The Mak­ing of Totem

CG ace and Gnomon supremo Alex Al­varez shows his work­flow for cre­at­ing a lush jun­gle scene for our sis­ter ti­tle, 3D World

ImagineFX - - Reviews - Pub­lisher The Gnomon Work­shop Price $69 For­mat DVD/Down­load Web www.theg­nomon­work­

Gnomon supremo Alex Al­varez cre­ates a mys­te­ri­ous jun­gle scene us­ing 2D and 3D tools.

Re­cently, our sis­ter mag­a­zine 3D World asked CG artist and Gnomon Work­shop founder Alex Al­varez to cre­ate an orig­i­nal piece for its Christ­mas 2013 cover. In the mag­a­zine Alex showed the broad se­quence of how he cre­ated the ‘Totem’ ren­der, but then de­cided there was more to say on the sub­ject – over six hours more. That’s even longer than a Peter Jack­son movie.

Many train­ing videos are based around footage of the artist as he or she works on the piece. Here, Alex opts to present a se­quence of work-in­progress scene files, analysing the tech­niques that he used at each stage. It means that while you don’t get to see many of the hands-on skills that other videos show, you gain a deep un­der­stand­ing of the pro­ce­dures and tools that Alex utilised.

Alex uses CG tools, pri­mar­ily Maya and ZBrush, with a top­ping of com­posit­ing in Pho­to­shop. You’ll need some fa­mil­iar­ity with CG tools and terms to get the most out of this mas­ter­class: Alex doesn’t spend time ex­plain­ing the distinc­tion be­tween bump maps and dis­place­ment maps, for ex­am­ple, but in­stead con­cen­trates on how to op­ti­mise both.

If you have a ba­sic 3D soft­ware toolset, Alex will also in­tro­duce you to nu­mer­ous third-party tools. These range from handy free scripts to the com­plex and pow­er­ful tree-gen­er­a­tion sys­tem SpeedTree, which Alex ex­plores in some de­tail. He also talks a lot about how he or­gan­ises his files: you’ll marvel at his li­brary of ren­ders for his ready-made plants, each with scale and tonal in­for­ma­tion. To­gether, these two topics are sure to trig­ger pos­i­tive changes in how you work in 3D.

Alex cov­ers the en­tire cre­ative process from thumb­nails to fi­nal ren­der in this video. The depth of his knowl­edge is such that there isn’t a sin­gle stage when you won’t learn some­thing new.

From tex­tures to trees: Alex Al­varez’s video mas­ter­class shows the se­crets be­hind ev­ery stage of a mam­moth CG jun­gle project. Early work­shop chap­ters show how modelling was done in ZBrush (above) and Maya (left).

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