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Learn to create new worlds, both fanciful and totally realistic, in our series on digital matte painting in Adobe Photoshop with David Mattingly, a matte artist for many groundbreaking motion pictures such as Tron and I, Robot. In this installment, he shows you how to set up your palettes and workspace, tone the underlying plate, create silhouettes in your background, and paint in light and other details. Plus, learn to paint waterfalls, smoke, and other elements that make for fascinating movie backdrops.
This Fundamentals of Digital Matte Painting tutorial is broken into five sections. Each part builds on the one that came before it. So, the course is designed for you to work through it in order. Those five parts are Concept, Perspective, Tone, Texturing and Camera projection. In the concept section, I'll show you how to get your ideas down quickly. Establishing a mood for the scene and creating a distinctive silhouette for your castle. We will also define the direction of lighting your scene and set up basic forms.
I will encourage you to work quickly in this phase, allowing yourself 30 minutes to an hour for each concept sketch. Perspective is a complex topic that could easily take up a ten hour tutorial by itself. But by using the 90/10 rule that says you'll use 10% of the tools of perspective 90% of the time, I'll teach you the most important rules of perspective that you use every day as a matte artist. In the tone section, you will learn about the properties of light, and how it falls on an object.
Working only in black and white, we will set up a clear light side and dark side, then add cores, cast shadows, and an ambient seclusion layer. Now, you will have all of your lighting problems solved before you start coloring and texturing your castle. In the Texturing section, you'll use photographs creatively to give your project a photo realistic finish. By not using photographs until this point in the project, you were able to get your creative ideas down without relying on photography.
You will learn how to use a variety of photographic sources, distorting and color correcting them to suit your project. This way you can use photographs to enhance your vision and not be limited by available reference. In the camera projection section, you will use advance matte painting techniques to turn your flat painting into a full 3D scene. Using the 3D program AutoDesk Maya, you will project your painting onto rough geometry, then set up an animated camera to rephotograph your scene.
I'll also teach you some compositing tricks in Maya to add more movement into your scene, like a moving sky, smoke and fire. If you're a beginner, you may want to follow along and do exactly what I'm doing. If you are more advanced, think about making your own version of this project, adopting the principles I will show, to create your own unique castle. Here are just a few examples of castles that have been produced by my students. So, feel free to get your creative juices flowing, and see what you can come up with.
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