The art of matte painting has been radicalised since the introduction of digital software.
Now commonly referred to as digital matte painting (DMP), realism and dynamism are more attainable than ever before.
Believability has never been so fundamental in a matte painter’s work. Professional artist Frederic St-Arnaud (http://starno.net) agrees, saying: “You should focus on two different aspects, the wow factor that relates to the visual composition of your work and photorealism that makes the viewer truly believe the image they are looking at is real.”
It’s this suspension of disbelief that demonstrates the difference between matte painting and concept art, not to be confused as one and the same thing. Educating yourself as a competent matte painter who can present this distinction is imperative, especially when trying to achieve commercial success.
DMP has become a very articulated discipline that now blends its boundaries with 3D and compositing. This means that avenues into the industry are extensive. MPC’s head of environment and DMP, Marco Genovesi (www.moving-picture.com) explains: “Any educational path that explores the use of CG and digital-image manipulation can be useful and appropriate to some extent. We should not forget that artistic talent is still an essential requisite for any good matte painter. So photography or fine-art courses that explore composition, colours and light are definitely relevant.”
Enthusiasts can also rely on ever-expanding resources on the internet to improve skills. Professional matte painter Alp Allen Altiner (www.alpaltiner.com), founder of www.vfxworkshops.com which specialises in techniques and production workflow, explains: “Individuals can now participate and learn from other matte painters who teach these online classes, where a vast amount of important techniques are discussed.”
Altiner also believes studying surrounding industries is a great learning curve, especially when contemplating a commercial portfolio. He advises you to check out potential client websites and subsequent demo reels. “Also study and take notes of your peers’ commercial portfolios, and really pay attention to what seems typical and unique in film and advertising work,” he adds.