Creating Terrains with Satellite Data, Volume 2

Maya Based Workflow with Alex Alvarez

Chapter List

Description

In this second title of a two-part series, Alex Alvarez continues his demonstration of utilizing satellite data to develop terrains. Where Volume One developed the skills necessary for high-altitude cameras, Volume Two focuses on techniques that allow the artist to effectively 'up-rez' regions of the terrain. Adding ZBrush to the workflow, Alex identifies areas that would benefit from digital sculpting. New geometry is created from the initial satellite DEM file (Digital Elevation Model) that is topologized, UV'd, then sculpted using ZBrush's HD Geometry. The procedural rock textures generated in Volume One are now used as ZBrush Alphas to quickly sculpt rock and cliff details. In addition to HD ZBrush workflows, Alex also shows an alternate approach that allows us to utilize DEMs directly in ZBrush, as well as how to use Decimation Master and XNormal to generate high-quality results. Once the ZBrush phase is complete, new satellite photos are then acquired using Google Earth Pro to generate 8k and 16k textures. Alex demonstrates how to align and project these new textures onto the new terrain geometry in Maya as well as how to cleanup textures using Mari, which supports 16k texture workflows, in a manner suitable for artists with no Mari experience. With models and textures complete, Alex shares his alternate lighting strategies. While Physical Sun/Sky offers convenience, an HDR workflow, combined with direct lighting, offers far more creative control. Alex then moves on to his techniques for creating Atmospheric effects, such as air and fog. Volume Primitives are thoroughly explained including how to texture their density for patchy fog effects. Lastly, rendering the various passes is discussed and the lecture concludes with a demonstration of how to combine the various passes in Photoshop to tune the final look of the image. For artists interested in creating natural environments with Maya, this title provides a variety of powerful techniques to create worlds both real and imagined.


Duration: 357 minutes

Format: HD 1280x720

Chapter List

  • 00. Preview
  • 01. Introduction
  • 02. Replacing Foreground Geo
  • 03. Foreground retopo uvs
  • 04. Foreground Integration part1
  • 05. Foreground Integration part2
  • 06. GoogleEarth textures part1
  • 07. GoogleEarth textures part2
  • 08. 16k projection workflow
  • 09. Foreground texture Final
  • 10. ZBrush Sculpting HD Geometry
  • 11. UpRezing whole Terrain 16k maps
  • 12. DEMs in ZBrush Xnormal
  • 13. Texture Cleanup with Mari
  • 14. PhysicalSunSky Limitations
  • 15. HDR lighting with Spot lights
  • 16. Fly Through
  • 17. Atmospheric Effects
  • 18. Trees and architecture
  • 19. Photoshop Comp

Alex Alvarez

Founder / Director The Gnomon Workshop and Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Alex is founder and director of The Gnomon Workshop and of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Having dedicated the last decade to educating students and professional artists 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 courses at several major trade conferences. Alex is president of the Los Angeles Maya Users Group and sits on the Advisory Boards for Highend3D.com and CGsociety. He continues to work on personal and professional projects, recently as a creature development artist on the James Cameron film Avatar. 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 tutorials, 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 tutorials encapsulate what I gush about. Crazy and creative character design coupled with empowering technical know how. "

    - Neville Page
    Character / Concept Designer