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Alex Alvarez created "Grehm" as a personal project in Maya.  Alex is the Founder and Director of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, CA.  He learned to use Alias software while he was an Illustration major at the Art Center College of Design, and later worked as an Applications Engineer at Alias|Wavefront before he founded Gnomon.  You can see more of Alex's work on his web site.

Alex started this portrait by making drawings of the character from front and side views.  As shown in the screenshot below, he used the drawings as image planes (templates) to guide his modeling in Maya.

Alex used patch modeling, assembling the head out of about 200 NURBS surfaces, with all of the rectangular NURBS surfaces seamlessly stitched together like patches in a quilt (the thicker blue lines in the wireframe show the edges of the individual NURBS patches.)

All of the detail was modelled manually, pushing and pulling vertices to sculpt the surface.  Alex painted the color map, a bump map for warts and wrinkles, and a specular map, all using StudioPaint 3D from Alias|Wavefront.

The head was "skinned" (linked to the skeleton) with a new Maya 3.0 feature called a "wrap deformer." To use a wrap deformer, you first build a low-resolution polygonal version of your character, and then the wrap deformer allows the low-res object to function as a deformation object for the high resolution NURBS surface. Only the low resolution polygon mesh needed to be skinned to the joints in the skeleton, which allowed overlapping cluster deformations to more naturally pose the character.