The Making of 'Dirge'

with Alex Alvarez

Chapter List


In this extensive eight-hour lecture, Alex Alvarez delves into the the creation of 'Dirge', an 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.

Duration: 448 minutes

Format: SD 1024x768

Chapter List

  • 00. Preview
  • 01. Introduction
  • 02. Character Modeling & Sculpting Part 1
  • 03. Character Modeling & Sculpting Part 2
  • 04. Walls Modeling & Sculpting Part 1
  • 05. Walls Modeling & Sculpting Part 2
  • 06. Island Modeling & Sculpting
  • 07. Lighting Tests
  • 08. Sky Dome
  • 09. Scythe
  • 10. Character Texturing
  • 11. Environment Texturing
  • 12. Photoshop Look Dev
  • 13. Final Lighting
  • 14. Volume Fog & Depth of Field
  • 15. Locusts
  • 16. Particle Effects
  • 17. Stock Footage After Effects Comp
  • 18. Character Rigging & Animation
  • 19. Conclusion


  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante
  • The Techniques of Carlos Huante

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 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