View Full Version : first try at matte painting (composite)

02-03-2008, 09:07 AM
Wow, it's really tough...Here's my first effort. Long, long way to go before I get half way decent at this.

02-03-2008, 09:33 AM
OK, that is cool.

Is this actual brush and paint painting or Computer painting?

02-03-2008, 11:13 AM
Thanks....I can't draw or paint for toffee, it's a composite of different images - sorry should have said 'matte composite' and not 'matte painting'. The Castle and foreground, the knight, the panorama at the back and the sky. At the moment I'm working on making sure that the perspective and the lighting work properly along with improving my cut out abilities.

02-03-2008, 11:36 AM
Fixed the title :) And let me add that you keep impressing me with your more artistic endeavours!

-Rob A>

02-03-2008, 12:23 PM
Again, I'm reminded of all those beautiful matte paintings from Star Trek TOS. :)

02-03-2008, 05:50 PM
This is nothing to sneeze at! I like it! I think the only thing really in need of fixing in the painting is the bright blue: it is so discordant with the rest of the color scheme, which could be a point of interest, but it's too bright for the environment; in this atmosphere, realistically speaking, there would be red/yellow highlights & shadows over that blue, so it would not seem so bright. Something to play with?

Great job! Did you have fun making it?

02-03-2008, 06:02 PM
Thanks Rob/jaerdaph/Don! It was really good fun to make but utterly frustrating at times trying to get my head around why an image I'd dropped in just didn't 'fit' and what I had to do to make it fit. I tried to do a city in the background but it just looked too much like it had been stuck on.

Nevertheless it was a great learning process. What I found myself using a lot of was:

different selection cut out techniques
clone stamping
masses of colour manipulation
The eraser
smudge, dodge and burn tools
brush painting (not much but a bit)

I wasn't very organised in my approach which meant going back and doing a lot of stuff, but that's all part of learning. There was a lot of trial and error in doing this. It does require a lot of patience which I'm going to have to learn. Impatience is my worst enemy.

It's very satisfying to produce something that looks a bit like a painting without having the first idea how to draw!

02-04-2008, 11:00 AM
Sorry to jack your thread but I did something similar the other day:

It's a dragon made out of an iguana and a vampire bat.

02-04-2008, 01:44 PM
jaerdaph beat me to it. That could have been a Rigellian castle for Star Trek TOS. I miss that show. Y'all ROCK, mate.

02-04-2008, 01:59 PM
Cheers Su liam! That iguana has a very dignified expression!

02-04-2008, 02:28 PM
"I am Iguana Draconis, lord of all I survey! You can call me 'Bob'."

He seems a little heavy-set for a dragon. Square-cube law and all that rot.

02-04-2008, 03:17 PM
Sorry to jack your thread but I did something similar the other day:

It's a dragon made out of an iguana and a vampire bat.

Now *that* reminds me of Clash of the Titans and all those Sinbad movie monsters that Ray Harryhausen created, which is really cool too. :)

02-04-2008, 06:04 PM
Check some of these out...also a good place to get skills ;) http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=196

Looks good tho Ravells...my only suggestion would be to use higher res source material.

02-04-2008, 10:10 PM
"I am Iguana Draconis, lord of all I survey! You can call me 'Bob'."

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I think I blew snot reading that! Hat-tip to you, my friend!

02-05-2008, 04:55 AM
Check some of these out...also a good place to get skills ;) http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=196

Looks good tho Ravells...my only suggestion would be to use higher res source material.

Thanks Arcana! One of the lessons learned is to take a lot more trouble over choice of source material in the future! Time permitting, I'll have another go over the weekend at something new. - And thanks for the link, I'm definitely going to learn a lot from there!


02-17-2008, 03:30 PM
Here's my next effort from today...bit blah.

02-17-2008, 03:53 PM
Getting better Rav,

I like the water paint effect that unless I miss the point is should be the result of the sea mist create by the wave on the rock.

Here's two compositions I made last year when I was in Kingston. The first one is from the game I was running and the second is a wallpaper of my old world.
I don't know if it apply to what you’re doing here because I only merge many pics together, but take a look and have fun.

In any case continue to improve,

02-18-2008, 05:39 AM
That's kind, Alu - but I think it's getting worse! This picture just seems 'wrong' on so many levels. The thing I'm most proud of is the horses saddle which I painted by hand. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the mist on the sea but it just looks stuck on. Worse still the perspective on the promentory is out. The whole thing just looks really dull. The worst thing is when you know something is wrong but you don't know exactly what and what you need to do to fix it.

Ah well, it's all a learning experience! Most importantly, I had fun doing it.

The Cartographist
02-18-2008, 06:08 PM
Now *that* reminds me of Clash of the Titans

I'm sorry, but I have to thread jack for a moment.

Clash of the Titans--one of Top Five movies of 1980, guaranteed!

Quick, someone! Name two of the other Top Five from 1980. (I'm going to feel REALLY stupid if one or both of the two movies that I'm thinking of aren't from 1980.)

02-18-2008, 06:34 PM
The Princess Bride and .....
Big Trouble in Little China

02-18-2008, 10:31 PM
Ravs, I don't think that's a bit blah at all. I like it and think it holds together very well. I do think the watercolor filer effect is a nice here (but as you know, I have a big soft spot for that filter!), although a couple items (like the tree) are not as filtered as others, which detracted my eye a little.

I also would have drawn reins from the horse's bit/bridle to the man's hand--at least a dark line loop of sorts.

I think this is far better than your first one! Great fun--keep 'em coming!

02-19-2008, 07:10 AM
Thanks Don. The hardest part is getting consistency of perspective, colour and key.

02-19-2008, 12:20 PM
"Key"? What is that? (some Brit-ism? ;)

02-19-2008, 05:12 PM
Heh, not at all. It's making sure that all the composited images, if switched to greyscale have the correct range of blacks, greys and whites!

02-25-2008, 04:10 PM
Here is my next trip into art...it's a copy of an illustration by an artist called Bilibine (nowhere near as good as his version).

02-25-2008, 05:25 PM
Hmm! I like the serenity herein! Is this handmade, or an edit/composite, ravs?

You're having fun with this art stuff, aren't you?!! :) :) :)

02-25-2008, 06:14 PM
This one is entirely handmade. I am having fun with the art...I think it does make you a better cartographer in the end!

02-26-2008, 01:01 AM
Rav, I liked the horse and knight composite as well as this last one you posted. I'm not an artist by any means, but I think you are doing quite well. So well in fact, I think I want to take a page from your book and start trying it myself. But let me get this straight, you are essentially taking several different graphics from different art and making it into your own picture... sorta like a collage, but instead of a jumble you make it into one coherent piece.... ? (This is going to be a fun challenge for myself)

Did you only use PSP for the final composite? Were those free (copyright) graphics or since this was originally something for your personal self-teaching did you not worry about that?

On the last painting, did you copy that from a photo or from somewhere on the web... I'd like to see the original art is what I mean to say.

What a unique and fun way to further ones skill at both the software and as a cartographer... kudos rav, have some rep :)

02-26-2008, 10:03 AM
Hi Del and thanks for the kind words. Making matte composites can be just using images or a combination of images and drawing. So for example The one with the knight and castle was just done using images - as explained on post #3 of this thread. These were a combination of photographs, a bryce render for the sky and images I found on the web of the castle and the knight.

The one of the rider looking at the castle in the distance was a combination of photos I'd taken of the horse and landscape, the sky and lightning were filter effects and the rider was a Daz 3d model. The castle was the fantasy land castle in Disneyland and the water was Bryce generated. The saddle was painted. For tutorials on doing mattes, see Arcana's link further up this thread. There's some great tutorials on that site.

I used PS for the compositing, but you could equally use PSP. What you must try to get right (in addition to properly cropping the images for compositing) is the perspective, the right darks/lights and saturation for the colours.

Here is the original Bilibine drawing which I tried to copy in the last one - originally done in the 1800s so I don't think there are any copyright issues. It's such a simple and beautiful composition and the textures are lovely. If you google Bilibine you will find other drawings of his on the web. Attached is one which I think is a real beauty. His style of painting - similar to Arthur Rackham and Edmund Du Lac is one which is really suited to cartography, I think.



02-27-2008, 12:29 AM
Beautiful. I'd never been exposed to Bilibine before. I think I'll have to keep an eye out for him in the future.

02-27-2008, 01:36 AM
Thanks for the info Rav, I must have missed that link about matte paintings ... I read to fast for my mind to catch up.

That is a really good impression of Bilibine. You captured the serenity and peaceful essence quite nicely. And honestly (no bull) I like yours better... I think its the difference in the overal shading or hue of the complete painting... it appeals to my eye better... But hey, I'm no art critic or even an artist so my opinion probably shouldn't be taken too seriously... :D

Since I'm trying to learn all I can about Photoshop, I'll be using that. Learning the programs functions more intimately is the goal I had in mind after reading this thread... Again thanks for the info


04-29-2009, 03:36 PM
I tried my hand at a matte painting for class this week. I quickly discovered that good undersea photographs are hard to come by.

04-29-2009, 04:06 PM
Wow! Very nice! What did they teach you? Any tips for us self taught types??

Steel General
04-29-2009, 04:56 PM
That's really quite good Midgard. *applauds*

04-29-2009, 06:07 PM
Thank you. The most useful thing I picked up was (in Photoshop) image > calculations to improve the contrast of the channels to make extracting a background easier. It's still not easy to seperate blue fish from the blue water, though.

It's best to start with a concept of what you want to make, sketch it out and paint over the sketch, then find images to match that rather than trying to just cram together images that you like.

Don't hesitate to skew, stretch and squash photographs to fit the shapes you need. The clone tool can be used to extend edges.

When dealing with buildings, a polygon lasso selection of one side of the building lets you skew it into a new perspective. I didn't get the opportunity to really use that since I didn't use any nice, clean buildings. I could have tried it on the ruins, but they're so tiny that I don't think the perspective is an issue.

There are probably lots of other things I could mention, but it all blends together in my head. There's a really good DVD from Gnomon on the subject that I watched part of. I need to watch the whole thing soon.

04-30-2009, 02:06 AM
Thanks Mid, I think I might go back to making matte's myself soon again too.

08-13-2009, 03:38 PM
Since I mentioned it in that channel extraction tutorial, I should share the new matte painting. This one is significantly better than the last. The bridges come from the photograph "Bixby Canyon Bridge" by Cpt Albert E Theberg, NOAA Corp (ret). The sky, some midground mountains, refinery, and arch come from cgtextures.com and the rest is my own photographs.

The original resolution is 4000 x 2250. This image is scaled for compositing with 720p HD footage.

08-13-2009, 04:26 PM
Wow Mid! That's really good!!! Love the sense of desolation it engenders.

Steel General
08-13-2009, 04:43 PM
One word... AWESOME!

08-13-2009, 10:23 PM
When I saw your name Midgard, I knew it had heard it before. Just so happens it is the title of a map I worked on a bit (RJbeals did 95% of it)

And to stay on topic :) here is a cool matte painting tutorial. Great Stuff

08-14-2009, 09:23 AM
If you haven't gone here....go here: http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=196

Get an account there...its free...they're awesome.

08-14-2009, 10:49 AM
Thanks, all, for the compliments. I've been registered at CGSociety for a while, but I've only this week started to actually lurk there actively. It just gets so much traffic that it's hard to sift out stuff that I want to read.

Another good site specifically for mattes is http://www.mattepainting.org . Again, it's another forum that I registered on a while ago but only recently started reading regularly.

And http://www.conceptart.org is useful, too.

WM: That's a nice clear tutorial for getting started. It does have a couple of issues, though, and I think pointing to them here might help anyone who happens to be working on a matte painting.

First, the house has some fairly extreme lens distortion. Notice how the second story bends to the right. Photoshop can fix that with the Lens Correction filter (Filters > Distort > Lens Correction). You want to make sure that the matte will fit nicely behind your primary photography, so you don't want any obvious lens distortion unless it needs to match up with similar distortions from your footage. It's best, though, to start with an undistorted image and let the compositor decide if the painting needs to be reshaped later on.

The second thing is that lightning. Since a matte painting is intended to be composited with live footage, you don't want to include anything that is supposed to be moving. Lightning, water, animals, and fireflies should be left out. Caveat to that: It is common to show water in a matte that stands alone, but it will almost always be left out of the image handed off to the compositors.

I'm in a compositing class right now, and those were some of the things that were common errors in the paintings we critiqued this week.

edit: Oh, and the handle is the Anglo-Saxon version of Jormungandr, the Miđgaard Serpent of Norse Mythology ("sormr" being "serpent" in several Germanic languages), the force of uncreation. Miđgaard itself is the "Middle Earth," or the world in which we live.

01-15-2010, 08:37 PM
Pro matte painter David Mattingly has started a class that he's inviting users of mattepainting.org to participate in. No credit available, obviously, and you won't get the lectures, but he'll critique and grade anything submitted to the homework threads over there.

He may not thank me if he gets 100 new students in the first week, though, so I recommend only participating if you're really serious about getting through the entire class.


01-16-2010, 10:22 AM
That last matte painting is truly stunning. Well done. Thanks for all the links - I'll have to check them out.

06-30-2011, 12:09 AM
I just thought I'd pop in and crow about something briefly. I've been interning with a visual effects studio the last couple of months. This week, famed matte painter Syd Dutton (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0244956/) handed me an assignment, and when I turned it back in to him, he said "You do good work." The guy's been a matte painter as long as I've been living, so I'm stoked about that! Hopefully I'll get the chance to take some serious lessons from the guy over the next few weeks.