Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wonders of the West

The Delicate Arch

Its over. After 3 long, tiresome months, our semester is finally over. To say we learned a lot would be a gross understatement. I still have not fully processed all the techniques I learned while attending Gnomon, they are all scribbled in my notebook waiting for a time I can internalize them properly.

On Monday the 30th, I began my drive home to Maine. The first stop was Zion National Park, located in Southwest Utah. It was an amazing place. The entire park is literally located in the belly of Zion Canyon, a sweeping trench of beautifully colored walls, with a green-blue river running through its heart. It is a truly majestic area, forcefully shoving the wonders of nature into your face at all times. While I was there, I decided to hike the 'Angels Landing' trail, a steep climb up a 1500 foot cliff face. The trail begins as a series of switch backs, eventually giving way to a series of narrow rock path ways that cause you to hop and climb along the top of the mountain, all the while facing 1400 foot drops to either side of you. The last mile or so of the trail has you holding on to chains for dear life, as you scramble up and over steep rock faces all the while facing certain, erm, discomfort should you misstep. All of the sweat blood and tears (well maybe not tears) are well worth is once you summit. Angels Landing provides a 360 view of the Zion Canyon, a truly breathtaking sight.

From there I made my way to Arches National Park, located in the Southeast area of Utah, near the charming adventure town of Moab. While not as much of a hiking park as Zion, the views were no less, if not more impressive. The park is filled with iconic Arches. The size and beauty of these arches cannot be portrayed through photographs or video sadly enough, although I tried my best. They are a monument to the power and artistry of mother nature, cementing her position as the worlds greatest sculptor. The sunset is an especially magical time in Arches. The dipping sun causes the rocks to glow an intense red, which contrasts nicely with the pure blue skies of the west. The La Sal mountain range provides a constant backdrop for the majority of the arches, adding yet another layer of beauty to the scene. This is a place I can only hope all of you get to experience at least once in your life. I intend on returning to the area as soon as I can so experience the rest of Arches, as well as Bryce and Canyonlands National Parks which are also in the area.

I am currently staying with my Aunt and Uncle in Crested Butte, Colorado, a small but charming ski town that I visited as a young boy. It is always interesting to return to places from your early childhood to see how much you can remember.

From here I am traveling to (?), Kansas, and then to stay with a friend in Ohio,then to another friend in Mass, and then finally back home to Durham, Maine, which hold a unique beautiful landmark of its own, my bed.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Northern view from Angels Landing

Trail down from Angels Landing

Zion National Park

Monday, March 9, 2009

Long Time No Post

I apologize to everyone for the lack of information as of late. We have all been pretty swamped with work. It's been hard to find much spare time to do much of anything. In fact the opening day showing of Watchmen we attended was the first thing we had done for fun in.....months. The semester is starting to wind down now, just 3 more weeks to go. It's truly amazing just how fast the time has passed out here. It is as if the concept of time has somehow been skewed and distorted around our ultra busy lifestyle. It is somewhat saddening to see our time at Gnomon begin to draw to its conclusion, but I am anxious for the East Coast and Maine. Due to one of my classes originally being scheduled for a delayed start, I am now driving back to Maine alone, as Josh had assumed I would be staying here longer then him and James. While this is slightly disheartening news for such a long journey, I am excited to make it alone. With no pressing engagements to return to, I am planning on taking my time and really soaking in some of the wonders of the West. I am planning on spending at least 2 nights in Zion National Park, Utah, hiking and photographing the area. Perhaps a night will be spent in Arches National Park as well. It's hard to say at this point. I will spending time with my Aunt, Uncle and two little cousins in Crested Butte, CO as well, shortly after my visits to the National Parks, another stop I am looking forward to. Traveling the country alone is something I have secretly always wanted to do. The romance and mystery of the open road will be a great adventure to partake in.

The weather out here has been spectacular lately. The average temperature has been between 60-70 on most days, even high on others. Oddly enough I find myself pining for the damp, wet Maine spring. There is something uplifting about seeing the world coming back into fruition after winter, something that is not present here in the land of perpetual sunshine.

As far as work goes, we have all been hard at work. Josh is well on his way in his final animation, James is busy modeling a car and his video game character, and I am busy with my lighting, my character and a whole bunch of speed sculpts for my Zbrush Texturing class. However, speaking for myself (and I would assume the others) I have learned so much that I haven't even had time to digest it all. I am looking forward to the summer so I can really apply the techniques I have learned to my personal work.

I attached a photo I took at Santa Monica Beach during my mothers visit, and a 3 hour speed sculpting exercise I worked on for class. Ill get some more work from the guys pretty soon, I promise.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Josh's Animation

Here is an animation Josh has been working on. Im sure he would appreciate any feedback or suggestions!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tarons Art Opening at Gnomon.

This past evening, James and I had the opportunity to attend an art opening in the Gnomon gallery of works created by the artist, Taron.

On display was a large variety of 3D canvas prints. His work in many cases was both beautiful and disturbing all at once. I believe that his renders and presentation took his art from the "digital media" realm to that of fine art, a task any digital artist will tell you is not an easy one to achieve. In addition to his digital work, Taron also had on display a few of his traditional paintings, and a few images from his sketchbook. After viewing these images it is immediately evident that he is almost as well versed in traditional as he is in digital arts.

I have included a few pictures (it is a shame I did not think to take more), of the gallery for your viewing pleasure. I encourage all of you to take a look at more of his work, which can be found at .

Thank you for reading!

*Click for larger versions*

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Work

Here is some work from all of us. Some stills from James' modeling class, a video from Joshes dynamics class, and a Zombie that I am sculpting to eventually texture for my texture painting class.

*click for larger view*

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gesture Studies

In the past couple days I've been working on some Zbrush sculpts. These are simply gesture/anatomy/and proportion studies. My teacher, Ryan Kingslien creates a lot of digital "fine art sculptures", basically pieces that have no practical purpose besides looking nice (hopefully!). I have tried my hand at this concept, applying the knowledge I have gained thus far in his Zbrush&Anatomy class.

*Watch videos in High Quality for Audio*


Dramatically Posed Man:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Work updates.

Hey everybody. Here is some work we have done in the past few days. First is a walk cycle that Josh animated for his character animation class. I also included a few Zbrush images I made. The first is the beginnings of an anatomy study for my zbrush&anatomy class. The second is my entry for a sculpting challenge on and the last is a head study that I worked on with some guidance from Ryan Kingslien.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

James does work too!

Here is some of James' work. A few shots of a skull he had to sculpt for his Intro Zbrush class, and then a render of the shader series he worked on for Texture Mapping.
Im sure he'd appreciate feedback!

I also included a few images of some environmental sculpting Ive started to experiment in.

My Environmental Sculpts:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Work.

Hey all,

We have been hard at work as usual. Tonight, Gnomon is hosting a game dev. presentation, featuring the team from Naughty Dog entertainment, talking about their 2008 hit game, Uncharted: Drakes fortune. Unfortunately James and Josh have class during the presentation, but I will be attending, and taking pictures of the event to show everyone what was going down.

So anyway, here is the finished container. I took Elliotts and Matts advice and worked on the color of the rust, saturating it much more, and added more contrast to the spec. map as well. I rendered these out of Mental Ray, tried to use flat shading to emulate a basic game engine lighting (as this is meant to be an asset for a next-gen game). I then composited it in Photoshop, I think it turned out pretty decent.

I am trying to get some renders from James, but so far Ive gotten nothing, haha. But Ill keep up the nagging until he caves.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some of our work.

Hey Everybody.

Here is some of the work we have done so far (I'll post some stuff from Josh and James as soon as they give me some!).

I painted this texture for a cargo container, for my Texture Painting class. I think it came out pretty well. The teacher gave us pretty high standards, something that he would consider acceptable for his own work (hes a texture artist currently working on the next Call of Duty game). I think it turned out pretty well. Took about 10 hours, hand painted in Photoshop. I painted dirt, rust, boot prints, paint splatters, salt stains, etc. I never realized how time consuming texturing can be. I would love to hear suggestions from Matt or Elliott.

(Click for Larger Version)

Some early renders (I havent had a chance to make Matts changes):

Here is a ball that Josh hand animated. No dynamics on this one. A sort of back to the basics exercise. Looks good though, much harder than it seems (take it from someone who cant animate at all.

Here are some renders from my Lighting class. Our first homework was to basically do a photoshoot with a model, practicing 3-point lighting. Here are a few of my better shots:

(Click for Larger Versions)

Josh's Nebula:


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First Experiences at Gnomon.

Sorry for the long lapse in posts, we haven't really done anything noteworthy, until now. Monday, classes began at Gnomon. To answer Elliott's and Matt's question before either of them even asks, we are taking;

-Lighting and Rendering 1
-Character Creation for Games
-Creating 2D Textures for 3D Art
-Anatomy in Zbrush (5 weeks)
-Texturing in Zbrush (5 weeks, after Anatomy)

-Texture Mapping 1
-Character Creation for Games
-Polygon Modeling 1
-Intro to Zbrush

-Dynamic Effects 1
-Character Animation 1
-Compositing with Shake
-Character Kinematics

So far Josh has had his first Dynamics class (for the Moms, dynamics in terms of 3D, is creating things like smoke, rain, water, stars, fire, explosions, etc for use in 3D scenes). Apparently he already has a great deal of work, creating a Nebula simulation or something of that sort.

James' Texture Mapping (creating the textures that are placed on models of environments, characters, objects, etc) class was unfortunately canceled on the first day, the teacher got caught up meeting a deadline at the Studio he is employed at. Par for the course I assume. If we want education from working professionals, we have to be understanding of their more important commitments.

I had my first Lighting and Rendering (In Momish: This is essentially the process of making a 3D scene look as though it is real, accomplished through adding realistic lights and shadows, fog effects, and then rendering out the scene through a render engine, which, in a sense, takes all the aspects of the scene such as environments, characters, lights, textures, and animations, into a viewable movie....more or less) class yesterday. It is taught by the lead lighter at Rhythm and Hues. He recently finished working on the film "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor". Regardless of how good the movie was, the visual effect warranted a Oscar nomination. So needless to say, this guy means business. Luckily for myself, much of the understanding of how light works is very similar to same concepts used in photography.

The campus of Gnomon is a wonderful places, with a very similar feeling to the interior of the Art Dept. at Springfield. It is an incredibly creative environment, with comfortable lounge areas, and very advanced computer labs. Many of the computes are set up with 30" monitors! Goodie.

So that's basically the gist of recent events. I will keep you posted as we complete projects and experience new classes, posting stills and videos of our work.

Thanks for reading!

For more details on our classes, see the course descriptions here:
Gnomon School of Visual Effects Course Descriptions

Ive included a few images of Gnomons "campus".

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New England Boys in Hollywood

At long, (oh so) long last, Josh, James and I moved in to our apartment Monday afternoon. Josh and I arrived around 11:30am, only to be told that we couldn't actually move into our apartment until 3:30pm. That sort of deflated our excitement a bit, but no worries, its not like there isn't anything in Hollywood for us to occupy our time with. So finally 3:30pm rolled around, and we began unpacking, rearranging. However, since this is only a one bedroom apartment, I am forced to sleep in the living room on a surprisingly comfortable cot, and I had to convert the coat closet/pantry into shelves and a clothes closet. We make do. Our kitchen is a true ode to college kids, with a heavily stocked freezer full of pizza, Hot-Pockets, sausage, etc, and a lot of beer (none for James, hes only 20, bless his little heart). The apartment is roomy, and has begun to start to look more like a home than the giant hotel room it formerly resembled. We have a nice fenced in patio, sliding glass doors with a screen, a clean, wide open bathroom area, and a rather spacious living room, with 3 seating areas. Perfect. We aren't sure what the next few days hold for us, as we do not have class until Monday. We are thinking about getting up super early for Leno tickets (they are free provided you are lucky enough to be in line in time), perhaps a much needed tour of Gnomon? Visiting a studio (what studio you say? Oh perhaps, ABC, NBC, WB, Universal, Disney Animation)? Endless possibilities, but whatever we choose, I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy a few photos of our diggs.