View Full Version : Coastal Maine Inspired

04-19-2006, 08:01 PM
Hey everyone, this is my 2nd go around with matte painting, I just thought I would post my first step in progress so far and get some feedback. This is for my photography class here in college. My professor was nice enough to let me try matte paintings... I have a bunch of ideas for the final shot. image size is 4096 px wide. Please crit the hell out of this, so I can have something nice to show my class. I am working on the integration of the rocks and seafoam water, Planning on putting some rocky style mountains in the background, with a city under attack... Right now I have a tropical feel to it, but I am going to try to accomplish a good semi stormy feel with some storm clouds etc, fog/haze possibly meaning the pretty blue is going to have to go.... I may make a few versions. But for now please help a student out



04-19-2006, 08:27 PM
Hi kmblackbear06,
My first observation is - You seem to be going straight to a final right from the start. I'd really recommend that you start with a loose sketch to try and work out your composition and color pallete. Those 2 things are the most important things that you should be thinking about and tackling from the start. It really makes a world of difference.

Remember your basic design stuff - movement, mass, balance, hierarchy.....

Right now you have all of your subject matter on the left of the page. Also your dealing a lot with horizontal shapes. If you keep everything horizontal, it's not going to make for a very interesting composition. Try introducing some different angles perhaps.

Hope this helps :wink:

04-20-2006, 01:07 AM
Hey everyone, here's a super rough idea of my plan/composition. i'm hoping it will be appealing to the eye once finished, but in my composition, I just don't get that feeling yet... I know what I want for a scene, I can visualize it in my head, but it's hard to tell if it will work or not. What are your thoughts on the sketch so far? Basically I'm going for the rocky coastal line for the FG, MG will be the larger rocky cliffs and the bg will consit of the cityscape, and possibly distant mountains... as for lighting/atmosphere... I want to try to give it a stormy feel to it, somewhat dramatic style... I have 3 main ideas,

1 clouds, light through the clouds aimed at the city..
2 foggy misty day overcast, washed out look.
3 actually have the city under siege in a battle of some sort of naval attack (city burning, lots of smoke etc...)

Comments are highly welcomed. Is my composition a steaming pile of crap? :) Eitherway here is the quick sketch.

what are your thoughts roop?


Noel B
04-20-2006, 01:34 AM
I personaly like the water color maybe work from a color palette based on that...... be bold go against the norm..... i love the idea based on the sketch.....
1) Don't be so hard on yourself this looks good to me.
2) Take your time ,unless your on a class deadline don't rush. Take a month or so use all that photoshop has to offer. Speed comes with repetition and familiarity.
3) Most importantly don't size yourself up to the Sr. painters from this site some have been at it for years and years and have hours and hours a day to work on it.

Hope this helps a bit?


04-20-2006, 10:23 PM
The sketch looks good so far, try using the palette and making a full colour concept.

04-21-2006, 04:34 PM
Taking the advice, and doing the composition from scratch. I'll be posting my progress from here on out, and hopefully with the help of my peers I will create something beautiful for my final project.

Update #1:


This is my basic color palette, and the start for the composition and water. I think I am going to work with the bg for a bit now. C&C needed.

04-21-2006, 07:14 PM
Okay another quick update, and I am starting to run into a bit of trouble with the lighting direction/cast shadows on the BG mountains. The sky is mynext target area before i start tightening things up.


This is my main final project for my class so I am trying to work fast... Please help.

04-21-2006, 09:26 PM
there doesnt seem to be much of a light direction in your sketch. I would work on developing the composition of the sketch by directing the light. its currently feeling a bit flat and undynamic. I would also look through a lot of ref so that your clear about the sort of landscape your developing... in other words hills that belong in that particular sort of coast.

04-21-2006, 09:49 PM
Hey Bcottman - thanks for your words or wisdom, I am having a tough time with lighting the scene the way i want it. I have a few versions I want to create, but am having difficulty reproducing that from my mind. I am using some photoreferences for the landscapes, and once I get the lighting down I think it will be a little more clear whats going on. I agree thats it feels flat. The light I assume would help clear this up. I am working on the background again... I feel the mountains are too big to show accurate distance. the middle ground as well I think.... Mountains are a bit overwhelming and should be more jagged, shorter and longer... color tones brought down a bit too. I would like to have a lighting effect somewhat like the recent posted like Echo's "The Devil's Spine" whith a city in the light... Does this sound like a better solution/plan.. of course it will be hard to tell without seeing it... So back to the canvas I go. Anyone else?

EDIT: I must say brenton, I have seen your work and your wip of the harbor was a huge inspiration for my piece. I originally wanted to do a pirate ship battle on an old harbor village (view from the sea to the harbor, like it is now somewhat... I'd like to try to finish this idea...

EDIT 2: I found a reference photo that I want to recreate the lighting for... here's the image.


04-22-2006, 09:43 PM
Alright, I was a bit unhappy with my progress so I somewhat started over. Here are three sketches that more or less show my ideas. I'm going to start blocking out the color and trying to set the sky/atmosphere for these tonight.




I feel that there may be too much middle ground open... Possibly lowering the horizon line? What doyou all think?

04-22-2006, 09:57 PM
Hey kmblackbear06 ,
I like your progress. Your thinking and questioning yourself. Thats always a plus in my book. Keep it up.
As for your new sketches, I like the first one the best. It's has the best balance. To be honest I like the first city in your earlier post better than this newer one. It has a grander feel to it. This new one flattens out with the horizon too much, it looks better when you broke the horizon with the city. Am I making sense?

Anyway, hope this helps a bit :wink:

04-22-2006, 10:43 PM
Hey kmblackbear06 ,
Am I making sense?

Yea Roop, thanks a lot. Def makes sense, the whole concept of too many horizontals not enough verticals. The first post was a futuristic/real time city. However I think this one will be best done without the futuristic approach. The new city style is more appropriate, but I will make it stick out and break up the horizon more. I think just reworking it will help a bit. Working on the color palette now, and blocking out the colors. Thanks again roop

Anyone else?

EDIT: Alright instead of posting 9 millions times, I'll just edit my posts or something, 3am here, and here is some color base /groundwork. I am starting to like the 2nd sketch a lil more, but I think I will try to do 2 versions. I think I want to bring the color down a bit and add some more stormy clouds in the sky on the right. Feels a bit unbalanced and heavy on the right edge. The middle area seems a bit open and blank.... The one with the canon/ship may take care of that empty feeling. lots of work left :)


04-23-2006, 01:29 PM
city has been started.... I worked on getting a good perspective on the buildings.




04-23-2006, 09:40 PM
A lil more... added some cloud elements, and and hinted at some detail which I am not super happy with, but it'll do for now on the middleground mountains etc. Trying to find some more clouds to use... (Man the net has some really crappy cloud pics lol. I think my color is a bit off on the clouds on the left side, but maybe it's just me.


04-23-2006, 09:48 PM
Coming along nicely. I like how the foreground feels like it's in shadow. You might want to keep that. Feels like some very large mountains are keeping the light from coming into the foreground area. It also helps to push attention straight to the city. Seems like that's very important for a matte painting. Since a shot is usually here and gone in a matter of seconds.

Good job so far.

04-24-2006, 09:26 AM
Im really enjoying watching this progress. Its awesome to see this coming together.

04-24-2006, 10:23 AM
Here's the strat of the FG area. This was kind of difficult to cut out. I really wanted the water splashing,but didnt want the super bright ultramarine blue water with it. I tried the extract tool, and it left me with a ton og junkie jagged pixels that were hard to work with, so I used the channel method. Still not perfect, but i think I can work something up.. Hopefully...


04-24-2006, 10:37 AM
I think this is gonna look awesome when its done. I can really see where you are going with it now. Keep going, I can't wait to see the city!


05-02-2006, 01:01 PM
a new part of the progress... I left out some elements and changed a few things. Been hard at work on it, please lemme know what needs to be re-worked. I would like to use this as a good portfolio piece.


I am having a tough time integrating pieces together. I have a lot left to do. A little guidance would be helpful :) I just noticed a lil bit on the left side... The little village needs color correcting. Lil too much blue, and some more rocky edges on the back hill.

05-03-2006, 10:29 PM
More work. I have the water added, still a few touch ups needed I think, the right side mountain is in there too. However, I cans see that my lighting is a bit off... Yeah just a tab bit haha. The FG is just something I tried out, it may not be in the final piece though. I think I need a lil more haze in the distance, along with possibly a lil more contrast between the background and middle ground. I dunno, what does everyone think? I need to start painting more too... BIG TIME... I am also going to add some more building to the city along the edges and behind the current ones to show some more depth. Please crit me here, I can only get better with some much needed advice/help/crit of my work. Thank you all and I appriciate it in advance.


05-03-2006, 10:57 PM
I would take a flattened version of this and go back into it as a concept. try out a couple of different lighting variations and see if you can solve the fundamental problems without the ref and layers in your way. this will give you more direction to go back into the details.

some things that stand out

uncertain sun direction
black levels look a bit off
color needs harmony

oh and the people at the bottom are cropped awkwardly and their perspective feels off