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Gnomon Workshop Releases Creature DVDs

The Gnomon Workshop has released three DVDs by character modeler Laurent Pierlot of Blur Studios. In more than seven hours of lecture, Pierlot shares his myriad techniques for creating compelling life-like creatures. Using 3ds Max, BodyPaint, Photoshop and ZBrush, Pierlot discusses his workflow for modeling, detailing, texturing and rendering an alien creature based on a Carlos Huante design. While Max plays a key role in the development of the creature, virtually all the methods utilized apply to any leading 3D application such as Maya or XSI.

"Whenever Blur is asked to model a snarling hell-beast that eats babies for breakfast (which happens at least once a week) the first stop we make is Laurent Pierlot's workstation," said Tim Miller, creative director at Blur Studios. "Zombies with brains oozing from their eye sockets? We get Laurent. Mutated alien monsters? Laurent."

"These three DVDs are really an amazing insight into the creature pipeline at Blur Studios, and the efficiency of the production workflow," said Alex Alvarez, director of Gnomon. "The line between the major 3D apps continues to blur, which fortunately makes it easy to follow along with a Max title while needing to apply the techniques in Maya. Laurent's workflow for modeling, UV layout, texturing and shader setup is clearly demonstrated, while presenting knowledge that is critical to anyone interested in developing creatures for production."

Pierlot is an alumnus of ESAAT in Roubaix, France, and Supinfocom in Valenciennes. After finishing his student movie BAECKTOPUR, which combined live footage mixed with 3D characters, he began working at SPARX in Vietnam as a modeling and lighting artist. He then worked at Attitude Studio in Paris for one year before joining Blur Studio in California as a character modeler and CG supervisor. At Blur, he has worked on lighting, rendering and compositing on a number of projects including the game cinematics for BLOOD RAYNE 2, AREA 51, THE PUNISHER, HELLGATE, RISE OF LEGENDS, FANTASTIC 4 and X-MEN LEGENDS.


In this DVD, Pierlot reveals his process for creating a high-resolution creature, designed by Carlos Huante, for the videogame cinematic production pipeline. The pipeline presents many challenges such as working with short deadlines, achieving a clean topology and being able to interpret a 34 view concept into a complex and detailed 3D model. This DVD will cover the creature modeling from low-poly modeling to high-poly detailing using 3ds Max and ZBrush. Topics include Max's basic polygon tools, creating the base volumes and proportions, cleaning up topology, reshaping in ZBrush, and lighting and rendering a sample still with Brazil for presentation to clients and supervisors.


Using 3ds Max, Deep UV and ZBrush, Pierlot demonstrates the pipeline he uses every day at Blur Studio to add final details to a high-poly model based on a Carlos Huante design. He discusses how to achieve clean UVs with Deep UV, and how he adjusts volume proportions in ZBrush. He also shows how to create alpha maps in Photoshop and use them in ZBrush to easily add surface details such as veins, bumps and other skin textures. Finally, he shows how to export normal maps from ZBrush using the ZMapper plug-in and how to use the normal maps and cavity maps in Max for a sample render with Brazil.


In this DVD, Pierlot reveals his techniques for creating the textures and shaders for the final stage of the creature modeling and texturing pipeline. He shows how to create texture maps from scratch using a small library of different concrete and plaster textures. Using BodyPaint, he takes the cavity map from ZBrush and uses it as a guide to create the other maps for the creature. Laurent demonstrates how he experiments with one area of the body and then brings it to a near final stage before duplicating the maps and shaders for the rest of the creature using Photoshop and Max. He then shows how to use BodyPaint to paint over the seams and finalize the textures. Finally, he renders out separate passes and composites them together in Digital Fusion, discussing how this process allows better control of the final image and enables him to test the shaders for scene assembly and lighting.

Since 2000, The Gnomon Workshop ( has provided artists and students with the educational resources they need to succeed as artists in the entertainment industries. Whether they're interested in design, modeling, effects, animation, storytelling or matte painting, these DVDs provide a valuable educational resource for students around the world. The Gnomon Workshop is the sister company of The Gnomon School of Visual Effects, which provides professional caliber visual effects instruction to students and professionals in Los Angeles.