Sunday, March 21, 2010

Matte Painting Breakdown

I been out of this blog for months now, I been busy On and Off these days anyway I feel good that I had completed this personal work. Though I am not very proud of the results but I am very happy that it really helped to get back in touch with my matte painting skills after a long break.

So here goes a short break down of the whole process.

Inspiration and references.
Basically I was inspired by the above shot in Star Trek to start with this matte painting. So I started looking for inspiration in similar matte paintings done by other artists and collected few good reference images to start with my concept.

clean plate
As you can see this image gave me a lot of open space for my concept and it already had some incredible mood and atmospheric perspective to start with.

reference pictures
Above were the most of the reference images I have used early in the process. There might be other images I have used apart from these ones but for now these are the main ones I could relate to in my library.

concept photo collage, version 1
In the above image you can see I have used basic solid shapes and few images to build up the basic composition. I have used the airplane engine exhaust and bullet shell images mainly to get the shape of the main structure.

version 2
After getting the basic composition and direction. I tried to establish the scale and added more structures overall. The sky was basically composite of clouds from different photographs.

version 3
At this stage I continued to add more structures such as cranes, poles and pipes . Most importantly I tried to crush the blacks to match the distance. Getting the atmospheric perspective (level of fog) was the most tricky part and I achieved it by painting blindly with high level of opacity at first and then erasing it with a low opacity large size air brush.

version 4
After getting a right sense of atmosphere I started to paint light and shadows after considering the direction of the light source. I also added more structures and removed some structures from both sides of the composition. At this stage I also started to get some really good critics from my coworkers which really guided me in the right direction.

Version 5
Getting the right combination of haze and light was really tricky part and I also felt it was a very subjective matter. At this point I also started to add more details such as building lights, hard and soft highlights and a glance of sunlight from right to create center of attention. I also adjusted the scale of elements to make it more convincing with the lighting.

version 6

I was happy with the feeling I had with the previous version but I really pushed it a little bit further with help of some really good criticism from my friends and good folks at

With this last version most of changes were on the lighting and foreground. I made lighting more evenly throughout the scene and the foreground was changed to match the lighting. Also I added more details such as more building lights and finally I changed the sky to match the overall lighting as well.

That's the end of this breakdown and I am really happy to share this process with you all so if you have any queries please do let me know.