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The 20 most popular Gnomon Workshop tutorials of 2020

Sunday, January 31st, 2021 | Posted by CG Channel Administration

 
Discover 20 video tutorials that no aspiring CG artist can afford to miss as leading digital training company The Gnomon Workshop reveals the 20 most-watched workshops in its online library from the past year.

 
In 2020, our parent company The Gnomon Workshop helped artists of all levels from across the globe to learn a variety of new creative skills, from sketching anatomy to fluid simulation.

But with hundreds of workshops in its online library, it can be hard for new users to know where to start.

To help you take your skills to the next level, in this article we’re spotlighting the top 20 Gnomon Workshop tutorials of 2020, ranked by the number of views racked up by subscribers in the last year.

And remember: new users of The Gnomon Workshop can start with a free three-day trial, so if any of them catch your interest, just sign up and take a look.

 

 

20: Introduction to Visual Effects for Games in Unreal

Instructor: Jeremy Griffith
Software covered: Unreal Engine, Maya, Photoshop
Disciplines covered: Effects animation, game engines, look development, visual effects
Duration: 9 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

Videogames are more realistic than ever, and that’s all down to detail. Even something as trivial as a sewer pipe spewing out water can elevate an environment to believability.

Here, Call of Duty and BioShock alumnus Jeremy Griffith reveals how to create such seemingly mundane yet dynamic game world features. He covers physical forces, how to texture rushing shapes, water and mist, splash materials and more, the application of which will add texture and life to your game worlds.

Watch Introduction to Visual Effects for Games in Unreal

 

 

19: Creating a Photoreal Interior

Instructor: Adrien Vallecilla
Software covered: Arnold, Mari, Maya, Nuke, ZBrush
Disciplines covered: Lighting and rendering, look development, modelling, sculpting, texturing and shading, UV layout
Duration: 6 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

Recreating a photograph in CG doesn’t have to be complicated, as experienced Gnomon Workshop instructor Adrien Vallecilla – you can see his other tutorials here – demonstrates.

In this workshop, Vallecilla reveals best-practice approaches to help unravel photorealism, touching upon the application of real-world photographic elements, the importance of Fresnel effects, how to handle organic look dev and much more. The result is a workshop as meticulously crafted as the final image he creates.

Watch Creating a Photoreal Interior

 

 

18: Anatomy for Artists Volume 1: Understanding the Back and Shoulder Muscles

Instructor: Rey Bustos
Software covered: N/A
Disciplines covered: Anatomy, drawing
Duration: 2 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

Human anatomy presents a creative paradox: there are few things with which we’re more familiar, yet it remains an extraordinarily difficult thing to draw convincingly.

Thankfully, anatomy mastermind Rey Bustos simplifies things, mapping out basic shapes and forms, and revealing simple, memorable ways to interpret otherwise complicated conglomerations of muscle. You can gain similar insights in his workshops on the leg and foot and front torso and arm muscles.

Watch Anatomy for Artists Volume 1: Understanding the Back and Shoulder Muscles

 

 

17: Designing a Modular Environment using Unreal

Instructor: Brian Recktenwald
Software covered: 3ds Max, Photoshop, RealityCapture, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, V-Ray, Unreal Engine
Disciplines covered: Environment design, game engines, lighting and rendering, photogrammetry, texturing and shading
Duration: 3 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

As an environment artist at Naughty Dog, Brian Recktenwald has contributed to some of the most gorgeously detailed games available, including The Last of Us Part II.

Now you can learn about the work behind such worlds as he takes you through the creation of a polyp-infested subway, revealing how to create efficient game environments without sacrificing narrative depth.

If you want to take your own skills further once you’ve watched it, Recktenwald offers further insights in his workshop on Environment Art Lookdev Using Unreal and Photogrammetry.

Watch Designing a Modular Environment using Unreal

 

 

16: Vehicle Modeling for Production

Instructor: James Schauf
Software covered: Maya
Disciplines covered: Look development, modelling
Duration: 8 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

Follow along as James Schauf reveals how to pimp out a low-slung, diesel-guzzling Mad Max hotrod; all grill, exhaust, and screamer pipe on which to test your modelling skills.

You’ll learn how to model while maintaining clean topology, and you’ll get a lot for your mileage: the takeaways here aren’t just applicable to vehicles, but any hard surface modelling project.

Once finished, check out James’s second workshop, where he takes the car from clean to mean with Substance Painter.

Watch Vehicle Modeling for Production

 

 

15: Houdini Terrain Techniques

Instructor: Robby Branham
Software covered: Houdini, Nuke, Redshift
Disciplines covered: Compositing, digital sets, environment design, lighting and rendering, look development, texturing and shading, UV layout, visual effects
Duration: 4 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

The first of Robby Branham’s workshops in this Top 20 list focuses on landscape creation, as he reveals how he terraforms blank slates of digital space into worlds teeming with possibility.

Heightfield nodes and scattering techniques are explored in depth, alongside approaches like using EarthExplorer to generate terrain from real-world satellite data.

Whether you’re looking to create a small plot of land or King Kong’s Skull Island, this is the place to start.

Watch Houdini Terrain Techniques

 

 

14: Creature Modeling for Production

Instructor: Ben Erdt
Software covered: Modo, Photoshop, ZBrush
Disciplines covered: Creature design, digital sculpting, modelling
Duration: 7 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

Want to create a cool creature? Look no further than Ben Erdt, whose portfolio explodes with all the imagination of a Lovecraft anthology.

Here, he reveals the workflow behind one of his exotic deep-sea horrors, covering organic and hard surface modelling and retopology, and how to balance creativity against the practicalities of production.

Once you’re done, jump to number 11 on this list for a workshop on prepping Erdt’s model for animation.

Watch Creature Modeling for Production

 

 

13: Creating a Female Hairstyle for Production with Maya XGen

Instructor: Bruno Tornisielo
Software covered: Arnold, Maya, Photoshop
Disciplines covered: Lighting and rendering, look development, texturing and shading, visual effects
Duration: 3 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

As Senior CFX Artist at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Bruno Tornisielo has whipped up some stunning styles in his time as a digital coiffeur, and now he’s here to show you how.

The workshop elegantly weaves through lessons such as the methods Tornisielo uses to create details like clumps and curl; why it’s best to work in layers; and how to create all the guides for a hair groom.

It is definitely – dare we say it? – a cut above other hair tutorials.

Watch Creating a Female Hairstyle for Production with Maya XGen

 

 

12: Introduction to Houdini 17

Instructor: Robby Branham
Software covered: Houdini, Maya, Nuke
Disciplines covered: Compositing, effects animation, lighting and rendering, look development, modelling, scripting, texturing and shading, UV layout, visual effects
Duration: 5 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner–Intermediate

Robby Branham has recorded no fewer than five excellent Houdini workshops for The Gnomon Workshop, the reason being that he really knows his stuff. So who better to present an introduction to the software?

The workshop covers a lot of ground, including assets, expressions, materials, lights, nodes, procedural modelling, rigid body sims, fracturing techniques, Pyro simulation, VEX scripting and basic particle systems.

Branham’s know-how affords him insight into precisely what Houdini beginners need to learn – and how.

Watch Introduction to Houdini 17

 

 

11: Creature Rigging for Production

Instructor: Perry Leijten
Software covered: Maya
Disciplines covered: Character rigging, scripting
Duration: 8 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate–Advanced

If you’ve seen the creatures in Horizon Zero Dawn, you’ve witnessed Perry Leijten’s work — and you’ll know this tutorial is one worth watching.

It continues where his one-time colleague Ben Erdt left off in his own workshop, with Leijten taking Erdt’s creature design and generating a rigged skeleton that any animator can quickly get to grips with.

From base setup to custom rigging scripts, the workshop imparts the know-how you need to create flexibly rigged characters bursting with creative potential.

Watch Creature Rigging for Production

 

 

10: Facial Animation for Feature Animated Films

Instructor: Victor Navone
Software covered: Maya, Photoshop
Disciplines covered: Character animation
Duration: 3 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

As a supervising animator at Pixar, Victor Navone has contributed to almost every one of the studio’s films since Monsters, Inc. Who could be better placed to reveal how to bring stylised characters to life?

In his workshop, Navone explores topics like animation rhythm, exaggeration and elasticity. Rather than rigid rules, he provides creative ‘tools’ that you can use when the context suits.

Follow this tutorial and you’ll find your workbench well-equipped when it comes to building out that next line of dialogue with a characterful performance.

Watch Facial Animation for Feature Animated Films

 

 

09: Unreal Engine Complete Material System Overview

Instructor: Charleston Silverman
Software covered: Unreal Engine
Disciplines covered
: Effects animation, game engines, look development, texturing and shading
Duration: 4 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner–Intermediate

Charleston Silverman can pack a lot into four hours: in this case, everything you might ever want to know about materials in Unreal Engine.

Over 18 chapters, the workshop covers topics ranging from game engine basics like file importing and material type setups to PBR workflows and material animation.

Whether you want to discover the difference between the Fresnel effects and Emissive Materials, or you’re just looking to up your texture game, this is a great place to start.

Watch Unreal Engine Complete Material System Overview: Fundamental and Advanced Techniques

 

 

08: Creating Props for Games, Vol. 1: Modelling and Baking Normal Maps

Instructor: Nick Reynolds
Software covered: Marmoset Toolbag, Maya, Substance Painter, Unreal Engine, xNormal, ZBrush
Disciplines covered: Game engines, lighting and rendering, modelling, UV layout
Duration: 7 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

As videogames grow in complexity and next-gen consoles usher in a new era of graphics, developmental workflows will only demand more quality, faster. Nick Reynolds’ workshops will help you to achieve it.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an industry veteran, the series will equip you with detailed insights into the production of assets for videogames.

This workshop focuses on modelling and baking normals maps, while Vol. 2 covers texturing and shading.

Watch Creating Props for Games, Vol. 1: Modelling and Baking Normal Maps

 

 

07: Modeling and Rendering a Realistic Jumping Spider

Instructor: Eric Keller
Software covered: Maya, Redshift, Substance Painter, Yeti, ZBrush
Disciplines covered: Digital sculpting, lighting and rendering, look development, painting, texturing and shading, UV layout, visual effects
Duration: 9 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate–Advanced

Software alone does not create an image; the artist must also understand the subject they intend to recreate. So meet Phidippus mystaceus, the species of jumping spider with which you’re about to become familiar.

Rather than simply discussing technical topics like sculpting techniques, textures, topology and fur grooming, instructor and self-confessed science nerd Eric Keller provides detailed insights into spider anatomy and macro photography, and how those insights can be harnessed to create a compelling 3D render.

Watch Modeling and Rendering a Realistic Jumping Spider

 

 

06: Cloth Modeling Pipeline with Marvelous Designer

Instructor: Paul Liaw
Software covered: Marvelous Designer, Maya, ZBrush
Disciplines covered: Digital sculpting, look development, modelling
Duration: 10 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

Creature sculptor Paul Liaw’s resume ranges from sculpting dinosaurs for Jurassic World to modelling costumes for Doctor Strange.

In this cloth modelling workshop, he tailors this experience into training that is both stylish and practical. You’ll learn the fundamentals of creating ‘slopers’ and custom garments, but also how to create assets flexible enough to simultaneously meet the needs of directors, FX TDs and texture painters.

It’s these broader workflow considerations that elevate the workshop to haute couture.

Watch Cloth Modeling Pipeline with Marvelous Designer

 

 

05: nCloth for Production

Instructor: Rohit Jain
Software covered: Maya, Mixamo, Mudbox, Mixamo
Disciplines covered: Character animation, character rigging, effects animation, visual effects
Duration: 5 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate–Advanced

Simulating cloth can sometimes feel like an insurmountable challenge. With the benefit of instructor Rohit Jain’s decade-plus of experience in visual effects, the task feels much more achievable.

In his workshop, he sets out the fundamentals of cloth simulation using Maya’s nCloth toolset, including the five key menus within the software on which to focus.

Later chapters explore more advanced topics like how to fix simulation issues when they occur.

Watch nCloth for Production

 

 

04: Creating a Stylized Female Character

Instructor: Crystal Bretz
Software covered: Arnold, Mari, Marvelous Designer, Maya, ZBrush
Disciplines covered: Character design, digital sculpting, lighting and rendering, look development, modelling, texturing and shading, UV layout
Duration: 6 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

Crystal Bretz is an incredible artist, but also an exceptional mentor. Her educational calling shines through in this workshop on creating a stylised model of a skater, which guides viewers through the modelling, texturing, grooming and look development of a 3D character.

The workshop also offers an abundance of tips, tricks and hacks to speed up your work. If you’re looking to expand your character creation repertoire, this is the perfect place to start.

Watch Creating a Stylized Female Character

 

 

03: Creating Procedural Environments in Houdini

Instructor: Wojtek Piwowarczyk
Software covered: Houdini
Disciplines covered: Effects animation, environment design, lighting and rendering, modelling, texturing and shading, visual effects
Duration: 8 hours
Proficiency level: Intermediate

Today’s digital environments are often so gloriously replete with detail that it would be near-impossible for any artist to create them by hand. Thank heavens, then, for procedural workflows.

In this workshop, environment artist Wojtek Piwowarczyk reveals his non-destructive procedural workflow, and how it helps him to build worlds for shows like The Mandalorian and The Lion King.

From fundamentals like scattering objects to lessons on optimising workflows with Houdini’s VEX scripts, this workshop is a vital introduction to building beautiful, convincing environments.

Watch Creating Procedural Environments in Houdini

 

 

02: Introduction to Maya 2020

Instructor: Eric Keller
Software covered: Maya, Arnold
Disciplines covered: Character animation, character rigging, digital sculpting, effects animation, HDR images, lighting and rendering, modelling, painting, texturing and shading, UV layout, visual effects
Duration: 16 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

Eric Keller’s previous Introduction to Maya tutorials have proved so popular that The Gnomon Workshop asked the veteran artist back to explore the new features in Maya 2020.

In an essential workshop for anyone aiming to master one of the industry’s most widely used applications, Keller covers both Maya’s core toolsets and the latest improvements, using a project-based approach.

Topics covered include fluid simulation using the bundled Bifrost for Maya plugin, interactive grooming with XGen, the Nucleus dynamics system, and much more.

Watch Introduction to Maya 2020

 

 

01: Introduction to ZBrush 2021

Instructor: Madeleine Scott-Spencer
Software covered: ZBrush, Keyshot, Maya, Photoshop
Disciplines covered: Lighting and rendering, modelling, sculpting, texturing and shading, UV layout
Duration: 51 hours
Proficiency level: Beginner

Last year, The Gnomon Workshop asked sculpting virtuoso Madeleine Scott-Spencer to update her Introduction to ZBrush for the latest version of the industry-standard sculpting software, creating an exhaustive yet accessible 66-chapter workshop on all things ZBrush, replete with downloadable project files.

With credits on The Hobbit and Wonder Woman and several highly regarded ZBrush books under her belt, there are few better tutors from whom to learn the capabilities of Pixologic’s software than Madeleine.

Watch Introduction to ZBrush 2021

 
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