beauty, Zdepth, fog passes and post-process effects with the Lenscare, Magic Bullet and Sapphire plug-ins. Moving on, we then explore Onyx Conifer, Palm and Bamboo in equal detail discussing library and rendering techniques for each type of tree concluding with a photorealistic bamboo forest that introduces final gather techniques for deep shadow environments. We wrap up the DVD with a demonstration of Mental Ray proxies, allowing environment artists a methodology for populating scenes with billions of polygons. Suited to both students and professionals, Alex shares his in-depth knowledge hoping to inspire artists to delve further into the world of natural CG environments.

  • Onyx Broadleaf
  • Onyx Wind Animation
  • Dynamic Lattice Leaf Animation
  • Tree miaMaterials
  • Physical Sun/Sky
  • Lens Shaders: Depth-of-Field
  • Leaf Texture Creation
  • Onyx Conifer
  • Onyx Palm
  • Onyx Bamboo
  • Scene Layout Techniques
  • Mental Ray Proxies
  1. Introduction to Onyx
  2. Onyx Broadleaf UI
  3. Exporting Trees to Maya
  4. Onyx Wind Animation
  5. Maya Dynamics Wind Animation
  6. Broadleaf Library
  7. Tree Rendering / Materials
  8. Highway Scene Intro
  9. Leaf Texture Creation
  10. Highway Scene Setup
  11. Highway: Overgrown
  12. Onyx Conifer Intro
  13. Conifer Rendering
  14. Palm Trees
  15. Bamboo Intro
  16. Bamboo Rendering
  17. Mental Ray Proxies
  18. Conclusion

  • Product Code: AAL26
  • ISBN: 1-59762-745-3
  • UPC: 805366018160
  • Duration: 552 minutes
  • Formats: DVD-ROM, Digital Download

DVD-ROM Requirements:

  • 1GHz or faster processor
  • 521 MB RAM
  • 64 MB Video RAM
  • DVD-ROM Drive
  • 5 GB of hard disk space
  • 1280 x 1024 display

DVD-ROM and 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)

For more information on DVD and Digital Download policies click here here.

  • Software Used:

  • Autodesk

  • Onyx

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.

"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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