Digital Matte Painting Essentials 3: Tone
Illustration by John Hersey

Looking at the cores


From:

Digital Matte Painting Essentials 3: Tone

with David Mattingly

Video: Looking at the cores

With our light and dark sides finished let's talk about the next property or form that we will use to enhance our castle, and that is cores. Core is a curve where the light side meets the dark side on rounded objects. And they occur because the side that faces away from the main light source generally gets more reflected light. leaving a dark band in the transition area. Let me show you a great example of a core by Michael Angelo, so you can understand it.

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Watch the Online Video Course Digital Matte Painting Essentials 3: Tone
1h 18m Beginner Sep 19, 2013

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After you've perfected your perspective drawing, the next step in the matte painting process is to layer in tone: the master tool in the matte artist's arsenal for establishing a fully formed structure. David Mattingly, a matte artist for many groundbreaking motion pictures, takes a black-and-white drawing and shows how to use the five elements of light—dark sides, light sides, cores, cast shadows, and final darks— to paint the surfaces and create a realistically shaded environment in Adobe Photoshop.

This course is part 3 in David's Digital Matte Painting Essentials series. Go back to part 2 to recreate the castle drawing he uses in this course, or if you simply want to learn more about form, you can use the example provided in the exercise files.

Topics include:
  • Selecting the silhouette
  • Find the dark sides and light sides in the drawing
  • Using mask-holding layers
  • Examining the light and dark sides of rounded surfaces
  • Looking at the cores
  • Adding cast shadows
  • Separating surfaces with final darks
  • Adding ambient occlusion
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
David Mattingly

Looking at the cores

With our light and dark sides finished let's talk about the next property or form that we will use to enhance our castle, and that is cores. Core is a curve where the light side meets the dark side on rounded objects. And they occur because the side that faces away from the main light source generally gets more reflected light. leaving a dark band in the transition area. Let me show you a great example of a core by Michael Angelo, so you can understand it.

This is a study for the Libyan Sibyl from the Sisteen Chapel and he is coring the form all over the place. Notice how he added a core right here on the cheek bone where the light side meets the dark side. Also along the side of his chest showing the ribs. This is a very complex core, that really shows off the form. And look at this forearm. He's added a nice big juicy core, right down the middle of this arm.

Cores don't always occur. But as an artist you'll want to enhance cores because they show off forms so nicely. Once you start looking for them you'll see them all over the place. So let's get started adding cores to our castle. Make another layer and call this layer cores. Then set the transfer mode to multiply, since cores will always be darker. Load in the towers one layer selection, make sure you still got that medium grey 150, 150, 150 grey loaded in your foreground color picker.

Pick the gradient tool. Make sure fore grand and transparent is selected and the reflectant gradient tool active. Zoom in a little close so you can be really accurate. And holding down the shift key to keep the gradient vertical, add the core right down the middle of the tower. Since it's at 50%, you'll be able to take a couple of swipes at this. It can take four or five passes to get this to the correct level of darkness. The Reflected Gradient is giving you a very consistent tone down the middle of your towers, which is a great start, but not accurate for the various diameters.

You'll need to revise the cores with an Eraser tool in a minute, but let's get them all blocked in with the Gradient. Load in the selection for towers two in details, and let's do the same for these other towers. We need to add corners to these little dome details.

And the points on this side tower. And the same on the underside of these flame holders. That looks pretty good for a block-in. Let's choose the eraser tool, and with a soft round eraser, make the core match the contour of the towers. These pointed tops are all dark because of the core, and you'll need to erase the core so they have a formed dark side.

And erase into the light side also where it's gone too far over. Since the core is on a separate layer, you can erase into it without fear of disrupting the other tones. Go throughout your project and get the cores nicely formed by gently erasing into them.

You may be asking why there isn't a core on the rectangular surfaces, and the answer is that there may be one. Right where the other two surfaces meet. Since the stone building wouldn't have razor sharp edges, and there will still be small rounded edge. But since the curve would be very small it wouldn't really be visible. Let's load at the domain side tower selection. And choose the brush tool again. We've saved the most interesting core for last.

This big dome will have the most dramatic difference in the core from top to bottom. So again you'll need to resize the brush as you get higher on the dome, and then make it quite small in order to get this pointy top. I've overdone it a bit, so I'm going to switch to the eraser tool and get rid of some of this that has gone too far over into the area of the dark side that would be getting reflected light.

Lemme turn the cores on and off, so you can see how it really enhances these rounded forms, so it's well worth adding them to your project. The next property of light we'll look at in the next lesson is cast shadows.

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