Digital Matte Painting Essentials 3: Tone
Illustration by John Hersey

Separating surfaces


From:

Digital Matte Painting Essentials 3: Tone

with David Mattingly

Video: Separating surfaces

In this section, we're going to work to separate the surfaces of our castle. And here we'll really put the mask holding layers to good use. You probably thought I went overboard on creating them, but this section will be hard to do cleanly if you didn't set them up for all your surfaces. Let's look at this area between the lower and middle walls. Right now the only way you know this lower wall is different from the upper wall is that there's a line drawing of the cranulation showing it. There is no tonal difference between them.

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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

Separating surfaces

In this section, we're going to work to separate the surfaces of our castle. And here we'll really put the mask holding layers to good use. You probably thought I went overboard on creating them, but this section will be hard to do cleanly if you didn't set them up for all your surfaces. Let's look at this area between the lower and middle walls. Right now the only way you know this lower wall is different from the upper wall is that there's a line drawing of the cranulation showing it. There is no tonal difference between them.

But if you were looking at a real castle like this, I guarantee you would see a tonal difference between this lower and middle wall. Because the lower wall would be getting more reflected light, and this middle wall would be a little darker, making it fall back in space. We're going to want to darken the middle walls, so load in the mask for the middle wall. This mask contains both the light and dark side of the middle section of the castle, which is good, since we're going to want to darken the middle wall on the light side also.

So let's make a new layer, and you can use this for adding a lot of the final toning to the castle, so let's call this final darks. Set the layer to multiply, since everything we will be doing on this layer will darken the castle. Make sure you have that middle gray loaded into your foreground color picker,and pick the brush load in a soft brown brush, set the opacity of the brush to fifty per cent, so you can build up the tone.

Brush in a little tone right where these two surfaces would meet. You'll need to be gentle with this. You don't want a hard black line so build it up slowly and get a smooth gradation up from the base. You can make it a little bit more obvious on the dark side. Know there's no question this wall is in front of the middle wall. Let's do the same thing for the upper wall. Load in the top wall mask holding layer and brush in some tone like before.

We've got this lower wall, which could use some separating tone. And luckily, we've already set up a mask for it. So load it in from the bridge's mask holding layer. And gently add a little tone to knock that wall back. As an artist you are going to want to cheat this a bit to get the most form out of your project that you can. For instance, this corner flame holder is not separating from the wall behind it. Load in that middle wall mask holding layer.

Brush in a bit of tone to bolster that separation. This is to help our viewer see that this form is in front of that middle wall. Also the base of this flame holder is behind this bastion. Add the flame holder to the selection And brush in some tone at the base to set them slightly back. What else needs some help separating? The corner of this upper wall could use some tonal separation.

Load in the top wall mask holding layer, and add a bit of tone to the corner to clarify that it is in front of the top wall. Let's zoom out, and you can see that the layers of your castle are much more clearly defined. And the different elements stand out from one another. Next up we're going to darken all the downward facing surfaces to add even more form to the castle.

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