Ballistic Publishing Artist Profiles show all

Into the commercial world
“My first real job was with Illusion Arts shortly after I graduated from UCLA. I had sent out dozens of portfolios to every visual effect house I could find. I had heard nothing from any of them, but two days after I sent my portfolio to Illusion Arts, Syd Dutton called me and asked me if I wanted to come in for an interview. I ended up doing concept work for matte paintings on ‘Time Machine’.”

”I learned a lot from Syd. He really took me under his wing, which I am incredibly grateful for. The other artists at Illusion Arts were also very helpful. Unfortunately, my stint there was brief. Shortly thereafter, September 11 happened. Everyone was out of work, and I didn’t work again for five months. I picked up a few random commercials and music video assignments, but my big break came when I joined the art team for ‘A Sound of Thunder,’ and I was off to Prague for 12 weeks. It was a dream. I was in a beautiful city doing futuristic city designs. Life was good. I came back, and then things really snowballed from one thing to the next: ‘Daredevil’ at Rhythm and Hues, and then right after that I was off to Weta Digital for ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’.”

“I mainly use Adobe Photoshop for my work -- it is the industry standard and really can’t be compared to for matte painting work. I am a die-hard Apple Mac guy, and I use a Wacom tablet. I am getting into 3D with Maxon Cinema 4D.”

“As far as matte painters, I have had the privilege of working with Robert Stromberg over the past year or so. He is a fantastic matte painter and visual effects supervisor.
I learn something from him almost every time we speak. One of the main things that I have learned is restraint. I always need to reign myself in; too often I will make a painting overly detailed or complicated. Robert knows how to do a shot with simplicity and clarity. His compositions are very impressive.”

“Other matte painters whose work I really enjoy are Mark Sullivan, Deak Ferrand, and Yanick Dusseault. As far as pure inspiration I will always go back to the Hudson River School Artists, like Church and Bierstadt. Those guys had color and composition down.”

Working in a team
“I think the hardest thing about matte painting is to let go and realize you are just creating one shot in a big film and that it has to fit. You are part of a team and not creating a piece of art for yourself.”

Image Credits: Barad-Dur and Mount Doom - ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ ©2005 New Line Cinema. All rights reserved | Urban Plateaus | Sci-Fi Sidewalk sketch | Rocks Along the Beach | Chinese Temples | Tower of London

“When painting for film you really have to think about context and continuity. You need to know what is going on in the scene, and what cuts surround your shot. When you are doing a painting for yourself, you can do whatever you want and take whatever license you need to. When you are doing painting for film, often your painting is meant to just enhance the live action and not be the star.”

“I also went from enjoying illustrators (because of the high amount of detail in their paintings) to looking at artists who really nailed color and composition. These are the two things that are most important to a matte painter. Detail is just time.”

Breaking into matte painting
“I would advise potential matte painters to learn traditional drawing and painting skills -- especially basic perspective. There are far too many photo monkeys out there who can only collage photos together. They may integrate them well and balance them all together, but the perspective is all off, and the composition is wrong.”

d’artiste: Matte Painting
Dylan Cole is an author of d’artiste: Matte Painting, the authoritative guide to digital matte painting written by leading Hollywood artists. d’artiste: Matte Painting is now available to purchase directly from Ballistic Publishing. More


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