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The masters behind the effects

By Melissa Massey

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Date Added: 4th December 2013

With preparations underway for the annual Gnomon School of Visual Effects master classes this month, we chat to Gnomon's founder and some of the contributing artists about what to expect.


The 2013 master classes offered between the 16th-31st of December are designed with the CG artist community firmly in mind.

The classes offer the opportunity for artists at all levels to gain invaluable insight into technique, influence and the approach to workflow.

The master class instructors currently work and consult for studios such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Disney, Sony Interactive, Digital Domain, Activision and Rock Star Games.

Employed across the film, broadcast and games industries, these top-level artists are seasoned professionals poised and willing to help unlock the potential within others throughout the series of lectures.

For the Whole Community

To most, it should come as no surprise that the majority of the 14 sessions will require an intermediate to advanced technical knowledge to unlock the lecture's full potential.

FX artist for DreamWorks Animation, Alessandro Pepe adds that his master class, Advanced Particle Techniques for VFX in Maya: Particle Expressions, will also be for those with expert experience.

Alessandro Pepe

Alessandro explains his class is for those who are seriously interested in creating effects using Maya.

He says: "I explain many of the tricks I learned the hard way working with Maya particles over many years of experience in the industry.”

But this should not deter artists just starting out, as other lessons – specifically those on workflow and concepts – will also appeal to beginners.

Environment artist for Neversoft Entertainment, Devon Fay hopes his master class (Creating Believability in Fantastical Environments) will strike a good balance between beginners and experts.

Devon Fay

Devon says: "I won't be going too much into specifics on techniques, but rather be talking more about workflow and philosophy on approaching a project. Even if you already know the concepts, constant exposure always helps solidify it in your brain.”

Founder of Gnomon, Alex Alvarez explains his master class will offer beginners an idea of how to approach a detailed image in an efficient manner, while experienced artists will get ideas for new tools they could implement into their pipelines.

Alex Alvarez

Access All Areas

Students participating in the master classes will be able to view the 28 hours of HD lectures with unlimited access throughout the duration of the event.

At points, the artists will also be available to share and discuss techniques on the private community forum, providing an unrivalled opportunity for students worldwide to take part.

"From concept art to photo collage prototyping, class discussions will pull aspiring artists at all levels, in all directions"

With artists having collectively worked on Star Trek: Into Darkness, Oblivion, Prometheus, Avatar, Green Lantern, Alice in Wonderland, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Thor: The Dark World, Wrath of the Titans, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Halo 4, Call of Duty and Elder Scrolls (to name but a few!), those taking part shouldn't be short of questions!

From concept art to photo collage prototyping, class discussions will pull aspiring artists at all levels, in all directions.

Nick Hiatt

Leading by Imagination

Slightly star struck by their impressive portfolio of work, we wanted to go beyond the work – to uncover what inspired these incredible professionals to jump from amateur to pro.

Responsible for hosting this impressive access to the world's leading digital artists is Gnomon School of Visual Effects founder, director and owner, Alex Alvarez.

Alex Alvarez

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