Tag: Digital Painting

Matte Painting Projection pt2

Hi all,

As promised in part 1, here is part 2 of the matte painting projection post.

I recently finished two shots for a client that needed scenes of New York city circa 1927. This is not a literal rendition of NY city, the buildings are in all the wrong places.. but this was meant to be a more romantic idea of NY back then! Both shots centered around the Chrysler building, of which will be live action and/or 3D in the final work. The shots I’m showing here are all pre-composited. I delivered the entire Maya scene files to the client with all of the sourceimages as they were able to render out the passed they needed.

They are also night scenes which makes them a little hard to see, sorry..

The 3D models were provided by the client which I used as is, or modified as needed. The main animated camera was also provided by the client. The second shot still has a lot of jitter due to the tracking of the live action that had yet to be smoothed out which explains why the camera feels a little weird. There was no art direction on these shots other than the client’s brief.

I did all of this using Maya. I assume there is a similar, if not more efficient approach in other 3D apps. Nuke however may make the approach through Maya obsolete! One other thing to mention, I’ve taken the Model to Painting approach. Some people paint first then build a rough model to match the painting. The technique outlined below works either way.

Anyway, so the steps go something like this:

1. I set up the basic composition and placement of the buildings within the scene except for the Chrysler building.

2. Render/Play the shot and look for parallax shifting between the fg buildings and mg, bg buildings.

3. Place PROJECTION camera/s so as to get the best coverage of the model relative to the MAIN animated camera.

4. Render out hi-res still/s of the model/s. This can be flat shaded or GI, up to you.

5. Paint the render/s in Photoshop as you want them to look. I usually label the images with info, version number etc. These notes wont appear on the model, don’t worry. Do NOT crop the image! If it’s a pixel out from the original still render, it wont line up with the model when you project it back again.

6. Project those painted images back through the same PROJECTION camera/s and assign that new LAMBERT shader (as INCANDESCENCE) onto the original model.

Make sure you select PERSPECTIVE under Proj Type. Under the Camera Attributes section, Link to Camera – This is the original camera you used to render the model. Name that PROJ camera something obvious like – Bldg_5_PROJ or PROJ_cam_A.

7. Render scene and you’re done!

Click here to see the final animation on my Youtube page.

What I’ve outlined here is fairly simplistic. I had 7 Projection cameras on this shot, for a total of 10 shaders assigned to various buildings and one bg cyc.

Here are two more images for the buildings on the right of camera.

And here is the video of shot 1. The fg building with the TIMES sign was also done using the same projection techniques. The ‘flat’ appearance of the windows in the Chrysler building would not cut it for a final feature, but this was for a test to help pitch a project and the final part of the Chrysler building as seen in this shot is to be replaced with live action.

Click here to see the NY shot 1.
These shots are pre-composited and the gamma is a little up on the youtube vids. I’ll see if I cant adjust at some point.

Anyway, I hope that helps demystify the matte painting projection process in Maya a little. Let me know if I’ve only confused you even further!!

Xfuns Magazine and Expose´ 7

Howdy all!

Long time no blog.. I said I wouldn’t leave it so long after my last entry and I was right.. It was LONGER!

First off, I got an image into Ballistic Publishing’s Expose´7, pg 116, environments section.. Some really cool work in this edition so go check it out!

One thing that I have noticed over recent years is the incorrect usage of the term ‘matte painting’ when it is applied to digital art. As soon as you paint a figure into a scene, it stops being a matte painting and becomes concept art.. or just plain art. Matte painting is a specific tool in the visual effects toolbox, not a term to be applied to any old digital painting.  The term is useless outside of visual effects.

End mini rant..

Today I picked up my copy of the latest Xfuns Magazine. Issue 43. Xfuns is a Creative & Design Magazine published in Taiwan. Many thanks to Audrey and Ching for making this happen, it looks great! You can find their website here.

What else has been happening… I’ve been busy working on several matte paintings for Director Vincent Ward’s latest TV commercial, ‘Blossom Hill’ for Luscious International here in Sydney. I’ll post some of this later. For those in the UK, you would have already seen this ad.. Right now I’m finishing up on a print job for a Saudi Arabian client. Those two jobs have kept me busy for the last 7 weeks. It never rains but it pours as they say!

I have the odd oil painting on the go as well, I’ll post more of that later.. really..

So that’s it for now. Back to it for me..


7 Ancient Wonders – Alternative Cover Art

Hi there fellow travellers..

Came across this image while I was backing up files and thought it might be of interest and something a bit different from what I’ve been posting recently.

A STEALTH JUMBO JET!! This was one possible alternative for the cover of Matthew Reilly’s 7 Ancient Wonders action/suspense novel. It was decided that images of military hardware just wouldn’t appeal to female readers and thus they woudn’t pick it up off the shelf.. I wondered how the female readers would feel about the novel once they got into it and discovered it was full of military hardware and related action anyway. Then my mum suggested I read this book called Ice Station as she enjoyed it and thought I might too… Ice Station is a Matt Reilly book! (which I have also illustrated).. So that answered that!

This isn’t the full cover because it was abandoned before the it was finished. It was meant to depict the scene in the book where this Jumbo was ‘hovering’ above the great pyramid at Giza with choppers flying about shooting at it etc etc.. I’ve attached the final artwork as comparison.

Lots of fun!

Western made Ad's in China

Funny where your artwork ends up! In this case it was my commercial advertising work.. I had to paint the ‘frozen’ city on the poster, the man and the dog were photographed by Sydney photographer Mike Skelton and comped over my painting.

I was walking into the centre of Beijing that day (July 2004 – a 2.5 hr walk) in hot humid conditions and came across my painting on the ad. So I had to stop and photograph it. I think the Chinese man on the bike was thinking the same as me… “I’d kill for a cold drink!”

If I find the original painting, I’ll post it here..