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Gnomon Workshop Releases New Maya Training DVDs

The Gnomon Workshop has released eight new training DVDs on texturing, lighting and particle rendering in Alias|Wavefront's Maya, as well as two "analog" titles on character sculpture, produced by industry veteran John Brown, a new addition to the Gnomon team. Each title contains two hours of instruction, lecture notes, resource spotlights and bonus materials. They are priced at $69 each and may be purchased at

The DVDs were produced by Darrin Krumweide, associate director of the Gnomon School, Jeremy Engleman, digital artist at DreamWorks Feature Animation, Andrew Orloff, principal and VFX supervisor at Zoic studios and character designer/sculptor John Brown (PLANET OF THE APES).

"With six new Maya titles that focus on texturing and rendering, we are addressing the needs of an industry which demands high-quality visual output, produced effectively and efficiently," explains Gnomon Workshop director Alex Alvarez. "In conjunction with our new Maya titles," we have decided to launch a new 'analog' component to the Gnomon Workshop. While CG tools have become an indispensable component to today's entertainment industries, their visual impact lies firmly on a foundation of design, composition and storytelling. John Brown, an industry veteran in the field of character/creature design and sculpture, has spent countless hours producing a pair of extremely informative sculpture DVDs. These new analog titles will help any digital artist who is interested in developing their eye and thought process for organic work. At Gnomon, we have consistently found that individuals with the strongest traditional skills become the strongest digital artists."

The eight new releases are as follows:

MAYA - RENDERING, III: LIGHT EFFECTSThe secondary effects of lighting can be simulated through a variety of tools Maya provides. Extremely complex light phenomena such as light filtering through curtains, firelight or light from a stained glass window can be replicated by simply mapping the color of a single light. And caustics, the light that is bent and refocused off of a reflective medium or through a transparent medium, can also be simulated through mapping a light's color. Effects that are actually a result of the lens observing the scene are handled through the lights as well. The lens flare from a sunset, the star points on an ultra bright spot light, the specular blooming of a polished car, or the glint of a charging hoarde's weaponry are all handled through optical effects and shader glow.

MAYA - RENDERING, IV: LIGHT FOGWhen light is projected through a medium like atmosphere, water, or a field of very fine particulate matter such as smoke, water vapor, or dust, it illuminates that medium. Maya does not do this in the same way as the real world. However Maya can simulate this phenomenon with light fog. While in the real world the effect is a result of the atmosphere and is independent of the lights, in Maya this fog is added to and adjusted for each light separately. Not only can light fog be used to recreate natural phenomena, but it can be used to simulate plasma, vorticies, spells and a number of particle-like effects, without the overhead of creating and managing particles.

MAYA - TEXTURING, IV: BASIC UV LAYOUTThe ease of polygon texturing has improved to the point that polygon geometry is useful in all types of production. This includes the use of polygons in film, commercials and the traditional application in games. The previous reliance on NURBS modeling and texturing is shifting to full polygon or sub-divisional surfaces. Because of this shift, it is important to understand the techniques for controlling UV texture placement, so that seamless and undistorted texture can be created. This lecture discusses the basic controls and applications for Polygon UV coordinates.

MAYA - TEXTURING, V: ADVANCED UV LAYOUTBefore texture mapping a polygon character, texture coordinates need to be defined. These coordinates, or UVs, control a map's distribution across surfaces which, when used effectively, accept textures smoothly and free from distortion. In addition to texture smoothness, the manner in which a model's UVs are presented creates benefits for the artist. These include readable 2D representations of the surface while painting, and the ability to paint seamlessly in 3D paint programs. Discussed in this lecture are the techniques for efficiently and effectively creating UV layouts for organic surfaces. Also discussed is the use of multi-texturing, the application of two or more maps onto a model using unique UV layouts.

MAYA - DYNAMICS, XII: HARDWARE RENDERINGFire, smoke, energy blasts and rain are just some of the dynamic effects required by today's demanding visual effects industry. More and more, films, television and video games are using dynamic effects to create a heightened sense of realism in their projects. Maya's hardware rendering technology is a staple of the visual effects industry and allows artists to create these complex effects without putting stress on already compressed deadlines. In this DVD you will learn about the main hardware render types and what kind of effects they can be used for. Real world examples of how to create specific effects and integrate them with photographic elements will show you how hardware renders are used in a production environment.

MAYA - DYNAMICS, XIII: SPRITE RENDERINGSprites allow you to use an image of your choice and map it onto the position of a dynamically controlled particle. Sprites are used throughout the visual effects industry for such diverse effects as crowd replication, smoke, fire and cloud volumes. In this lecture you will learn to harness the power of sprites. Covered topics include; creating sprite images, smoke and magic effects, as well as a comprehensive "under the hood" look at the sprite rendering type and all of its unique attributes. You will also learn how to get the most out of your sprites by using simple but powerful particle expressions.

ANALOG - SCULPTURE, I: THE CHARACTER ARMATUREThe armature is the aluminum skeleton underneath a clay sculpture. It not only supports the sculpture, but also contains valuable proportional measurements. More than just twisting wire, this method of making a telescoping armature teaches how to calculate and be exact, as well as how to plan and execute your creative ideas from their inception. Its rudimentary approach to advanced techniques ensures professional results from sculptors of all calibers. Learn how to determine scale and also where the sculpture will come apart for accessibility & molding.

ANALOG - SCULPTURE, II: THE CHARACTER MAQUETTESculpting the maquette (small model) develops not only good technique, but also provides the artist with an understanding of the workflow of a sculpture, ensuring quality and efficiency. Beginning with a clean armature, this lecture takes the student through the entire process of realizing a finished piece. Its rudimentary approach to advanced techniques ensures professional results from sculptors of all calibers. Complete with narrative theory and practical application, it offers an in-depth look at the basics of the preliminary, intermediary and post sculpture process.

The Gnomon Workshop is an outgrowth of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, a professional institute specializing in training for the high-end visual effects community. This online resource for the Maya community produces training DVDs and free tutorials, which are available exclusively online at