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The Gnomon Workshop Review

Posted by ewa On May - 31 - 2011

3D graphics design has truly taken the world of animation to the next (lets hope not ultimate) level. Thegnomonworkshop.com in particular, has gotten this concept down to a tee. Since 2000 this website has provided the resources that make one of the cornerstones of the entertainment industry – 3D graphics design. Needless to say, if you could describe this website in one word, it would be “fabulous”.

The Gnomon School of Visual Arts is a famous school in California for training some of the hottest talents that are responsible for refining the movie and gaming industry with state of the art concept designs that made us fall in love with it. Thegnomonworkshop.com makes for a handy online tutorial website for those that cannot attend actual classes or who travel a lot and cannot attend regular training sessions. Working experts use this website to create and teach artist the best concept art, effects animation and more.

The website, thegnomonworkshop.com, includes instructional DVDs and tutorials that are up for purchase. In other words, this website gives its members a chance to make it big in a booming graphics industry by giving them access to all their training videos. The idea of a free membership was to provide people a chance to utilize all that The Gnomon School had to offer without actually having to join the school itself and pay for classes. Beats having to pay for tuition fees, I would say. What impressed me the most was that the tutorials and DVDs on this website have also been utilized by media giants like NBC, Disney and even DreamWorks!

As far as the pricing system is concerned, The Gnomon Workshop offers its members up to 3 different pricing systems. They are divided into 3 “plans”. The first package, Plan 1, allows users to purchase every Gnomon tutorial for sale for 499 USD on an annual basis. If you want specific tutorials you can also opt for Plan 2 or 3. Plan 2 in particular consists of tutorials that are within the subject of visual effects for film and games, while Plan 3 includes tutorials in the field of design, illustration and sculpting. Registered members can opt for these packages for yearly tutorial updates.

Other than that the membership process is also free and easy. All you have to do is to follow standard procedure (email and accepting their policies) and you are home free. The subscriptions are the only things that you have to pay for if you want to use them. You can also make single purchases even if you are not a registered member. All you have to do is to toss your desired purchase into your “cart” and the website will take it from there. You will, however, have to register as a paying customer. This still beats having to specifically subscribe for whole sets of tutorials and being stuck with more than you know what to do with.  I was also surprised to find out that I could purchase the tutorial videos either as DVDs or as QuickTime downloads. The prices for both formats are the same, so it is best that you stick to the downloadable versions if you do not particularly like to wait for them to be delivered to your doorstep.

The subscription page seemed to be lacking something though. I would have preferred if the video tabs had a couple of screenshots or summaries that told me what they were about. For example, you will have to go out of a specific DVD’s web page in order to view its video details. The content for each page is distributed on various tabs which were a bit confusing as well. Nevertheless, I found that I could easily navigate myself through the website without coming across any digital dead ends.

I don’t know about you, but buying DVDs on the internet has never been my cup of tea. This website has changed all that. The content and the layout are very professional. However, you need to already know the basics before you even think of watching the DVDs. I lost my train of thought on more than one occasion on a DVD (“Production FX Workflows”) that showed “Brandon” talk about VFXanimation. I have had no VFX training whatsoever but I loved the way he showed how everything comes together so I wasn’t complaining. The DVD also included links and files so I had no problem with finding where I needed to go which was very helpful. Other than that, it consisted of basic tasks, terminology and file layouts.

Thegnomonworkshop.com is also a fairly user friendly website. At least, it was to me. In order to preview the content of each page, visitors generally have to browse their way through it via the content navigator. This will let them know what the website has up for offer in each section. One of the best things I realized was that the website allowed me to search for my preferred item by “Subject”, “Software tools” or by “Instructor”. Chalk one up for usability! It also offers “freebies” like free tutorials and desktop wallpapers for registered members. However, what really got me hooked was the discussion by “subject” tab. That, in my opinion, is where the real action is. This tab allowed users to pay particular attention to digital paraphernalia of every type imaginable. For example, I really liked what they had to offer in their Games and Visual Effects section. It included tutorials on Character Animation, Cinematography, Compositing and Effects Animation to name a few. Other “subjects” like Industrial Design, Illustration and Industrial Design were just as extensive. The pictures and art on display were up to 800 to about a 3000 pixels. Other than that the subscription DVDs themselves offer a ton of quality content for purchase. The “Galleries” also had artwork from the institute’s art directors. Each staff member had his own gallery page that displayed their profiles and their accolades. The gallery also displayed some samples of their art work.


Would you want to use this website? Absolutely! Will it help you get a step closer into breaking into art of movies and games? You said it! One of the best things about this website (besides the awesome layout) is the fact that it offers online tutorials that will instruct you on almost everything you will need to know in order to take your CGI aspirations to the next level. The creators and professionals offer great tips on topics like portraits as well as drawing hands and feet. How they are done is taught by professionals and at affordable rates to boot! In other words, if you are on the lookout for a website that brings together both quality and affordability, thegnomonworkshop.com is the place to be.

Summary:

+ A good navigation system and excellent 3D graphics design software and tutorials make this site unique. Other than that the fact that this website offers a great alternative to attending actual classes by providing members online 3D design tutorials is another selling point.

- Too many tabs for a single video description made looking for a particular tutorial annoying.

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