Digital Matte Painting Essentials 5: Camera Projection in Maya
Illustration by John Hersey

Digital Matte Painting Essentials 5: Camera Projection in Maya

with David Mattingly

Video: Isolating the first two layers

With the final texture file cleaned up, we're ready You'll need to do some patching when you do this, since we want the lower wall We're ready to copy out the lower wall layer.
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  1. 2m 36s
    1. Introduction
      1m 5s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 31s
  2. 26m 37s
    1. What is camera projection?
      1m 44s
    2. Preparing the textured castle for camera projection
      3m 5s
    3. Isolating the first two layers
      7m 51s
    4. Isolating the rest of the layers
      6m 6s
    5. Preparing individual files of each layer
      6m 25s
    6. The CastleAll layer
      1m 26s
  3. 18m 39s
    1. Maya basics
      4m 26s
    2. Creating a projection camera
      2m 34s
    3. Adding the image plane
      3m 39s
    4. Positioning the grid
      2m 9s
    5. Setting device and film aspect ratios
      5m 51s
  4. 30m 29s
    1. Adding a box for the base of the castle
      5m 1s
    2. Matching the camera to the painting
      7m 42s
    3. Positioning the next four boxes
      4m 37s
    4. Creating the rest of the castle geometry
      3m 7s
    5. Modeling the hill
      7m 13s
    6. Adding the sky
      2m 49s
  5. 18m 7s
    1. Projecting the first texture
      6m 48s
    2. Projecting the castle walls
      7m 48s
    3. Projecting the rest of the textures
      3m 31s
  6. 14m 35s
    1. Animating the camera
      5m 23s
    2. Rendering the scene
      4m 19s
    3. Fixing two common projection problems
      4m 53s
  7. 24m 5s
    1. Installing filmBackAtYa
      6m 41s
    2. Adding cylinders for the front towers
      5m 30s
    3. Adding spheres for the domes
      5m 30s
    4. Vertex modeling
      6m 24s
  8. 30m 17s
    1. Preparing the file for After Effects
      5m 55s
    2. Retiming the plate
      5m 21s
    3. Colorizing the plate
      6m 1s
    4. Adding a moving sky
      3m 32s
    5. Displacing the smoke
      5m 52s
    6. Rendering out the moving background
      3m 36s
  9. 36m 39s
    1. Bringing the moving background into Maya
      2m 36s
    2. Great websites for stock video
      2m 55s
    3. Adding flames
      6m 40s
    4. Rendering out glowing smoke
      5m 31s
    5. Creating an alpha channel
      2m 42s
    6. Adding special effect glows
      3m 44s
    7. Creating a lava waterfall
      6m 59s
    8. Render settings
      4m 23s
    9. Final render
      1m 9s
  10. 54s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Digital Matte Painting Essentials 5: Camera Projection in Maya
3h 22m Beginner Jan 09, 2014

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What really makes a matte painting come to life? A technique called camera projection can transform a 2D matte painting—like the fiery castle built in previous installments of this series—into a 3D scene, complete with a moving camera and shifting perspective. In this, the fifth and final installment of Digital Matte Painting Essentials, David Mattingly shows how to use Maya's powerful toolset to add perspective and animation. First, you'll break out the layers of the painting, create rough geometry inside Maya to match the forms, and then project texture onto those forms to give them depth. Then you'll learn how to add an animated camera, special effects, and create a fully realized 3D environment from the painting.

Topics include:
  • What is camera projection?
  • Isolating the layers in your painting
  • Setting up for projection camera
  • Adding geometry
  • Projecting textures
  • Animating the camera
  • Vertex modeling
  • Animating the background
  • Adding flames, smoke, and glows
  • Rendering your project
3D + Animation Design
Maya Photoshop
David Mattingly

Isolating the first two layers

With the final texture file cleaned up, we're ready to separate out the lower wall of the castle. You'll need to do some patching when you do this, since we want the lower wall as if there was no bridge in front of it and no tower on the left side. What will happen is that as the camera and camera projection moves around the castle, it will show some of the wall behind the bridge and tower. So you need something there to hold the area. I have that mask for the lower walls in the mask holding layers that just selects the lower wall.

If you didn't prepare that mask in the form section, you'll need to do some hand selecting to get this section out. We're ready to copy out the lower wall layer. Load the Lower Wall selection mask. Before we copy merge to get the lower wall out, we need to delete the moving elements like fire and smoke. These will be added later and should not be part of the base castle. So, select both layers and delete them. We're ready to copy out the merged layer, Cmd or Ctrl+Shift+C.

Then go to the top of the layer stack above the mask holding layers, and Cmd or Ctrl+Shift+V to paste it in place. Name the layer Lower Wall, then solo the lower wall layer by Option or Alt+Clicking on the eyeball next to the layer. Let's zoom in on the layer. We'll patch the front of this wall first. Where the bridge appears in front has to be patched to show more of the wall without the bridge. Choose the rectangular Marquee tool, and grab this section right below the flame holder.

Then, duplicate the selection in place several times by holding down the Command Option or Control+Alt keys while dragging the selection. Do the same thing with the flame holder. Next, let's patch the brick wall behind the bridge. Make a selection, hold down Cmd+Option or Ctrl+Alt+Shift and repeatedly press the left arrow key. That duplicates it in place and moves it five pixels to the left. Then take random sections from various parts of the wall and drag them around to cover the bridge.

I encourage my students not to spend a lot of time on this. Quick and dirty is good enough. This right side could use some clean crenelations, so copy these two over, duplicate them, and scale the second set down a bit. Clean up the edge of this flame holder and copy up the side of this bastion to match the left side, clean up this edge. You can go through and scribble in some tone to soften this join. There's a bit of a line happening where the tone darkens.

Let's deal with this tower that's in front of our dark side wall. We can grab a section of this wall here to use as a patch. Drag duplicate this section to over where the tower is, and line it up with the crenulations, and scale it down since it's further back. Press Command or Ctrl+J to copy this section out. As you turn this layer on and off, we're still seeing a hard edge on this tower. So, let's select a darker section of this wall, make sure you're on the lower wall layer, and Command+J to copy that section out.

Move it on top of that lighter layer. Choose the Eraser tool and erase some of that edge to provide a blend. Then select that lighter patch again and blend it's edge in. Then load the selection from that layer, choose a big soft brush, and lets just darken this whole section that goes behind the tower. The final thing we need to do to prepare this layer is to add more texture at the bottom. When we bring this into Maya, we're going to map it onto actual geometry, and the base of the castle will have to intersect the geometry we'll build for the hill.

If we don't get it to match exactly, there'll be a little gap at the base. So it's best to give yourself more texture at the bottom, so you don't have to be so precise in building your geometry. First, merge all of the layers making up the lower wall together. Select the bottom of the wall. Cmd+ Option or Ctrl+Alt+Shift and down arrow key to duplicate that sliver of the bottom of the layer in place down several times. Trim the bottom of the layer to make it even and that finishes that layer, that's what going out to Maya.

Turn the lower wall layer off, and turn on all the other layers so we can get the middle wall out. We have a Mask holding layer for this middle layer, so let's dig through and find that, and load the selection. Press Command or Ctrl+Shift+C to copy merged. Make sure you're at the top of the layer stack and then Cmd or Ctrl+Shift+V to paste it right back in place. Name the layer middle wall, solo the layer so you can see it all by itself. First let's make a selection on this bastion and patch this flame holder.

Invert the selection and let's just paint this dark area back here. In painting this, we've lost that stone texture, so I'm going to grab a little bit over there, copy it out and paste it back in place and then with the brush, darken it up so that it blends in there. Now we need to patch where this tower goes in front of the wall. Select this clean section to the left. Make sure you are on the middle wall layer and Cmd+J to copy that section off the wall. Scoot it over to cover up our tower.

Duplicate it again to cover up this other section. Choose the Eraser tool and let's erase this bit of hard line we've got on the edge. Do the same on the second duplicate, and let's scale it just a little bit so it fits in. Duplicate it again, and adjust the scale. And erase and soften those edges also. We still have a little problem with this arm that connects to the side tower, so let's grab some crenulations from the right. Make sure we're on that layer. Drag-duplicate it over.

Soften those edges again with the Eraser tool. That looks good. Let's merge all these layers down into the middle wall layer. Turn that lower wall back on and you can see why we need to patch. These little spaces between the layers which show up as voids as the camera moved over the castle. So, once again, you need to select thelower section of the layer and duplicate it down to provide coverage. There's just a couple of areas that need patching under this left bastion, and again, under this middle bastion, and a bit to the left of this doorway.

And let's trim the bottom to get rid of the ragged edges, turn the lower wall back on, and let's move the middle wall behind the lower wall. Turn the lower wall on or off to confirm that you have enough coverage. Let's turn all thelayers back on again. In the next lesson, we'll separate out the remaining layers. Including, the towers and domes, which will be handled in a slightly different way.

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